Marcia Strykowski

September Author Spotlight

phoebe stoneI’m excited to have award-winning author Phoebe Stone share her thoughts on this month’s author spotlight. Not only is Phoebe a prolific author, but she is an amazing painter, as well. Be sure to visit her website after viewing the beautiful photograph of her with a few of her paintings at the end of this post. Meanwhile, let’s get right to the questions.

Please share a little about your books.

PS1All my novels so far have been written in the first person. It’s quite a challenge to get the voice in each book to sound different from my others. But that’s a challenge I love. I usually write from an eleven or twelve-year-old girl’s perspective. I wrote “The Romeo and Juliet Code” and its sequel “Romeo Blue” using my childhood experiences in England and my love of the sea and my interest in World War II. PS4aThe main character Flissy Bathburn is English but I set that book in a large old house on the ocean in Maine.
My new book (to be published by Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic) is coming out next spring.  It takes place in present day France! This is the very first time I have told anyone about it!  It will be called “Paris for Two.” I am pretty excited about it.

Congratulations, Phoebe, “Paris for Two” sounds wonderful!

How has where you’ve lived or traveled influenced your work?

The sense of place is very important in my books.  When I am writing a story I know I will be spending many hours in that place so I want it to be an interesting and enriching place, a place with personality, a place with mystery and poetry, a place that inspires me. And I love houses. My grandmother’s house, my mother’s house, houses my family lived in when I was growing up, houses I long to live in that I have only seen from afar, houses with a sense of romance, houses with a sense of intrigue, houses with a story of their own to tell.
0-439-80245-8
Could you briefly tell us your writing process?

When I begin writing a first draft for a novel I have no idea where I am going. It’s quite a bit like a journey that you set out on with a little knapsack on your back with only a few supplies…I am no good at reading maps and I never plot out a story before I start. So there is a bit of anxiety when I begin.  Where am I going? What’s going to happen? Will I find the end, my destination? phoebe double 4I just start writing and yes, at first I wander a little bit because I haven’t determined the direction.  And then suddenly things begin to take shape. I find the road and begin to understand where I am going. Sometimes along the way I can glimpse the end of the book far off in the distance. I stop and write it down. That eases my anxiety.  At least I know where I am going to end up. Then I can begin to figure out how and what happens in order to arrive at this end. 

For me the anxiety puts an edge on things and I think that’s good. If I don’t know what will happen next and am in a process of discovery, perhaps my readers will feel the same.  

In a fumbling way I find my story. Then I go back and cut my earlier wanderings.  I begin to shape the book. And I talk things over with my editor.  Every time I rework a story, a new layer occurs. I arrive at things I never could have in just one pass. So yes, I take the journey many times, but the first journey is the most exciting and the scariest.
phoe double 2What advice would you give to new authors/illustrators hoping to become published?

Don’t give up. You might have to be a bit of a maniac.  Writing is not  a part time thing. Expect you will have to sacrifice some real life for inner life.  Dedicated writers actually give up quite a lot to accomplish what they have accomplished.  “No, I can’t go on that hike with you guys, I have a deadline!” It takes many hours to learn to write well and then to maintain it.  We aren’t ballerinas or basketball players but it takes the same kind of constant will and practice.
PS5For novelists, if you wish to get published you have only one goal: to get good at what you are doing. If your book is good with good unique writing and good characters and a good sense of place and a good plot, you will get published. It will happen.
And I always advocate listening to great books read aloud on CDs. It’s important to hear the cadence, the flow, the rhythm of good lines in great books. It’s a wonderful enriching way to learn.

Phoebe-Stone-with-her-artwork-1favorite movie = Doctor Zhivago.  I know, it’s a tiny bit dated.  The clothing and hair-dos are so 1960.  But what a movie! What a plot! Such romance and poetry, such characters, such music and the sets are memorable. Omar Sharif is magnificent. And I believe the critics panned the movie when it first appeared. I think that broke the director David Lean’s heart. 
favorite hobby= I like to go to flea markets and find some piece of fabric, perhaps a curtain from the 1800s that  will inspire me with its color and design and make me wonder who owned it and why. I also love to paint. In fact, I started out as a painter and went to art school.
favorite color= Right now it’s yellow. A yellow room is a room full of sunshine.  It’s a rich color but it never steals the light from a room.  Instead it adds light and paintings look beautiful against yellow. 
favorite book= Anything by Beatrix Potter. She has such charm and such style and she is such a master of her craft. Wow.
favorite vacation= All of them.  They bring so much joy and inspiration.  And a vacation stands out forever in one’s memory. More please!

