March 11, 2016
Today we present debut author, Cheryl Lawton Malone whose book, DARIO AND THE WHALE is out now! Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of her interview to win a copy of her book!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.
I was a biotech attorney in the Boston area for twenty-two years, working as an associate, staff attorney, and then General Counsel of several biotechs. Those jobs transitioned into running my own legal and operational consulting company for biotech startups. That career morphed into writing for children after I attended a summer workshop at Lesley University and had the opportunity to work and write with the amazing children's writer, David Elliott.
I didn’t start writing full-time until 2010 after I finished an MFA at Lesley and became an adjunct professor of creative writing there. As an alum of Lesley and a past instructor at Grub Street, I became very active in the Boston children's writing community. I belong to three writing groups, attend conferences, give writing seminars, and cheer at book launches and kid lit meet ups. I’m a member of SCBWI, a past volunteer with Boston 826, and a manuscript consultant for Grub Street.
Congrats on your debut, DARIO AND THE WHALE! Tell us about the story and what inspired it.
A Brazilian boy named Dario and his mother move to the seashore about the same time as a North Atlantic right whale migrates to the same shore. It's about the friendship between the lonely boy and the playful whale and what happens when it's time for the whales to migrate again.
The story was inspired by a real life experience. In April 2011, my dog and I were walking along a beach on Cape Cod when a whale spouted just off shore - about 15 feet away. It was a juvenile North Atlantic Right whale! April is the month that whales migrate to the Cape but to see one that close was amazing. My dog barked. And the whale raised its head enough to look at us with his eye, as if he too wanted to see what was there. That moment when the three of us stood there looking at each other - that was the moment that inspired DARIO. I include a brief note about it in the back of the book.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m always working on picture books—trying new ideas, revising old ones. A PB WIP is near ready to share with my writing groups. In addition, I’m working on a MG novel in verse that explores many of the same themes as are in DARIO - loneliness, fitting in, connecting with others.
When is your next project due out?
No specific due date.
What is your typical process for writing?
I tend to work on my current WIP in the early morning before the day turns into phone calls, emails, dogs, friends and family. I set a schedule for myself. Usually, it’s five pages a day, whether that's new material or a revision. Those pages can take anywhere between three hours or six! I try to stick with it until the five pages are done or better than the day before. Then it’s house chores and family obligations. If there is any time left over, I devote that to marketing and social media. Weekends are for thinking about new projects.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Write in the morning. Write at night. Write while your kids are at the dentist. Write when your significant other goes to sleep. And when you're not writing, work on your craft. To be ready for instant success, you have to be prepared.
Where can people find you on the internet?
I'd love folks to stop by my website: www.cheryllawtonmalone.com and sign up for my newsletter. In addition, you can find me at cheryl.lawtonmalone (Instagram); cheryl lawton malone - author (FB) and @MaloneLawton (Twitter).
What is one thing people don't know about you?
I write mysteries!
Cheryl Lawton Malone is a retired attorney, and professional freelance writer, poet, MFA grad and creative writing instructor. She and her husband and two wheaten terriers migrate on weekends to an island in the Atlantic Ocean where they enjoy spending time with their favorite animal neighbors. Dario and the Whale is Cheryl’s first picture book. Visit Cheryl at www.cheryllawtonmalone.com.
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