Darlene Foster's Blog

Special Guest Gina McMurchy-Barber Writer, Teacher, Archaelogist

Posted on: April 17, 2016

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
pick?
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
favourites.

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
strangers.

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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 

21 Responses to "Special Guest Gina McMurchy-Barber Writer, Teacher, Archaelogist"

I like the idea of a children’s series centred around archaeology, it’s a mysterious subject and no doubt full of interesting possibilities. These books sound like a must for anyone who likes bones. 🙂

For sure. In another life I would love to be an archaeologist. I try to visit digs when I am travelling. So very interesting. These books tie in archaeology with adventure perfectly.

A mixture of two thinks I love: writing and archaeology. Maybe when the kids are grown, I’ll chase that second dream and dig into history.

I great combination! I have always had a keen interest in both as well. Her books make excellent reading.

Thank you for sharing this author’s work with us, Darlene: she sounds like another very interesting writer to follow! 👍

You are very welcome!

Thank you for the introduction to this writer who sounds intriguing.

You´re welcome. Her books are fun and interesting reading.

Great interview. My eight year old is very interested in science. These books might be great for her.

Thanks for visiting Don. I think your daughter would love these books and learn some new facts at the same time.

I love learning about authors like Gina- inspiring!

Learning about other authors motivates me!.Glad you enjoyed Gina’s interview.

Thanks for introducing us to Gina.

Ooh, I love The Wind in the Willows, too. Such fond memories of that story. Gina’s books have titles that hook. It’s good meeting you on Darlene’s blog, Gina!

And Darlene, thanks so much for recommending the Amy Tan book to me on Goodreads. I didn’t enjoy her The Joy Luck Club as much as I expected because I kept comparing it with Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (also about Asian American mother-daughter stories). But strangely, I’m excited about reading The Hundred Secret Senses. I’ll search for a copy soon.

I very much enjoyed The Hundred Secret Senses and I hope you do as well. Glad you enjoyed meeting Gina, her books are great!

Great post…thank you for introducing us to Gina!

I like to spread the word about authors I enjoy!

Loved the interview. I love that you encourage children to love archaeology! It is so important and interesting!

So pleased you enjoyed my interview with Gina. I too love archaeology!!

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