I’m so excited to be able to announce that since posting our last part of this interview, Marian has had yet another story accepted for publication by The School Magazine! Congratulations Marian!
In Part 3 of this interview, Marian talks about what she has gained from the writing mentorships and offers a few other top tips.
[PHOTO: Marian receiving 2014 CBCA Mentorship and Charlotte Waring Barton Award – presented by Belinda Murrell]
What have been the most helpful lessons for you from the mentorships about writing?
I have been so fortunate to have been mentored twice in 2015. Both my mentors, Sally Rippin and Belinda Murrell were overly generous with their time, comments and suggestions. In a nutshell: for younger children start the story in everyday life, make the reader secure and then build up the action; set up the protagonist’s problem quickly; within the story structure, each hurdle has to be bigger than the last; nothing should come too easily for the protagonist; look for plot holes; consider The Hero’s Journey; there has to be a sense of danger/conflict – physical or emotional; characters have to have an ‘arc’; the reader must make an emotional connection to invest in reading the story. In the case of my CBCA win, I also had mentoring sessions with a Penguin Random House children’s editor, publisher, and marketing and publicity manager. There are so many gems, that procuring a mentorship is like opening the treasure trove of writing wisdom.
What have been the most helpful things you have learnt about the children’s book industry from your mentorships?
That it’s tough. Publication has to have so many stars aligned. It’s not merely writing a book – it has to be marketable; you have to have a ‘brand/image’; you must switch on your marketing brain!
What would be your advice for someone thinking about applying for a mentorship?
Do your homework re the rules for the mentorship; write your best; edit as well as you can; get others’ advice; see what has won before; polish … polish … polish; don’t be disappointed with the results, judging is subjective and there are so many like you and me applying, and each writer is giving their all.
I’m like a bower bird, gathering tips from other writers’ experiences. Other’s successes inspire me as well. I subscribe to two e-zines: Buzz Words and Pass It On. They are my weekly and fortnightly injections of writerly information. I would suggest to those interested in what’s happening in the industry, to subscribe as well. I’ve participated in many courses, festivals and masterclasses. Each time I glean something new and meet new people. I’m a member of a children’s writers’ group at the NSW Writers’ Centre. We sustain each other with our empathy, critiques and suggestions. Each member is a cherished part of my writing journey, which I hope is reciprocal.
[PHOTO: Marian in Japan for travel writing]
You are a member of a number of associations for writers – what benefit do you get from them?
Each organisation has elements that are specific to it. Apart from gaining knowledge of what’s happening from the grass roots upwards, you meet like minds and there’s camaraderie. I feel like I am in a family who treasure what I treasure. Although as writers, we work in isolation, it’s heartening to see that we are part of the whole.
I guess I should say reading my first publication or winning a competition, but the truth is, I’m proud (in an inner kind of way) each time I think up a new story, each time I find original imagery and each time I edit a sentence or paragraph to make it stronger.
Great response! And some great tips for us to take away.
Thanks so much, Marian, for sharing with the Just Write For Kids Community.
[PHOTO: Trekking up the Fox Glacier, NZ]