Ever since she can remember, ten-year-old Melody has always wanted to fly. And when she leaps off a swing in the park one day and lands in the mystical realm of Chimeroan, her dream finally comes true. She is given a pair of wings. She can fly! Life cannot be any better.? Yet, dreams do come with a price. Even with wings, Melody realizes she cannot outfly the memories of her past. The car accident that has left her father paralyzed, and her unscarred, still plagues her with guilt-she believes that it was entirely her fault.
In Chimeroan, Melody is forced to come to terms with her part in her father's accident. She must choose between the two things that have become the world to her: keeping her wings or healing her father.
Me: Welcome Ann Marie! So tell us, why did you decide to write middle-grade books?
Ann Marie: It wasn’t so much a decision, as an awakening. I was quite happy writing with adults in mind, but after my daughter was born, ideas kept popping into my head about stories she might enjoy. Unfortunately I was no good at writing picture books. Trust me, I tried! The idea of polishing off an entire manuscript in under 500 words was very intriguing. A week or two at most, including revisions, right?
Nothing I wrote sounded right. I was much better at creating longer stories. Not only that, but weaving and interweaving plot and characters over many pages was much more enjoyable. Plus, I figured that by the time I (hopefully) got one my stories published, my daughter would be the right age to appreciate them. I barely made it. She is now twelve! J
Me: Congratulations! I know part of your journey to publication, because as publishing sisters and crit partners we've shared the experience. But tell us, what was it about Up In The Air that compelled you to write it? Did Melody, the main character, call to you? Was there a personal experience that prompted the story?
Ann Marie: Personal experience? No, nothing like that. The initial idea for Up In the Air came to me one day while I was meditating. Images of a girl, unhappy, longing to fly, trying to escape her family life, landing in the magical world of Chimeroan and getting wings… I was enraptured by the images. I sensed the struggle of the main character, Melody, her desire to run away. I had to find out more about her.
Me: If Melody were confronted by a three-headed giraffe, what would she do? if you were confronted by the same, what would your reaction be?
Ann Marie: Well, it would depend on whether or not the 3-headed giraffe was friendly. On Chimeroan, I imagine Melody being intrigued by such a sight. She would want to find out whether the giraffe was a guide or a Guided. She’d most likely want to pet it and make sure it was all right.
My reaction? I’d run.
Me: I'd run, too! One last thing - frozen lemonade or milkshake? Markers or crayons? Alien slime or whoopee cushion?
Ann Marie: Definitely milkshake. Markers, hands down. Neither slime (alien or otherwise) nor whoopee cushion grabs me. I’ll settle for a nice comfortable couch with an irresistible book, thank you very much.
Me: I agree - on all counts! Thanks for joining us here Ann Marie and I wish you all the best with Up In The Air!
Ann Marie grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia with a Joint Honors Degree in French and Spanish. After leaving university, she got a job at the Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board and later at the United Nations, New York. While at the UN she took a translation certificate course at New York University, School of Continuing Education, and went on to become a freelance translator. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, she started writing and never stopped.
Anne Marie is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and facilitates a children’s writing group twice a month.