photo farm-home_zpsa3f89177.jpg  photo farm-about_zps5ca590aa.jpg  photo farm-books_zps4b857550.jpg  photo farm-activities_zpsba432778.jpg  photo farm-writing_zpsb4bb8fe2.jpg  photo farm-contact_zps6eab4e56.jpg

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interviewing....JOANNA MARPLE

Through the magic of the web I have been able to"meet" lots of fun people, one of which
is Joanna Marple
Joanna is a writer living in France who along with illustrator Maja Sereda, recently
published a new u-Tales book SNOW GAMES.
Joanna graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her new book
and the u-Tales process.  I hope you will enjoy her interview and
hop over to u-tales and check out SNOW GAMES and
all the other fun books available for download.
1.  Joanna, I believe this is your first picture book with u-tales...tell me about your experience.
I became involved with uTales when an illustrator friend of mine, Hazel Mitchell, submitted her story, THE UGLY DUCKLING, and won an iPad for the official launch of uTales last November. I was very impressed with quality of her work, and joined the group, knowing that they had in place an editorial quality control panel, headed up by Emma Dryden. SNOW GAMES is the first book of mine to be published on uTales, but in fact I was part of a collaborative project at the beginning of this year, when thirty of us uTalers, from around the globe, wrote and illustrated the Friendship Alphabet Book, all the proceeds of which go to the charity, Pencils of Promise. I had been trying to find an illustrator for SNOW GAMES for around two months at this point, and despite several loving the story, they were all freelancers and simply too busy. I was involved in the pulling together of the Friendship project at the end, and mentioned to Emma that I was looking for an illustrator. On looking at my story (and giving some great editorial input!) she suggested I approach Maja Sereda, whose OWL page in the alphabet book we both loved and felt was a great stylistic fit for my project. Fate was on my side, as Maja had a slight lull in her freelance projects and had time to take on SNOW GAMES. I feel certain that Maja was the perfect illustrator for this story and we plan on future collaborations!
2.  Your charming story is written in a very lyrical rhyme, is this unusual for you or do you usually write in rhyme?
Thank you, Sharon. I do enjoy writing children’s poetry in rhyme, but until SNOW GAMES, my picture book stories had all been in prose. The truth is, I sat down to write this with the barest of outlines (snow, paw prints, Bear & Mouse) and the story wrote itself in rhyme. The first (of MANY) draft was written in a couple of hours, and the stanzas and story simply flowed. I believe it works well because the story rather than the author chose the form! I have several manuscripts on the go right now and only two are in rhyme; I really do try and let the story dictate its destiny. I have greatly appreciated the critique I have received on the rhyme, and know I have much still to learn. One of my favorite picture book authors is Karma Wilson, whose rhyming skill I greatly admire. I read as many rhyming picture books as I can!

3.  I read that you were planning a school visit to share your book...tell me how you will handle this since it is an eBook and you don't actually have a hard copy.   How do you plan to market the book itself?
Well, Sharon, when we published the book, on May 7th, this interview was the only one planned! Within 48 hours, 7 more writers/bloggers had kindly invited me to do interviews or guest posts on their blogs, and I have had many questions from my post on the SCBWI group on linkedin!
I was more than overwhelmed at the support I received and reposts on FB. My new kidlit friendships that I have been making over the past year (through SCBWI, FB, Twitter, G+, Pinterest etc) and my old friends from around the world, have rallied around me with enthusiasm, and I trust that word of mouth will bring some sales, though I try and remain sensitive as I hate being bombarded with marketing!
Speaking of school visits, I have just done my first by accident! I was in NY for three days after going to the SCBWI Nevada mentor’s retreat and was staying with a couchsurfer whom I hadn’t met before. She is a storyteller in a public elementary school and as soon as she read my story she invited me to do an author visit. Last Thursday, before flying back to France, I spoke to almost 200 kids from Kindergarten to Grade 2 on the upper west side of Manhattan. We used a Smartboard to project the story while I narrated and I had a blast. I have two more school visits planned locally in international schools. Maja has made me some great coloring pages for the kids and I will be giving out uTale flyers for them to take home to their parents. I also show the Alphabet Friendship Book and take a look at the making of a book, with the adding of collaborators, animation and sound etc. I do want to promote uTales at the same time as my book as I believe it is a great resource, and would like the schools all to consider signing up for a free trial. I focus on the fact that uTales is international and we have started to release books in other languages.

This is a crazy time of transition for me, but I would like to create some teacher resources for this story too, which I shall add to my blog.
4.  Maja Sereda did your charming illustrations I believe...I know she lives in South Africa, how was working with someone on a totally different continent?
The great thing is that France and South Africa are in the same time zone, so emailing back and forth never required waiting overnight! I loved collaborating with Maja. We had a convivial rapport from the get go. She shared the illustrations with me along the way as they developed and changed! She brought each of my unique characters to life.

