Author Spotlight: Marcia Berneger
Dec. 4, 2020
We are pleased to feature author Marcia Berneger and her chapter book, A DREIDEL IN TIME: A NEW SPIN ON AN OLD TALE, illustrated by Beatriz Castro (Kar Ben Publishing 2019). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.
I’m delighted and excited to be here with you today. I have worked with children all my adult life. As a retired teacher, I spent a lot of time reading to my students and to my own two sons as well. I enjoyed writing in school and wrote my first complete story when I was about ten. But it wasn’t until around 1984 that I took a serious interest in writing. I woke up from a dream and couldn’t get the image out of my head. Words swirled around until I got up and wrote them down. I finally hit a stopping point about two hours later. I went on to finish that tale and a few weeks later, penned another one. I still have those two stories and might turn them into books one day.
Congrats on your chapter book, A DREIDEL IN TIME. Tell us about the book & what inspired you.
A Dreidel in Time sprang onto paper about twenty years later. Time-travel books, such as Stacia Deutsch’s Blast to the Past series, were popular. I thought it would be fun to write a similar series about Hanukkah, so I did. I was teaching Hebrew school at the time and it seemed using an action-packed, sci-fi type chapter book would a perfect way to teach about the holiday to older students.
Was your initial road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Since I wrote this book around fifteen years ago, I guess you’d say the journey was more long than short. I shelved the book, and my writing, to raise my two sons. In 2017, PJ Library opened a new category of books. They are a wonderful organization that provides Jewish-themed books each month for children ages 0-7. Their new section expanded that age range from 8-12. They had an incentive available to manuscripts they liked. I submitted my Dreidel story and the rest is history.
What other books do you have out? What projects are you working on now?
I also have a picture book, Buster the Little Garbage Truck, published by Sleeping Bear Press in 2015. It’s about a young garbage truck afraid of loud noises. This one was inspired by a kindergarten student I’d been tutoring.
Right now I’m working on several new picture books. I’ve been dabbling in nonfiction and have two manuscripts completed. I’m also working on finding homes for my diverse stories. I feel it’s important to include religiously diverse books and these have Jewish characters in addition to the typical, non-Jewish kids.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
My advice to my younger self, and to aspiring authors and illustrators is: Do not stop! Don’t stop writing and, especially, don’t stop drawing. I loved to draw as a child. I drew all the time. Then I had a fourth-grade teacher who told me my art was terrible. I stopped drawing right then and there. I didn’t pick up drawing again unit about three years ago (although I did have a drawing spirt when I was in my 30’s. I stopped again, to raise my kids). I’m starting to draw again—with years to go before I’m at a professional level. Imagine if I’d continued drawing when I was nine!
I also love to write original stories. I stopped doing that when I got into college. No time for invented stories. Everything was for school reports, essays, and so forth. So my message: don’t let anything anyone stop you!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
One thing people don’t know about me is that I collect glass animals. My collection dates back to when I was eight years old. They used to cost ten cents back then and I’d buy a dollar’s worth from places like Disneyland. I have close to 1000 glass animals now, and I still add to my collection whenever I can.
Where can people find you online?
My website is www.marciaberneger.com
My Facebook page is marciaberneger
My Twitter name is marciaberneger
(Are you seeing a pattern yet?)
And my Instagram page (which I sadly don’t use very much) is… marciaberneger
Marcia is a retired teacher who lives with her husband and three crazy dogs She has taught first and second grade, special education and Torah School for many wonderful years. She wrote her picture book, Buster the Little Garbage Truck, to help children overcome their fears. Her second book is a time-travel chapter book called A Dreidel in Time. She is an author and a wannabe illustrator of children’s books. When she’s not writing and drawing, she loves to crochet, bake and take care of her brand-new grandson!
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