Marjorie Blain Parker - Author
When is your birthday?
Where do you live now?
Who is in your family?
My husband, Jay. Our children are Steve (16), Casey (14) and Rachel (11).
When did you start writing?
I wrote my first poem when I was in grade three. It was published in the school newsletter (St. Cecilia's in Calgary) and I've been hooked ever since. I wrote lots of poetry throughout school and university. After I got married and moved to Denver, I took a children's writing class. I've been writing stories and poetry for children ever since (taking breaks to have children of my own).
What was your training or schooling?
I have a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary. My writing schooling started “officially” with a correspondence course from the Institute of Children's Literature. I've been studying the craft ever since by reading children's books, reading “children's writing” newsletters, writing, writing, writing, and attending writing conferences.
How did you get involved with children's books?
I just sort of fell into it. I already enjoyed writing when I saw an advertisement for the course with the Institute of Children's Literature. It really appealed to me, and I thought it would be fun to pursue writing more seriously and try to get published. Little did I know it would become an obsession!!
Do you have any tips for young creators?
Experiment! Write about anything that interests you. Keep track of ideas that you have --- they disappear easily! Keep your stories and poems. Learn how to use a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary. Pay attention to what you read --- how does the author write dialogue, description? How does the author keep the pace going and keep the reader interested?
What is your favorite book?
Too hard!! Kids' books I loved as a child: The Narnia Chronicles, Anne of Green Gables, Little Black: A Pony, the entire series of Random House's Dr. Seuss/I Can Read series, almost anything about dogs or horses, anything by Paul Gallico, Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, Rabbit Hill, The Children's Hour anthology and many, many, many others. There weren't many true picture books when I was growing up! Children's books I love now: Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, Snowflake Bentley, The Emperor's Egg, many of Eve Bunting's stories, Goodnight Moon and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, to name a few.
What is the thing you like the most about creating kids books?
Everything! I like playing with ideas and words and emotions. I like it when I really get into a story and I lose track of time, and then I read what I've written and think it's a masterpiece. Of course, a couple of days later it doesn't sound nearly as good --- which is why it's important to let your writing sit for a while before you start revising.
Where do you work?
I have a small desk with a computer on it. It's in our family room so I have to be able to work with lots of noise!! I write or think about writing much of the time. And, since I get so many of my ideas while I'm walking, I guess I could say I work outdoors!
How do you research or create your stories?
If I have an idea for a story, I just write everything that comes to mind --- words, phrases, scenes, a line of dialogue. Much of this writing is just in narrative form telling myself the ideas I have. It's a mess. But it's the blueprint for the story. Later, I start creating text and dialogue from my notes. I reorganize it. I add details, etc. Once it's in story form, I really start polishing.
Where do you get your ideas?
From things I hear or observe or read about. The idea for Jasper's Day came when I remembered that my husband's friend and his wife took the day off work to spend it with their dog before he was put to sleep.
What is your favorite animal?
I like puppies and dogs the most. And I love to see the way humans interact with their dogs!
Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
Jasper, in Jasper's Day, is named after Jasper National Park in Alberta. I worked in a small town near there for a year or so in my early 20s, and I loved the area.