Friday, March 30, 2012

Author Interview with Ann M. Martin

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Ann M. Martin, author of the middle grade novel Belle Teal. Lizzy recently reviewed this interesting book. It was fun sharing our thoughts about it and hearing yours! (read the review). We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Ann! 

Ann M. Martin
What inspired you to write Belle Teal?

Belle Teal started off as a short story, inspired by a memory of an incident when I was in fourth grade. Several days before the first African-American student was to join my class in our mostly white elementary school, our teacher told us that a new student would be arriving and that he was black, and then she admonished us to treat him nicely. Why, I wondered, wouldn't we be nice to a new kid? It wouldn't have occurred to me to be mean to a student because he was black. But our teacher had inadvertently raised a sensitive issue and my classmates and I greeted Darryl with caution when he arrived. That was the idea that sparked the short story. I enjoyed writing about Belle Teal and her world and was eager to expand the story into a novel.

How long does it typically take you to write a book?

I like to spend at least a year working on a book. If a book involves research, I'll need more time. The first Doll People book, co-written with Laura Godwin, took almost five years to write, partly because Laura and I needed time to figure out how to work together.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

I have so many favorite books that it's hard to list just a few. Some of my favorite picture books are The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton; Wait Till the Moon Is Full, by Margaret Wise Brown; the books by Beatrix Potter; and the Babar books, by Jean de Brunhoff. Some of my favorite titles for older readers are James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl; the Wizard of Oz books, by L. Frank Baum; the books about Paddington Bear, by Michael Bond; the Magic books by Edward Eager; and the horse stories by Marguerite Henry. Interestingly, my favorite kind of fiction when I was a kid was light fantasy, but most of the books I've written are realistic fiction. When I write the Doll People books, though, I'm inspired by many of the authors whose work I read as a child, in particular Roald Dahl and Edward Eager.


Where did you come up with the character, Belle Teal?

Although Belle Teal is named after my great-aunt, and I drew lightly on my father's southern roots when writing the story, the character of Belle Teal is completely made up. I wanted to create a character facing serious challenges who was strong enough to meet them, survive them, and emerge even stronger. I liked Belle Teal's "family of women."

If you could befriend any of the characters from your books, who would you befriend? Why?

I would very much like to befriend both Hattie and Adam from A Corner of the Universe, as well as Belle Teal. I admire all three of them for their bravery, and for their determination to stand up to others and face scorn and ridicule. In Adam's case, the ridicule eventually wore him down, but I admire him for fighting as long and as hard as he did. Adam is based on an uncle of mine - an uncle I didn't have the chance to meet. I feel I know him a bit better now, though, through Adam.

Many kids have read The Baby-sitters Club series. Who is your favorite babysitter?

My favorite baby-sitter is Kristy, partly because I created her first and felt that she set the series in motion, and partly because she's my alter ego. Kristy is outgoing, not afraid to speak her mind, and full of big ideas. When I was growing up I was quiet and shy - a follower rather than a leader. Hmm. Which other baby-sitter do I sound like? Yes, I am much like Mary Anne. But Kristy is my favorite.

If you could live during any time period in history, when would it be? Why?

I've always been interested in Colonial New England. I know life was harsh then, but I like everything about the era from the crafts to the architecture. I could see myself living in a tiny village near the coast, going to quilting bees, waiting for maple sugaring time…

Where can we purchase your books?

In your local bookstore, in chain stores, or online. Be sure to check your school and public libraries, too.


Check out The Baby-sitters Club on THE STACKS @ Scholatic.com 


24 comments:

  1. I love the inspiration for her story. Adults assume and often put thoughts into children's minds. Sounds like a good book.

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  2. It is a wonderful book! Ann Martin is a great writer. Thanks for stopping by, Donna : ) ~ F

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  3. I picked up a copy of Belle Teal after I read your review. I enjoyed the book and have passed it on to my cousin. It was great to learn more about this author- I also like the idea of Colonial New England, but after losing power for 6 days in October, I don't think it would have been for me. lol :)

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    1. Elaine- So glad you picked up Belle Teal and enjoyed it! I hope your cousin likes it, too. I remember that October storm! It was fun for a day or two. :)

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  4. That is so cool that you guys interviewed Ann Martin!

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    1. Thanks, Marcus! We are so excited about it! We love her books! ~F

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  5. Great cover. The colors are amazing! Very eye catching.

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    1. I agree! The blues and greens in the cover are bright and interesting. The story is fabulous, too!

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  6. Five years to write a book that is dedication. Colonial England, oh she is a brave soul. No thanks, I don't want to freeze my behind off in the middle of the night traisping out to the outhouse. Tis sounds like a series for kids. I had no idea Babysitters Club was still popular.

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    1. Heidi- I agree with you! 5 years is dedication. I wouldn't enjoy having to use an outhouse either. I had to use one at a cabin once and it was chilly in the middle of the night! The Babysitters Club is still popular! Lots of my friends have read most of the series. :) ~F

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  7. Belle Teal sounds like a wonderful story--full of heart. Thank you so much for telling us about it and giving a bit of background about yourself.

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  8. How are you getting all these interviews?! fun to read!
    thank you for your thoughts today. i am grateful for your blogging friendship and i appreciate you!!
    happy weekend!!

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    1. Momto8- We were over the top excited to get the chance to interview Ann M. Martin. We felt lucky to have the opportunity. You are welcome for the thoughts and we are so happy to be blogging friends with you! Thanks for stopping by- we always enjoy hearing what you have to say. Have a nice weekend! ~Stephanie and Jess

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  9. Wonderful interview! I read all of The Baby-Sitters Club books as a child so it's lovely to read about Ann M Martin and see what she's up to these days. Seeing her talk of Kristy and Maryanne brings back so many memories :) I'd really love to read this book Belle Teal. I'm definitely going to check it out.

    Love this post!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

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    1. P.S. I just twittered this post!

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    2. Megan- We are so happy you enjoyed the interview! It was so interesting to find out which babysitter Ann M. Martin is the most like and which one is her favorite. You should definitely pick up Belle Teal. It is such a fantastic book!

      Thanks for tweeting this post! :)
      ~Jess and Stephanie

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  10. What a terrific post! The book sounds great.

    Angela @ AJ Arndt Books

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    1. Thanks, Angela! Belle Teal is a fabulous read! ~F

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  11. Great interview and I love the cover!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cherie! Glad you enjoyed the interview. Visiting your blog is always fun. Thanks for stopping by ours. :)

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  12. Sorry to do this again, but your newer post will not let me leave a comment again.
    Most things I read show me a different perspective, but one thing that got to me was a picture one of my friends put on FB. It was a fruit and she asked all her friends to identify it. I think one or two knew its name. This reminded me that all over the world there are people who live differently than I do in so many ways.

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  13. Thanks for letting us know, Donna! We appreciate it. Grrrr.... Blogger! I have no idea why that happens sometimes. I can't comment on it either.

    That is so interesting about the fruit, because it's so true- when I watch the food shows, I am always amazed at all of the edible items out there that I have never heard of. Thanks for stopping by! I added a link to our FB fan page to the Top of the Heap post for anyone interested in joining the conversation.

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  14. I liked Ruby Bridges so much- that I think I should give Belle Teal a try. I loved that Ann M. Martin used details from her own life. It makes me even more interested in reading this book. Awesome interview.

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    1. Trey- If you liked Ruby Bridges, then I bet you will love Belle Teal. It tells a story of the same time period, but from a different point of view. I love the book even more now that I know it stems from Ann's own life. Happy reading!

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