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Q & A With Mary Harelkin Bishop!

  • How long did it take to write the tunnel books?
    Tunnels of Time took three whole years, from the time I had the idea in my head, until it was published and an actual book in my hands. That’s a long time! Mostly, it takes about two years from the time I get an idea for a book until I actually see it in print. It is a long time and a long process, but it’s worth it!
  • If you want to become a writer, how do you write a good Interesting fun book for children?
    I would say, if you want to be a writer, you need to write, write, WRITE a lot!! You need to write every day, and you need to read, read, READ!!! You need to read every day. Look for stories you love to read and think about what that author did to make you love the story. Was it the way the author described things? Was it that you could never figure out what was going to happen next? Was it that you really liked the characters? Whatever it was, try styling your own story the same way. Keep writing lots and trying different things in your writing. It takes a lot of practice. You need to have a good imagination, too.
  • Where did you get the idea with time travel?
    I have always been fascinated by time travel. Some of my favourite movies involve time travel, like the Back to the Future series starring Michael J. Fox and the Harry Potter movie where they move time a bit – I can’t think which movie/book it is right now, but time travel is very intriguing and its fun to write using it in the story.
  • Do you draw pictures with any of your books?
    No, I don’t do any of the drawing. I tell my readers that I hope I paint pictures in their minds by using really good words. The artist for the original books is named Dawn Pearcy and she lives in Toronto.
  • What is the process you go through to write a book?
  • Was Andrea based on yourself?
    Andrea is not based on me in any way. She was braver than me! I did, however, go to Girl Guides as a kid and I love biking. But mostly, Andrea is an imaginary character which I made up.
  • What inspired you to write the tunnel series?
    The tunnels themselves inspire me to write. My family went on a vacation to Moose Jaw and we went to see the tunnels. I wasn’t planning on writing a book, I just wanted to see the tunnels. But, when I got into the tunnels, I was so fascinated by them that I made my family take three tours in the tunnels. During the tours, I began to get the ideas for the stories!
  • What made you want to become a writer?
    My mother died when I was very young – I was nine years old. I was confused and sad and scared and really missing my mother. I started writing in a journal or diary – all my feelings of being sad and scared and questioning why bad things happen. (My mother got hit by a car by a drunk driver.) After a while I started writing poems and then I began writing stories about a little girl like me except she had a mom and dad and brothers and sisters. In my stories the family was all together and were always going on happy family adventures. I was living in my imagination, creating stories about the way I wished my life to be. I kept writing these stories and that’s what helped me survive a very bad thing that happened in my life. When I got to grade 6, my teacher, Mrs. Morris said to me, “You’re a good writer!” She encouraged me a lot and that’s what started my journey to being a writer.
  • Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?
    Asking me which book I like best is like asking me which of my children I like best! I don’t have favourites. For one thing, I have to like – love my stories or I wouldn’t be able to spend so much time working on them. I like all the books I’ve written and I’m very proud of my work. I like each of the Tunnels books best for different reasons. I like Tunnels of Time best because it was the first one published!! I like Tunnels of Terror best because I think it’s better written and more suspenseful than the first. I like Tunnels of Treachery bestbecause it deals with the prejudice and discrimination of Chinese people in Canada and we don’t talk a lot about that. I’m glad I wrote about it. I like Tunnels of Tyranny best because it’s scary and funny in places, too. And I like Next Stop – Chicago best because it reminds me of a Walt Disney movie; it’s so exciting! It also deals with real life gangsters like Al Capone. And I like my two newest stories best – Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather – because they are different from my other stories. The characters are Indigenous – they are Cree and the stories revolve around how they are treated by society, by the European settler colonizers. I’ve been told by parents and teachers that these stories lead the way for conversations to happen in classrooms and homes for everyone to talk about Reconciliation and what it means to treat others in respectful ways as we walk the journey toward meaningful relationships with everyone.
  • How many books have you written?
    Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather Driver Works Ink and Emmbee Ink, 2017 Moose Jaw: A History in Words and Pictures MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc., 2017 Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone Drive Works Ink and Emmbee Ink, 2016 Gina’s Wheels DriverWorks Ink and Emmbee Ink, 2014 Moving Forward: The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje DriverWorks Ink and Emmbee Ink, 2010 Seeds of Hope: A Prairie Story DriverWorks Ink and Emmbee Ink, 2008 Next Stop – Chicago: The Fifth Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure Trek 2000 Corporation, 2007 Tunnels of Tyranny: A Fourth Moose Jaw Adventure Coteau Books, 2005 Tunnels of Treachery: A Third Moose Jaw Adventure Coteau Books, 2003 Tunnels of Terror: Another Moose Jaw Adventure Coteau Books, 2001 Tunnels of Time: A Moose Jaw Adventure Coteau Books, 2000
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