Q1 When did you decide you were going to write a book?
From the time I was a young girl, I loved to read and write short stories and poetry, but it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s or early 30's when I seriously considered writing a book. I had tons of material in notebooks tucked away for only me to read but art has always been my first love and I was more interested in painting a masterpiece than writing a book. The Maralee story first came about as an illustration of a mermaid that I did for my daughter after we watched a documentary about sea turtles. The drawing ended up taking on a life of its own several months later to become a book.
Q.2 How did you come up with the name of your book?
That came about when the idea to take the concept from an illustration of an actual story happened. I had just returned from a day trip where I had mapped out the whole Edgar Allan Poe- Baltimore experience and was in the mood to read some of his poems and stories. I have an anthology of his works and I came across Annabel Lee which has always been one of my favorites. When I read the first 4 lines, “It was many and many a year ago in a kingdom by the sea, etc." I stopped reading and pulled out the mermaid illustration and then instantly, “In the depths of the bluest of seas, there lived a beautiful mermaid named Maralee,” just popped into my head. I had that documentary in my mind, and I just wrote a rhyming narrative of a turtle’s journey with a mermaid involved. The title Maralee and the Turtles of the Sea was a combination of inspiration from Annabel Lee and a documentary on the life journey of a sea turtle.
Q. 3 What are you working on now for 20 18?
A lot of my time right now is spent promoting the Maralee book with author appearances and story-time events where my daughter joins me as Maralee, the mermaid. She was the model for the illustrations and makes a great mermaid! I am also in the early stages of an endangered species coloring book project.
Q 4. How long have you been writing?
I wrote throughout my childhood, teen years, and beyond that but I’ve been writing regularly for about 15 years.
Q 5. What advice would you give other authors?
Finish writing your story! Revise, revise, and revise some more and always hire a good editor! A lot of people love the idea of writing a book, but few dedicate the time to finish the first draft or they finish it but are too afraid to let anyone else read it, let alone submit it to a publisher. Be bold and believe in yourself. If you have a story to tell, find a way to tell it. It’s easy to set your mind only on traditional publishers but always keep your options open to different ways to produce your stories. There’s no right or wrong way to publish if what you publish is the best material that you can produce. It can be a long process so be prepared to dig in and do a lot of marketing and self-promotion. It's worth it to see your dream come to reality.
Q 6. Where can people find you online?
My website is www.rchamberlainart.com. I’m on Instagram @chamberlainrebecca and I have an Artist Facebook page at Artist Rebecca Chamberlain. I’m also on Facebook at Rebecca Justice Chamberlain. The Maralee book is available directly through me from my website, at regional bookstores, specialty shops, and through Amazon.
Q7 Do you plan on making more books in the future?
Absolutely! I mentioned the coloring book project and there will be more books spawned out of Maralee, featuring some of her siblings. I just might have a middle-grade novel begging to come out of me as well.
Q 8 How many books have you written?
Maralee and the Turtles of the Sea is my first book, though I’ve had artwork published in other books and a research piece on Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World, published when I was in college. My first children’s book illustration job was a book by Lisa Sharon called Jayden the Gentle, Tall and Gangly Giraffe.
Q 9 Did you go to college to be a writer?
No. I studied Art History and Art Studio. You must do a lot of writing when you major in Art History so most of my writing experience is because of my degree. I did take novel writing and poetry writing courses which I loved. I still have an unfinished novel from that novel class, so I guess I need to take my own advice and finish it!