I'm a lifelong Nevada girl, former nurse and business owner, who came to writing after retirement, though I've always made up stories for my children and grandchildren. I just never wrote them down before. Now I'm having a ball coming up with new stories and sharing them with my readers. I love writing for those middle-grade ages. I think I got stuck in sixth grade myself, and books were sometimes my best friends!
SIX MINUTES WITH MARY MAGER:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author is Mary Mager, author of The Concordia series. Find out what inspired Mary to write PRETEND PRINCESS, the first book in the series. It received the Five-Star LitPick Book Review Award.
Her newest book, EMMYLOU AND THE PIXELS, has just been reviewed by a LitPick student book reviewer, and it also received the Five-Star LitPick Book Review Award.
“Mary Mager does a great job showing how much cancer affects families. She also develops Emmylou’s character very well.” -LitPick Student Book Reviewer
***How did you get started writing?
I've always made up stories for my own children, but I was a songwriter first. I actually have a CD of original bedtime songs and lullabies out there (On Grandma's Lap). But once I retired and had more time to spend with the grandchildren, the stories became more important to them and to me. I loved that the whole thing was all mine from beginning to end, and the characters became real to me. PRETEND PRINCESS was a direct response to a request from my granddaughter for a story about a princess, and everything grew from there.
***Who influenced you?
I loved the work of Frances Hodgson Burnett, A LITTLE PRINCESS and THE SECRET GARDEN, as well as anything by Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN and more. All these are emotionally intimate stories revolving around friendship and family, helping the main character overcome whatever challenges they face. It wasn't until I began writing that I realized how much these books influenced my view of what's important in the life of a child. Having just one loving family member or just one faithful friend can make all the difference.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/ character/ setting?
I must admit I am a huge fan of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS fantasy series, in part because the books are just so beautifully written. That story also emphasizes friendship and loyalty, though against a grand scale of events. I am drawn to children and teens who feel neglected or isolated, even within a loving family, as Toby is in UNDER THE SUMMER SUN and Prince Jasper in SNOW IN APRIL. It's all a normal part of growing up, but to a child in that emotional place, everyday events take on a huge significance. Writing allows me to explore those feelings.
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
I could write a book on this subject! Others may have a different approach, but this is what works for me. Write about what is in your heart - what has meaning for you. Don't worry about current trends or what's popular today, but stick to what you know. You can't force a story - it has to grow out of character and setting, so take your time thinking about it before you write a word. Get to know your characters. Be prepared to accept constructive criticism. Take advantage of any educational tools you can find to improve your craft and pay attention to details. And HAVE FUN!
***Do you have a favorite place to write?
I write everything on an old PC at home. I bought a laptop, but it's just not the same. I will say this - most of the work is done in my head before I begin writing it down - then the story sort of takes on a life of its own and goes quickly.
***What else would you like to tell us?
I'm having so much fun! The characters in my books have become so real to me, I keep writing just to keep them around. The Concordia series has a ton of friends, and now Emmylou, Levi, and the Pixels too. It makes me so happy to think kids enjoy my stories and find them satisfying to read. I hope they can see themselves in the books, too, and know things can turn out all right for them.
Thanks to LitPick for the opportunity to share with them
Mary, thanks for joining us for an author interview. Your advice on writing is spot-on. Thank you for writing what was on your heart to speak into the lives of your grandchildren. It is having a ripple effect for many other readers.