Molly Beth Griffin graduated from the MFAC program in January 2009. Since then she’s had two books published: a picture book, Loon Baby (Houghton Mifflin, 2011) and a YA novel, Silhouette of a Sparrow (Milkweed Editions, 2012). Today she talks about the development of Loon Baby.
Ann Rider spoke at Hamline and invited our submissions. She passed the first story I sent to a colleague, who rejected it kindly. So I sent this story to that other editor, who passed it to Ann! This one suited her, and she asked me to do some market research to bring to her acquisitions meeting. Ultimately, she accepted it! She has rejected everything I’ve sent her since, but I still appreciate that she is willing to carefully read my work.
What research was involved?
I did some loon research, to make sure the story was accurate. We did not want the characters to be unnecessarily anthropomorphized. I am very familiar with the north woods, and I wanted this story to convey the beauty of that area to child readers.
Did you ever workshop this story at Hamline?
No. I wrote it early in the semester, and felt it was polished by the time workshopping came around. But Phyllis Root was my advisor that semester, and her critiques helped me revise the story for submission. Her love of the MN landscapeand her passion for language deeply influenced this story (and my writing in general).
What was your critical thesis on?
Survival novels and how they help connect modern kids to nature.\
What was your creative thesis?
Several picture book manuscripts (including what is now Loon Baby) and a full YA novel (what is now Silhouette of a Sparrow).
Did you discover and fall in love with any books while in the MFAC program?
Oh yes. Far too many to name. Some that influenced Loon Baby might be Looking for a Moose and Oliver Finds His Way by Phyllis Root and Up North at the Cabin by Marsha Chall.
Without naming names, tell us who your first readers are. When do you share a piece of writing?
My writing group, comprised of two other Hamline grads, meets in person and sees pieces in all stages—right now they are reading a very raw, bare-bones draft of my new YA novel. I don’t have an agent, but send work (once I think it’s polished) to several editors, including the editor of Loon Baby. I sometimes read new work at my monthly Picture Book Writers’ Salon meeting.
What are you working on now?
What would you like to say to current or prospective students?