Mymcbooks Interview Author Victoria Griffith
Victoria Griffith worked for fifteen years as correspondent to the UK’s Financial Times newspaper. Her assignments included interviewing acclaimed architect Frank Gehry (who said the shopping mall across the street made him want to puke) and making lunch for master chef Julia Child (who did not like the blackberry dessert). As the newspaper’s US science correspondent, she wrote about everything from genetic breakthroughs to the space program. As Brazil correspondent, she covered environmental issues and spent time in the Amazon rain forest. It was in Brazil that she first learned about Alberto Santos-Dumont. Victoria lives in Boston with her husband and three daughters. http://www.victoriagriffith.com/
Victoria Griffith is the author of The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read?
The last kids’ book I read was MY HANDS SING THE BLUES, by Jeanne Walker Harvey. It’s about a trip the artist Romare Bearden made as a child. The book is a biography in rhyme, which is really hard to do.
The last adult book I read was Tea Obrecht’s THE TIGER’S WIFE. I had to see what all the fuss was about, and I wasn’t disappointed. I really liked the way Obrecht kept the novel grounded in reality while exploring fantastical stories.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I liked to write fairy tales when I was little. One of them even won some award and was published in a children’s magazine. It’s been all down hill since then.
What was your favorite children’s book?
I loved E.B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB. The first line “Where is Papa going with that ax?” is a masterpiece, full of intrigue and possibility. Who wouldn’t want to read more? The book continues to be a favorite of mine, because it is a celebration of writers. I also loved MR PINE’S PURPLE HOUSE, about a man who tries to make his house stand out somehow, even though it looks like all the others. I think it appealed to the non-conformist in me.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
My Scottish grandmother was a talented storyteller, and my mother toyed with humor writing, so I suppose the urge to get things down on paper runs in the family. But I agree with Dorothy Parker, who said. “I hate writing; I love having written.” I think most authors feel that way.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes. My wonderful agent, Robert Astle, is submitting a middle grade novel and another picture book biography to publishers as we speak. I’ll keep you posted.
What inspired you to write THE FABULOUS FLYING MACHINES OF ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT?
Running errands in a flying machine was a childhood dream of mine. When I heard someone had actually done that, I knew I had to write about it. Santos-Dumont’s life was exciting. When the Wright Brothers flew, they did so in front of just a handful of witnesses. Few people even noticed. But Santos-Dumont made his first flight in front of thousands of people in Paris. I love the way Louis Bleriot just showed up and tried to steal the thunder. It meant I had a real life “bad guy” to liven up the scene when Santos-Dumont takes off. And kids love bad guys don’t they? (Of course Bleriot redeemed himself later, when he became the first person to cross the English Channel in a plane.)
What is the most difficult part of writing?
I find endings more difficult to craft than beginnings. That’s probably a hangover from my journalist days, when my main job was to capture readers’ attention and hold it until the end of the story. The last line in an article is less important than the first.
Do you write full time or do you still have a day job?
I write full time, sometimes working on journalist pieces, but mostly working on my books. I also have three daughters who keep me very busy.
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Knock on wood, but I haven’t really had any bad reviews. One thing that has surprised me is the controversy surrounding creative non-fiction like THE FABULOUS FLYING MACHINES OF ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT, which uses invented quotes. I had no idea people felt so strongly about the boundaries of non-fiction.
I don’t really suffer from writer’s block, but sometimes I’ll write stories that my family (my first critics) thinks are not up to par. I throw that stuff in the trash.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I hope they will realize that history is a lot messier than it often seems. In 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont was arguably the most famous person in the world, and few had heard of the Wright Brothers. Today, Santos-Dumont is still considered the Father of Flight in his native Brazil, but most of the world has forgotten him.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
Like many people, I adore J.K Rowling, but I wouldn’t want to have dinner with her, because she seems to be a very private person who mainly enjoys spending time with people she knows well. The poet Jack Prelutsky would probably be a lot of fun to share a meal with.
What author inspires you the most and why?
Jane Austen is a big inspiration, because she wrote at a time when it was something women just weren’t supposed to do.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I work when my children are in school, basically.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
Picture books for elementary school children (of THE FABULOUS FLYING MACHINES OF ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT ilk) are sometimes overlooked, because kids are pushed early into chapter books. But picture books are often so rich with vocabulary and ideas that they can expand a child’s mind in surprising ways. Parents who continue to read picture books with their elementary school children are sure to reap the rewards of a shared literary experience!
What advice would you give to new writers?
Remember that this is one of the biggest challenges you will face in your life. But if becoming an author is your dream, don’t let that knowledge stop you!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I’m so grateful there are people like your readers out there, people who feel so passionate about books that literature has become an indispensable part of their daily lives. Thank you for this interview.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
Books Given in 2012: 380
Books Given in 2013: 330
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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