Author Mari Schuh talked with us about the writing process of new series, My Life with, which features real kids’ experiences.
Q: What was it like interviewing and working with the kids for the My Life with… series?
MS: This series is a dream project for me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of sharing these important stories with young readers. The books would not have been possible without the participation of the featured children, as well as their parents, teachers, school administrators, and staff who answered numerous questions throughout the writing process. Everyone was incredibly helpful.
Q: How did you get connected with the kids and their families?
MS: Lots of email queries! I emailed numerous national organizations and also reached out to friends and acquaintances who have connections to these topics. Eventually, I found a leading national authority on childhood dyslexia and other conditions. She connected me with three of the six children featured in this series, which was amazing. She was extremely helpful.
Q: How did you decide what aspects of their life to include in the book?
MS: I asked a lot of questions. The books strive to give a balanced view into each child’s life—their similarities, differences, hobbies, challenges, triumphs, and goals. I gathered information about each child until a narrative emerged.
Q: Did you do any additional research for the series?
MS: Kadence (My Life with Blindness) and Danton (My Life with Deafness) live within driving distance of my home, so I traveled to their schools to meet them in person. Spending time with them and touring their schools gave me a high level of detail and insight that is just not possible to get from email correspondence or phone calls. Many of those details appear in the text and illustrations, which I believe add considerable value to the books.
Q: When you’re not researching or writing a book, what do you like to do?
MS: I love to hang out with my husband and our house rabbit. I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. It’s also fun to take snapshots of the wildlife—ducks, geese, herons, rabbits, muskrats, and beavers—that live near our home in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa.