Today we sit down with Marjorie Hembroff, a Canadian children’s author. She will tell us a bit about herself, her work, and her inspiration. Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always been creative since childhood but it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I realized I wanted to be a writer. At first I started writing in a journal and then onto short stories. I was sixty-five when I got the idea for a book. At first I thought it was a short story or even a picture book but after I started to write it in different formats the idea grew into a book.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
It took four years to write Bess’s Magical Garden but I was also working on other projects at the same time. I would work on each draft for awhile set it aside and then work on another project. Ideas would crop up and I was compelled to work on them as well before the idea’s totally disappeared.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re working?
When I am writing I turn on the computer early in the morning and work until noon. At the end of each session I like to take down a few notes so I know where the story will begin the next day.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I need to make room for my yoga class and social commitments. That way when I sit down to write my mind is clear. I have to clear the room of all distractions, turn off the radio. I work better in complete silence. When I am having a day when ideas don’t come freely I work in my garden or walk the dog. The next day the words are right there when I want them.
Q5) How are your books published?
So far I have only published one book that was self-published with Friesen Press. I don’t know if is how I will always publish but am quit sure that I will continue to self-publish.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Some of my ideas come from dreams while others come from story prompts. Ideas are all around and sometimes all it takes is a suggestion and I am off and running.
Q7) When did write your first book and how old where you?
I got the idea for my first book after I retired at sixty-five. My son was still living at home and had gone up north to work. I knew I needed something to do with myself so I started taking writing courses. I published after I moved from the city to a small town. I was then seventy.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am also an artist so I like to do paintings in acrylic. I like to read and work in my garden and walk my dog. I also go to Yoga three times a week which helps keep me toned to the word around me. I have found if I isolate myself to much it slows down the creative process.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
I have read so many books over the years it is hard to pick a favorite. As a child I read Anne of Green Gables series over and over again. I still admire L.M. Montgomery. I like historical novels some of those are Gone with the Wind, Rhett’s People and many others.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
My children have always been supportive of what I want to do. They have all read and like my book and are my biggest fans. Some of the ladies in my yoga group have read my book and like knowing the author.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
I learned to stick with it even when things weren’t going smoothly. I have learned a lot more about computers and the whole writing process from the first light bulb idea down to making revisions. I learned to believe in myself and a person is never to old to learn new things.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
The constant rewriting and editing.
Q13) How many books have you written?
I have only written one but am working on two others.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers?
If so, what are they? Just keep writing and reading.
Q15) What is your preferred reading audience?
At present children between the ages of 8-12 but this could change in the future.
Q16) What do you think makes a good story?
A good story keeps you guessing right up to the end.
Q17) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
There wasn’t any real career choice when I was a child. My thoughts bounced back and forth. One time I wanted to be a teacher and another time I thought I’d be a nurse but after high school I took a hairdressing course. I was imaginative through out my childhood but never once thought about being a writer even though I would create stories in my head all the time. So the writing bug was there but it took many years for me to realize it. Now I feel like I am finally doing what I have been meant to do.
Q18) Where can we find your books?
My book is available on Amazon and with Friesen Press.
Q19) Can we have an excerpt from your book?
Bess proceeded down the hallway to the patio door and hobbled down the path. She stopped and looked around in amazement. For a brief second, she thought that she saw an archway covered with orange flowers that lead into a colourful garden……but it was gone in an instant. Instead, an arch covered in tangled vines with a broken gate swung on its hinges. The space was overgrown with weeds and surrounded by a crumbling stone wall. A tangle of weeds almost hid the stepping stones.
She proceeded to the stone bench in the middle of the yard. Not until Mother arranged a tray with an assortment of muffins and fruit did Bess realize how hungry she was.
Q20) Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
After retiring M.E. Hembroff decided to pursue her dream of writing a book. Her daughter adopting an abandoned cat motivated her to start creating a story and soon the character of Bess was born. For inspiration, she tapped into her childhood from the 1950’s when she grew up on a farm in rural Manitoba, Canada, the fourth of five children. M.E. Hembroff now lives in Strathmore, Alberta, with her spoiled Shih Tzu, two cats, and two budgies. Bess’s Magical Garden is her first book.