14 October 2012 - Jo Marshall - Guest Author


Photography Copyright Clancy Tucker (c)


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Quote of the day:

"Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth."


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JO MARSHALL


- GUEST AUTHOR


G'day guys,


Today I welcome a lady who has had an interesting life - Jo Marshall. Jo lives in the Pacific Northwest near volcanoes, rainforests, prairies, and coastal wetlands.   She is concerned about climate change impacting the wildlife and forests in this region, and weaves environmental fact with fantasy into her stories.  She spent seven years as a volunteer literacy tutor for children who read at an elementary school level.


In 1986, while living in West Berlin, Jo earned a B.A. in German Language and Literature with the University of Maryland, Europe.  From 1984-1987 she worked as a liaison between the U.S. Command, Berlin and the international diplomatic communities.  Jo lived in the D.C. area from 1999 to 2006, and worked in litigation for two nonprofit organizations as the Legal Assistant to their General Counsels – the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Oceana.

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Jo enjoys mysteries, puzzles, science, BBC, NPR, PBS, and Big Band era music.  Jo is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Read A Book Make A Difference, and many forest and wildlife conservation nonprofits.  She resides in Snohomish, Washington with her husband, son, daughter, and many loving creatures. Welcome, Jo. Wow, tell us more ...

"First of all, Clancy, may I thank you for your generous invitation to talk about my books and experiences.   You are an inspiring role model, and create wonderful, meaningful stories about important subjects for kids, and adults, too."


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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.


 When my daughter was in 4th grade, she first learned about climate change, and our expectations that her generation must save the earth from the mess we made of it.  It actually was very stressful for her because she had a deep love and interest in the natural world.  We had seen first hand the loss of entire forests in British Columbia.  It was a devastating result of bark beetles not dying off as they normally would during winter, and an indicator of a warming world.  These consequences of climate change are important to understand and study, but I knew there may be another way than polarizing kids at this age.  It seemed her friends were either activists or gamers.  So it was then we created Twig characters, who live in old growth forests and battle climate change.  I wrote the stories to capture this moment in time with my daughter, so it wasn’t a great leap to publish Twig Stories.


 I should mention that Twig Stories are about tiny, stick creatures called Twigs, and their adventures in the Pacific Northwest.  Twigs are funny, skilled in forest craft, and courageous.  Unfortunately, they must also struggle with climate change events.  The stories are about adaptation, and give kids a sense of the natural world in transition as well as just giving them some fun reading a book.


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WERE YOU A GOOD READER AS A KID?


 Oh, yes. We were very poor – seven kids, and my parents were teachers in schools with few resources, so I lived in the library, or always had a stack of books at home.  My mom’s addiction to reading influenced what I read.  When I finished one book, she’d throw another at me (literally), and even when I was ten, I didn’t flinch from catching the thick, heavy ones like ‘War and Peace’ or ‘From Here to Eternity’.  I also read Dickens, Hemmingway, Steinbeck, the Bronte sisters. I loved the popular authors, too, like Leon Uris, Zane Grey, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and all the science fiction writers, of course.  Many I read again and again as I grew up so I understood them better.  I suppose all these amazing stories I read influence Twig Stories in some way, and I hope that actually happens, but I doubt it.


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WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?


 I wrote a great deal when I worked as  a legal assistant in nonprofits, and before that for the military in West Berlin as a liaison between the US Command and the diplomatic community. This type of writing was analytical and purposeful, usually more like persuasive speaking within a strict format than with literary panache.  But it gave me discipline and, surprisingly, a creative style – struggling against the rules, so to speak.  With Twig Stories, this type of writing helped me create the mystery within an adventure because everything that happens helps solve the dilemma.


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WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?


 I’m finishing Leaf & the Long Ice, and will have it out by Thanksgiving.  Leaf’s twin brothers run away to play in the snow on the Long Ice – an enormous glacier on Echo Peak, which is actually Mount Rainier in Washington state.  Naturally, they get lost, and Leaf must rescue them.  Two glaciologists, professors at universities in Canada, read the manuscripts, and gave me valuable insights and guidance on glaciers, which gives depth and scientific accuracy to the story that I never would have achieved otherwise.  I am so grateful to them for their help.  They also gave The Long Ice amazing reviews and endorsements, too.


 I’m starting Leaf & Echo Peak about a volcanic eruption and the incredible rebirth possible.  This will finish the four books of the Leaf collection of Twig Stories.


  WHAT INSPIRES YOU?


