What is the best way to contact you?
Please send me an e-mail at madelynruth (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d love to hear from you! You can also find me on twitter at @madrosenberg and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/madelynrosenbergbooks.
What kind of writing do you do?
I always tell people I’m a one-trick pony, the trick being: I write. All kinds of stuff. I write stories for adults and stories for kids and stories for teens. I write stories for newspapers about engineers and strawberry farmers and murderers and musicians. I wrote a one-act play once, and it’s being performed in June 2012 by the Temple Players in Stratford, Conn. (Check it out if you’re in Stratford!) I have my definite favorite types of writing (kid-writing and music-writing being at the top of the list, along with stories about parenting). And I was doing a little medical writing for awhile, but I kept getting symptoms of whatever I was writing about, so I’m not sure I should take that up again.
Have you written any books?
Have you published any books?
I have a counting book that came out without my name on it. The first books with my name on them came out in 2012 (two Jewish books called The Schmutzy Family and Happy Birthday, Tree), followed by a middle-grade novel called The Canary in the Coal Mine, which is due out this spring. More are in the pipe! I’ve also been in a couple of anthologies: How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel, Mamas and Papas, and Other Voices (which at least looked like books), along with The Rough Guides Book of Playlists.
Who is your favorite writer?
I have tons and I’ll list a few but it’s by no means a comprehensive list. Not even close. Growing up I loved Louise Fitzhugh, Chaim Potok, Sydney Taylor, Norton Juster (whom I just met for the first time at a reading), John D. Fitzgerald, Madeleine L’Engle and Tove Jansson. I love plenty of children’s authors who weren’t around when I was a kid, and yes, I do wish I’d gone to school at Hogwarts. In the adult world, I was interested in grad school at Boston University because Jumpha Lahiri went there. I also love Michael Chabon, Melissa Bank, and Geraldine Brooks. Some of my best friends from my newspaper days are incredible writers, notably Mary Hill, Cece Bell, Tom Angleberger, Michael Hemphill and Ralph Berrier, Jr. We are linked by the mountains and rivers of Southwest Virginia, where I grew up and where most of them still are, lucky ducks. I’m hoping someday someone will call us The New River Writers and will let us do readings and maybe a little performance art. Ralph will play us a tune on the fiddle and we’ll all clap along.
My critique friends from over the years are seriously impressive. I admire their work, published or not, and I’m grateful for what they’ve done for my work. They include Wendy Shang! Alicia Potter! Jacqueline Jules! Moira Donohue! Carla Heymsfield! Suzy McIntire! Molly Burnham! And while Dana Kletter wasn’t in my critique group in Boston, she probably should have been. And (since I have space here because this is The Internet) let me name check some of my SCBWI friends: Anne Marie Pace, Amy Brecount White, Kathy Erskine, Erica Perl and Sara Lewis Holmes. Yay, Virginia! And now I’m going to get in trouble, because I’m sure I’m leaving people out.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but:
Bob Dylan, Big Star, The Ramones, The Gourds, Uncle Tupelo, The Replacements, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Elvis (or is that Elvi? Costello and Presley), The Del McCoury Band, Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Lucinda Williams, Dan Zanes (all the way back to the Del Fuegos era), Doc Watson, The Monkees, The Beatles, KISS, anyone who worked on Schoolhouse Rock.
Did you always know you were going to be a writer?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I always thought I was going to have to be something else because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to make money at being a writer. When I discovered journalism in college, it was like a lightning bolt hit, but to everyone else it was sort of “No duh.” I made an amazing bunch of friends at my college newspaper. I’ve kept many of them. And yep, they write, too. For a long time, my only friends were writers and record store clerks.
Do you have advice for other writers?
Oh, tons. I’m one of those annoying people who tries to solve other people’s problems when I’m presented with them. I am trying to get curb that habit and only give advice when actually asked for it. Otherwise I’m just going to listen. Those of you who are asking can go to the “for writers” link you’ll find to your left. Everyone else can just read on and pretend I didn’t say anything.
Do you have an agent?
My children’s writing is represented by Susan Cohen of Writers House.
Do you have any bad habits?
Do you have any hobbies?
I play the guitar, albeit not very well. I keep a good rhythm, though. I also spend a lot of time in the garden, spurred on by my neighbor, Dan, who brings out my competitive spirit. My corn left his in the dust this year. Lettuce, too. But he beat me at tomatoes, and in the long run, tomatoes trump corn.
What was your best job?
Music and features writer at The Roanoke Times
What was your worst job?
Waitress at a place called The Sports Page (note that it still had a newspaper theme). It was the home of the Belly Buster Baked Potato. I was a horrible waitress, and the boss let me go half-way through the summer, but the potatoes were good. I spent the rest of high school working at Wendy’s.
Where did you go to school?
N.C. State for undergrad (English), Boston University for grad school (creative writing).
What would you be if you weren’t a writer?
My friend Ron always says I wish I’d invented the Pet Rock, which is about right. I have a list of inventions and schemes a mile long. Does schemer count as an answer? Idea person? Namer of things? And — although this one gets back to writing — I really wish I’d been one of the people who wrote 90210 screenplays (the first time). Oh, and the person who gets to name the colors on paint swatches. I could do that.
What are your new year’s resolutions?
I’m famous for making these (and failing to keep them), but my favorite one, which began when a very wise 5-year-old made it HIS resolution, was to do something I’d never done before. It’s a lot easier when you’re 5 than when you’re … whatever. I still make that resolution every year. And it’s one of the few that I actually keep.
If you have other questions, ask, and I’ll consider adding them to the end of my FAQ.