May 8 - May 14: Relax, blog, read The Hunger Games, go to the dentist, rejuvenate
May 15 - June 19: Summer classes
Mid-June - Beginning of August: Travel abroad, independent research
August: Volunteer at local hospital with psychology mentor
Folks, this may be my busiest summer yet! Share with us - what summer plans do you have?
In other exciting news, we have author Maureen Wartski here with us today. Maureen was born in Japan and is a lover of art, writing and nature. Her novel, Yuri's Brush with Magic, is geared toward middle-schoolers and was a 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist.
The book follows two siblings who find the strength within themselves to deal with challenging circumstances. The book centers around motifs such as folk tales, painting, sea turtles and the importance of family relationships - just to name a few.
Yuri's Brush with Magic is published by Sleepy Hollow Books, a children's independent publishing company based in Durham, NC, where I was an editorial intern for the past year.
TRA: What is your inspiration? What motivates/drives you to write and create art?
MW: Since I was very small, I wrote stories and played with colors. My dad, who was a self-taught artist, encouraged the ‘artwork’ and my whole extended family believed in the writing. To have someone believe in you is an inspiration in itself! Further, my Uncle Harry encouraged me to read, read more, and to try my literary wings at every opportunity. The real inspiration here was his advice: to try—and never to worry about failing.
As for what motivates me to play with art and with words, I believe it is curiosity. If I put these colors together, what then…? If I follow this plot line, what will happen? That and a love of words and colors rules the day.
TRA: Every writer goes about the writing process in different ways; it's a unique experience for everyone. Tell us, what is the writing process like for you?
MW: I get an idea and file it away somewhere in my mind. Another idea floats by, and perhaps I snag it, too. Then the third, the catalyst arrives, and… there is the story. Sometimes this process takes a very long time. Sometimes it happens in a flash. The entire plot of The Promise (Summit Books), complete with fully formed characters, came to me while I was taking a tour of an abandoned gold mine in Mecklenburg County.
When I was younger and was writing three books a year on contract, I used to start writing at eight, wrote nonstop 'til two and then researched for an hour. Nowadays, I can’t keep—and don’t want to keep—this grueling pace.
TRA: What did you love most about writing Yuri's Brush with Magic? Was there a certain character you felt like you identified with really well?
MW: I love the ocean. Nothing is more inspiring than to walk along the beach and watch the waves roll in. I love the change of seasons, the turn of weather, the ebb and floe of the tide. So—Emerald Isle being the backdrop of this book was special. I could feel the nuances of the ocean and knew how it would affect Tammy. I didn’t identify with any of the characters per se, but each one was personal. Tammy, because she was Eurasian like myself and because she was a writer. Ken because he was a rebel. Aunt Yuri—I loved Aunt Yuri because she did remind me of my aunt and the other strong women in my family!
TRA: Which book or author has influenced you the most in your life?
MW: Don’t laugh—I think William Shakespeare had a lot of influence in my writing life. Early on, I learned to read his plays, particularly Julius Caesar. I learned to love his words and language, the twists of metaphor, the manipulation of characters. Back in the day when I taught high school English, I taught my freshmen Julius Caesar . We brought in contemporary politics, ‘filmed’ the assassination and had a grand time. Later, my colleagues couldn’t believe that the class WANTED to study Antony and Cleopatra.
TRA: Shakespeare is awesome. I remember having to read Romeo & Juliet in my freshman English class, and we would read the play aloud with different classmates 'playing' different roles. Maureen, I have one last question - what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MW: The only advice worth giving: Keep writing and never fear failure. Sometimes the only way to learn IS to fail.
Thank you to Maureen for taking the time to do an interview with me! To read more about Maureen Wartski and follow her adventures, check out her blog.