Molly is the April, Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and her historical fiction YA book, Silhouette of a Sparrow is highly entertaining. I decided to ask her some questions about her book, her writing and the awards she is receiving. I found out she is expecting a baby. Congrats, Molly. Read on to find out more about Molly and her books.
For Book Snob:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a stay-at-home mom of a 3 ½ year old boy, and I have another baby due in July. I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline in 2009, and have been writing picture books and novels and teaching at the Loft ever since. I enjoy cooking, and being outside, and playing sea creatures with my son, which is his current obsession.
2. What is the inspiration behind your story “Silhouette of a Sparrow”?
I grew up in Excelsior, MN, just after the amusement park was torn down, so that place always fascinated me. This story grew out of its setting.
3. I love the title of your book. Did you get to choose the title, “Silhouette of a Sparrow”?
The book was originally titled Garnet for Courage. After much debate, my editor and I settled on this title. I’m very happy with it.
4. I also love your book cover. Who designed it? Did you get a say in what your book cover looked like?
The book had 3 different covers during the course of production. The first was more Victorian looking, and although it was very pretty, it really was too old-fashioned. The second was quite modern. This one splits the difference and I think it’s beautiful. The papercut artist is named Elsa Mora, and I did not have any say in choosing her or in the design of the cover, but I’m thrilled with the result.
5. Usually an author puts some of her own life experiences in the book. Did you do that? Do you have anything in common with your characters?
Oh, I’m sure. I, like Garnet, have had to make choices about how to do what I love in this life, and they have not always been easy choices. She is a scientist at heart, unlike me, but we do have a lot in common. Many of the secondary characters are loosely based on people in my life as well.
6. Why did you decide to become a writer?
I have always loved writing, ever since I could write for myself and didn’t have to tell my stories to an adult to record (I was a very shy child). I wrote stories as a kid, poetry as a teenager, creative nonfiction in college, and then transitioned to writing for children and young adults. It is very satisfying work and I can’t imagine doing anything else!
7. I know you are a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Commit to learning your craft. Don’t get obsessed with publishing right out of the gate—it is both distracting and discouraging. Instead, spend your time and energy reading widely and critically, and learning to write effectively. Enjoy it. When you’re really ready you can start to approach the business angle of the industry with a strong foundation in the craft and with good writing habits to fall back on.
8. Why birds? Both of your book Loon Baby and Silhouette of a Sparrow feature birds. Are you a bird lover?
Yes, I know both of my published books are bird-centric, and I’m not really a “bird lady.” I like bird watching, and I enjoyed learning more about birds for both books, but I also have a lot of manuscripts that aren’t bird-related. I am passionate, however, about nature writing for kids, and I do think that birds are an easy access point for talking about and thinking about and learning about nature. They are beautiful. They are abundant. They are both everyday and exotic. They provide us with a hint of wildness, even in the most developed of landscapes.
Silhouette of a Sparrow was shortlisted for the Minnesota Book Award. What was your reaction when you found out your book was a finalist?
I was thrilled to be named a finalist, and excited that Silhouette of a Sparrow was in such good company. We have an amazing literary community in MN, and the number of talented children’s/YA writers is staggering. We raise the bar for each other, and so the bar is very high indeed. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was honored to be recognized, and the gala was really fun!
10. Are you working on a new book? Can you tell us a bit about it?
I am drafting a brand new YA novel right now. It is contemporary, has a guy narrator, and involves a lot of locksmithing and European travel. That’s all I’ll say, except for that I’m in love with it! I’m also always submitting picture books—right now there is one about swimming and sea creatures (surprise, surprise), one about camping and rock hunting, and yes, another bird book about the Sandhill Crane migration.
11. Tell us in one sentence why we should read Silhouette of a Sparrow?
I wanted to write a love story between two women that was just that—a love story. It is not an issue book or a coming out story. I think everyone can relate to and appreciate a story about finding someone who changes us, who helps us discover who we are and who we want to become. I hope that Silhouette of a Sparrow is that story. Oops, that’s not one sentence! How about this: I think you’ll like it, and, well, it’s really short. ☺
If you would like to win a copy of Silhouette of a Sparrow please enter here: Silhouette of a Sparrow Giveaway.