Margot Finke – Author Interview

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a transplanted Aussie who has lived in Oregon with my family for many years. Three children have presented my husband and myself with 4 grandchildren – the light of our lives. For years I thought up plots and characters while I lay in bed at night. Yet unlike those special writers who take notes, and then write in the few available minutes that being a mother of three offers, I could not do it. Juggling diaper changes, room clean-up and kid fights, was not my forte`.

Later, when our kids left to begin their lives, things changed. Of course I needed to learn what went into the writing of a really wonderful picture book, so I bought my first computer (all of 1 ½ GIG HD), joined several children’s writing lists, and the SCBWI. I was lucky enough to have a few talented and published writers mentor me until I knew a POV from a plot line,

Later, I began returning that marvelous favor, by helping other new writers learn the writing ropes. Today, as well as my own books and writing, I run a flourishing Manuscript Critique Service, and my website and both my blogs are full of help for upcoming writers + my own books and where to buy them. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than to hear that a book I helped polish has been published – YEA!

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind is a rhyming story about BIG change, and how it can affect children like Ruthie. Parent-teacher guide included. You can see sample verses, illustrations, and a Trailer on my website. K.C. Snider, the illustrator, really made that pink hippo steal the show.

What inspired you to write this book?

Like “Ruthie,” children today go through so many big changes, whether it is the death of a loved one, a divorce, or simply a move that leaves friends and family behind. The fun verses will make kids giggle, and the illustrations ( that hippo!) are a delight. Yet underneath all the fun is a thread that will resonate with kids and parents alike. The Q&A in the parent – teacher guide is designed to help children sort through the anger and frustration that big change sometimes brings.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

G.A.P. (Guardian Angel Publishing) published my previous picture book, “Rattlesnake Jam,” written just for boys. They are also publishing my next PB + a midgrade adventure for boys, set in the Australian outback. They are helpful, on the ball about finding new sales outlets, both here and overseas, and encourage their writers to come together and support each other in an unprecedented way. GAP authors have their own on-line writing list. We chat, help each other cook up new ways to further sales for all, and make lasting writing based friendships. I am very happy with this company.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I read voraciously as a child, and always scribbled stories. One time, I became so involved reading A Tale of To Cities, that the train I was on went several stops beyond mine before I realized it. That walk home, in 90deg Aussie heat + high heels, was a memorable event.

When our three children were young, I never had time for serious writing, but as soon as they went off to college, I turned their play room into my writing sanctuary, and wrote like mad every day. I was a late bloomer you see, and I had a lot of lost writing time to catch up on.

My first published stories began as off-the-top-of-my-head tales, told to my children at bedtime. They were about the many wonderful critters in their Aussie homeland. I didn’t want them to forget their Aussie heritage. When I became a teacher’s aide, and told the same stories to the children there, the teacher said I should write them down, So the original stories (with lots of polishing) ended up as my 7 book, “Wild and Wonderful” series: fun, educational e-books about animals from the US and Australia. All in rhyme.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

For me, the first page is the hardest. The middle and the end are a snap. But that first page, particularly the first paragraph, is reworked umpteen times. It never seems quite right. Never perfect. . . sigh!

How do you do research for your books?

I do not need a great deal of detailed or formidable research. For my use, all I can say is, “Thank goodness for the Internet and Google.”

What are you reading now?

Don’t tell my children’s writing friends, but I love reading detective fiction. If I can guess “who done it” before the end, the author has failed. Shush now. You promised! The Lovely Bones is a great favorite, and as a child I loved Alice and Wonderland.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Yes, it is a sequel to my midgrade book for boys, soon to be published by G.A.P. “Survival by Walkabout” is again set in the Aussie Outback, but it has more aboriginal and Dreamtime influence. More drama and adventure as well. Set on Coorparoo Cattle Station, it begins with a nasty fight between Josh and his brother. Locked outside the homestead, young Josh goes off on walkabout with his old aboriginal mate, Bindi. A crazed Medicine Man, near death experiences, and having to eat snake and witchetty grubs, are only the beginning of the problems these two boys must overcome and survive. They both come out of the adventure much wiser and smarter.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Learn the rules of writing before you attempt to break them. Have patience. Like any job, the craft of writing must be learned, e-Books and eReaders will make a huge change in the way publishers do business, and the way people read books. Sure, paper books will be with us forever, but soon the will have viable competition.

It is the quality of the writing that is important, not how it is published. So if you do self-publish, or choose eBooks, make sure your book is well edited before it hits the presses. When the price of eReaders comes down more, and showing color is common, look out. Kids today are computer savvy, and very willing to try anything that is new, different, and works well.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Due to knee replacement surgery, with nasty complications, I am forced to promote my 9th PB, “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind,” via the internet. I thought this would be a fast and easy way to do it, but not so. My knee is sure resting, but I have developed a big “pain in the butt” – literally, mate! It takes oodles of “sitting” time to craft individual Press Releases for different outlets: newspapers, Indie bookstores, home schooling parents, schools (soon), libraries, Realtors and Movers. The last two, because Google Alerts told me “Ruthie” had shown up on these sites, due to the key word MOVE. Hey, It is no secret that Google and I are now going steady.

Then there’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and JacketFlap. They must be fed regular tidbits of promotional chatter. I also designed and made a cute Book Trailer to add to my Website, Blogs, and anywhere else I can sneak it in. Not to mention the frantic hunt for book reviewers, filling out author interview forms like this one, and doing a “Ruthie” stint on Book Bites for Kids – on BlogTalkRadio.

HOOK KIDS on READING is another place to slip in regular news about “Ruthie,” as well as other books that will get kids reading – especially boys. For blogs to work well, they must offer fun, catchy item that are of interest, and reach the right demographic via Pinging after every entry.

Keeping up with my Client’s Critique needs is another priority I must also pay attention to: so far so good. Oh, and finding the time to actually write something is beginning to feel a little like the search for the Holy Grail.

I know there’s more, but my brain is frozen: a complete blank.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

This is great. Thank you. Details about all my books, including where to BUY, sample verses, illustrations, trailers and illustrator info, can be found on my Website Directory:

The Directory also lists my “Musings” column, links to both Blogs. + all the helpful writing information on my website.


Margot’s Books for Kids + Writing News:

Thanks for the opportunity to reach out and meet new and interested people.