Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Interview with Pat McCarthy - Children's Author

Pat McCarthy has written more than twelve non-fiction children's books. Her newest, "Heading West: :Life with the Pioneers" is now available on Amazon.com. Pat's love for nature, photography and history inspire her to share this love with her readers. Pat McCarthy is also and expert author at Ezinearticles.com Please welcome Pat McCarthy to Carma's Window.

Q: Hello Pat, I understand you write mostly non-fiction for children. Your newest book, “Heading West: Life with the Pioneers” is about pioneer children and their families who traveled in covered wagons. Is this story about a particular group? What time period does this story cover?

Pat: No, the book is not about a particular group. It pretty much covers the whole pioneer era, which was mainly the 1800s, especially the last half of the century.

Q: What types of activities did you include in “Heading West”?

Pat: I tried to balance the activities, including crafts, writing activities, games, and recipes. They include making a model of a cabin, pretending you're on the Oregon Trail and writing a letter back home, playing Blind Man's Bluff and making cornbread and butter.

Q: I see that you have written biographies of Henry David Thoreau, Abigail Adams and so on. What is the most difficult thing about writing on the subject of these historical figures? You say biographies are your favorite. Tell us why.

Pat: Probably the most difficult thing about writing biographies is sifting through all the information available and trying to decide what is true. Well, we all like talking about people and hearing about what people are doing, so I guess I like learning about a person's life. It seems like everyone is interesting when you find out more about his or her life. I'm always looking for little tidbits that I think kids will like.

Q: What are your writing habits? Do you work on an outline before starting the actual story?

Pat: I work best under pressure, so I work a lot harder as the deadline comes closer. This isn't necessarily a GOOD thing, so I wouldn't recommend it! I definitely do an outline first. I have to do one in order to get a proposal approved, but I would anyway. I do a very complete outline of each chapter, and once I plug all the info into the outline, the chapter seems to write itself.

Q: I have heard that many publishers do not encourage authors to contribute any art work or photographs with their submissions. You are an avid photographer. Do you supply your own pictures for your books?

Pat: The publishers I have worked for not only encourage, but REQUIRE the authors to provide the photos for the books. I took about half the pictures for the pioneer book. Some are stock photos of famous people and many are old ones from the Library of Congress that are out of copyright or were never copyrighted. I think this is much more common with nonfiction than with fiction, where they definitely don't want you to provide illustrations unless you are a professional illustrator.

Q: Which element of writing comes more naturally for you—plot, characterization, description, dialogue? Which one gives you the hardest time?

Pat: I write mostly nonfiction, so plot and dialogue don't really apply. The plot is already there - I just have to discover it. And in true nonfiction, there isn't dialogue unless you're writing an autobiography, where you were there to hear the conversations. When I'm writing fiction, dialogue comes easily for me. Trying to get the plot to all work together is the hardest.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers who are trying to break into the field?

Pat: Don't give up. Perseverance is more important than talent, but it helps to have both.

Q: Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Pat: I don't really have writer's block. There are times when I don't feel like writing, but I don't think that's exactly the same thing. And a looming deadline does wonders to cure it!

Q: What type of book promotion seems to work best for you?

Pat: There wasn't a lot I could do to promote my other books, as they were sold to schools and libraries. I'm hoping to have more book signings and to do lots of school visits with this book. I also am working on a website. I'm on Facebook and have a Blog.

Q: What future goals or projects are in the works?

Pat: I'm working on a proposal for another book for Chicago Review Press. I do have a mid grade novel that I'm sending out, but no bites so far.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

Pat: They can look at my Blog, which can be found at www.patmccarthysauthorblog.blogspot.com When I get it set up, my website will be www.authorpatmccarthy.com I'm hoping to have it up early in August.

Thank you so much Pat for taking the time to answer my questions.


1 comment:

  1. I love books that teach children. Heading West sounds wonderful.

    For promotion, Pat might think about joining VBT - Writers on the Move. It's a group of authors who cross-promote through tours and other strategies.

    Great interview, Carma,

    Karen Cioffi