If I may first thank you, Melanie, for being such a gracious host and sharing a little about my four book collection called Twig Stories with your friends. It’s exciting for me to know an author of Scottish descent who embraces her heritage the way you do, and learn more about your ancestors’ beautiful country, its history, and culture.
What made you decide to write children’s books?
A few years ago I first became aware of climate change impacting the wildlife and forests where I live in the Pacific Northwest in the US. My young daughter, Ali Jo, and I had recently taken a trip to British Columbia in western Canada, and witnessed entire forests dying from infestations by mountain pine beetles – insects which normally die off in the cold winters. The warmer temperatures now allowed them to multiply into swarms and attack trees by the millions. In 3rd grade Ali Jo also began studying animals in our region threatened with extinction due to a changing climate like the alpine pika, woodland caribou, wolverine, Kermode bear or ‘spirit’ bear, horned lark, and so many others. The effects of global warming were overwhelming for her and her young friends. We felt there must be a more personal approach to understanding it. We had always joked about tiny, stick creatures living in the old growth forest behind our house, and began to wonder how they might battle climate change. So we decided to create stories about these creatures we called Twigs. Naturally, we wanted to share the royalties with conservation nonprofits. It was just one way to contribute to their research and youth programs. It was very much a conspiracy of creativity by Ali Jo and me.
You incorporate environmental issues into your stories, is it difficult to do without sounding preachy?
Well, Twig Stories are primarily fun and thrilling fantasies about a boyish Twig named Leaf and his companions – other Twigs and creatures of the forest, glaciers, and prairies. There are underlying themes of caring for wildlife and unusual impacts created by climate change, but they are secondary to the exciting adventures of Twigs and animals in the wild. Any author who writes eco literature uses the natural world to tell their stories, and Twig Stories books offer this same approach. A reader’s concern about global warming and its impacts will grow only because of Leaf’s unexpected journeys into climate crisis. And if a young reader simply enjoys Leaf’s exploits without realizing anything about the underlying themes, then that is wonderful, too.
Do you write in any other genres?
No, writing children’s eco literature books keep me busy enough.
Are you currently working on a project? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m working on Leaf & Echo Peak, the fourth book in the Twig Stories collection. In this story global warming reaches its tipping point. The threatened eruption of Echo Peak warns of an extreme climate on the horizon. Yet, Twigs are resourceful and find new ways of living. Along with the plants and animals in the forest, they adapt. Echo Peak will be finished and published in 2014.
If your followers are interested, the Twig Stories books are:
Leaf & the Rushing Waters ~ An outburst flood from a melting glacier traps Leaf’s family in their tree-home, so Leaf and his friend Rustle search for goliath beavers to build a mighty dam. In reality, beaver dams are natural solutions to mitigate worsening flood and drought due to unusual climate shifts.
Leaf & the Sky of Fire ~ Leaf attempts a fool-hardy rescue of six Twig babes in the North Forest from swarms of mountain pine beetles, which in the real world have already destroyed entire forests in western North America. The dying trees infested by ‘barkbiters’ also create horrific wildfires.
Leaf & the Long Ice ~ Leaf must journey to the shrinking glacier of Echo Peak to find his runaway brothers, Buddy and Burba. During this wild, funny adventure we learn many rare creatures of the ice may go extinct without their alpine habitat. The loss of the glacier’s ice and fresh water is inevitable.
Thank you so much, Melanie. Wishing you the best of luck and great success with your exciting, e-book launch of your novel A Shadow in the Past. It’s wonderful to know you and your fans of Celtic Connexions!
Here are some links:
Twig Stories website: http://www.twigstories.com
Amazon.com author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jo.marshall
Facebook book page: http://facebook.com/twigstoriesbooks
Facebook author page: http://facebook.com/twigstories
Twitter & Pinterest: @TwigStories
LEAF & THE RUSHING WATERS by Jo Marshall ~ http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Rushing-Waters-Stories-ebook/dp/B006K9NO3A/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1350875144&sr=1-1
LEAF & THE SKY OF FIRE by Jo Marshall ~ http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Fire-Twig-Stories-ebook/dp/B004VTCCHU/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1350875144&sr=1-2
LEAF & THE LONG ICE by Jo Marshall ~ http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Long-Ice-Stories-ebook/dp/B00B4I88BU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358957126&sr=1-1&keywords=leaf+%26+the+long+ice
Leaf & the Rushing Waters http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Rushing-Waters-Twig-Stories/dp/1461135788/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322030239&sr=1-1
Leaf & the Sky of Fire http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Sky-Fire-Twig-Stories/dp/145630092X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1306174492&sr=8-2
Leaf & the Long Ice http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Long-Ice-Twig-Stories/dp/1480080888/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357668543&sr=1-1&keywords=leaf+%26+the+long+ice
Leaf & Echo Peak will be out in 2014!
About the Author:
Jo Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest near volcanoes and rainforests. She spent seven years as a literacy tutor for young readers. In 1986, Jo earned a B.A. in German Language and Literature from the University of Maryland in West Berlin, and worked as a diplomatic liaison for the military command. From 1999 to 2006, she worked in D.C. for two nonprofits as their Legal Assistant to the General Counsel – the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Oceana. Jo is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and many conservation nonprofits. She resides in Snohomish, Washington with her family.
4 thoughts on “Introducing TWIG STORIES author Jo Marshall”
I know of a UK writer for radio who is adopting a similar approach, making eco awareness fun for the kids. It has to be the way forward. Great post, ladies! 🙂 xx
Eco-awareness is extremely important but you don’t want to put it across in a way that frightens children. I love Jo’s approach and wish her the greatest of success with this worthwhile endeavor.
Thanks for this great-looking post, Melanie, and your support for Twig Stories’ message of conservation. Thanks for the tip, Sheryl. There are many wonderful authors helping children understand climate change and encouraging them to protect species and ecosystems. I have much to learn from them, too!
Thrilled that you like this post, Jo! If not for the younger generations being educated, then many species will become extinct. Scary thought but true. Here’s hoping the message gets through.