Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview with Children's Author Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson has awards and recognitions from Nebraska schools and organizations including the 2003 Literary Award from Moonshell Arts and Humanities of Hall County, Nebraska. She has written articles for upwards of 80 periodicals over the past 15 years. She writes children’s books that deal with issues that kids deal with on a daily basis.

Her book GRACIE GANNON MIDDLE SCHOOL ZERO focuses on a girl who experiences family loss of income and reduction of lifestyle and loss of status at school leading to bullying by her former best friends.

Other books in Mary Anderson’s portfolio include:






Mary Anderson’s educational history includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, 30 Plus Graduate hours in the education field and a list of conferences and workshops for writing

Q. Mary, I’m impressed that your children’s books deal with issues children face today. As an educator, what can you tell us about your own experiences that led you to focus on these topics?

A. Yes, many of my books and stories deal with issues children face today. That's really, where my passion lies, in the hope of helping some of these children through the bumps in the road of life. I always wanted to write a book about the subject of school bullying, because of one classmate I went through all the school years with. This child was verbally teased (we called it teasing, but he was verbally abused), throughout his twelve years of school. My classmates weren't actually mean, but they could see this child was an easy target. Fortunately, I didn't enter into a lot of this, because his mother was a friend of my mother. However, I don't think I ever helped him out of any of the situations. I was a so-called "innocent" bystander. My classmates and I have talked about this in later years, feel badly about the situation, and wish it had never happened. I vowed a long time ago to try to write books that would speak to schoolchildren about the long-term results of treating someone in this manner. So that is how the book "Gracie Gannon: Middle School Zero" evolved.

Q. Personally, I have worked with people with special needs. Do you believe in mainstreaming students with special needs such as cerebral palsy, autism and other openly apparent differences?

A. My granddaughter's class has a child with severe CP problems. He has a wonderful aid who accompanies him every minute of the day. If aids like this are available to help in the classrooms, I think it is a win-win situation. If the school budget doesn't cover this, I am not in favor of mainstreaming the children with severe handicaps. The teacher has to spend too much time focusing on the child with the disability. Many times the other children don't receive the attention they deserve.

Q. What do you want teachers to take away from your handling of often delicate but very real issues with children?

A. I want not only teachers, but parents as well to take time to listen to children who obviously and sometimes not so obviously are unhappy, sad and depressed due to problems. I am a mentor in Tom Osborne's Teammate Mentoring Service. I have a sixth grade child who benefits so much from just talking to me. All I basically do is listen. Neither her mother nor her father takes enough time to listen to her many problems. She gets lost in the shuffle. All children will usually open up and talk about their problems on a one-to-one basis.

Q. You've written about other topics in your articles and magazines that don't particularly deal with education. What drew you to these other subjects?

A. I first started writing greeting card sentiments for Blue Mountain Arts greeting cards. That was fun. I then got interested in interviewing people with unusual and unique hobbies, etc. That, too, was fun. I had lots of material with my three children and their friends, so tried my hand at writing personal experience articles about them. (Never revealing their names, of course) They didn't care, and I don't believe they even read many of the articles.

I wrote "Ever Wonder What to Do: All About Manners," because I couldn't find a good manners book for my first grandchild. She's now 18, in college and has good manners!

"It's Me Again, God" evolved due to writing stories for "My Friend" magazine. I wrote according to what the magazine requested and then realized I had almost enough stories for a book. I delved into some other topics of interest to children, and then wrote enough stories to fill this story devotional book. Each story is prefaced by questions kids wonder about. The story answers the questions and then ends with a Bible verse and a prayer.

Q. What drove me to write about the Lincoln Highway?

A. Our good friends in Iowa were president and vice-president of the Lincoln Highway Association in the early 1990s. That subject is all they seemed interested in discussing. Pretty soon, I became interested in the subject, too. My husband and I traveled the complete route of the highway from Times Square to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. We took many photos for the book, which came out in 1997. There seems to be additional interest in the Lincoln Highway all the time. I recently placed another book order with my publishers this past week.

Q. What subjects do you suggest young writers start to write?

A. I suggest young writers start writing about whatever interests them the most. I ask questions such as: What are their favorite things to do? What hobbies do they have? Do they have any animals? If they could go anywhere in the world, where would they choose to visit? Usually they like to start writing short stories based on their own experiences.

Q. What are you most proud of in my career as a writer?

A. I am proud when I go into a library and see my book on the shelf. What a thrill. It's fun to see it on the shelf in bookstores, too. Nevertheless, what sometimes brings a tear to my eye is when a child comes up to me to say they have read my book and really liked it. Then ask me to tell them about the next books I'm planning to write. Sometimes I receive letters from children. That totally makes me proud.

Dear Readers, It is apparent that Mary Anderson writes with a purpose. From this interview, I have learned her books are not only important for children to read, but for parents, teachers, and even grandparents. We affect the world of our children, as do their peers.

Mary Anderson is one of our Nebraska authors and we are proud to count her in our ranks. Her strength of character and expertise make her a writer who walks it as well as writes it. I’m honored that she took time from her busy schedule for this interview.

Please read this interview on my blog at and on Mary’s blog/site at

1 comment:

Connie Spittler said...

Enjoyed this interview. Even though I do not write for children, there was much to learn from reading MA's motivation.