DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Children's Author Margot Finke

Mother, wife, gardener, and traveler, Margot Finke writes stories for children and middle-grade young adults. Born in Australia and currently residing in Oregon with her family, Margot established her presence in the writing world with a seven-book series entitled "Wild and Wonderful," in which she offers fun facts about animals of the U.S. and Australia through rhyme.

In "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind" Margot tackles the difficulties children face when changes beyond their control and comprehension occur in their lives, and the sometimes not so acceptable displays of emotions that can and do occur. Not an easy topic, and one that has been known to create wide divisions between children and parents. Yet, Margot not only addresses the subject, but does so in a manner designed to enlighten and entertain readers both young and old(er) while bridging the generational gap. Her “Horatio Humble Beats the Big D” (dyslexia) offers encouragement to both the children, and the parents of children with dyslexia.

Margot also posts rattlesnake recipes (yes, you read that correctly) on her web site.
http://mysite.ncnetwork.net/mfinke/index.html#margot

Q) You devoted a portion of your life in classrooms as a teacher's aide. What inspired you to pursue that interest?

A) Initially I wanted to help our local school district and teachers. That led to talking to classes about Australia (my Down-under home) and their weird and wonderful animals. I began telling the kids stories about the various critters, right off the top of my head - frill-neck lizards, koalas, platypus and others. This led to writing stories, and eventually my “Wild and Wonderful” rhyming series. I loved visiting different schools and sparking their interest in my Aussie homeland.

Q) Obviously, I have to ask. Why rattlesnakes?

A) Aha. . . I guess you missed the reason when you scanned through my website and bio. The reason is, “Rattlesnake Jam.” This rhyming picture book is written for small boys with a yen for yuck and all things messy. Pa hunts the rattlers, and Gran cooks them into her yucky green jam. But will Gran ever make Pa the rattler pie he craves?

Q) You are a strong advocate of children's books and offer assistance to folks who show interest in writing in this genre. Why is writing for children so important to you?

A) I have always scribbled stories, and after I saw how school kids loved the stories I told about the Aussie critters, I became dedicated and serious about it, and just kept on writing more and more. I joined SCBWI and several online children’s writing lists, and I was lucky enough to find wonderful mentors. Over time, and probably enough rejection letters to paper my bathroom, I learned the craft of writing tight and terrific stories with kid appeal.

My days as a teacher’s aide taught me that boys and reluctant readers need a WOW FACTOR. Call it kid appeal. If not, you can forget about luring them away from texting, computer games and TV movies. Give them plots that share a young macho man’s humor, hobbies and sports interests. Or HOOK them, with the treacherous and mind-boggling culture shock of a different world: Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble, for instance.

My helping other writers has turned into a Manuscript Critique Service that draws clients from many corners of the globe. My website offers various pages of help for writers, plus links to other great sites, as well as listing my 11 published books and how where to buy them.

Q) So much of your writing is in rhyme. What influences and inspires your verse?

A) I really can’t take credit for my rhyming ability. When the rhyming gene was handed out I snuck in for a double dose! Rhyme and meter is like singing in key. Some are born singing in tune, while others are painful to listen too. It comes naturally to me.

I find a lot of ideas for my books from children. My Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind and Horatio Humble Beats the Big D for instance. Grade school children today have to deal with a lot of divorce, death, and moving far from friends and family etc. And dyslexia and other learning difficulties seem to be on the rise. I wanted to offer fun stories that were also helpful to both child and parent: hence the parent teacher guides with Q & A included. I have also found that stories in rhyme stick in a child’s head – we adults still remember those old nursery rhymes.

Q) "Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble" is your first real venture into middle-grade adventure stories designed for boys. Can we expect more of these tales from you, and are any middle-grade girls' adventure stories on the horizon?

A) Our son was a reluctant reader, and this fuelled my desire to write books that would hook boys and tomboys on reading. Many girls love adventure stories – I know I did. So they are the tomboys I am targeting along with the boys.

I want to send those reluctant readers on a magic carpet ride into the Aboriginal Dreamtime Land Down-under. What better way to Hook them on reading than my :

Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble:
Join Taconi on Coorparoo Cattle Station in the Australian outback territory. The time is the mid nineteen hundreds, and his only mate is a big-mouthed cockatoo named Claude. Taconi has nightmares about his upcoming Man Ceremony, plus big problems with his dad. He also battles fierce biting green-ants and a crazed emu. Yummy witchetty grubs, yabbies and goanna steak are high on Taconi’s list of good eats. Then there are the powerful Dreamtime Spirits: they, too, have plans for him. And where is the elusive magical Kingfisher feather Taconi is sure will solve all his problems? Should he become a wise storyteller for his tribe, or a fine jackaroo who works for the cattle station? Finally, a huge tribal gathering, with dancing and storytelling, brings a surprise revelation, plus the life answers Taconi seeks. All helped along by cockatoo Claude’s “right on the money” one-liners.

Glossary of Australian and Aboriginal words can be found at the back of the book.

The “Down-under Fun” page has more facts about the animals mentioned in Taconi and Claude, as well as those in my “Wild and Wonderful” series. Look for the “NUTTY NOTES.”

Read a sample chapter from “Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble.”

http://taconisample.blogspot.com/
Margot’s Magic Carpet – all my books on the one page

+ Links to Reviews and Book Trailers

http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/

YES, I do have a dramatic follow up adventure for Taconi and Claude in the works, plus a ghost mystery set in Oregon. Another book has a reluctant grandson writing to his Aussie Grandmother, and soon becoming hooked on the tales she tells about growing up Down-under. I think my ghost story, with its boy-girl protagonists, will appeal to both boys and girls. Scary is always a WOW factor. The same with the Aussie Grandmother and her grandson: it definitely has boy/girl appeal.

Thank you Mr. Kentner for allowing me this time with your readers.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the interview David. I really appreciate the time you took to bring my story and my books to your readers.

    Margot's Magic Carpet - all 11 books on one page.
    http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. My pleasure, Margot. Thank you for the interview.

    ReplyDelete