Marie Whittaker & The Adventures of Lola Hopscotch
By Angelique Fawns
Marie Whittaker has a message of kindness to spread and Lola Hopscotch is her adorable conduit. Each book tackles social issues for children, and Halloween is the perfect time to sample Lola Hopscotch and the Spookaroo.
“When Lola and her friends hear scary sounds beyond the pumpkin patch they’re frightened. But when they see who’s doing the rustle-crunching they come to the rescue and help find a lost Mommy. Festive fall fun with friends is the best reward for helping others!”
Not only a children’s author, Whittaker also ventures into the darker worlds of horror, urban fantasy, and thrillers. Her supernatural thriller, The Witcher Chime, was a finalist for the Indie Book Awards in 2017.
I had a chat with Marie Whittaker about her career and future plans.
AF: When did you first decide that you wanted to become a writer?
MW: In 1994. That’s forever ago! It was during my first comp class when I discovered that I really enjoyed writing.
AF: You write in many genres, what is your favorite and why?
MW: Dark fantasy is my favorite genre because I love to create monsters and the heroes that overcome their inner demons to combat them.
AF: What is your day job, and how does it intersect/influence your writing?
MW: I’m a publisher, personal assistant to Kevin J. Anderson, and I direct a writing conference. As you can imagine, there are loads of perks to both of these. As a publisher, I get to learn constantly about new markets, new publishing trends… just so much! Leading a writing conference, I’m able to concentrate on networking and continuing to learn about writing craft. As Kevin’s assistant, I see everyday the ins and outs of the traditional publishing world and the nature of books to film.
AF: You also work as the Director of Superstars Writing Seminars. How did you get involved with this organization?
MW: I mentioned above that I’m Kevin J. Anderson’s PA. This is how I got involved with Superstars. He needed someone to help with some of the administrative work behind the scenes. It’s quite funny how it all started at just ten hours per week and now I’m in leadership. Superstars has been a blessing.
AF: What was the inspiration for Lola Hopscotch and what’s next for her?
MW: When I reached a point in my writing career where I felt like I had somewhat of an audience, I wanted to do something to help kids. About that time, I took a trip to San Francisco with my partner and we found the cutest, mint green, stuffed bunny in a shop called Lola. I put her back in her basket when I saw the price tag, but he picked her out again and said my reaction was too much to not get her. I promptly named her Lola. On the way back to Colorado, we talked about how she needed a last name and I thought of “Hopscotch”. So, I had Lola Hopscotch, a cute stuffed bunny, who ultimately came to life and became the protagonist in my children’s books about anti-bullying.
AF: Who are your writing influences? What kind of literature/television/movies do you like to consume?
MW: Karen Marie Moning, Jonathan Maberry, Stephen King and just about every historical British Literature author I ever read. I love to watch horror movies and series, along with any rich, sweeping saga like The Expanse. (I know, that’s science fiction, but the writing for that show is on point!)
AF: Do you have any advice/tips for writers who wish to make sales to pro-speculative markets?
MW: Pitch like it’s your favorite thing to do (besides writing!) and when you do, do it in person, carry your business card, and print the first five pages of your manuscript for the agent or editor to read on the plane back home from the conference.
AF: Finally, what is the ultimate goal/career for Marie Whittaker?
MW: I want to continue to write books with characters that show readers how an everyday kid/character can overcome a hard life to make a difference for both themselves and others. When a reader reaches out to tell me that one of my books lifted them from a hard place, it’s the best thing ever. That’s my goal.