  Trees like western cedars, sequoias, whitebark pine, bristlecone pine – well, ok, any tree inspires me.  Vast forests.  Huge jagged mountains.  Glacier lakes so clear you can see the bottom when you’re in a boat in the middle of the lake.  Waterfalls off granite cliffs.  Streams in old growth forests.  Going to the store because I see three volcanoes when I drive across the valley.


 WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?


 Solving the conflict, resolving the mystery, the conclusion!  I just love creating a complicated story, and having all the pieces fit perfectly at the end.  It’s like finishing a beautiful puzzle.  I feel really proud of the work I accomplished.


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WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?


 It was from my daughter, Ali Jo.  Even though she was a co-conspirator for Twig Stories, and helped create all the fantastic characters and action, the first time she actually read the manuscript I handed her, she looked up with a shocked expression, and said, “You’re really a good writer!”  I’m not sure what she had expected.


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WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?


 Absolutely.  I witnessed many of the eruptions of Mount Saint Helens.  Years later in DC, right after the jet hit the Pentagon, my husband and I saw it from across the parking lot.  The plumes of dark smoke and the tragic destruction of both will always be connected in my mind.  Also, the first time I saw the endless dead or dying forests of British Columbia due to bark beetle infestation, I was shocked.  Such overwhelming events give me a sense of what our younger generation feels knowing their world is spinning into climate crisis.  It’s too incomprehensible to imagine all at once.  But breaking it into smaller pieces, and dealing with ecosystems one at a time, helps a child understand there may be species and places that can be saved from this inevitable journey.  Twigs serve that purpose.


 I’m grateful Twigs ended up as my crusaders for forests, floods, shrinking glaciers, and adaptation.  I also feel good that we are able to share our royalties with nonprofits involved with climate change research, forest conservation, and wildlife protection.


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HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?


 Two.  Leaf & the Sky of Fire and Leaf & the Rushing Waters.   You could actually include Leaf in the Long Ice now because it’s only weeks away from being a book.


 HAVE YOU WON ANY PRIZES OR AWARDS?


  Leaf & the Sky of Fire was shortlisted for The Newton Marasco Foundation 2012 Green Earth Book Award for Children’s Fiction, the only indie author to be on the list, which was incredibly rewarding.  The Newton Marasco Foundation has since changed their name to The Nature Generation.  I can’t image why!


 DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?


 Yes.  Unless you’re experienced and confident with your own editing skills an editor is essential.


 I should mention here that the illustrator for Twig Stories is a professional Disney artist, D.W. Murray.  The artwork is amazing.  David makes sure the art matches the action in the story, and the illustrations are wonderful because of his patience and dedication.  I didn’t realize how much having a professional illustrator will help with the books’ appeal.  Just look at the details of the book covers. Fantastic!


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WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?


 After I finish Leaf & Echo Peak next year, I’ll begin the Fern collection of four books.  Fern is Leaf’s sister, and the stories will focus more on critically endangered wildlife because of climate change, and will take place in the California redwood forests and the Sierras.  After that, the Twig twins, Buddy and Burba, will get their own collection about climate change impacts on the Pacific coast marine life.  In between all of this, I plan on working puzzles and reading books.  I collect Norman Rockwell puzzles, and they’re piling up next to the stack of books about climate change.


 Thanks, Clancy. Taking a moment for some self-reflection helps kick-start the motivation to continue the drive.  Your books and your choice of topics are very encouraging for authors hoping to do more than simply entertain.  Best wishes for your future work.  Kids need your perspective.


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Jo's contact points:


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Website:  http://www.twigstories.com

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Facebook:

http://facebook.com/twigstoriesbooks

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Here’s some Createspace Author Page E-Store Discounts


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Leaf & the Rushing Waters

http://www.createspace.com/3604681  20% Discount code: UBMWCEDQ

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Leaf & the Sky of Fire

http://www.createspace.com/3494005  20% Discount code: GC5883MH

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Amazon.com books (In paperback and on Kindle):

Leaf & the Rushing Waters


 http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Rushing-Waters-Twig-Stories/dp/1461135788/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322030239&sr=1-1


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Leaf & the Sky of Fire


 http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Sky-Fire-Twig-Stories/dp/145630092X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1306174492&sr=8-2


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http://www.amazon.com/author/jo.marshall


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Clancy's comment: It's been a pleasure, Jo. Your home town looks wonderful and the artwork on your books is sensational. Love ya work! - CT


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