OMB publisher Wayétu Moore with 6th grade students from Isaac Newton Middle School in East Harlem : A Conversation about Social Entreprenuership
M. J. Fievre is a writer, editor and educator whose passion for writing can be felt in every word she pens. She has authored several novels, short stories and poems in French and English, including our trilingual title, “I Am Riding”. We hope you find her zest for life (and sense of humor) as intoxicating as we did!
One Moore Book: When did you realize that you wanted to write for a living?
M. J. Fievre: Ah! You’re making me smile. I don’t exactly write “for a living”—yes, I have a few books out there doing pretty well for themselves—but I’m still waiting for that million-dollar book contract. Just like many writers out there, I live a double life: When I’m not M.J. Fievre, the writer, I’m simply Ms. Fievre, the middle school literature teacher, and that’s how I put food on the table. I have this fantasy in which I move to a little cottage in Jacmel, Haiti (Or in the South of France. Or in Argentina. Or in Jamaica), spend entire days drinking mimosas while working on a novel (preferably a supernatural thriller) or collection of stories or essays, and receive a big fat check at the end of each week. For some reason, I’m dressed like a cowgirl in that fantasy. Hasn’t happened yet (the cottage and the almighty dollars, I mean. Not the cowgirl part, as I do own a cool pair of boots, along with a cowgirl hat). The alternative: landing a full-time editing job at a cool indie publishing house.
Until one of these dreams does come alive (and they will!), I write whenever I can (yes, I’m one of those gals who’ll make good use of a paper napkin at J.P. Mulligan’s or Wendy’s). I was about nine when I wrote my first story, and it’s been a delightful addiction ever since. As a kid, I read all the time (which I think is the best advice for someone who wants to be a writer); writing naturally followed. It wasn’t a decision, it just came. I write in all genres, and although I do a pretty good job teaching young minds and instilling in children the love for words, writing is the one thing that really validates my life. Writing helps me understand my world. Whenever I feel myself spiraling into despair, writing justifies my existence.
One Moore Book: If you weren’t a writer, what other career would you aspire to?
M. J. Fievre: Let’s see… I spent three years in med school before I realized that anything that took too much of my writing time was something to run away from. As an undergrad, I was passionate about bones and muscles and nervous systems, but I was even more passionate about plots and characters and riveting denouements. At some point, I considered becoming a vet, but it wouldn’t have allowed much time for writing either. Teaching was the one profession that didn’t seem at odds with the writing life, plus it ran in my family, so I embraced a career in education. If I had no interest in writing whatsoever, I visualize myself working at a hospital (I’d be a pediatrician, a shrink, or a vet) or in the legal field (I used to be a big fan of Ally McBeal, The Guardian, and many other cool lawyer shows.) Apparently, though, I’ve been a writer in several lifetimes, and I don’t think it’s about to change. In one of my previous lives, I’ve learned, I used to write Japanese scrolls. I do believe in reincarnation—and something tells me I’ll keep coming back with an interest in beautiful words and the deep meanings behind them. I’ll keep seeing the world as a big prism.
One Moore Book: Describe your creative process.
M. J. Fievre: I usually start with free writing, letting the ideas run free as I’m trying to discover what it is that I actually want to write about. I might know which story I want to tell, but find myself in need to discover the “why” of telling that particular story, in which case free writing helps. During free writing, I find out where the tale is going. I don’t think I could write if I didn’t know my ending; I would feel too much at sea. I need to write toward something.
The second step involves fleshing out descriptions, dialogues, and other elements of setting and characterization. That’s where the art really comes in, as balance must be created; I cut and add, move paragraphs around, kill characters, resuscitate them, rewrite, polish, tweak the specifics—for days, for weeks, for months.
Then I focus on the structure and the plot, how sound they are, whether the reader does have a reason to keep on reading. Only then do I make an outline.
One Moore Book: Who inspires you the most? Why?
M. J. Fievre: I’m not very religious. I embrace spirituality but not organized religion. I’m very fond of Jesus, however. Here’s a man who truly believed in his mission. Here’s a man who spent every waking moment following his calling. And thousands of years later, people are still riveted by his words. Whenever I write, I try to remember to be true to myself and to what I believe in. And if I’m going to write anything, I want my words to move, to bring laughter and tears, to bring hope and delight. Some of my pieces are available at www.mjfievre.com. I hope you enjoy them!
One Moore Book: Thank you, M. J.
You can find M. J.’s title “I Am Riding” at www.onemoorebook.com. Be sure to check out her blog, www.mjfievre.com, where she features book reviews, author interviews and events of interest to the literary-minded.
Today, we’re featuring a brief interview with Jean P. Icart-Pierre. This Haitian-born artist, educator and OMB illustrator has called Brooklyn home for the past several decades. We found his answers as poetic and profound as his artwork.
One Moore Book: When did you realize that you wanted to create art?
Jean Icart-Pierre: Wow, I don’t even remember. I think it might be right out of the womb. I came out of my mother’s womb with a brush in my left hand and a pencil in my right hand. In other words, from the very beginning.
One Moore Book: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Jean Icart-Pierre: Sorry, I don’t think I can be anything else. I’ve already decided, art is forever…give me art or give me death.
One Moore Book: Who inspires you the most? Why?
Jean Icart-Pierre: I don’t think there is that one artist, because there are different ones for different reasons. I like David Salle, for what he does with space. He forces the viewer to look and think twice at once. I like Jackson Pollock, Raushenberg and Basquiat, because of how they force you to think out of the box. And Jacob Lawrence for how he insists on telling his story and focuses on the struggle for freedom and justice.
One Moore Book: Thank you Mr. Icart-Pierre.
You can find Jean Patrick Icart-Pierre’s work in “I Am Riding”, a trilingual title by M. J. Fievre. Several weeks ago, LitWorld distributed this title to their LitClubs in Haiti. Check out our book and the wonderful work of our partners at LitWorld here.
In this Liberia Signature Series book, world-acclaimed poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley poetically explores Liberia’s Mesurado River through the relationship of two siblings—Klon and Geede.
OMB in Liberia: Signature Series author of Gbagba, Robtel Pailey, with her niece and nephew at the Monrovia release of her book.
When I was in elementary school my mother was a teacher and all her summers were spent at home with my 4 siblings and I. Although her presence during those months would be one of my greatest gifts, I dreaded waking up at the crack of dawn to read, what would become my mother’s mission during my adolescent summer months. My siblings and I were made to read everything and would read aloud, what Momma insisted was the only way the words would “stick”.
Two decades later and the words of those childhood summertime books not only stuck, but have become as much a part of me as my arms. Being encouraged to read aloud greatly influenced my eventual decision to pursue literature as my life’s purpose and path.
This year One Moore Book is partnering with the LitWorld organization for World Read Aloud Day and I could not be more thrilled and proud. March 6, 2013, is World Read Aloud Day, an awareness day advocating for literacy as a human right. Celebrate by reading aloud, giving away a book, or taking action in any way you can to “Read It Forward” on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot yet read or write.
World Read Aloud Day creates a community of advocates for every child’s right to learn to read and to have access to books and technology that will make them lifelong readers.
Visit litworld.org/wrad to join the Read It Forward movement! Register your participation, and spread the word to friends, family and members of your network and rally more supporters around this movement! LitWorld, the organization that founded World Read Aloud Day, offers free downloadable activity kits full of ideas for children, teens, families, educators, and professionals at litworld.org.