Please welcome Maria Matthews, Irish author of the delightful chapter book, The Runaway Schoolhouse, to the Reading Room today.
Q. Welcome, Maria! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.
A. I live north of Dublin city, Ireland, in a rural village. Like every other writer, I grew up reading and loved to daydream. It wasn’t until my children were grown that I had the time and confidence to begin writing. I began by submitting short stories to magazines and was successful, having stories published in women’s magazines, and being runner up in a short story competition.
Nanowrimo encouraged me to try writing longer works and for the past four years November has been a no housework month, as writing consumes me. Becoming unemployed was a boost to my writing time, but to live, we need to work so I work twenty hours a week.
I was lucky to work for three years as part of a team who delivered athletic training to schools. I loved this and found that my imagination was sparked from being in the company of children of seven years and upwards. Now, I work as an administrator in an office in a sports stadium.
Writing is often shoved aside because I volunteer with a River Rescue and Recovery group. I have the happy task of working with two great dogs, one, a black labrador and the other a border collie/husky cross. Training with them is a daily event, and training with the group happens once a week.
Q. Neat! Can you tell us something about your greatest success?
A. My first children’s book, The Runaway Schoolhouse, was published in December 2015 by Emu Ink, an Irish assisted publishing company. Success is measured by many as the number of books you sell. But for me it is simply getting a good review, especially when given by a child. The icing on the cake was when a lady of almost eighty rang me and said her grandchildren enjoyed my book, but she enjoyed it so much she read it again after reading it to them.
Q. What have you found to be most challenging, in terms of writing?
A. My biggest challenge regarding writing has been to learn to take criticism as a means to improving my writing. The first time a story of mine was harshly critised I did hang my head for a day but then I decided to make use of the review, edit the story from start to finish and improve it. I do find editing a chore but I know this is a very common complaint amongst writers who simply like to sit down and write.
Q. What plans do you have for the future?
A. I have a second simpler book being edited and illustrated at the moment. I enjoy working with the illustrator and find that often the story can twist a little and change as the illustrations often light up the book.
Q. Where can folks keep up with you and buy your books?
A. I am easily found, I have two blog sites on wordpress. The children’s site: https://mudpilewood.wordpress.com
And https://decidinglybob.wordpress.com where I write about everything and anything, including working with Ellie and Judy, (the search dogs) and Bob (the fluffiest and most huggable Norwegian Elkhound in Ireland).
You can also see what I am up to on twitter: @matthewsmaria92
Or facebook: www.facebook.com/maria.matthews.980
Or on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mariamatthews98/
Or Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/matthewsmaria92/
The Runaway Schoolhouse
Clearie, a one hundred-year-old schoolhouse, is fed up.
For so long, he has helped children get educated but been rewarded by their complaints about how much they hate school.
He longs to get away.
His dream is to go to France, a country he has heard so much about in geography lessons over the years – but how could a schoolhouse possibly travel?
Eventually he comes up with a plan and enlists the help of two students, the Buggy twins’ but not everything works out as he hoped.
With an attic full of crazy crabs, led by the fearless Lancelot, his journey is less than enjoyable, and in his absence, the school system falls apart.
Will Clearies’ dreams come true and the children get their wish for schooldays to end forever? Or has everyone bitten off more than they can chew?
Five Stars – Amazon Review: Modern Fairy Tale
“Maria Matthews does a wonderful job bringing a small schoolhouse to life. It gets itchy feet, and needs to see a bit of the world. At first the school children are overjoyed, but eventually, they realize what a good thing they had. Meanwhile, the schoolhouse learns to communicate with children, feuds with a family of crabs and heads for the continent. I won’t spoil the ending. The book is an enjoyable romp that helps us remember to appreciate what we have. My kids give it a thumbs-up.”
The kindle version of my book is available on Amazon:
and on: Barnes & Noble
Better World Books & IndieBound.
Printed copies are available from the publisher: www.Emuink.ie