Go for a magical journey with Barbara Wade Rose’s ‘Marabel’
An award winning journalist has now set her eyes on conquering the world of fiction. Barabara Wade Rose has written for major news outlets like Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, and more. She’s the author of The Priest, the Witch, & the Poltergeist, and Budge: What Happened to Canada’s King of Film. Her new novel, Marabel, or the Great Exception, is a fantastical tale for “old-soul children or childish adults”.
Marabel is a magical story filled with heart & adventure. In the novel, Rose’s writing talent is on full display as she crafts an enticing world and lovable characters. The book is sure to become your next fantasy favorite.
We were thrilled to speak with Barbara Wade Rose about her work, the book, and what’s next for her.
Tell us about your history in writing. How did you start your journey?
When I was a girl I read all the time; walking on the sidewalk with my gaze on an open book just as people do now with their smartphones. In middle school I wrote a book called From the Bottom of the Blackboard which was an attempt to seem clever and take revenge on the girls who didn’t like me. I wrote to Ms. Magazine when I was 16, offering them a story idea on Shakespeare’s women characters. That was my first experience with rejection!
Who are your current influences?
For writing Marabel or the Great Exception I drew from my love of classic children’s books: Peter Pan, the Secret Garden, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and of course the books and essays of P.L. Travers.
How was working on Marabel? What did you learn from the experience?
I learned you laugh a lot more when you’re writing a story with silliness as an ongoing part of it! I lead a very busy life so I tucked in writing when I could find the time. With Marabel I knew I was in for a treat, and I always looked forward to seeing her again.
What’s next for Marabel? Are you planning on writing more books for children?
Marabel is a strong-willed, somewhat bossy character. She’s certain to let me know what else she’s up to for another story.
Are you hoping to see Marabel be adapted to the big screen?
Marabel is a perfect story for the big screen in the line of Coraline or A Wrinkle in Time or the Harry Potter films. A peculiar girl, a wacky world, a journey through time and space — it’s got everything including a dodo brought back to life!
Did you find it difficult to transition from journalism to writing more fantastical work?
That’s a good question. My first book was a biography about a Canadian filmmaker, and my second was based on a true story that seemed too strange to be believed — it’s a 19th century story about a priest and a witch battling each other in person and in court over a poltergeist. The next was more fictional. It’s as if I made the transition from journalism to more fantastical stories through the writing of the books themselves.
Tell us about your book Budge: What Happened To Canada’s King of Film.
Budge Crawley was a Canadian filmmaking pioneer, maverick and something of a crazy man. He won Canada’s first feature film Oscar. He started the first Canadian TV series. He won the rights to Janis Joplin’s story by quoting the Bible to her religious mother. He was a bigamist with two wives in two different cities with employees assigned to keep the two of them apart. But he was seduced by Hollywood and bankrupted his company trying to make the first Canadian blockbuster. I wrote his biography because his extraordinary story had been lost to Canadian film history. I wrote the book I was dying to read.
What do you think aspiring filmmakers could learn from Budge Crawley?
There’s so much money required to make films now. Budge would have said pick up a camera, film what you see–which in case was Canada–and start simple. I don’t know if that’s even possible now.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Start with the singing child inside of you that is bursting to express itself. Spend years cultivating the wise companion that will help make that child’s expressions intelligible and unique. That’s your career on the page. Your career in the world of publishing is to not get so battered by rejection that you give up. Always, always, whether it’s read by many people or just a few, keep writing. Keep breathing. The greatest achievement is falling in love with the process itself.
Talk us through your creative process.
For plot, I always start at the end and then pull my story towards it like I’m reeling in a big fish. Sometimes the fishing line breaks. Sometimes I deliberately throw the story in the water, but I eventually get to the end even if everything has changed on the way there.
I’m an empath, so I enjoy imagining the perspectives of the most difficult characters and their view of the world. In The Priest, the Witch & the Poltergeist I knew the priest was considered a haughty, pompous man, so I imagined a backstory of how he must have been rejected for a post in sophisticated Paris and felt unappreciated in a rural town of a hundred people with too small a budget for beef.
I know the story is going to be good if I start dreaming about my characters. There was such a strong world in Marabel — the Great War, a dog who wants to be King of the Beasts, a cast of folktale characters and legends — I had very peculiar dreams!
What’s your next project?
I’m waiting for Marabel to tell me.
Have you worked with mentors in the past? How would you recommend people go about finding them?
The concept of mentors is an interesting one to me. Attach yourself to someone and you benefit from their wisdom and success, but you may also suppress your personality and channel your creativity in an effort to please them. Learn from everyone you meet, be an interesting person for them to meet, and you’re being your own mentor.
What has been your biggest failure?
As a journalist, when I first interviewed people, I didn’t listen enough. I was busy focusing on the next question I would ask, or self-conscious about how famous or renowned they were. So I bought a book on how to ask questions. Some tips: Reflect in your mind what the person is saying. Decide whether there’s a clue in what they’re saying that you should follow up. And don’t be afraid of silence. It’s amazing what people will divulge when they think they need to fill dead air. The book helped a lot — and made me a better guest at parties, too!
As a book author, my biggest failure has been taking rejection too personally and abandoning projects I now realize might have gone farther if I had not given up easily. After one manuscript got ten rejections I put it in a drawer and never brought it out again. I now realize that many successful books were rejected dozens of times. You do better in your own mind and out in the world if you add a drop of arrogance to your personality traits and think, oh well, they just don’t get it.
What has been your biggest success?
As a journalist I won two national writing awards and was nominated for a third. In all cases the subject was about computer technology, a subject upon which I by no means an expert (although, thank goodness, I am married to one). My greatest satisfaction with books has been from the personal letters sent to me by people moved by what I wrote, or the joy of reading a review by someone who really got what I was trying to say. Especially if they laughed!
What’s your five-year plan?
I always let my curiosity lead me to the next project. It’s never failed me yet. My personal goal is never again to have to set an alarm clock to get up in the morning.
What’s your favorite book of all time, and what did you learn from it?
Because I’ve just had the heady experience of writing Marabel or the Great Exception I’m going to pick a children’s book I recently reread and found it as good as ever. Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote The Secret Garden in 1911. It has magic, and a garden, and a mysterious story, and a sullen little girl who learns to love life through nature. It has two mysterious but very different boys in it who become this girls’ friends. The magic in it is not contrived, but simply the three of them connecting with the magic of being alive. Atmospherically it takes the reader from a stuffy, dusty room into the fresh air. A classic of English literature.
Who would compose the soundtrack of your life?
Well, I’d love Hans Zimmer, but he’s a very busy man.