Author Interview with Mary Wilkinson
This week we welcome children’s author Mary Wilkinson to my blog. Mary, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed!
How long have you been writing?
Mary:I have been writing since my children were little, over 30 years ago, but my first published book, Call Me Lizzy, came out in 2014. During those lean writing years, I was teaching elementary students how to write and I was reading every middle grade novel I could get my hands on. They are still my favorite genre today. My latest book, Room 101, is my second middle grade novel.
I think God had His perfect timing in mind for me during those years. I was to be a good wife, Mom, and teacher and that really took up every bit of my time. Then just as I was beginning to think about retirement, a window opened for me to have my first middle grade novel published. How wonderful that was to see my first novel in print and hold the actual book in my hands! I continue to be thrilled as each of my books has been published.
Who are your favorite authors?
Mary:When I am not reading middle grade novels by Wendy Mass, Andrew Clements, Gary Paulson, Louis Sachar, Jerry Spinelli, and Kate De Camillo, I like to read books by Christian authors. Francine Rivers is one of my favorites Christian authors. So is Karen Kingsbury, Jan Karon, and Debbie Macomber. When my mother-in-law lived with us from age 90-95, I used to read novels by Grace Livingston Hill to her because they were written in a time period she could relate to. Even today, if I find one I have not already read, I will scoop up a Grace Livingson Hill book any day.
What inspires your writing?
Mary:Kids inspire my writing. When I was teaching 5thand 6thgraders, I found out what makes a book likable for this age group. After all, I was reading all of their favorites to find out what kids like to read. I was teaching them how to write a story and how to make the characters believable and the plot a real page turner. They in turn showed me that not all kids love to read. Lots of children only read what they have to read to fulfill classroom requirements.
I learned from them that I needed to write books that encourage reluctant readers. I needed to write a book that they won’t want to put down. I hope that Room 101is that kind of a book; a book that boys and girls will enjoy and want to tell their friends about.
If I was an illustrator, I’d make cartoon books like Jeff Kinney’s Diaryof a Wimpy Kidseries. They seemed to be loved by everyone in my classroom. Since those are out of my artistic abilities, I am sticking to books that make you laugh and make you cry like Call Me Lizzy, books that make you keep turning the page like Room 101, and books that tell you it is OK to believe in God, and He is able to help you cope in the world we live in today. I try to make all of my books inspirational and uplifting because that is what kids need today.
What is your favorite writing snack?
Mary:It seems that I am always on a diet. I was not blessed with the genes that make you slim and athletic. I have to watch my calories, but I love to snack while I am writing. It makes my brain come alive. My two favorite low calorie snacks are petite dill pickles and cheese flavored puffed corn. Both are salty and crunchy and give me a brain boost.
More About Mary
Mary T. Wilkinson is the 2ndoldest of 13 children. As a teenager, Mary found she had a love for storytelling as she entertained her siblings. It was only after earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education from Ball State University that she began to write her stories on paper. She was a classroom teacher for upper elementary students for over 29 years. She was also a fellow in Ball State University’s Indiana Writing Project, where she wrote the beginning of her first middle grade novel, Call Me Lizzy. It was published in 2014. Mary’s newest middle grade novel, Room 101, was published in 2017. Mary has retired from teaching and is keeping busy writing, speaking, and babysitting her six beautiful grandchildren. She lives near Lewisville, Indiana with her husband Paul.
Where You Can Find Mary:
David Anderson has led a perfect life until his 6th grade year. With his dad out of work, David will have to leave Good Shepherd Elementary and go to Milltown public school. He is terrified to go to Milltown because he fears he will be bullied. David looks and acts differently from everyone else in his new school. So do the kids in Room 101. When David is asked to help Keven Meyers, a boy with disabilities, participate in the school Spelling Bee, he has to look beyond his own desire to win and trust that God will help him make a difference in the lives of the kids in Room 101. With encouragement from his parents, David tackles an even harder challenge; to change the heart of a bully.