Marcie Wessels author of Pirates Lullaby interview by David Alan Binder

Post date: Jan 9, 2016 3:15:55 PM

Marcie Wessels author of Pirates Lullaby interview by David Alan Binder

This interview will give you, Dear Writers and Dear Readers insights on the persistence it takes to make writing an integral part of your life and your passion.

Here is her bio:

Marcie Wessels received a B.A. in English and Spanish from John Carroll University, an M.A. in Spanish from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from Tulane University. Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime (Doubleday BFYR), illustrated by Tim Bowers, is her first children’s picture book. She lives with her husband and their two children in San Diego, California.


Twitter: @MarcieDWessels


Amazon to buy the book:


1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved books but the only way I thought that I could be close to them was to be a teacher or a librarian so I went to school and got a Ph.D. in Latin American literature. After the birth of my children, I left my academic job and became a stay at home mom. When my kids started school, I had more free time and I needed an outlet for my creativity. I looked online, discovered a course on Writing for Children at UCSD Extension and decided to enroll. I don’t think I ever made the conscious decision to become a writer. My love of books is what prompted me to write. Perhaps Richard Peck says it best; “Nobody but a reader ever became a writer.”

2. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Picture books are deceptively simple; because of their abbreviated length, many people think a picture book can be written in a short period of time but picture books are actually quite complex and difficult to write. My debut picture book, Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime (Doubleday BFYR), illustrated by Tim Bowers, took about six months from inception to final manuscript, with numerous drafts in between.

3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron so most mornings, I exercise and then do my morning pages (journaling). After a shower, I sit down to work. For me, that can mean writing, revising, reading, critiquing or a combination of all four activities. At night, I tend to read for pleasure. Occasionally, I read articles about craft or I search on Amazon and in my library’s card catalogue for new books to request in order to stay current with the picture book market.

4. Do you have any tips for writers on getting a book published?

Take a chance and submit. You’ll never get anything published if don’t show it to anyone else. But before you send your manuscript out, make sure it’s the very best you can possibly make it. You only get an agent’s or an editor’s fresh eyes once.

5. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Ideas are everywhere. You just have to be open to them. I find that I’m able to tell a better story when I have an emotional connection with the character or the theme. Even though the main character of Pirate’s Lullaby is a boy, the story was inspired by the bedtime antics of my two-year old daughter. I feel that Papa and Ned are such relatable and believable characters because I was able to draw on my own experience when writing the story.

6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

When I story boarded one of the earliest drafts of Pirate’s Lullaby, I discovered that I had two characters stuck in a room. There was no action, no movement, two things that are vital to a picture book. I learned that storyboarding or dummying is one of the most important tools of the picture book writer.

7. Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?

The most common piece of advice you’ll hear is to read in your genre. That is certainly true but don’t read passively. Analyze the books you read and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Try and apply what you have learned to your own writing. Keep learning, growing and taking risks – that’s how you become better at everything.

8. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

Even when I didn’t have kids, I used to sit in the children’s section at the bookstore and read picture books. I have such fond memories of my mom reading to me. I guess my love of reading began with picture books so writing them seemed like a natural choice.

9. Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?

My all-time favorite book as a kid was a collection of Eugene W. Field’s poetry, Wynken, Blynken and Nod. I asked my mother to read that book so many times that we eventually wore out the spine. I’d say that my fondness for rhyme probably began with Field’s work.

10. What are some day jobs that you have held?

I’ve been a babysitter, a waitress, an administrative assistant, a bookseller, and a teacher.

11. Did any of them impact your writing?

Certainly. My training in literary analysis is especially helpful when I read and critique others’ work and when I revise and edit my own work.

12. What do you like to read in your free time?

I love short story collections. Right now, I’m reading two fantastic ones, Charles Baxter’s There’s Something I Want You To Do and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. I also have a soft spot for middle grade novels. Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Jennifer Cuevas is on my to-read pile. And as a family, we’ve been reading the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud at bedtime.

13. What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m always working on something. I have three picture book texts in different stages of completion and I plan to start a middle grade novel this month. Two of my manuscripts are out on submission. Hopefully, I’ll have some good news to share later on in 2016.

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