The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 15, 2011
Morgan Marshall says that she has been writing all her life, starting with a series of stapler-bound books called “Lucille and Benji” when she was about five years old. Since then, she’s been published in her hometown newspaper, various anthologies and magazines, and slowly worked her way up to being a full-fledged novelist. Her first professional-level series, “Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil”, is now ready to be introduced to you and your children.
TCBR: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Morgan Marshall: I’ve been a writer for as far back as I can remember. I do have a vague memory of my very tall mother doing the dishes while I asked her what someone who wrote books was called. She said “an author” and I said “I want to be a afur”. I never looked back.
What can you tell us about your book, The Crows’ Nest?
It’s a mishmash of everything kids (and many adults) love: fantasy, science fiction, monsters, robots, zombies, steam-powered gizmos and weapons, and most importantly, heroic kids saving the day. Guts and Glory are ten-year-old twins from our world who’s mother is taken by the villains from her own bedtime stories. The Crows’ Nest is only Book One of a six-book series about the twins and their adventures in post-apocalyptic, dystopian Nil while they search for six mysterious cogs and try to rescue their mother and elder sister, fourteen-year-old Emily.
What age group is it intended for?
Upper-middle grade. Roughly 8 to 13.
What was it that inspired you to write this particular story?
Many things inspired “Guts and Glory”, though it all started with my own dreams. Since I was a teenager I’ve dreamed about a post-apocalyptic world where I can fly and am very happy and at peace just fixing up old buildings and exploring. Of course, Nil isn’t that nice, as it was also inspired by the movies City of Lost Children and Tank Girl, as well as Madeline L’Engle’s classic fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time. The overall theme of “Guts and Glory” is the importance of family, though a large part of it is also the cool factor of a post-apocalyptic playground where there are no adults to tell kids what to do and plenty of junk to turn into fantastical sci-fi gizmos and weapons.
Which of the characters do you have the most personal connection to?
Originally I connected with Books the most, as his very name is one of my favorite things. He was also the nicest character and the smartest. But then I realized that while he’s a main character, he’s not a title character and he was outshining Guts and Glory, so I pulled back on him a bit and pushed Guts forward. I also delved a bit more into Glory’s background. Now, I can honestly say I’m connected to Guts, Glory and Books all pretty equally, which I feel gives them all more depth and realism overall.
Which character do you think children will connect with the most?
I think it depends on the child. Each character is as unique as my readers, so whoever they relate to best is who they will connect to. I confess I have done this purposefully in order to give different readers a more personalized experience. That said, The Crows’ Nest is from Guts’ point of view, so it’s probable that most readers will empathize with him the most for now.
Are you working on the second book now?
Yes. Book Two is titled Escape from Igh Schoo. I have it slated to be out by mid-November.
Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect?
The mysteries brought up in The Crows’ Nest will be revealed slowly in different books as the series continues. However, a few questions will be answered in Escape from Igh Schoo… and new ones will also come up. Glory’s character will be explored in more depth, and some surprises about Books’ past are also brought to bear.
Which books from your own childhood have most influenced your life?
As stated above, A Wrinkle in Time has been a major contributor to my own works, as have been many of Madeline L’Engle’s other stories. I’m also a big Mark Twain fan. Other writers who have influenced me are Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, R.L. Stine, and a bevy of other mostly classic children’s writers. I’ve been a pretty voracious reader most of my life, so asking that is opening quite Pandora’s box for me.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I hope they enjoy adventuring with Guts and Glory in Nil!
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