Author of twenty-eight books, Margo Sorenson was born in Washington, DC, and spent the first seven years of her life in Spain and Italy, living where there were few children her age, so books became her friends. She finished her school years in California, graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles. After teaching high school and middle school and raising a family of two daughters, Margo is now a full-time writer, writing primarily for young people of all ages, toddlers through high schoolers. Margo enjoys writing for young readers since she believes they are ready for new ideas and experiences, and they really have fun "living" the lives of the characters in books. A National Milken Educator Award recipient, Margo always has a good time meeting with her readers in school and library settings from Minnesota to California and Hawaii.
1) Why do you write for children? I believe children deserve hope and to enjoy life. Besides, I don't know any adults.
2) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer. I grew up in Europe as small child, which left me to become the perennial observer of other people, watching from the "outside," so to speak. Reading was my favorite occupation and being able to live different lives through the characters was pure joy. When I became a teacher and taught my English students creative and nonfiction writing, my students' parents encouraged me to write myself, so I gave it a try!
3) What were the inspirations for Island Danger and Time of Honor? We lived in Hawaii for ten years, and the conflicts that newcomers often felt before they appreciated the culture were a source of fascination for me, so I wrote Todd's story in ISLAND DANGER, in which he tries to find weapons hidden by a terrorist group. For TIME OF HONOR, as a medieval history major, I always wished I could have lived during those times, so I wrote a time-travel adventure with a feisty heroine who has to adapt to life in 1272 and prevent the murders of her new friends, as well as of herself.
4) Tell us about your process. As William Faulkner wrote, "It all begins with a character, really, and once he gets up and starts moving around, all you have to do is follow behind him with a pencil and paper and write down everything he says and does." Once a character appears and I keep working on him/her, playwright David Mamet's wise words guide my next steps in working on the plot: "Who wants what and why? Why now? What happens if her [sic] don't [sic] get it?"
5) What does a typical writing day look like? Coffee, coffee, coffee! I'm an early riser, so I answer emails and tweets, review and tweak any upcoming Skype visits, and read the publishing news of the day. Then I settle down to write. Either I am revising manuscripts or I am starting new ones, and I may also be researching editors to whom to send manuscripts.
6) Where is your favorite place to write? In the beginning stages, I have a chaise lounge that I like to use; I can scatter papers and notes everywhere. Once I transfer the work to the computer, I work in my office, where I can look at my inspiration – some of my favorite childhood books right next to my laptop.
7) What did or do you find most challenging in creating the story and/or getting it published? What do you wish you would have known? The most challenging thing about writing and publishing is the revision process. That is always the hardest, because, as you well know, being an author yourself, we writers tend to fall in love with our own words!
8) What is the best writing advice you have ever received? "Put it away in a drawer and don't look at it for a while!"
9) Are you working on a new project? Can you tell us about it? I have a new picture book coming out in the fall of 2014, SPAGHETTI SMILES (Pelican Publishing), and I'm working on publicity for it. Besides that, I am working on some new picture books and revising older manuscripts – the never-ending story!
10) What advice would you give others that write for children? Stay in touch with children and listen to them and observe them. I volunteer for homework help every week during the school year at our local Boys and Girls Club, and I know I couldn't be effective in writing for children if I didn't stay immersed in their world. Things have changed so much!
Margo would love to hear from you. You can find her in many places online.