Interview with children’s author C. T. Markee

I’m keeping the children’s
theme going. Today’s guest is C. T.
Markee
and he’s chatting with me about his new middle grade (MG) novel, Maria’s Beads.
Bio:
Charles coordinates Sonoma
County Society meetings for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). He
has published three middle-grade novels, short works in four literary
anthologies and the Santa Rosa Pressdemocrat newspaper. He is also an active
member of Redwood Writers a branch of the California Writer’s Club (CWC).
Welcome, Charles. Please tell us about your current
release, Maria’s Beads.
In this story of magical
realism, a mysterious old woman gives María Cortez some strange, very pretty
beads. She has no idea they came from mara’akame Spirits. When her best friend,
Hannah, becomes deathly ill and Hannah’s parents refuse medical treatment,
María desperately tries to save her friend. Adults won’t intercede, so she
turns to the magic beads, but they can’t do it alone. María must find and use
her own inner strength, passed down to her through her ancestral Huichol
culture . . . or watch Hannah die.
What inspired you to write this book?
At age 13, my wife lived
next door to her best friend in Salinas, California. The friend contracted
kidney disease. When her family refused medical intervention, she died (not so
in my story). I believe this event resulted in my wife’s career as a health
professional. This story was so powerful; I had to write it to influence
children today.
Excerpt from Maria’s
Beads:
 
Ahead at the corner
of Hebbron Street, two older boys stand with their hands in baggy pockets next
to a little old woman, leaning on a cane, waiting to cross. She’s dressed all
in black with a shawl over her head. I hang back so the boys can’t tease me. When
the light turns green, they slouch across, but the old woman waits, shifting
her purple bag with a bead picture of a deer to the other shoulder.
When I reach her, I
ask if I can help, “¿Puedo ayudarle en algo?”
She greets me with
her eyes like she knows me. “¡Ay, aquí estás! Te estába esperando.”
How could she be
waiting for me? Maybe she has Alzheimers and is confused. I’m sure I’ve never
seen her before. She has high cheekbones like Mamá, but her skin is a darker
brown, and her neck has lots of wrinkles. I say, “Do you know me?”
“Los espíritus te
conocen.”
The Spirits know me?
Her dark eyes pierce mine like she is looking straight inside me, and the back
of my neck tingles as if ants are walking there. I get a cold feeling in my
stomach because, as weird as this is, she doesn’t seem crazy. I want to ask her
what’s she talking about, but the light turns green. She slips her arm in mine.
“Vamos.” 
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m close to publishing
the third book of my “Otherworld Tales” trilogy. Its subtitle, “The Ultimate
Battle,” suggests that our three heroes, Irish, Streak, and Frost (a girl), may
be on the verge of ridding us of Abaddon, the most evil being in existence.
BUT, don’t be too sure. Irish, their leader, is vulnerable to Abaddon’s evil
powers.
The story begins when our
three friends on a family vacation in Hawaii, wake up on a beach, one thousand
years in the past. According to a sacred prophecy, they must defeat Abaddon in
a Ultimate Battle in order to go home.
Irish and his friends
vanquished Abaddon in the first two books, Irish
the Demon Slayer
and Demon Invasion.
If they can defeat him a third time, he’s gone forever and he knows it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was a writer before I
knew it. Family, friends, employees and peers recognized my talent and
encouraged me. When I finally escaped my day job, I returned to school where I
focused on creative writing. It became my second love. It was almost, but not
quite, a replacement for ballet class, my first love, which I had to quit at
age 49 – too many injuries.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day
like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
write?
 Writing days are
four hours long starting at 8 am. I have to fight for those days against myriad
interruptions, many of them my own doing. We have a huge extended family, so
add birthdays, graduations, medical trips, visits, reunions, then mix in home
maintenance projects, meals and shopping. Finally, I beat my internal critic
into submission and go to work.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
No quirks. Just an
author with a passion for kid’s books.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was very happy being a
child and had no interest in growing up. A significant portion of my brain is
still twelve-years-old. My characters and I go on these dangerous and exciting
adventures together. It’s like the Tao of writing. I go there and don’t want to
come back.
Anything additional you want to share with the
readers?
Maria’s Beads received a 2nd place award in the category junior fiction in
the prestigious Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) 22nd
annual contest.

Thanks for being here today, Charles.

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