In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
The Styling Librarian Interviews MARGRIET RUURS
Margriet Ruurs is one of those fascinating people who thoroughly embraces world awareness, writing instruction, and connectedness with readers. I enjoyed having Margriet visit my library a few years ago. Her books always entertained and informed but the power behind having her present to the students and further develop their writing interests, skills, and abilities. My teachers especially enjoyed her presentations and how the connections to art literacy were developed as well. I highly recommend you visit Margriet’s webpage and consider bringing her to visit your school. Well worth the experience! I already blogged about Margriet’s books here:
What was your favorite childhood book memory?
Since my parents encouraged me to read, I have many good book memories. They bought books for me and I devoured them. You wouldn’t know the titles since I grew up in The Netherlands. But there was one novel about a poor girl who grew up in a cottage on the moors with her grandfather. An orphan of course. I loved poor orphan stories. There was also a series by Astrid Lindgren that I loved. She lived in a cottage and had to chop wood, and probably chop ice before she could get water. I always imaged I was that poor orphan…
I loved Pippi Longstocking. My dad drove me to the huge public library in my hometown every Friday night. Then I brought home a huge pile of new books to disappear in.
Are there any authors or books that you liked as a child that you still read now?
Growing up in The Netherlands, there weren’t any books that I would still read now. Although I have reread Pippi Longstocking and would like to read Nils Holgerson again. There was one very well known Dutch author who wrote children’s books, poetry, musicals, even TV shows. I still enjoy reading her work. She had a wicked sense of humor and wrote fabulous texts, similar to the brilliant poetry of Tim Rice in the Lion King and other lyrics.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
I must confess that I don’t read anything else. It’s rare for me to read an adult book. I find YA fiction much more exciting. There’s too much balast, redundant text, back story in an adult book. YA books grab you and jump right in. I just finished reading I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I found it a gripping book, albeit a bit too farfetched. But well written and exciting. I love Joan Bauer’s books. And today I bought a lovely picture book for myself: Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie.
What was a favorite genre you read as a child? How have your tastes changed as an adult?
As a child I mostly read fictional novels. I also read historical novels and poetry. I don’t think I’ve changed much. I don’t like science fiction or fantasy, but I still devour realistic fiction. I read magazines too. We had a subscription to Donald Duck and I always raced home, trying to beat my dad to get the magazine first. I locked myself in the bathroom with it otherwise he would read it first. Now I read Budget Travel magazines, National Geographic and Highlights for Children!
Do you still have any of your books from when you were a child?
Oh yes. Despite having moved 24 times, including three times to other countries, I still have many of my childhood books. They are treasures. I also kept my own children’s favorite books – Dogger by Shirley Hughes, Oer Oek – a picture book about evolution; My Mommy, My Daddy – a book in which the children pretend to be the parents. And now I have a one and a three year old grandson. We curl up daily with a good book and read about Little Blue Trucks, blue trains and lost walruses. They already have a pile of favorite books.
Are you in a writers group? If so, has it helped you?
I wish I had more of a writers’ group. But I don’t live in an urban area and am too far from other writers. I do have some very wonderful, supportive writer friends with whom I get together once a year to critiqued each other’s writing. That is tremendously helpful. They KNOW kids books and always have constructive criticism that helps me to grow as a writer. They are also just a phone call or email away if I need help.
Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults?
The best advise, if you want to be a writer, is to read. Read, read, and read some more. Read magazines, read novels, read poetry, read fiction. Read blogs. The more you read, the more you see how to craft a story, how to share information. I also find it very helpful to attend any talks by authors if they visit your town. Try your stories out on the audience for which it is meant – read to kindergarteners or ask a 7th grader to critique your story.
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
Yes. My next book will be called Families Around the World. It is currently being illustrated and will be released by Kids Can Press in spring 2014. I am excited about it since it will show families in many different cultures.
How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry?
I am not sure about it. I just bought my own first iPad and I think I might find it practical to read books on it while I travel. But nothing comes close to feeling and sniffing and flipping through a real book. And not just the reading of it, but how you select a book is different. I still plan to find good hardcovers and tattered paperbacks, but likely in addition to a newly downloaded e-book.
Did you always plan on a writing career or if not…?
I always loved books and writing stories. I started making up stories and poems when I was around six years old. Just never stopped. I didn’t know I could be a published author until it happened. And it happened only because I wrote down the story of when I raised baby chimpanzees. And then I wrote a funny story for my children. And then I wrote about where I lived… I just never stopped writing. The publishing just happened. I was lucky.
What truly influences you as a writer?
My environment influences what I write. I write about where I live, about what I do and experience. I write about what I’m interested in. Following my own passion is what helps me to write a story – fiction or nonfiction.
If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in?
I wanted to be a veterinarian for a while. Or an actor. I might have ended up being a teacher. I don’t know. But the best job I have is being a mother and now a grandmother!
Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?
Several teachers influenced me, specifically those who encouraged me to write. I had several high school teachers who read my stories out loud, who compared my stories or poems to a well known writer. That gave me the courage to keep writing. My dad modeled storytelling to me by making up stories for me. It showed me that anything could happen in the stories I made up myself.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? (in honor of my husband who thinks it would be cool if I collect a list of author’s favorite pizza “You can learn a lot about a person from the pizza topping they like.”)
Hhhmm… I’m not overly fond of pizza. But I do like Hawaiian… And there’s a restaurant on the island where I live that makes a wonderful crab and cream cheese pizza. So what does that tell you about me?!
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was….
the golden rule of picture book writing: “Show, don’t tell.”
The habit I never break for my writing practice is…
to read my writing out loud so I can hear the rhythm. And I keep eating dark chocolate too.
If someone had told me…
that I would get more rejections than acceptances I would still be a writer.
Why do people always assume…
that I will want to write a story when they say one funny thing. It annoys me to have people say “You should write about that.” They have no idea that it takes more than one funny thing to create a book for children. It can take me several years of research, writing and rewriting to create a 32 page picture book. The simpler it looks, the harder it was. Dr. Seuss once said ‘Writing with short is harder than length.” And that is true of writing picture books and poetry.
Debbie, you forgot to ask me… What else I do!
Well, let me tell you. I do a lot of school presentations and would love to come to YOUR school! 🙂
I also write book reviews here: http://margrietruurs.blogspot.ca/
I run a global bookmark exchange here: http://bookmatchmaker.blogspot.ca/2012/03/global-bookmark-exchange-bring-world.html
AND, finally, I love to travel. I combine writing and travel in this blog: http://globetrottinggrandparents.blogspot.ca/
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