How do you pronounce that in English? Like this: SKRIP-ick.
Marsha tricked her teachers into thinking she knew how to read until it all caught up with her in grade 4 when she failed the provincial reading exam. Adding insult to injury, they made her repeat the whole year. As the tallest and oldest kid in the class, she didn’t want to be seen learning to read with little skinny books and she was too proud to ask for help, so she taught herself how to read by taking out the fattest book in the children’s section of the Brantford Public Library — Oliver Twist. She kept on renewing it for a whole year.
Reading that book was a turning point in her life. She decided that she loved reading big fat fiction, and wanted to write it too. She devoured novels by the gallon.
Her grade 10 English teacher sent her to the vice principal’s office because she asked too many questions in class. She was placed in enriched English as punishment and loved every minute of it. She took a degree in English at the University of Western Ontario. She needed a language option to complete her degree but she wasn’t very good in French so she stupidly signed up for Russian. Everyone else in Russian class was a native speaker and Marsha didn’t even know the alphabet. She made herself flash cards and practiced each morning on the bus as she went to school. She got the lowest mark in the class, but she did pass!
Upon graduating, she backpacked around Europe, and then took the first job she could get when she got home: selling industrial supplies. She was the first woman in Canada to sell industrial supplies. Marsha taught herself how to design grinding wheels, recommend drills and so on.
While selling industrial supplies was interesting, Marsha never forgot her first dream, which was to become an author. She went back to school and got her Master’s degree in library science, figuring this would help her with research techniques. She worked as a librarian for a brief time, but then turned her hand to writing.
She wrote a big fat novel and got 100 rejections for it. She set that book aside and wrote Silver Threads. Expecting to be rejected 100 times as well, she sent it out a dozen publishers all at once. Within two weeks, three publishers had already approached her.
That book was published in 1996.
A year later, she went back to that big fat 100-times rejected novel, tore it apart, and rewrote it bit by bit. It ultimately became five separate books: The Hunger (Dundurn, 1999), Nobody’s Child (Dundurn, 2003), Daughter of War (Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2008), Aram’s Choice (Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2006) and Call Me Aram (Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2009).
Marsha’s had a book out pretty much every year since 1996.
Would you like to learn more?
Here’s a 2008 interview with Marsha about her novel, Daughter of War.
And here’s a lengthy interview from 2001 with Dave Jenkinson.
And here’s a fall 2012 interview with Open Book’s Erin Knight about One Step At A Time.
Here’s an interview done by Layla Bozich about why I write children’s books about genocide.
The Wilkinson PS Podcast Team interviewed me about Making Bombs for Hitler here.