Oh, Marty! You had my heart right from the tipping of your purple hat! Readers will fall in love with this story about the cutest little outsider, with a sweet and kind heart, who was never meant to blend in. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to chat with author, Rachel Noble about her latest picture book.
KC: You are also the author of Finn’s Feather so that makes Marty your second picture book. Did you always want to write picture books?
RN: I have certainly dreamed about it! I feel like I’ve been reading picture books for so much of my life. My eldest child is 18 and my youngest is 7 so I’ve been reading picture books with a child on my lap for many years. I lost my son Hamish in 2012 in an accident and I started writing fervently. There was no rhyme or reason to it initially – it was just a way to deal with the horrendous pain and grief. After a while, I found myself writing picture books (subconsciously writing them for Hamish I believe now). It started a passion for writing the genre I had been reading for so long.
KC: I’m so sorry for your loss. What a special and lasting way to honor your son. Can you share a little bit about your process for writing Marty? Where did the spark for this story come from?
RN: I wish I knew! I was standing in the shower and I suddenly had this idea about a little Martian who comes to Earth to spy on humans. Of course, he needs to blend in, so he creates these wonderful little disguises to wear. Eventually, his creativity takes over and he creates a costume that makes him stand out! Perhaps that’s what he wanted all along? I really loved this concept and I sent one of the original drafts to my great friend Zoey and that was the start of a beautiful collaboration which saw MARTY come to life.
KC: There is something magical about the shower! I know a lot of authors who get great ideas in there (raises hand)! I love Zoey Abbott’s art so much and that you collaborated with her again for this book. Do you have a favorite spread from Marty?
I love her art too. It’s filled with so much personality and joy! When Zoey asked me if she could draw Marty, I couldn’t say YES quickly enough. Her art is perfect for Marty. She extended him so far beyond the words and I’m so grateful for her talent and friendship. Working with Zoey is a dream. Her love for Marty is just as intense as mine. My favorite spread is when Marty is discovered! I love his face when someone identifies him as an alien and he responds with ‘I prefer Martian, actually.’ Zoey has captured that moment so perfectly.
KC: Yes! She captured Marty’s emotion here perfectly! Do you have a specific writing schedule or any helpful writing habits that you’ll let us in on?
RN: I’m going to be honest here. I’m terrible at setting a schedule. My writing is sporadic, intuitive and I write when inspiration strikes. I have a busy life with four children and sometimes I struggle to prioritize my writing. However, when I do sit down and the words flow, I feel like the happiest person in the world. Which tells me, I need to do it far more often. There’s no better feeling than writing something that you know is a story that needs to be told.
KC: What are you working on now/next and where can people follow you online?
RN: I’m concentrating on spreading Marty into the world, which is actually bringing me great joy! I am revising a few stories I truly love that have not been acquired yet. You can find me at http://www.rachelnobleauthor.com
Rachel Noble is the author of MARTY (Holiday House, 2021) and FINN’S FEATHER (Enchanted Lion, US/June 2018), inspired by her late son Hamish. Both picture books were illustrated by Zoey Abbott.
Rachel attracted attention after she won a National writing competition, the My Child (Australia) Short Story Competition in 2012 for a piece called ‘Honoring Hamish’. Rachel is represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency.
Rachel promoted her picture book FINN’S FEATHER at Ci6, ALA Annual Conference and at bookstores in New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. She was keynote speaker at SCBWI Conference 2019 and has appeared on Studio10, in Who Magazine and on ABC Radio National. She is also a regular speaker on grief and resilience and has worked with The Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
Rachel is a former ABC/BBC Radio Producer/Presenter. She lives in Queensland, Australia with her family.