5.  Please tell us what you have up your sleeve now that your first book is complete.

I have 2 or 3 more stories in my revision queue for uTales, one of which is a sequel to SNOW GAMES, entitled MIDSUMMER MADNESS, in which those critters get up to some serious summer mischief. I ensure each story goes through some serious critique and revisions before I seek out an illustrator and submit to uTales, so the process, though much more rapid than traditional publishing, still takes time and care.
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Sharon.
Joanna will be on a blog tour over the next few weeks.  Join here here:
Wednesday, Mat 16th, Darshana’s Blog, Flowering Minds - Interview
Wednesday, May 23rd – Krista Rausin’s blog, Parenting with a Dash of Inspiration - Multiple Characters in Picture Books
Tuesday, May 29th – Sharon Stanley’s blog, Sharon Stanley Writes – Interview
Tuesday, June 5th Clarike Bo Jahn, Clarbojahn’s Blog - The Story Behind the Story
Wednesday, June 6th – Diane Tulloch’s blog, The Patient Dreamer – Book Review and mini Interview
Wednesday,  June,13th - Julie Hedlund’s Blog, Why uTales?
Monday, June 18th – Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog - The Process of Submitting a Story to uTales
Wednesday June 27th – Patricia Hilton’s blog, Children’s Books Heal, Anthropomorphism in picture books and Book Review

Author Bio: Joanna grew up surrounded by the architecture and awe of the University of Cambridge, UK, and immersed in the books and the landscapes of the Brontes, Tolkein and Beatrix Potter. Her tall tales were not always appreciated as a young child, but her passion for storytelling remained unscathed and was fuelled by the peoples she encountered during her humanitarian work across the continents. More recently her years as school librarian in Southern France relit the fire for children’s literature. Her stories focus on her love of the natural world and the richness of the cultures she has encountered in her travels. She lives presently in Nice with two quirky cats and a stream of visitors from all over the globe.

Thanks so much Joanna for talking with us.  Please come back anytime, and best of luck


  1. Great to get another view of Joanna's experience with uTales. I so appreciate Joanna, both as a person and as a very talented writer, and I'm glad to see her getting the recognition she deserves.

    Looking forward to Midsummer Madness, and what ever else you have up those sleeves, Joanna!

    1. Beth, thank you so much for all your support.

  2. A great post, thanks for sharing Sharon!

    And thank you to Joanna for showing us her great progress and the fascinating process with her book!


    1. Thank you, Ramona, I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. Congrats. It's nice to know a little bit more about U-Tales and how a author would present an e-book.

    1. Yes, author visits are just as feasible and fun for an eBook as for a print book, Rena!

  4. Wonderful interview, Joanna and Sharon. I really loved hearing about your experience with uTales. Congratulations on your books!

    1. Thank you, Penny, it is fun reflecting on the process.

  5. Great interview! I love Snow Games and can't wait for Midsummer Madness to come out! :-)

    1. Cheers, Julie, Midsummer Madness will go off soon to Lori Degman, from whom I won a rhyming critique!

  6. Loved the interview, Sharon and Joanna! It's always so interesting to hear about other writer's journeys, and I am especially intrigued by uTales. So exciting that you have at least one more forthcoming!!!! :)

    1. Revision, revision, that's where I am at at the moment. Thanks, Susanna!

  7. Thanks for all your kind comments. Joanna was fun to interview and she has so much to share...u-Tales is up and coming and the books available are very very good. Looking forward to see more of Joanna's writing...for all seasons!

  8. I learn something new with each interview! Great that you had an opportunity to do a school visit in NY. Great idea to take coloring pages and info on uTales to share! Really enjoyed the interview ladies.

  9. Sharon, thank you kindly for inviting me on your blog! Mmmm and yes, I have thought of writing a story about the four of them for each season. We shall see!

  10. It's always fun to learn more about the story behind the story. Thanks for sharing Joanna. Enzo and I enjoy reading Snow Games on the iPad. Thanks Sharon for the interview.

  11. Thanks for the great interview! :)

  12. Thanks Sharon and Joanna for another enlightening look at how Snogames came about. I am now completely enthralled. :)

  13. Always great to hear about Joanna and her exploits. She is a wonderful representative all that is the best in being an author, and along the way created a beautiful, fun book for children. I'll bet the kids in Manhattan were thrilled to have her visit!

    Best wishes and congratulations, Joanna on a super book!
    Thanks, Sharon for being a gracious and entertaining host.

    ReplyDelete happy to hear from you.........