To learn more about Phoebe and her beautiful books, please click here for her website.
Phoebe_Stone_3731-sm
Phoebe, thank you for this amazing look into your creative life!

30 Comments

  1. Absolutely stunning. So inspirational. Thank you Marcia! Thank you, Phoebe!

    Like

  2. I enjoyed learning more about Phoebe Snow. Thanks for the post, Marcia. I’m glad I’m in good company as far as not knowing where I’m going when I begin a manuscript. I think it makes it that much more fun! 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, fun to sometimes end up where you least expected. Thanks for your comment, Lynn!

      Like

    • I know. i think if I plotted the whole story out before hand I might get bored! I think it’s better to discover along the way! At least for me that works best.

      Like

  3. Rebecca C

    Great interview! I love reading about other authors’ writing processes, and Phoebe’s artwork is just beautiful. And I can definitely relate to being a bit of a maniac. 🙂 Writing requires a strong focus, dedication, and determination.

    Like

    • Aren’t those paintings gorgeous? Her books are great, too. Thanks for your comment, Rebecca!

      Like

    • Thank you so much!!!! Marcia and everyone! I also loved reading your earlier post about Edith Wharton’s house . I visited it years ago before it was all restored. Lovely to see it finished in the photos! Now I must go back and revisit it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank YOU Phoebe for sharing your talent! Interesting that you were able to see the Mount before restoration. 🙂

        Like

  4. Bette Norton

    Another fascinating Author’s Spotlight Post! Phoebe Stone’s books look very interesting. I love her illustrations and her paintings! Just beautiful! I look forward to reading some of her books! I will be making frequent visits to her website to view her amazing paintings! I enjoy meeting new authors and illustrators through your spotlight posts! 🙂

    Like

  5. Hi Bette! Thank you!!!

    Like

  6. Ashley

    Phoebe’s books look interesting and her paintings are so pretty. I love the bold colors!!

    Like

  7. mirkabreen

    When I look at the photo of stunningly beautiful Phoebe Stone sitting in front of her wonderful art with a ginger cat in her lap, I can see her as a *character* in a great Russian novel such as Doctor Zhivago. Thank you for featuring her, Marcia.

    Like

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Mirka. Phoebe does look like she has stepped right out of a fairy tale (or great classic).

      Like

  8. Gorgeous paintings, indeed! I know where I’ve heard about Phoebe’s book, The Romeo and Juliet Code. My friends over at the DMS featured it some time ago. And it left quite an impression. I like Phoebe’s titles as well (the Boy on Cinnamon Street and Deep Down Popular). Will go check them out!

    Like

    • You can find my review of The Romeo and Juliet Code on Goodreads–loved it! Thanks for stopping by, Claudine.

      Like

  9. Hi again everyone! Thank you for all your sweet comments! It is inspiring and it makes me want to work harder and do more! Lovely of all of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fun post!! Phoebe sounds like a person you’d love to find as your next door neighbor-so inventive an capable and warm and open. I’m going to Amazon to track down her books! thanks.

    Like

    • Wonderful, Rhonda. Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

    • Hi Rhonda!!! Lovely to hear from you!

      Like

      • Hi Phoebe– loved your interview– am going to track down your books (and my favorite color is yellow too!)

        Like

        • Hi again Rhonda. Yes, yellow is especially great on a wall. It’s warm and bright and enhances other colors and never darkens a room. As far as I am concerned, light in a room is the most important thing.

          Like

          • Hi Phoebe!! Yep, we have lots of yellow around our house– and I found your first Romeo book at the library and bought the second!! Am reading through now. So excited– hope to read one to my 4th graders at school!

            Like

  11. That is so great Rhonda!! You will soon see how much I love houses!

    Like

  12. Hello Marcia,
    Thank you so much for pointing out the Spotlights tab, I missed it completely.
    I enjoyed finding out more about Phoebe, and you are right about the photograph at the end of the post – it is beautiful. I also went and had a look around her website so a very enjoyable half hour, thank you. I will be back to check out more of your Spotlight posts when I get the time. Barbara

    Like

    • Hi, Barbara, so happy you enjoyed getting to know Phoebe. She’s an amazing talent and I was thrilled to share an author table with her at a book fair a couple of years back. Thanks for checking out the Spotlights Tab, it’s easy to miss. 🙂

      Like

Please leave a comment--I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: