Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Nevinski’

Margaret Nevinski – An Interview about the Writing Life

I recently had the good fortune of interviewing middle grade author Margaret Nevinski www.margaretnevinski.com about her recent publication of a short story, “The Eve of St. Agnes,” in the online literary journal, Hunger Mountain. Read her story here: http://budurl.com/rmm4

Margaret is an amazing teacher and presenter whom I have the great fortune of knowing as a Margaret Neviski The Eve of St. Agnesfellow Bainbridge Island author.  Her classes are highly sought by both young and not so young writers and creatives in the Pacific Northwest. Check out what she had to say about her writing life:

How did you get started as a writer?

MN: I started writing short stories for adults, which were published in small literary magazines. One day while I was jogging, I had a burst of adrenaline and an insight: my writing voice was most suited to young readers. That started my dream of writing for kids and teens.
I got lots of rejections, then personal notes from editors, then finally—a yes! I’ve written several children’s books for the school market, and now I’m working toward getting my
first middle-grade novel published.

I know that you often work with young authors. How young is too young to begin
learning about the craft of writing?

MN: I love teaching writing workshops for kids through the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Rec
District. I always learn something from young writers! Though I think creativity has no age
limit, I start working with young writers when they’re eight. By eight they’ve learned the
basics about writing and they’re ready to unleash their imaginations—a great combination.

Do you mostly write YA lit or do you ever branch out into other genres?

MN: My real love is middle-grade fiction for ages 9 to 12. I’m fascinated by the years when
you’re still firmly in childhood but on the cusp of becoming a teen.

What is your writing life like? Do you spend hours every day writing?

MN: I’m a morning person. I drink my coffee and read before breakfast, then settle down to my
quiet, morning writing time. I strive to have creative time each day. My motto is from The
War of Art by Steven Pressfield: “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing
else matters except sitting down each day and trying.”

What is your inspiration for your short story in Hunger Mountain Literary Magazine?

MN: I grew up Catholic and have always been fascinated by saints—their lives are filled with
quirky, odd details just waiting for fiction writers! When I discovered Keats’ poem, “The
Eve of St. Agnes,” I was intrigued. According to the myth about St. Agnes, a young woman
will dream of her future husband on the night of January 20th. I thought, how fun would it
be to give this story a contemporary, high school setting?

What is your favorite book you read as a young girl? Why?

MN: In grade school, a friend and I read a book called The Key House Mystery. The story details in my mind are vague, but the great thing about the book is that it inspired us to follow an elderly man in our neighborhood, spy notebooks in hand. One day his wife ordered us to
stop following him. For the first time, I realized that reading could have an impact on real
life. I’ve been searching for The Key House Mystery for years with no luck—if anyone finds
it, please let me know!

How do you deal with “passes” from publishers? Do you save the letters or do you toss
them?

MN: Luckily my agent gets the rejections first, which she charmingly calls “passes,” so that
softens them a bit. Over the years, however, I’ve acquired a file full of “passes.” I’ve kept
every letter except one from an editor who said my writing was “competent.” Ouch! That
hurt.

What book(s) are you currently reading or at least have on your nightstand waiting for
you?

MN: I’m halfway through The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, which takes
place in Wisconsin where I grew up. I just finished Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other
Daily Disasters by Rachel Vail, a hilarious account of third grade. On my nightstand is a
wonderful collection of biographical essays that I dip into to get inspired: Joan Acocella’s
Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints. So you see, I never quite get away from saints!

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