Monday, July 18, 2011

Partner on the Path: Mary Ann Scott

Mary Ann has been a faithful partner on my path to publication. We met while participating in her awesomeness, Denise Jaden's, March Madness earlier this year. I feel privileged to be sharing the journey together.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
When I first dove into writing for kids, I nabbed a copy of The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and started hunting around online for more information.  Very quickly I found Verla Kay’s website and have been hooked on the Blue Boards ever since.  I also joined the SCBWI and started attending conferences whenever I could afford to.
I think I have to say the most helpful resource I’ve found has been other writers.  People who write for kids are very different than most authors, so much nurturing and inspiration and less of the competition you might see elsewhere.  It’s an awesome group to party with!
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
The most encouraging thing...comes in two parts.  Earning a full scholarship to the Chautauqua Writer’s Workshop and working with the amazing Patricia Lee Gauch, who requested the MS we worked on, had me walking on air for the next year.  And then I signed with my awesome agent, Elana Roth with the Caren Johnson Literary Agency, with that same manuscript.  She is tremendous, a really hands-on agent who has truly supported my work and given me the sort of encouragment that keeps me pumped about writing.
Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Do I really have to pick favorite books?  From my own youth, Judy Blume’s books, Beverly Cleary’s books, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond were favorites, but along the way I discovered 1984, I Am the Cheese, and The Illustrated Man.  More recently, I’ve latched onto books like A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle Trilogy), and of course the Harry Potter series.  But one of my true, could not live without favorites is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
What do you do when you feel like giving up?
When I feel like giving up, a lot of red wine and chocolate doesn’t hurt.  Seriously, it’s a voice inside my head that just refuses to leave.  It keeps telling me stories and crashing my self-pity parties.  I’ve been there, believe me.  Feeling defeated and frustrated.  But I know a lot of writers say it, and it’s just the simple truth:  I simply can’t not write.
If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
If I could live anywhere on earth, it would have to a small horse farm in Ireland. I spent a year in Maynooth when I was in college and I’ve never recovered.
Describe your fantasy writing space?
My fantasy writing space is my own space, not a desk in the corner of the playroom. A real room with a door I can close and windows with a few tree branches in view. It’s far away from traffic noise and smog, but close enough to a real city that I have some connection to civilization when I need it. Non-stop tea and bickies (0 calories of course) and room to get up, stretch, and act out a scene or two without arousing the attentions of unwelcome neighbors who fear some murder or some other heinous crime is taking place. I do tend to live my writing on occasion.  After 10 years, I almost have my wish.
What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Several obstacles have cropped up over the years—poverty, a child with special needs, the death of my mother and all that followed, and an unexpected exile to the armpit of the South.
What one word describes your writing process?
What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
Children’s writers are clever and nurturing and self-effacing. They can take themselves seriously without taking themselves too seriously.  So many are parents or teachers who “get” what kids need and they love that connection. They just can’t help but keep that vibe going with fellow writers.  They may be angsty or wide-eyed and goofy, but they are not cynical.
Best writing advice you’ve been given?
Don’t be afraid to “go big.”
What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
When I am working on a project, I sink my emotions in deep.  I can’t help but ask, “how does/would she feel about that?” or “why would she react that way?” or “what do I want the reader to feel?”  Anyone who knows me in person knows I truly where my emotions on my sleeve, right out there for all to see.  I try to take that and figure out what my characters would do when they don’t want everyone to see how they feel. How would they show it.
How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
It depends on how big the book deal is!  My kids are expecting a trip to Disney World, but I better get it in gear or they’ll be graduating from college before we ever rub paws with Mickey...



  1. Mary Ann! I love finding out new things about people in these interviews. Your Ireland experience sounds awesome, and it sounds like your book is going to be a winner! Go big!

  2. I want to live in Ireland, too. :) Great interview. Hope the book does well when it is published!

  3. Great interview. I don't have my own writing space either. I usually end up on the couch. No door to close. My husband and daughter can come and go and distract me at will.

    I hope you will be rubbing paws with Mickey soon!

  4. Thanks so much, gals! I still ache for Ireland. 20th anniversary coming up in 2013...maybe a getaway?!

    Kip...totally going big!

    AA, Thanks for the "when"!

    Kelly, thanks for the positive thoughts. :-) Hope you get some writing space soon...

  5. 2013 sounds like a great idea, Mary Ann. Maybe you'll be celebrating a book launch. Enjoy your vacation!

  6. Wow, this is great. I want to talk about poverty and living in the armpit of the South. Well, I was born in the big toe of the South, then moved the the belly button, now I'm def. closer to the armpit. LOL.

    And I love your words about the children's writer community. So true and so well-said


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