Photo credit Harcourt School Publishers
Photo Harcourt School Publishers

Who is Marissa Moss anyway?

I’ve been making children’s books for a looooong time. I sent my first picture book to publishers when I was nine, but it wasn’t very good and they didn’t publish it. I didn’t try again until I was a grown-up and then it took five years of sending out stories, getting them rejected, revising them and sending them back over and over until I got my first book. Now I’ve published more than forty books and each new one is still hard in its own way. Each one takes a lot of revising because I never get things right the first time. That used to frustrate me. Now I expect it. And I don’t mind, because that gives me permission to make mistakes. It means I can take risks and try new things because I don’t have to be perfect - I can always make changes.

I had already published nearly a dozen books when I got the idea for Amelia’s Notebook. I was buying school supplies for my son when I saw one of the black-and-white composition books. It reminded me of the notebook I had when I was a kid, so I bought it (for myself, not my son) and I wrote and drew what I remembered from when I was nine. Amelia’s what came out. I didn’t plan on the book becoming a series, but the first one sold so well and Amelia had so much to say, I kept on going.

Now I’m playing with other notebook formats, like in the historical journals and Alien Eraser (where I get to play around with making comics, something I love). And I’m working on my first chapter book, a long story with no pictures. It’s also my first time writing a mystery, another challenge. I’m not sure I can do it, but it’ll be fun to try. Keep your eye on the new ideas page and you’ll see if I ever get the book finished or published.

If you want more official information, like where I was born or went to school, I’ll give you the basics here. I’m sure there are other websites with excruciating detail.

I was born in Pennsylvania, but my family moved to California when I was two, and I’ve been here ever since. I grew up in the southern part of the state and now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I studied art at San Jose State but fought too much with my art teachers (I was very opinionated - I wanted to do my kind of art; they wanted me to do theirs). So I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley where I didn’t take a single English or Art class. Mostly I took history where I learned how to do research, tools that have helped me in making the historical journals and working on my Young Adult novel. Then I took classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts for a year since I didn’t want another degree and a year’s tuition was all I could afford. I just wanted some guidance on how to break into childrens books.

I waited tables while I sent out stories, waiting for some editor to fall in love with my work. There was no fall-back plan, no alternative career. I’d still be waiting tables if I weren’t lucky enough to have gotten that first book. And after that, the second one, and then the third and the fourth and the fifth. . . .

Each new book is still a challenge. It’s hard work and I love every minute of it.

Young Artists Young Artists

For podcast Interviews at Read Write Think of Marissa Moss go to:
A Peek into Amelia's Notebook
Celebrating Women Brave and Strong


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