Interview with Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Aug 7, 2014 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

Coleen Murtagh Paratore is an inspirational writer, teacher, and speaker, active in her profession and in her community. With 19 books published since 2004, Paratore is best known for her 1Ž2 million selling debut novel, The Wedding Planner’s Daughter. She currently serves on the Rutger’s Council on Children’s Literature Advisory Council and on the Board of Directors of the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region. Paratore is the founder of T.R.E.A.T. (Troy Reads Every August Together) in her hometown of Troy, NY, which brings together city children to discuss books and writing. FIREFLIES is her newest release.

In this interview, she discusses her book and the global issue of writing.

1) Coleen , first of all can you tell us a bit about yourself and your education and experience?

I have a bachelor’s in English from The College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY, and a master’s in English from Trinity College, Hartford, CT. I am a full-time writer and teacher of writing, the author of 19 books for young readers, picture books, middle grade and YA novels.

2) Now, I have in my hands a beautifully crafted book entitled ” Fireflies: A Writer’s Notebook”. How did this come about?

Whenever I talk about writing I encourage people to catch ideas as soon as they spark, like fireflies on a summer night. No matter whether I am visiting with 300 elementary aged students in an assembly, or leading a group of adults at a writer’s retreat, there are certain questions, invitations to write, “spark starters” as I call them, which consistently lure participants into writing about what they know, what they love, what they wonder about.

3) What age and grade is this for?

Age 8 and up.

4) Let me ask you, how much is writing encouraged in the schools?

My experience is that this varies widely. My hope is that all children are offered the opportunity to write when they are excited about an idea and to write about what they are feeling and thinking, what’s going on in their lives, including the difficult stuff, without someone “checking” their work with a red pen. There should be a dividing line between writing correctly and writing freely/creatively. Both are important.

5) In a sense, your book could also serve as a ” diary ” of sorts. Was this your intention? Yes.

When I use this book as I visit schools, I encourage young people to let this notebook be a place where they can write about what really matters to them. I encourage them to date their entries so that in years to come they can look back and read who they were at that moment in time.

6) In addition, the book seems to allow individuals to explore their feelings, dreams, emotions, and goals. Was this your intention?

Absolutely !

7) Who publishes this and is there a web site with more information?

FIREFLIES is published by Little Pickle Press. It is available at bookstores nationally and on Amazon. Also, schools are offered a 25% discount (a 50% discount for Title 1 schools) directly through the publisher: There is much more information on writing and publishing and info on my writing workshop and school visit programs on my website:

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