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Meet the Writer… Marjorie Stordeur

I recently joined a fantastic writers group through Inked Voices, a platform for writers to critique and develop work in a supportive network. Here’s an interview with one of my new talented friends – writer and librarian Marjorie Stordeur. (- Rock On Kitty)

What are you working on at the moment?

I have two projects that I’m currently working on.  The main (and most time consuming) project is an illustrated MG Magical Realism novel called Press To Call.  Press To Call follows 11 year old Penny Zingle on her quest to solve the mystery of a mysterious call button behind the nonfiction books at her school library.  My other project is a picture book called Mint Springs Farm about a girl whose school bus drops her off at the horse farm of her dreams.

 

What’s the inspiration behind Press To Call?

I am a school librarian and there is an actual button behind the books at my library.  A student discovered it and actually confronted me about it like it might be something…dangerous.   My husband and I went back and forth for several weeks joking around about what happen if I pressed the button. Here’s the thing: I STILL haven’t pressed it!  Maybe there’s a part of me that believes what happens to Penny Zingle will happen to me.

As an emerging writer, how do you balance work/ writing/ family?  Do you set aside special time to write (how is your day structured)?

As a working mother with two young children, this is the hardest part.  I’ve always intended to publish books and always secretly thought of myself as a writer, but I also had these preconceived notions of what my life would look like when I became that writer who wrote and published books.  I imagined having hours of quiet time and “a room of my own.”  When I turned thirty-five last year, I realized these hours and this place was not going to happen for a long, long time.  Maybe it would never happen.

I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert around that same time.  Gilbert said you had to treat your art like someone you really love. Sneak away with it every moment you get.  That idea resonated with me.  My alarm is set for 5 am every morning of the week.  Sometimes I only get 15 minutes before one of my young children hears me and gets up.  I write every day at school during my 20 minute lunch break.  I often take out the computer and revise at night just before I go to bed.  

Barbara Kingsolver says she wrote The Bean Trees in a closet.  I always thought that was where I drew my line, but I recently found myself in my closet typing behind my clothes on hangers.  This was actually a great spot and I got almost an hour of silence before the kids found me.

What is your writing process?  Do you believe in writer’s block? (If so, how do you overcome it)

I think about the story a lot more than I write.  I think writer’s block comes from the idea that the story has to come out pitch perfect the first time you write it down, which is enough to scare anybody away from writing anything!   I read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird long ago and her theory is not to worry too much about how horrible your first draft is, and that your best work comes out in the revision.  

I agree with this idea.   When I’m ready I begin by writing absolutely horrible drafts that absolutely nobody ever sees.

My next door neighbor is a wood carver and I often see him carving in the yard next door.  I like to think my writing process is just like his wood carving process.  At first it just looks like a square hunk of wood.  And then it looks like a deformed hunk of wood.  And then one day I look over and, holy cow, it’s a bald eagle!

For me, most of the writing process is revising.  I feel like through revising I am carving away at the story that is hidden within the horrible draft.   Each time I revise it it reads more and more like I originally envisioned it.

So do you have a time frame for when you will finish Press To Call?

I’m hoping to finish both Press to Call and Mint Springs Farm around September.  I plan to put them away for three months, revise one more time, and begin querying in January of 2018.

Why do you write fantasy for middle grade audiences?

I write magical realism and have always been drawn to that genre.  I absolutely love The Little Prince, and anything by Mac Barnett.   When I was a kid I was fascinated by the books of Roald Dahl.  I could go on and on about the children’s books I adore for pages, but what these books all have in common is a sense of playfulness about reality. The books also have big messages inside of them.  The books are set in the real world but there’s a sense that the rules that govern the world aren’t as straightforward as we think, that if you look closer you might discover something magical.

When readers reach the last page of my book I want them to have this sense of discovery.  I hope my books make kids more curious about the world, more inquisitive, and think more about all of the world’s questions that haven’t been answered.

What were you like at school?

I was loud and confident until the fifth grade when my I lost the favor of my popular group of friends.  Actually, I feel I found myself in those rough middle school years.  Books became my most reliable companions.  I did well academically and always loved reading, writing, and art.

What’s your biggest learning experience so far from this writing process?

Press To Call is my first novel and it’s a lot my work than I ever anticipated.  I think if when I began this project I knew how many hours of my life I would be giving it, I would have run away and done something more…fun.   But I’m proud of it so far and at this point I’ve put so many hours into it that there’s no turning back.  

 

Thanks for dropping by Marjorie. We’re looking forward to reading Press To Call towards the end of the year. (- Rock On Kitty)

2017-05-03T10:03:37+00:00

One Comment

  1. j May 3, 2017 at 10:02 am - Reply

    always love finding new authors to follow!

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