Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview with Margot Finke

Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family. Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive, and their three children are now grown and doing very well.

Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!"

 Her first books, a 7x book rhyming series, "Wild and Wonderful," offers fun facts about animals from the US and Australia.  Educational and fun, eBooks can be read on a computer, laptop, or various color e-Readers.  They are great for classroom or home schooling moms.

Remember, kids today are computer savvy, and ALL 11 of Margot’s books (both hard copy and eBooks) can be viewed on Margot’s Magic Carpet.  The latest three are: Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble (midgrade), Horatio Humble Beats the Big D, and Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind.

Visit her  DOWN-UNDER FUN OR  WILD US CRITTERS:  Discover extra fun facts about the animals in her books. 

Her Manuscript Critique Service attracts clients from all over the globe, and her website offers a great deal of help for new writers. Nothing gives her a bigger thrill that to hear that a book she helped polish has been published.  “This is always a huge YEA moment,” Margot says.

Margot, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I came to Oregon from Australia many years ago with my American husband and our 3 kids.
We met when he migrated to Queensland, and set up a wholesale tropical fish hatchery.  I owned a pet store that also sold tropical fish, and I was his first retail customer.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history.  Seven years later we went to live in Oregon where he went to College.  He told me early on that he had plans to return to the Pacific Northwest some day.  He is a New Yorker by birth, but Oregon stole his heart.

 We live on small acreage and love it.  Kids all grown now and off doing their thing.  One of those “things” is 7 grandchildren – YEA!  I write books for kids: rhyming picture books and mid-grades. Eleven published so far. I also run a Manuscript Critique Service that draws clients from many countries. It is always a huge thrill to hear that a manuscript I helped polish has been published.  Almost a good as having one of my own books published – I did say almost!

Early on, I was lucky enough to have several talented and experienced writers take me under their wings and mentor me – bless them! And I was no overnight success.  It took enough rejection letters to paper our bathroom, and rewrites galore, before I finally made it – published at last!

Could you describe your desk/workspace?

The moment our third child headed for college, I commandeered the family room and turned it into my own writing lair.  Husband built me the desk of my dreams – drawers, shelves and places for all my “stuff.”   A comfy sofa and chairs, for those “can’t find a thing to write about days,” a fireplace for winter snuggling, and pictures of kids and grandkids.  In winter we bring in all the tender plants.  They flourish on shelves under gro-lux lights my husband set up for them. Windows offer a view of our back gardens.  Am I lucky or what? 

Do you have a favorite quote?

A manuscript is like a house.  Without a solid foundation the supports will crumble.

What are you currently reading?

A gripping tale,The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. That man strings powerful words together, making them glow with insight and empathy.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Have patience and stick with it. One of my early mentors told me, “All you need is to work hard, rewrite often, be patient, and stick with it. Oh, and a pinch of luck never hurt either.”

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

It would be my dear Mum. For Mum it would have to be tea and fruitcake – the cake rich and rum soaked. She was a loving and loyal person, with a great deal of common sense, and an instinctive knowledge of people. Looking back, I realize that I never valued her advice half as much as I should have. If I had listened harder, I could have avoided a whole bunch of strife when I was younger. I now find myself offering Mum’s words of wisdom to my own children.  They just pop out of my mouth without me thinking, so they must have sunk in after all – better late than never.

I would hug her tight, and tell her I loved her. And then I would listen, and carefully hold close to my heart all the new insights she had to offer. I miss you Mum.

What are your top three favorite books and why?

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Because it touched me, and it felt so believable and real.  Sebold made me believe in Angels. It drew me in and held me fast.

The Sign of the Seahorse – Graeme Base
Because my picture books are all in rhyme, I really appreciate this writer’s rhyming craft.  He has a unique ability to build a wonderful story within the parameters of terrific rhyme and meter.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
This tale of beauty, loneliness and terror, dragged me to Afghanistan, and trapped me within every painful chapter.  I couldn’t tear myself away from Hosseini’s characters and what they endured.  Every paragraph was a lifeline of words that held me hostage until he was ready to let me go. Women here are all so lucky to be safe in the USA.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

Alice in Wonderland.  All those wild and wonderful characters, and what they got up to, fed my imagination. I rooted for Alice.  I wanted to slide down the rabbit hole too.  The red Queen was awesome. I wanted my friends to be more like The Mad Hatter and that disappearing cat.  Outside of reading, I guess my childhood was pretty dreary.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Blimey, mate, you do ask tough questions.  Not sure if this is a quirk, but I try not to waffle on.
I guess what I tell my clients sums it up quite well:  “You need to write tight and terrific – as tight as your granny’s new girdle!  Waffles are great for breakfast, but keep them out of your chapters.”

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Sort of. Now that our kids have flown the coop (excuse the cliché), I get to write whenever I fancy: with one caveat.  My husband is very supportive, and now that he has retired, he takes on a lot of extras so I can write and promote my books. But every night at I quit computing, leave my lair, and go spend the evening with him.  This time together works, because we’ve been happily married for almost 40 years.

What are your current marketing strateges for "Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble?"

Due to an eighteen month long hassle with hip and knee replacement surgery, I have been forced to do most book promotion via the computer.  Easy on the legs, but hard on the butt! Plus virtual book tours, like this one. These Tours reach out to the people who actually buy books for kids. Then there’s my two Blogs, a Website, and lots of Facebooking and Twittering as the basis of it. I also look online forlLibrarians, teachers, and blogs that cater to mothers of young children - grandmothers too.  I target local schools and libraries, newspapers and radio, with Press Releases that are tailored to suit each outlet. Then follow up with a phone call. Finding good book reviewers is also high on my list of MUST DO things.

