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Interview – Mary Feliciani (The Magic Leaf, Big and Small in the Mirror)

I got to know Mary via Goodreads, while I was still a newcomer in terms of reviewing, though I had read uncountable books, and she an author, looking to make her books reach out to as many people as she could. After reading both her books and reviewing them, I thought it would be great if she gave me an interview, for she is one author who is trying to do good to our little litter, one book at a time.
Have a look at the conversation below and know this good Samaritan better.

Welcome to my blog MerryGoReviews. It is an honor to have you here.
Thank you, Anuradha. It is a pleasure to talk to you. I love meeting new people.

Q: Who is Mary Feliciani?
A: I am a Canadian author and publisher of children’s books. I started my publishing company in 2006, while I was still teaching. I attended the University of Toronto at the Mississauga campus, where I studied psychology.
I think that my work with children and my interest in psychology comes through in my storytelling.

Q: What inspires you to write?
A: Social issues that I’m passionate about are what drive and motivate me to write. Friendship, fairness, anti-bullying, compassion, peace, and non-violence are themes I focus on in my writing.

Q: Is writing a full-time job for you? If not, do you plan to in the future?
A: No, writing isn’t my full-time job. Writing is my second career. I am looking for readership and not trying to make a living. This affords me the opportunity to write about the issues that I care strongly about. I feel compelled to write. I feel like I am nurturing myself when I write about issues that are important to me, and in turn, I feel more nurturing towards others.
In terms of the future, I plan on publishing one more eBook to complete my Bullying trilogy. The scenario for the third eBook will have female characters. The first two eBooks in the trilogy were concerned with boys.

Q: Why children’s books? Why not some other genre?
A: I was an elementary school teacher for many years; therefore, issues that young people face today seem more important to me. Young people are my target audience.
When I sign my book Humanitarians, Heroes, Visionaries and You at book signings, this is the message I write inside the cover when I know that the book is going to be given to a young person: Look to a good role model today, and tomorrow someone will be looking up at you.
In addition, I believe it is important that both teachers and parents are good role models.

Q: How did “The Magic Leaf” and “Big and Small in the Mirror” happen?
A: I wrote the manuscript for The Magic Leaf while I was at the University of Toronto studying psychology. As a young adult I was very idealistic and was hoping to find the one theory or the one famous psychologist who had all the answers, but what I learned was that there wasn’t a theory that could explain everything, and even among psychologists there were differences of opinion. I began to believe that having a good support system, in combination with whichever theory one might subscribe to, was very important. I realized that friendships were necessary even as we grow older. The deeper meaning of The Magic Leaf is that life’s journey is made easier if you walk with a friend.
The motivation for my latest book, Big and Small in the Mirror, actually started with the first book that I authored, The Magic Leaf. The Magic Leaf was published in 2006; in this book, as I said earlier, the characters learn the value of friendship. It was my idea, at the time, that I would go on to write books about issues that children faced in their everyday environment. What those issues were going to be was still a mystery to me, but the seed had been planted.
In time, I became increasingly aware that the issue of bullying was very challenging to both parents and teachers, and that this would be the issue to tackle. Big and Small in the Mirror was published in 2015, and is about bullying that happens in the school environment.

Q: How was your journey from the first draft to published work?
A: Even before the draft, books live in my head for a very long time before I sit down to write. The meaning that I want to convey is always where the book idea starts. Then I work backward to see how the meaning can be accomplished.
As a small publisher, I hire people that freelance. The books go from my manuscripts to editing. I always use professional editors for both the first and second reading. The illustrators work their magic next. Having illustrators bring my story to life is always my favorite stage in the process. I employ a book designer for books that are in print and eBook conversion service for eBooks.

Q: An author whom you idolize.
A: As an adult, I don’t idolize authors or celebrities (I did in my youth). The story is always the most important element to me whether I am reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music. The message is more important than the messenger unless the messenger becomes synonymous with the message. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.
Having said that, there are books in the children’s genre I wish I had written. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one. The Spyglass: A Story of Faith by Richard Paul Evans is another example. In both cases, there is a deeper meaning to these books and I like the authors’ use of metaphors. My own writing comes to me as metaphors.

Q: Your favorite/comfort/all-time read?
A: There is something to be said for cozy mysteries. Agatha Christie got me hooked on the genre when I was young, and this craving never left. I am always looking for the next great mystery to read. I like Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the Train, and I’m currently reading Acqua Alta by Donna Leon.

Q: What is the next project you are working on?
A: The second eBook in the Bullying trilogy will be released in September or October. It is also a stand-alone book. In the first eBook, Big and Small in the Mirror, Carlo, and Marco learn the effects of bullying on their self-esteem, and that positive relationships help them grow. The second eBook, The Invisible Boy, is about a boy who learns what it feels like to be invisible at school.

Q: A message for your readers.
A: If you are interested in the topic of bullying, keep on reading and talking about ways that schools and parents can help. Learn how prominent bullying is in your community. It may or may not be an issue.
Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week/Month occurs in November in Canada, and in October in the States. Use this time to connect with your child’s school. Ask your child for their perspective on the matter. Make use of “teachable moments” throughout the year.

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