Thursday, December 4, 2014

Margaret Wild

Today I'm going to be learning about a writer—Margaret Wild.

I have read one of her books, and now I have it next to me on my desk. It's called Jinx.

I can't remember much of what it's about. But I do remember liking it. I also remember initially being weary of it, because it looks like poetry. I'm not a fan of poetry.

 I think the book actually is a book of poems. But the poems tell a story. It's like a novel told through poems.

I thought maybe it was about a girl whose boyfriend died. I just looked at the back cover, and I'm right. Although the back cover says TWO of her boyfriends died. That's where you get the title of the book. I can't say I remember the two boyfriends dying.

I think one of the reasons I liked the book so much, ironically is that it's made of poems. The chapter poems are all quite short, and I'm a fan of short chapters.

What do you prefer? Long chapters or short ones?  I'm curious.

I don't know much about Margaret Wild, but I have a vague memory of Googling her and learning she usually writes children's books.  I could have dreamed this, though. Or maybe I'm confusing her with someone else.

We shall see.....

In the meantime, I have all kinds of things going on.

1. I'm still being haunted by whale sharks

2. I finally used the rest of my last year's birthday Simply Oz gift certificate money. They have an awesome deal right now where you get ten free Caramello Santas. I've been waiting for some kind of deal that interests me. And that one did.

3. My sisters and I are having an incredibly difficult time trying to figure out who should buy gifts for each kid for our Chanukah party.  It's more complicated than you might imagine.

Anyway...back to our regular scheduled programming.

Lord Wiki says I'm right. Margaret Wild usually writes for children. He has a list of her picture books, and it's quite long.  Then she has five novels.

Wild was born in 1948, in South Africa. She's the same age as my parents.

She came to Australia in 1972, the same year I was born. She worked as a magazine editor and also got herself an education from Australian National University in Canberra.

Lord Wiki calls Jinx a verse novel, and he says Wild wrote a second one.  It's called One Night.  It's available on Kindle for five dollars.

The plot sounds good to me. There's a guy with mother issues and he uses women. It sounds like he's the type who sleeps with a girl and then never calls. Then there's a girl with a facial disfigurement. She sleeps with the guy and gets pregnant.

 Wild's most recently published book is a picture book called The Bush Book Club.  It's not available on Amazon, which surprises me.  This blog has a review of the book. The book is about a Bilby who doesn't like to read. His friends are Kangaroo, Koala, Echidna, and Crocodile. They all love to read, so Bilby feels left out.

The blog says the book has a wonderful message.

I wonder what the message is.

I'd like a message that says it's okay not to be a bookworm.  But that would seem strange coming from a book.

Maybe a more appropriate message is that reading can be for everyone, but in different forms. Some people like reading novels. Some people like picture books. Some like reading comics. Some people like reading sports magazines. Some people read blogs....

Reading is important because it helps us get information and entertainment into our brain, but we don't all need to be bookworms.

Reviewers on Goodreads have answered my question about the message behind the book. Bilby THINKS he dislikes books until he finds the right book.

That's fair.

Although it might take some people a really long time to find that right book. And they might give up trying after being pushed to read the wrong books.

It's kind of like me and sports. I spent most of my life believing I hate sports, and it isn't for me.  I'm still not a huge fan, but I have learned that I enjoy playing basketball.

As for books, my older sister doesn't read them. She wanted to, though, so I bought her a book I thought she might like. She didn't like it. And that probably made her lose even more hope about ever enjoying books.

Jack isn't a bookworm, though he does like certain series. He'll read the books in those and will usually rush to buy them when they come out. But he's very reluctant to try new books and authors.

I'm the opposite. I'm a total bookworm and love to try different things.

I wonder what book converted Bilby into a book lover.

The blog I went to before has an interview with Margaret Wild. It's from 2011, so this is before the existence of The Bush Book Club. That came out this year.

Wild says she worked as an editor and journalist. Now she writes full time.

She has two grown children and two grandchildren. I wonder if one child had the two children or if both her children have given her one grandchild.

One of her grandkids has the same name as my son (Jack!).

Wild's first published book came out in 1984. It's called There's a Sea in My Bedroom. I like that title. If there was a sea in my bedroom, I bet there'd be a whale shark there.

Penguin Books Australia has a description of the book. There's a little boy who's scared of the ocean. He finds a shell, takes it home, and I guess that helps him with his fear.

Now I'm kind of hating Margaret Wild. Or at least I'm envious. They ask if she remembers the first story she ever wrote. She says she wrote three in 1984, and they were all accepted by a publisher. I wish I had such good fortune.

I don't think she's being 100% truthful, though. What person in this world hasn't written a story before they reach their mid 30's?  I think all (or most) people write stories when they're children. Maybe the question should be, what is the first significant story you wrote? Or what is the first story you remember writing.

