Recently I had the pleasure of getting to know Jo Marshall, author of Twig Stories. A huge fan of nature, Jo lives in the Pacific Northwest near volcanoes, rainforests, and coastal wetlands. Channeling her passion and concern for nature conservation, she created her eco-literature novels that transform the world with the fantastic adventures of her impish stick figures, Twigs.
1. When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
Jo Marshall: My daughter and I decided to write stories after a summer trip to British Columbia. We wanted to share our concern for some of the climate change events we witnessed there, but I didn’t know how to go about actually becoming a children’s story writer. Like most moms, I read to my young daughter for an hour every evening at bedtime. She was around 9 then, about 4 years ago. We read everything from ‘The Hobbit’ to her favorite ‘Warriors’ books. When we were into the 7th series, I remember clearly thinking, “I could write a better story than this one.” I don’t know why I suddenly came to that conclusion, because I do enjoy Erin Hunter’s books. It was then I decided I would actually undertake writing about the forests and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest and its climate change impacts. I put a desk by a window looking out over a beautiful, old-growth forest in our back yard, got a computer, and scheduled my time to have plenty of time to write. My life has changed enormously, although my daughter has moved on to high school and more grown-up books like ‘The Hunger Games.’ I’ve developed wonderful relationships with fascinating and dedicated people at universities, forest conservation and wildlife nonprofits, photographers, naturalists, talented authors and illustrators, and people who simply enjoy my perspective on the world through the unique vision of the characters
in Twig Stories. I feel I have made some small contribution to developing awareness of
the devastating impacts of climate change on our region. People from all over the world
have contacted me to tell me they like the stories and are sympathetic to the Twigs’
worry for our natural world, and that is a very satisfying feeling.
2. Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
Jo Marshall: I’m finishing up the four book collection of Leaf’s stories (my main character), and will be moving on to another four book set about his sister Fern and her adventures in the redwood forests of Northern California. Much of it will be about endangered wildlife and the threats to the magnificent, giant trees there. For now, however, I’m completing Leaf & Echo Peak – about the frightening adventures of Twigs fleeing an erupting volcano in the old forest. The underlying theme is one of adaptation in an extreme climate shift.
3. What are your future aspirations as an author?
Jo Marshall: I’d like to write another four book set about Fern, as I mentioned, and do a four book collection centered on Leaf and Fern’s twin brothers, Buddy and Burba. It will take place on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and centered on the marine ecosystems there also threatened by climate change. Other than that, I hope to continue promoting and supporting conservation nonprofits however possible.
4. Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence
Jo Marshall: My ideas for writing about nature and its influence on me come my childhood ~ from feeling overwhelmed when standing beneath giant trees like those in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, climbing unbelievably majestic peaks like Mount Whitney, and being awed by the exquisite splendor of Yoho Kicking Horse Canyon in British Columbia. Also, a love for the wildlife in these places drives my daughter and me to
bring attention to their fragile ecosystems.
Of course, David Murray, the illustrator for Twig Stories, inspires me to write better
stories so they may reach his level of excellence! David is a long-time Disney artist with
credits like Tarzan, Mulan, Brother, Bear, Lilo & Stitch, Curious George, and many more.
5. What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?
Jo Marshall: Seek and take lots of advice from dedicated researchers and excellent conservation nonprofits all over North America. Read the many, many nonfiction, timely books coming out about climate change by brilliant authors like David Quammen, Timothy
Eagan, William deBuys, and Bill McKibben. Study specific areas of climatology. As far as
learning how to write for children – take lots and lots of advice from children!
6. In what formats are your books available?
Jo Marshall: Twig Stories are available in paperback and kindle ebooks worldwide. The 3 books published so far can most easily be accessed via my Amazon.com author page:
Leaf & the Rushing Waters
Leaf & the Sky of Fire
Leaf & the Long Ice
If you’d like to take advantage of 20% discounts on the three paperbacks, then you can
order directly from the publisher via my ‘Twig Store’ page on my Twig Stories website:
Here are some social links. Please visit and link up!
Twitter & Pinterest: @TwigStories