Sixth-grade book reviewer Mia recently had the opportunity to ask author Marty Rhodes Figley some questions about her writing process, particularly with respect to her new graphic novel, The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive (Graphic Universe, January 2011 trade paperback).
• Why did you begin to write? At about what age did you want to become a writer?
I loved horses and wanted one from the time I was in first grade. We lived in a house in town with a small yard, so I knew my childhood dream wasn't going to come true. So I began writing horse stories. In them I experienced amazing adventures with my brave steed. The horse might be a palomino, a black stallion, a beautiful white mare, or any other horse I could imagine. That's when I realized how wonderful writing could be—and that I wanted to keep on creating my own special stories.
Photo courtesy Marty Rhodes Figley
• When did you write your first book?
I wrote many books when I was young, but the first one that was published was The Story of Zacchaeus in 1995.
• What is your favorite book that you have written so far?
I love all my books, but am always excited about the newest one. My picture book Emily and Carlo (read more about this at MartyRhodesFigley.blogspot.com), about the poet Emily Dickinson and her big, black slobbery dog, will be published in February 2012.
• Why do you like to write about history?
I think it's important to know about our past. If we know where we've been, we can more fully understand where we are going.
• Do you plan to write any other books?
I'm working on a book about an American Revolutionary War hero who was 6' 6'' tall and called the Virginia Giant. I'm doing the research now on the book.
• How did you know about James Forten and his life?
I read about him in a book about children who did amazing things during the American Revolutionary War. I was impressed by his acts of bravery during the war—when he was just fifteen-years-old.
• What inspired you to write The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive?
I wanted to share with young readers the story of James Forten. I loved writing about the marble game he played as a prisoner of war with the British sea captain's son. He could have let the captain's son win, but chose to play his best. This gained the captain's respect. James stood up for what he believed, even though it meant that he would be imprisoned on the horrific prison ship Jersey. When he was on the Jersey, he turned down a chance to escape and saved a friend's life. Over and over again this courageous teenager did the right thing. By writing this book, I hope James Forten will be honored and remembered.
Book Trends is excited to offer one of our readers a chance to win a copy of The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive courtesy of Renier Fee. Simply send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the code BT7823 in the subject line, and you'll be entered to win. US residents only, one entry per person please. This giveaway ends October 21st, 2011.