In the first of what I hope will be a series of mini interviews with other writers of all genres, I talk with children's author Ann Marie Meyers on her writing, her inspiration, and what makes her characters so relatable...
What is it about writing that draws you to the medium?
I was a 'bookworm' when I was a child. I would devour book after book after book. It was my escape and as I grew older I found that writing came easy to me. I loved inventing stories and working on essay assignments for school. Years later, when I realized I wanted to be a writer, everything fell in to place.
How did you choose your genre? Why childrens books?
Most of the books I read in my teens were fantasy, starting with The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and the Dark Materials fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman. The first book I wrote was a genre fantasy trilogy (which still needs work) and it was my intention to continue writing for adults.
However, when my daughter was born, I found myself thinking of book ideas that might appeal to her as she grew older. I tried writing picture books, but soon discovered this wasn't for me. My strength is in creating longer stories and so I focus on middle grade and young adult, with a 'fantastical twist' to them of course.
Do you feel there are any other literary characters that Melody would relate to?
Meg Murry (A Wrinkle in Time). Like Meg, Melody is stubborn, impatient and somewhat angry. These characteristic traits are also what launch Melody in the right direction in her question to keep her wings.
Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia). Lucy believed in Narnia even though her siblings doubted her. Melody might relate to Lucy because she (Melody) never backed down in her belief that she could fly.
What do you feel are Melody's strongest characteristics?
Definitely her ability to hold on to her dream of flying regardless of what others believe. As a result, this becomes her reality and she ends up getting wings.
Melody also feels deeply. At first she covers this up behind an air of bravado so as not to experience pain. However, with the help of her wings, she is able to face her fears and overcome the guilt weighting her down at the thought that she caused the accident that paralyzed her dad. Once she achieves this, she is able to live her dream freely.
What do you want parents and children alike to take away from your work?
Dare to dream and hold on to your deepest desires no matter what anyone says. This is the only way to keep the spark alive; and it is this spark that gives us the passion to live every day to the fullest.
I think its also important not to hide from your fears. In Melody's face it was guilt, because she believed she caused the accident that partially paralyzed her dad. If she hadn't been able to look this build 'full in the face' she would not have been able to keep her wings.
UP IN THE AIR
Ever since she can remember, ten-year-old Melody has always wanted to fly.
And when she leaps off a swing in the park one day and lands in the mystical realm of Chimeroan, her dream finally comes true. She is given a pair of wings. She can fly! Life cannot be any better.
Yet, dreams do come with a price. Even with wings, Melody realized she cannot outfly the memories of her past. The car accident that has left her father paralyzed, and her unscarred, still plauges her with guilt - she believes that it was entirely her fault.
In Chimeroan, Melody is forced to come to terms with her part in her fathers accident. She must choose between the two things that have become the world to her; keeping her wings, or healing her father.
Ann Marie Meyers
ANN MARIE MEYERS grew up in Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. She has a degree in languages and translates legal and technical documents from French and Spanish into English. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and daughter.
Meyers is an active member of SCBWI and serves as the facilitator of a bi-monthly children's writing group.
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