Writerly Wednesday Welcomes Margot Finke!
Bio 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, though not interested in children’s books . 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! ”
“Musings,” – http://www.underdown.org/finke.htm her columns for children’s writers, can be read in The Purple Crayon.
Her Website – http://www.margotfinke.com showcases her children’s books, Manuscript Critique Service, pages of writing help, + helpful links for writers to explore.
Margot’s Magic Carpet lists all 11 of her books http://perfectmagiccarpet.blogspot.com/
HOOK Kids on Reading is for parents and writers, listing books with a WOW Factor that get kids reading – http://hookkidsonreading.blogspot.com/
Margot is also a writing coach for the Children’s Writers Coaching Club (C.W.C.C,), and offers advice and a monthly Teleclass workshop for members. She is also guilty of Twittering, and can be found on Facebook, JacketFlap and Linkedin.
My Taconi and Claude Double Trouble, a midgrade adventure, is a coming of age story set in the Australian outback of the mid nineteen hundreds. Beginning on Coorparoo Cattle Station, the story takes readers into the heart and mind of Taconi, a young aboriginal boy and his chatty cockatoo mate, Claude. Taconi has a bunch of serious problems: his upcoming man ceremony, a scary Medicine Man, his dad’s crazed ideas, and a wild emu that turns Taconi into a hero of sorts. Not to mention a walkabout for snake, witchetty grubs and yabbies. Taconi wonders how he can fit into both his tribe and the world of the white man? And his feathered mate Claude is a mixed blessing. The mischievous bird offers great one-liners, but almost gets Taconi eaten alive by green ants. Taconi’s future is resolved when Dreamtime Spirits descend on a huge tribal gathering, and Taconi discovers his calling.
Somewhere in the Aussie outback, just a boomerang throw from Ayers Rock, lived an aboriginal boy named Taconi and his good mate, Claude.
The full moon cast a cold light on Taconi’s naked body as four wizened elders pinned him on the ground close to a blazing fire. Sweat rolled off him, and his heart raced the thump, thump, thump of the feather drums: faster and faster.
The Medicine Man slid out of the shadows, a ceremonial spear in his hand. Firelight flashed across the wrinkles on his painted face. His bony old limbs ducked and bobbed to the ancient rhythm of the drums. Eagle, kingfisher, and cockatoo feathers swayed on his headdress. The Old Man plunged the tip of his spear into the flames, holding it there while he mumbled an age-old mantra.
When the tip of the spear glowed red, Taconi’s arms and legs dissolved into mush. There was no escape. The man ceremony was about to claim him. His insides threatened betrayal. N-o-o-o . . . mustn’t pee, mustn’t pee. . .
The Medicine Man thrust the glowing tip of the spear under his nose. Taconi felt the heat, sniffed its acrid smell. The tip sizzled, hovering over his reluctant flesh, poised, ready to burn him into manhood.
The singsong voice of the Medicine Man grew faint. The Old Man’s eyes stared into his, blazing with the power of timeless ritual. The stars—a billion sparkling eyes—whirled overhead, cold and uncaring. Taconi shut his eyes, waiting for his flesh to sear—waiting for the pain.
Taconi held his breath. He waited . . .
When the pain didn’t come, he risked a quick peek. Smoke from the fire blotted out everything except the eyes of the Medicine Man. His burning stare hung over Taconi for a moment, before the smoke claimed him.
Bathed in sweat, Taconi jolted upright. “By Cripes, what’s happenin’?” Relief flooded through him. He was safe in his bed.
Outside in the cool pre-dawn air, Coorparoo Cattle Station’s feathered alarm clock, a sulfur crested Cockatoo named Claude, rasped, “Wakey, wakey. Rise and shine!”
“Crikey,” he muttered. “That man ceremony dream would scare the hide off a croc!” Ever since he found out about his upcoming man ceremony, the recurring dream had haunted his sleep. He glanced at the other bed and frowned. “Bed’s Empty. Dad musta left early for the homestead kitchen.”
