Interview with Carole Marshall

When did you first start writing?
My elementary school made writing a central part of the curriculum. I was actually slow to pick up reading, but when I did, I was never empty-handed. Reading led to writing.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in New York City and attended the excellent public schools there at the time. I remember being given a tour of the fine art reproductions on the school walls in second grade, and then writing a composition about the painting of my choice. My fifth grade classroom was lined with fish tanks and cages. In the spring, we wrote and bound our own adventure stories about imaginary animals. Our final project was an international talent show using marionettes we had built. In eighth grade, I published in the literary magazine. In high school, I was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. Because of those great schools, I always loved writing and always believed I was a writer.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Stubborn Hope is my memoir of the years I spent teaching at Hope High School in Providence, Rhode Island. There was never a boring day; I was challenged and I enjoyed rising to the challenge. My students were as diverse as any group of teenagers can be; it was always interesting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes heartbreaking. The book grew out of my observations of individual students over the years. I eventually realized I was a pretty good teacher, so the book is also a record of some of the ways I engaged, encouraged, and supported students. Finally, I might never have written this book - I might in fact still be teaching with no time to write - if it weren't for the toxic tide of so-called reform that began washing over the schools with No Child Left Behind. People need to understand what is happening and I hope my book can help them to do that.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I feel as if I know Mark Coker and he's a good friend. He's made it so simple for even a techno-idiot to figure out how to self-publish. It's been an enormously liberating process. I published two books years ago in the traditional way and I never felt as connected to the process as I am now.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I remember was a beautiful pop-up book about Santa's workshop. It's a fool-proof subject for a kid, and this book actually had little gifts and candies hidden inside some of the pop-ups, so I was completely enthralled. My childhood was scary and lonely; reading was an escape to other, better worlds.
How do you approach cover design?
I live in Rhode Island, not far from the Rhode Island School of Design. I posted a description of what I needed on the school's job board and was soon looking at online portfolios filled with great sample covers. It was confusing at first but eventually one alumnus stood out: Bob Bianchini. He was great to work with and I'm thrilled with the result.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read everything expecting pleasure - poetry, cultural history, the great writers, new writers, you name it - but for escape I prefer police procedurals or detective stories, often set in exotic places. They simultaneously satisfy my tastes for travel and solving puzzles.
Describe your desk
My desk is a door set on two wooden filing file cabinets. It looks great when it's neatened up, admittedly a rare occurrence. There are usually at least three tall piles of different tasks to finish and an assortment of odds and ends strewn across the back edge. The wall I face is a lovely shade of salmon which cheers and energizes. It's hung with framed photos and artwork created by former students, family members, and friends.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
First, my family, and then the certainty that staying in bed gets very depressing.
Published 2013-12-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Stubborn Hope: Memoir of an Urban Teacher
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 30,280. Language: English. Published: December 3, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Stubborn Hope: Memoir of an Urban Teacher chronicles the learning curve of a white middle class professional over two decades in an urban high school in Providence, Rhode Island. While teaching students who desperately need an education, her life is radically enriched by them. It concludes with an inside look at the struggles to improve education and the disastrous effects of recent reforms.