For me, it was in 7th grade. That's when I decided I wanted to be a writer and became pretty passionate about it. I'm sure, though, that I wrote stories before that.

I think that's what the blogger meant to ask, really. And I bet Margaret Wild answered differently, because she wanted to boast about her good fortune.  Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Margaret Wild really never tried writing a story until she was in her 30's.  I can't really imagine that being possible, though. She would have at least written stories for school. Right?

Wild is asked why she likes producing books for kids. She says, Because children are so imaginative and open about the world, it gives me the freedom to make up stories that interest me – and that I hope will interest children. Provided that the story and characters are believable, children are willing to accept old pigs (that die), little dogs that can fit into a pocket and a sea in a bedroom.

I think many adults are imaginative and open as well.  I think sometimes parents and teachers like picture books just as much as kids do. And we like other imaginative things as well. My suspicion is the adults who DON'T like that stuff—the who wouldn't accept a sea in a bedroom; I imagine many of them also didn't like that when they were kids.

Wild is asked what's her biggest problem as a writer. She says she has a lack of endurance. She starts novels and then doesn't finish them. I have that problem every so often. Jack has that problem quite frequently.  I think I've told him to do what Wild does—work on short projects.  Start things that you can finish today, because tomorrow you'll be wanting to do something else. Or juggling might be a good idea. Have a few projects going at once. Then if you tire of one, you can work on the other.

Wild says that it's hard to get picture books accepted by publishers these days. They're expensive to produce. She advises people wanting to write for children to do novels instead.

I was thinking, but what about picture books? Kids still like them. But you know...there's kind of already enough out there.  Then again, it is fair for Wild to keep publishing them?  No! She should step aside and let other writers get in there.  However, then you have kids like Jack, who want their certain authors and don't want to try something new. So little Margaret Wild fans might get upset if she quit.

You know there are so many wonderful venues for creators these days. People like me can easily write and publish e-books. I'm not making any good money from it, but still. I have the ability to get my work out there.  Filmmakers can make movies and TV shows and put them up on YouTube.  Photographers have Flickr and Instagram.  Nonfiction type writers have blogs.  Singers and other musicians can go on YouTube and other music sites.

But what about picture book writers?

I guess they can write books online? But then there are parents who want their children doing less screen time and more book time. Would they be open to their kids looking at picture books online?

I just found a website of online picture books. And I'm sure there are more.  I'm also remembering that Jack's big key in learning to read was an educational website. I think they had some stories on it.
So maybe that will be the new thing.

Back to the interview....

Wild is asked what she'd want to be if she wasn't a writer. She says if she had the talent, she'd want to be a painter. I think I'm in the same boat. I wish I could take what's in my brain and turn it into a picture. I'd love to be able to draw and paint my dreams.

Another talent that I don't have that I wish I had would probably be something physical—acrobatics or ballet dancing.

How about you? What talent do you not have that you wish you had?

Wild is asked about her favorite books. Almost everything she names is a classic. It's hard for me to relate to that. I think I'd prefer someone listing more obscure books. Or not even obscure...Like a Judy Blume type book. Although I think Wild would be too old for that.

How about Beverly Cleary type stuff?

Or really I'd like to see things I've never heard of before, because now they're out of print. I want something kind of the 1960's version of Sweet Valley High books.

She does have one book I've never heard of before. Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster.  Lord Wiki says it's an American novel told through letters.  The girl in the novel writes to the wealthy man who has given her the financial assistance for college.

It's old...published in 1912 and it's been adapted several times. So I think it's another classic, just one I've never heard of before.

Wild describes her working process. I like it. It's very free spirited. First, coffee plays a part.  She doesn't have a set time. She writes a lot during the times that she's passionate about an idea. If she doesn't have an idea, she'll do other thing.

She also says what I said earlier—have several projects going on at once.

Multiple times I've seen writers advised to write no matter what. Have a quota and make sure you fill it. Even if you have to fill the page with garbage, that's okay. You can edit it later.

Well, who wants to read through all their own garbage later?

Now Wild has published a lot. She's fairly prolific. So she can probably afford to take time off. If someone wants to be a writer, and they're rarely writing anything; then they probably do need to force themselves to write a certain number of words.

If I'm writing a novel, I write everyday. And I write a lot. I usually write a novel within a few weeks. But I rarely write novels anymore.

As for blogging, I've gone both ways. I've had times where I've made rules that I have to write and post everyday. And other times, I've had the mindset that I'll write when I want to write. Sometimes I get scared because days will go by, and I won't be inspired or motivated to write anything. But then later I'll have days where I am writing three or more posts. It all works out.

Here's another blog interview with Wild.

She hates filling out forms.

She says she's a realist. That's interesting, seeing that she likes writing fantasy type stories for children.  I thought she'd be one of those adults who enjoyed things like bedroom oceans. But maybe she's not.

Or maybe she's a realist outside of the book world.