He couldn’t understand what drove his dad to cook white folk’s muck for the Boss and the Missus. This was an outback size worry. If his dad got the cookie job, permanent like, there’d be no time for hunting together or throwing the spear. If he was to become a man of his tribe, Dad must teach him these things. The idea of his dad as cookie sat on Taconi’s shoulders like a giant termite mound.
He stared out the small window of the hut he shared with his dad. The vast expanse of Coorparoo Cattle Station waited for the day’s first sunlight. “Coor-par-oo,” he murmured, liking the feel of the word on his tongue. The soft sounds mimicked the gentle call of doves.
1. In three days, all electricity is going to be shut off for a very long time. What items are you going to gather in preparation for this event?
Battery operated radio, candles and a kerosene lamp, books to read, and food that is easy to either cook outdoors or on a portable kerosene stove. I presume our house is still available, so no need to gather clothes, dishes or cooking utensils. We could play games, cards or charades. Getting to know each other all over again, without the barrier of the technical world between us, might end up as a wonderful experience.
2. Where did the idea for the work you are promoting arise?
After living so many years here in the US, I had a yen to write about my homeland Down-under. I guess it grew like Topsy. Over several years I added, subtracted, and reworked it into something I felt was worthwhile. My critique group was of enormous help in pinpointing weaknesses and anywhere I lost focus. Many nights in bed, ideas for new details would pop into my head. I would sneak into the bathroom, where I kept pad and pencil, and scribble down these ideas before they evaporated. Some of my best plot ideas, crazy characters and the like, are born in the darkness after midnight.
3. What do you like to read?
I like a good mystery. If I can guess “who done it” before I am halfway through, the plot is no good! However I also loved the Lovely Bones and the Kite Runner. I enjoyed Holes and A Broken Shard – two midgrade books. If I find myself in critique mode when reading, it spoils the book for me. Well written is a must, whatever the genre.
4. Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited?
The grand Canyon and our trip to China. Both offered an awesome experience, with mind boggling views that took me into the distant past, and made me feel like a speck of dust by comparison. The Grand canyon was visually incomparable. China, with its different culture, ancient customs, and way of looking at life, offered an emotional as well as visual feast for the senses.
5. What is the most mundane, day to day, thing you can share about yourself?
Getting up each morning and looking in the mirror while combing my hair. I am a lady whose golden years have arrived – although who called them golden I can’t say. My dear mom had it right. She once said to me, “If you get up in the morning and feel 30 again, don’t dare look in the mirror – that great feeling will evaporate as quick as snowflakes in Hell.” Mom was smart as well as wise!
From Sally – I have to laugh because I keep saying I am 25, until I cross a mirror.
6. What scares you the most?
Aha. . – that’s easy. Dying before I have all the books I have written safely published. Ask any author – our babies all need an ISBN’s and a link to Kindle and Amazon. Children’s books only live when they are read and loved by the kids we write them for.
7. Tell us anything but keep it G rated.
Dang! That deletes the first 50 years of my life!! Hmmmm. . . I guess having one man love, support, and stay married to me for just on 40 years of marriage is quite an accomplishment. And our three kids turned out pretty well also – seven grandkids so far YEA!! It is sometimes troubling to look at our grandkids, and wonder what the future will hold for them, and how they will cope with what life throws their way. Such cute and loveable bundles of fun and affection right now. I just hope they keep at least some of that to tide them over when things get tough. I guess every new generation must find their own brand of courage when it’s time to march into their adult lives.
Taconi and Claude, Margot Finke, mid-grade, adventure, Australia, aboriginal, Dreamtime
Thank you Sally for letting me meet and chat with your readers on Writerly Wednesday.
Thank you for being my guest this week.
As a special offer – Anyone leaving a comment on this post will receive a FREE copy of Margot’s kid’s time-travel e-book. Double check your email address before you post and I’ll get your info over to our very lovely guest.
Next week we will Welcome Lynne King.