Today’s guest: Linda Jarkey
With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.
Today I’m delighted to host multi-talented children’s author, educator, travel writer, photographer, and world traveler Linda Jarkey. A resident of metropolitan Detroit, Linda has served as a secondary language arts teacher, public school administrator, and assistant professor at the university level. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and her doctorate in leadership in administration from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of the first book in a projected series, Sadie Sees Trouble (Front Edge Publishing, 2019; illustrated by Julie Jarkey-Kozlowski).
Recently I posed some questions to Linda. Here’s what she told me.
DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
LJ: I was born and raised in Michigan, and my sister, Julie and I grew up on the east side in what is now called Eastpointe. My childhood was a bit unorthodox, as I didn’t live in a house until I started school. Our dad was an entertainer, a stand-up comedian and Master of Ceremonies, and we traveled across the U.S. living in hotels. The love of travel and learning about people whose ways were different from ours undoubtedly sprang from these early experiences.
My career was spent mostly in education as a teacher, administrator and assistant college professor. I’ve also worked in retail, sales and marketing, and as a travel company spokesperson at trade shows. Travel writing and photography are also great enthusiasms of mine, and through the travel company advertising, my photographs have appeared in magazines such as The Smithsonian and National Geographic.
DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress.
LJ: My book, Sadie Sees Trouble, is a story in verse about a little dog, Sadie, whose life is turned upside down when her little girl Penny gets a tablet for her birthday and stops paying attention to Sadie. It’s an invitation to parents to engage children with the tale of Sadie as she tries to lure Penny back into active play around their home. Responding to nationwide calls by educators to reduce
screen time among young children, my sister, illustrator Julie Jarkey-Kozlowski, and I developed this first book in a projected series of Sadie stories so that it literally opens doors in family literacy.
What doors? Well, first, the doors to your kitchen cabinets! My sister Julie did the illustrations using food items, such as mustard for Sadie, and strawberries, blueberries, coffee, and beet juice. The components are listed at the back of the book. Young readers, using Q-Tips, can color the pages this way, too. After reading the story, readers can also visit this website to download free black-and-white illustrations of Sadie and Penny to become a lively part of their story.
I currently have three works in progress. The first is a photo essay about The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. What started in the late 1800’s as a small memorial to local men lost in the fight for freedom, has turned into an international monument to all those lost in the fight for liberation. It is quite an experience to walk among the hundreds of thousands of crosses of all sizes placed there by folks from all over the world.
The second project is the second “Sadie” story, and the third is a book about my journey through Iran.
DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
LJ: I don’t know why I write. It’s just something I’ve always done, even as a child. Early on, I wrote mostly for fun and friends in the form of comic poems, song parodies and mental musings. Sadie Sees Trouble was the first serious piece of writing I had the confidence to share. I felt the messages in the story were timely and relevant; parents and educators around the world were waking up to the need to limit children’s screen time. I also felt the story could provide parents a fun and interactive way to approach a difficult topic such as reduced screen time and making healthy choices.
What I hope to accomplish with the travel writing is to open windows on the world for readers. I especially want to share how people across the globe are really more alike than we are different. Governments and politics aside, people share many of the same hopes and dreams for a better life for their children. From Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan, I have been impressed with the kindness and hospitality of the people, the richness of the unique cultures and the amazing food. Ah, the food!
DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?
LJ: This may sound silly, but most of my ideas come to me in dreams, or in that half- awake state just this side of dreamland. A person or incident may be the catalyst for an idea. For example, I observed a family in a restaurant. Both the mom and dad were focused on their phones. Their little boy, about 4 years of age, kept trying to get his mom’s attention. Finally, he squirmed out of his seat, crawled under the table, and tried to climb into his father’s lap. That scene made my heart hurt. It bounced around in my head for a while and one day, the story of Sadie and Little Penny came to me in a dream, complete with illustrations.
I keep a notebook by my bed to catch ideas. The hardest part is forcing myself to get up and write them down immediately. Then comes the fleshing out of the details, and the rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. My least favorite part of the writing process is just getting started. Putting those first words and ideas down can be so difficult at times. The best part is when the project starts to come together.
DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?
LJ: Although I’ve had articles published in educational journals and magazines, I never really thought of myself as a writer. It wasn’t until the publication of Sadie Sees Trouble, and being introduced as an author that it became real to me. I had wanted to be a writer/journalist in high school, and it’s taken decades for that dream to come true. Being a published author has been one of the great joys of my life.
Doing school readings and coloring crafts and seeing how the children respond to the story of Sadie has been very rewarding and encouraging. The positive feedback on the travel writing validates that I have something share that is informative and entertaining. It is a heady feeling that brings not only joy, but the responsibility to keep going.
DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?
LJ: The website for the book is: www.sadieseestrouble.com.
My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/LindaJarkeyAuthor/.