Wild says she's frequently invisible. See, the realist in me is thinking she's being figurative. She feels invisible. Maybe she's often ignored. But there's that other part of me that's thinking maybe she's confessing to magical powers.

Wild likes good conversation, good food, and good wine. I imagine she likes going out to lunch with friends.

She likes Margaret Atwood books.

She likes the TV shows Mad Men and In Treatment.

Wild is asked where she's always liked to visit but hasn't gone there yet.  I can relate to her answer. Antarctica. I love the idea of all that snow and the ice, but as I don’t like being cold, I haven’t yet summoned the courage to actually do it.

Well, I can't say Antartica is on my top list of places I want to visit. But like her, I like the idea of the snow despite not being a fan of coldness.

Wild is asked what's her worse habit. She says, The worst one will have to remain a secret but others are procrastination and laziness.  I love that answer! It's so intriguing. I wonder if I have a secret bad habit.

I don't think so. I think I usually confess my bad stuff—like taking long showers and eating way too much sugar.

And I think a bad habit can't just be embarrassing. It has to cause some amount of harm, either to yourself, the environment, others, etc.  If it's just embarrassing, I don't think it's necessarily bad.

Let's see. What else can we learn about Wild? This is a fun interview. It's mostly trivial stuff, which I enjoy.

She likes to drink coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

She prefers paper books to e-books. I do too, so it's kind of sad that I've published my novel only electronically.  It's like I'm saying, I've published my book, and it's available to people who are NOT like me (at least in terms of book format preferences).

Wild doesn't like Vegemite or Marmite; though she prefers them to peanut butter. I don't really like any of those either. I do like peanut butter as an ice-cream topping or in candy. I don't like it plain or on bread.

She prefers prose to poetry. It's funny because when I read Jinx, I imagined her to be someone who usually writes poetry.

If I ever write another novel, maybe I'll do something like Jinx.  I really like the set up of the whole thing.

I love Wild's answer about whether she likes hot or cold. She says, In summer I long for cold days, and in winter I wish summer would arrive - now!

I was going to say I can relate to that, but that's not quite true. I prefer the hot to the cold. Although when it gets really hot and the air conditioning isn't helping much, I start wishing for colder weather.

The cold, though. Blah!  I don't like wearing winter clothes. I much prefer shorts and skirts.  I like wearing sandals. And it's not just wearing the clothes...packing too!  Summer and spring clothes take up much less room.

I'm going to quit soon. But before I do, I'm going to watch a YouTube video of one of Wild's books.

The Wodonga Library has a channel in which they read children's books.

Where's Wodonga?

Lord Wiki says it's a Victorian town, and it's right near the Victoria/New South Wales border.

Anyway...I'm going to listen to a Margaret Wild story called Bim Bam Boom!

Someone named Mrs. Mac is going to read me the story. But first she chats a bit to a puppet.

Now Mrs. Mac has started to read. I think she does a really good job. She has a lot of expression in her voice.

She doesn't change her voice for the different characters, which could be a slight negative. But I think it's fine for the most part.  Sometimes I'd read and use different voices.  I'm good at changing my voice. I'm not so good at being consistent with voices.  I did have a consistent voice for the Junie B. Jones books, though. I liked what I did with that, and I think Jack enjoyed it too. I think I just had a decent voice for Junie B. though. If I was attempting voices for the other characters, I'm sure it was a mess.

The book, by the way, is quite lovely. It's a simple story about counting between the lightning and thunder.  It's probably good for teaching counting and also maybe helpful for kids who fear storms.

The book also has some lovely alliteration.

Well, that's it for today's post.

See ya later alligators!

P.S-With disappointment, I have to report that the universe was probably NOT sending me a message about whale sharks. This is what happened. I kept seeing whale sharks on my screensaver, which I thought was amazing since my screensaver has 5854 pictures to choose from. I hardly look at my screensaver these days, and every time I glanced, there was a picture of a whale shark. What was I supposed to think? Well, if my brain was a little more advanced, I would have been observant enough to realize my computer wasn't using my screensaver folder for the slideshow. See what happened is last weekend, Jack updated my computer for me. That reset the slideshow and I was seeing National Geographic photos. There's only about 20, so it's not surprising that the whale shark showed up frequently. Although I guess it could mean something that this is the photo I kept noticing.

To make up for that, though....I do have another strange story that's not yet easily explained. I've been in a fairly good mood yesterday. But then yesterday I suddenly started crying. It was quite random. I thought maybe it was because I listened to emotionally triggering music a few minutes before. But still...I don't usually cry without knowing more specifically why.  Or maybe I'll just have some eye moisture; not full-fledged crying.  Out of nowhere.

That's all mildly strange. But when a little bit later, we watched Doctor Who. And in the episode, Amy Pond suddenly started crying and she didn't know why.

It was an interesting coincidence.

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