Special Guest Gina McMurchy-Barber Writer, Teacher, Archaelogist
Posted April 17, 2016on:
I am pleased to introduce you to my special guest today, award winning children’s author, Gina McMurchy-Barber. Gina is the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Canadian History and the author of the Peggy Henderson’s adventure series, bringing history to life. Enjoy reading about her author’s journey and how she combined her love of archaeology and story telling to create an amazing series of books enjoyed by all ages.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in Ontario and moved to BC when I was 9 years old. I am the
youngest child of four and led an active life on our little farm with
horses, ducks, geese, chickens and lots of barn cats. I married in my
early 20s and have two sons. My first degree I majored in archaeology
–which eventually gave rise to my four part archaeology adventure series.
I became a teacher when my boys were small and have now been teaching in
the Montessori Schools for over 20 years.
2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
While I was studying archaeology I also started my writing career by doing
short stories for my community paper. I enjoyed doing that so much I later
studied journalism and became a newspaper reporter. I wasn’t too
interested in covering late night city council meetings or the garbage
workers strike so I turned my attention to creative non-fiction. I worked
as a freelance writer for local magazines until my first child was born.
That’s when I entered the amazing world of children’s books. I was very
tentative when I started—not at all sure I had what it takes to write
fiction. Now I’m working on my seventh book.
3. What motivates you to write?
Love of stories came from my Dad, who told us bedtime stories even after
we were grown. Then I started telling my own children stories. That’s what
led me to want to start writing them down.
4. How do you make time to write?
It’s hard these days as I work 80% —but I manage to get writing done
during the holidays. It’s a difficult thing to dedicate yourself to
staying put each day for a certain amount of time—especially when it’s a
beautiful day and the family is urging you to join them.
5. What is your writing style, a plotter or a pantster?
I always start out with a plan, but it rarely works out the way I thought
it would. But it feels comforting to begin with a some kind of a road
map—and I always feel free to take detours.
6. Where do you get ideas for your books?
So far they’re all from some seed of experience in my own life—but on the
other hand I’ve also had to branch out and learn lots of new things. For
instance, I have an archaeology background, but knew nothing about
underwater archaeology or scuba diving. So when I wrote Bone Deep —an
underwater excavation of a two hundred year old fur trading ship—I had a
steep learning curve.
7. What books did you read as a child?
Lots of books about animals. I loved Wind in the Willows. But we also got
the National Geographic and that was probably my greatest inspiration—it
led me to study orang-utans in Borneo and to study archaeology.
8. If you could have lunch with any writer, past or present, who would you
Since I’ve already had a nice lunch with Darlene Foster, I guess I’d pick
Lois Lowry. I’m a big fan of her books—The Giver being one of my
9. For fun, if you could be any kitchen utensil, what would it be and why?
I’d be a ladle so I can take big scoops of life at once.
10. Tell us about your most recent book. Do you have a work in progress
and can you give us a hint as to what it will be about?
My fourth archaeology adventure book came out in November, 2015 and is
called A Bone to Pick. It’s about the arrival of the Viking to the shores
of North America at L’anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland a thousand years
ago. I’m also working on a new book called “What Other People Think” and
explores why we try so hard to look good in the eyes of others—especially
11. Any advice to other authors or aspiring authors.
It’s so valuable to have a writing community. If you can form an small
group of friends to critique each others work in a supportive way it can
be the best thing to motivate you and keep you on track.
Great advice. Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog Gina. Your books are fascinating!
I can’t believe you have included me in the same sentence as Lois Lowry!
You can find out more about Gina and her books on her website www.ginabooks.com
and on Amazon