I also wrote a fun, time-travel short story that involves characters from my latest 3 books.  The plot has them join forces to get Taconi and Claude back to the Aussie outback of the 1950’s,   where they belong, People can WIN a FREE eBook of “Taconi and Claude’s 21st Century Adventure,” during this tour.  All they have to do is leave a comment on the host Blog.  All 3 of these books come in hard copy and eBook.  But these days, a FREE kid friendly BOOK FREEBY is worth grabbing.

And it helps that I am not unknown as an author: 11 books published. All have been well received, and boast great reviews. I have many contacts within online lists, blogs, and writing lists that I can call on when needed.  Linkedin and JacketFlap are great sources to mine for information and promotional hi-tec.  People contact me these days, asking to interview me for magazines and radio.  This sort of promo reaches way beyond my local area.  I also plan on using Skype + webcam in schools and other areas, to widen my promotional range.  For those willing to push the promotional envelope, PowerPoint and the internet offer boundless opportunities. 

Could you share about any current writing projects?

At the moment I am polishing a sequel of sorts to Taconi and Claude. In this one, Bindi and Josh, the grandsons of Taconi and Boss Howard, deal with nasty sibling rivalry, an outback walkabout that could be the death of them, and a crazed old medicine man who wants Josh dead. He must eat witchetty grubs and emy eggs or starve, while Old Man Roo scares the pants off both of them.  It is only Bindi’s outback smarts, and later on the tribal Elder, who save Josh’s bones from bleaching in the outback sun. Title: Survival by Walkabout

What would be the best way for readers to contact you?

My Books – Help for Writers – Manuscript Critique Service

Margot’s Magic Carpet:
All 11 books on the one page + details and links.

HOOK Kids on Reading:
My Book Trailers, other books, writing news

Where can people find your books being featured on this tour?

*Autographed: my Website + free story

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

 I think you’re dug out every scrap of information I have.  Thanks so much for giving me this time to chat with your readers.

Leave a comment on any of the participating blogs during Margot's June Book Tour,  and win a FREE COPY of a fun time-travel story that Margot wrote especially for kids. 
NOTE: Only one copy per person.  Please leave your e-mail.  (Safe sample:  mfinke<@>


Karen Cioffi said...

It was so nice to learn a bit more about you, Margot. I love your books.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

storyqueen said...

Blimey, what a fun interview! Margot is a treasure.

Thanks for sharing her with us, Susanne!


Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Karen and Shelley. I enjoyed doing this interview with Margot. Thanks for stopping by to check it out. Have a wonderful day!

Ann Best said...

This is an awesome interview! Margot Finke is awesome, and I'm so glad I met her through you, Susanne. I'm bookmarking her. I love books for young readers (I'm still young at heart). To Margot: You came to writing "later" in life, seasoned by life. We "older" writers have a lot of experience to draw from. This is our greatest asset. So I think you are every bit a "hero/heroine" as those you say that you envy!!
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Virginia S Grenier said...

Thanks Susanne for hosting Margot Finke. What a great interview.

Margot is a wonderful author and her books are so delightful. I'm so glad I was able to work and host her this month during her tour.

Margot Finke said...

Ann, Shelly and Karen, many thanks for your kind and supportive comments. You three have made my day - YEA!!!

And Suzanne, thank you for hosting me on the last day of my World of Ink tour, and sending me off with a BANG!!

And remember mates, e-mail me
< mfinke at >if you would like a copy of my new FREE time-travel kid's e-book adventure - just the read for kids this summer.

Margot’s Magic Carpet
Books With a WOW Factor

J. Aday Kennedy's Brain Fart Explosion said...

I can't wait for the sequel to Taconi and Claude. Hurry! I've learned a lot from your pointers. Thanks for being such a generous fount of wisdom.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
Children's Author of Stella the Fire Farting Dragon (April 2011)

Donna M. McDine said...


You always make me chuckle out loud. Glad I made a stop before heading out, your interview has put me in a delightful mood. Keep up the great work@

Best wishes,

kathy stemke said...

I love learning more about Margot, her books and her marketing tools.
Best wishes,

alexia said...

Great interview, ladies! I love how you commandeered the family room :)

Susanne, since you mentioned you were interested, my urban fantasy newsletter is available now, and I'm having a book giveaway on my blog to celebrate!

Jack Foster said...

Thanks Susan for giving a closer look at such an interesting woman. Margot is such a delight:o) Great interview.

Deana said...

Margot, the information I learn about you keeps getting better and better:)

Susan Hornbach said...

Susanne, this was a wonderful interview. Thank you Margot, and God Bless you for sharing so much with all of us. This was a fun interview, and quite informative. Loved it!

Margot Finke said...

Just as well I took another peek at the comments here today. Thanks everyone - Susan, Deana, Jack, Alexis, Kathy and Donna. Your lovely supportive comments have made my day. Now that this fun book tour is finally over, my swelled head will get a chance to deflate.

But folks, none of you wanted a FREE copy of my e-book adventure for kids - sob! I wrote it specially for this tour, and used characters from all there tour books too. HEY! have I given you all a guilt trip yet?

Yeah, I know: I'd make a terrific Jewish mother!!

Margot’s Magic Carpet
Books With a WOW Factor

Janet Ann Collins said...

It's great to learn so much more about Margot. Thanks for the interview.

cluculzwriter said...

What a wonderful tribute to Margot, Suzanne. It's so wonderful to learn more about her. Margot, are you going to the BookExpo next month? I'm not, but I'd sure love to hear how it went. Hope you'll consider blogging about it if you go.


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