Maryrose Wood

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Interview By: Tamazon

Date: February 22, 2011

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The Hidden Gallery | Book 2 in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series | Balzer+Bray, HarperCollins Children's Books | Middle-grade fiction | Release date: February 22, 2011

Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, "They must have been raised by wolves."

The Incorrigible children actually were.

Thanks to the efforts of Miss Penelope Lumley, their plucky governess, Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia are much more like children than wolf pups now. They are accustomed to wearing clothes. They hardly ever howl at the moon. And for the most part, they resist the urge to chase squirrels up trees.

Despite Penelope's civilizing influence, the Incorrigibles still managed to ruin Lady Constance's Christmas ball, nearly destroying the grand house. While Ashton Place is being restored, Penelope, the Ashtons, and the children take up residence in London. Penelope is thrilled, as London offers so many opportunities to further the education of her unique students. As they explore the city, however, they discover even more about themselves, as clues about the children's-and Penelope's-mysterious past crop up in the most unexpected ways. . . .

Please tell us your latest news!

I am so excited that THE HIDDEN GALLERY is a Junior Library Guild selection and will be on the Spring 2011 Kids' Indie Next List. It's also received a lovely starred review in ALA Booklist. Go Incorrigible children!

In April I'll be touring, so if you're in or near Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas or Atlanta, I hope you'll come see me. Check my website for details:

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

I do write full time, although I also am mom to two teenagers, which is certainly another full-time job. I also recently started teach a writing class at a local college, and it's a lot of fun. It's forcing me to go back and think through all the 'basics" that one spends one's whole career mulling over, so it's just as beneficial to me as I hope it is to my students.

Before I was a writer -- this was a very long time ago, mind you -- I was an actor, a theatre director, a member of an improv comedy troupe, a freelance journalist and a magazine editor. I started my writing career as a playwright and screenwriter, and came to novels much later.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

My writing process is a grab-bag of whatever is working for me at the moment. Each book is different, and each phase of the creative process places its own demands. I like to have a clear "picture" of the book's shape in my head before starting, and I brainstorm basic elements for a while before beginning, too - what the big climactic sequence might be, where are the major settings in which the story takes place, what significant bits of plot HAVE to happen, and in which order-but once I begin, I let the writing lead me.The best parts of every book I've written have been totally unplanned.

Research is very helpful, of course: learning as much as you can about the world of the book you're writing is a great generator of ideas.

Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it.

My MacBook Pro is pretty much indispensable. Coffee mug (full) is a big help. I can see nothing without my reading glasses. Other than that, I'm flexible!

What main genre do you write in?

Teen / Young Adult

Please describe your writing environment.

My writing environment is the inside of my head. It defies description, I'm afraid, and is very difficult to photograph. I write wherever I can sit down with my MacBook Pro in my lap. I prefer quiet.

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Oh, all kinds of surprising things happen when I write! I think it's essential to make some sort of plan, but once I begin writing, I feel very free to follow the story wherever it takes me. This usually means my meager outlines are useless ten minutes after I start a draft, but it's still very helpful to attempt to think through the big beats of a story in advance. That certainly goes for characters, too.

How many books do you plan on writing each year?

At the moment I'm writing two books a year, since I'm working on both The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series and The Poison Diaries trilogy, which is a gothic paranormal YA trilogy.

After I'm done with the third book in the Poison Diaries trilogy, I have a feeling that the final books of the Incorrigible Children series will keep me busy enough to do one a year for a while!

What are your hobbies?

I like to do sporty outdoorsy things, but am not that good at any of them. In the warmer months, biking, kayaking and tennis. In the winter, I'm just learning to x-country ski. I garden in the spring and summer, and love trying new vegetarian recipes out of my vast array of cookbooks. Baking bread is a favorite activity of mine. I like good movies but almost never watch television. And I read a lot, of course, but much of the reading I do is for some purpose, usually research for my books. I wish I had more time to read for pleasure!

Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?

I have a lovely shiba inu dog, and two cats who were found as newborn kittens in my back yard and quickly became family pets (we found homes for the rest of the litter). The dog decided the kittens were puppies and adopted them completely; she still drives them crazy trying to clean their ears and faces all the time.

The cats are no help whatsoever to my career. The dog offers excellent tips on wolfish behavior, which comes in very useful when writing about the Incorrigible children!

What's your favorite drink?

Water. Excellent strong coffee is also much appreciated.