Jo Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest near volcanoes, rainforests, and coastal wetlands. She is concerned about climate change impacting the wildlife and forests in this region, and so her timely, eco-literature novels describe this transforming world by means of fantastic adventures about impish, stick creatures called Twigs.
Jo spent seven years as a volunteer literacy tutor for elementary school students. In the D.C. area from 1999 to 2006, she worked as the Legal Assistant for the General Counsels of two nonprofits - the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Oceana. Jo earned a B.A. in German Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, Europe, and from 1984-1987, she worked as a liaison between the military and international communities in West Berlin.
Jo enjoys mysteries, puzzles, board games, and Big Band era music. She resides in Snohomish, Washington with her family.
Thank you so much, Jo, for taking the time to be in the Spotlight tonight!
The pleasure is mine, Stephanie. Thank you for inviting me to be a guest, and for your gracious welcome. I appreciate your offer to share my children’s books Twig Stories with your followers. Actually, I’m amazed you are able to write, blog, and manage a full house of four children at the same time! I know how difficult it all can be, since I come from a family of seven kids. You’re an inspiration and delight to know, and I wish you great success with your new intriguing, gothic romance release, The Blood of the Black Rose. It’s sure to be a big hit!
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, they are very much appreciated.
How did you come up with the title for Twig Stories?
Oh, that’s a good question. I made up bedtime stories for my kids about all sorts of strange characters and their adventures. Some of those stories are about stick creatures we called Twigs who lived in the old forest behind our house. Those stories became my young daughter’s favorites. So to differentiate between the other weird bedtime stories I told, the ‘stick creature’ stories became Twig stories. The first four books of Twig Stories are about our favorite, young Twig we named Leaf. We made up separate names for each of Leaf’s stories based on different climate change events he encountered ~ floods, wildfires, melting glaciers, disappearing ecosystems, and adaptation. Those books became Leaf & the Rushing Waters, Leaf & the Sky of Fire, Leaf & the Long Ice, and Leaf & Echo Peak.
Who is your favorite character and why?
A boyish, young Twig named Rustle inspires me in silly and challenging ways. Rustle is quite daring, a bit odd, and prefers to live alone in the forest. Because of a terrible tragedy when he was a young sprout he had to teach himself survival skills like how to fly on giant leaves. He’s full of bravado, but hasn’t a clue how to talk or get along with other Twigs, who are often amused by his clumsy, failing attempts to socialize. Yet, he is also honest and loyal to his friends, so he has some redeeming qualities.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? What made you fall in love with this particular design?
I ran across a talented, long-time, career Disney artist named D.W. Murray when we were exchanging opinions of publishers in an author’s group. I didn’t know he was a Disney artist at that time. I only knew him as an author of epic children’s fantasies called ‘The Majesty’ series. He thought my Twigs were amusing and offered to illustrate the books for me. I had received a number of sketches from illustrators for Twigs by then, and was pretty discouraged. Ideas for my impish, stick creatures ranged from stalks of celery to fairies. Anyway, I had no expectation of David’s art so naturally I was stunned by his first sketch. It was of my main character Leaf marching through the dying forest on his way to try and rescue the stranded North Twigs. David’s personification of Leaf conveyed how very brave this little Twig needed to be to battle a swarm of bark beetles. That sketch became the cover art for ‘Leaf & the Sky of Fire’. Another reason I jumped at the opportunity for David to illustrate Twig Stories is he gave me the rights to the cover and inside art, so I can use the illustrations on social media and marketing, or any way I wish. It was only when I asked David for his bio for the website that I realized he had worked on Disney films like Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and many others Disney and Universal Pictures films. Naturally, I feel very lucky that after three books he still enjoys illustrating Twigs.
Who is your intended audience?
I believe children between the ages of 8 and 12 enjoy the books most. Of course, I enjoy readers who love nature, fantasy, and feel specific climate change events are worth considering.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Oh, more Twig Stories! I’m working on the next collection of four books, which will be about Leaf’s little sister Fern and her adventures in the giant redwood forests and Sierra Nevada mountains. After that, Leaf’s younger twin brothers Buddy and Burba will journey to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and worry about the endangered marine life there.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Success for Twig Stories is measured by whether or not, after reading them, readers think about climate change impacts in their own piece of the world. I also hope readers will donate their Twig Stories books to conservation nonprofit youth programs, schools and libraries impacted by natural disasters, and military families. I think those children especially will benefit from the Twig Stories’ adventures and their message of successful adaptation in a changing world.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Well, I am a social media fan. One day I’d like to manage my own blog like you, but for now I mostly make do with Facebook and Twitter. But if any of your fans would like to link up, friend, tweet, or like my book page, here are my links:
Twig Stories website: http://www.twigstories.com
Amazon.com Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jo.marshall
Facebook book/fan page: http://facebook.com/twigstoriesbooks
Facebook author page: http://facebook.com/twigstories
LinkedIn profile: http://goo.gl/Q5qvre
Twitter ~ let’s tweet: https://twitter.com/twigstories
or pin on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/twigstories
Whose Home Is It?
Tears stung her pale, gray eyes. Star watched her father tighten his shoulder strap, twist a braided rope around his waist, and carefully stuff poison darts in a pouch. At last he was ready to leave. He kissed Star’s leafy, silvery hair. She bravely squared her shoulders. He tried to hug his pale, trembling son, but Moon angrily pushed him away, so sadly he turned to his father and gently squeezed his arm.
He whispered softly to the frail, old Twig, “You know what to do if I don’t return.”
Star’s father left them. He disappeared among dying trees to join the others. Soon, stick creatures armed with darts, ropes, rocks, and whips moved stealthily beside him. They spoke only in murmurs. But the brittle needles revealed their wary steps. Wavy shadows gave them away. The deadly swarm gathered in the forest and surrounded them.
The North Twigs’ fate was decided.
Very far away from the dying North Forest, an impish Old Seeder Twig practiced being invisible. His green, leafy hair blended with the leaves of the thin limb where he crouched. Stiff fronds sprouted at the limb’s tip and hid his head. He narrowed his large, emerald-colored eyes, and curled his brown toes into grooves in the rough bark. The Old Seeder where he crouched was the tallest and oldest tree in the vast forest.
He was Leaf, a stick creature.
A large, roomy knothole in the massive, ancient tree was Leaf‘s home, his family’s haven. Leaf felt smug. His Twig skills were excellent. If he stayed perfectly still, he looked just like the tree.
This is good, Leaf thought, to hide so well.
There you have it, everyone! If you have children, I hope you will take the time to check out these amazing books! Thanks again, Jo!
Be sure to check out the Twig Stories website E-Store ~ 20% discounts are available!
AMAZON.COM Author page ~ http://www.amazon.com/author/jo.marshall
Paperback & ebooks are available worldwide
Leaf & the Rushing Waters ~ http://goo.gl/3CWhaA
Leaf & the Sky of Fire ~ http://goo.gl/xaB0zH
Leaf & the Long Ice ~ http://goo.gl/CahThv
Leaf & the Rushing Waters ~ http://goo.gl/eUN893
Leaf & the Sky of Fire ~ http://goo.gl/oGecbJ
Leaf & the Long Ice ~ http://goo.gl/uZB9cA
Leaf & Echo Peak arrives in 2014!
SCRIBd.com book excerpt for Leaf & the Rushing Waters: http://goo.gl/vynJYQ
SCRIBd.com book excerpt for Leaf & the Sky of Fire: http://goo.gl/waEZFN
SCRIBD.com book excerpt for Leaf & the Long Ice: http://goo.gl/xiu8DS