Marsha Hayles: A Self Portrait
Marsha Hayles Revealed
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. Rich in family, friends, music, and words!
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. Listen to your heart and live your dreams.
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. Heights! I won't be climbing any mountains soon.
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. Put me by a lake where I could swim or fish, take walks or just sit in a comfy spot to read and write.
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. I share a birthday and an interest in medicine with Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States.
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. I am not a tidy person so my desk is always a mess.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. From books I loved as a child, two characters come to mind. I always admired Mrs. Pigglewiggle for coming up with such creative solutions to problems and Eloise for being so completely herself.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. I don’t know if Cat from The Cat in the Hat is a villain exactly, but he is a dangerous and charming rogue. I never could trust that he would get the house back in order before Mother returned home, though he always did somehow.
- Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
- A. People who are always late—and make me wait!
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Running poetry workshops with young writers and hearing their work.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. Oranges! I need orange juice to start each day.
On Books and Writing
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. These are the picture books that made me want to write for children: Seventeen Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy, illus. by Patricia MacCarthy The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook by Shirley Hughes Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood and Don Wood A Year of Birds by Ashley Wolff
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. To Kill a Mockingbird
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. Don’t wait for your house to be tidy or your life to be in order before you start—write now!
- Q. How did you come to write Bunion Burt?
- A. I have always had sore feet. When I was a kid growing up in Minnesota, I ran barefoot as much as possible. I have a picture of me as a little girl standing without any shoes on in my front yard with mounds of snow by my side. Of course, most times I did have to wear shoes, though they almost always hurt. And still do. On one of my daily walks—probably when I felt a blister popping up on my heel—the first lines of the book came to me: “Bunion Burt had feet that hurt. They pinched and poked and pained him.” Only much later did I realize that the story had another connection—besides my sore feet—to my childhood. In school I heard lots of tall tales about Minnesota’s favorite lumberjack, Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. I even visited statues of Paul Bunyan around the state. So maybe it isn’t an accident that my character’s first name Bunion, though spelled differently, is pronounced just like Paul Bunyan’s last name. But instead of an ox, my character has a cat by his side. Watch for Bunion Burt’s faithful kitty on each page of the book.