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Published:November 5th, 2007 11:54 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Ann Purmell, Author of The Christmas Tree Farm

Judyth Piazza chats with Ann Purmell, Author of The Christmas Tree Farm

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

Many of my friends who are authors say they have been writing since they were children. I am no different. I have been writing for as long as I can remember.

My mom says I crawled out of my crib almost every night to bring my crayons and coloring book to bed with me.

I never colored the pictures but I wrote in a scribbley sort of way on the sides of the pages. "It was like you were trying to write stories." My mom says. "And you weren`t even two years old!" I was born to be a writer. My grandmother, Annabel Kellogg Van Winkle was a poet. She did not know how to sign her name because it was too long. She took the first three letters of each name, Ann Kelvan, and used it as her PEN name, the name she used when she wrote poems.

When I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on November 15, 1953, my mother named me, Ann Kelvan McGarry.

From the time I was seven years old my grandmother taught me how to write poetry. Poetry is beautiful. Poetry is not easy to write.

When I was seventeen years old my grandmother died. I was so sad I didn`t write for many months.

School was hard for me. I looked out the window and daydreamed or doodled poems in my notebook.

Math didn`t make sense. It made me feel like a failure.

Teachers told me, my writing was not good. I was never chosen to hand things out or to be the special student of the day. This made me feel even worse about myself.

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Francis, at Burns Park Elementary School in Ann Arbor changed my life. She loved everything I wrote. She hardly ever used her red pencil on my papers. She stayed after school to help me with Math. I got A`s in Mrs. Francis`s class. This was a huge step up from the C`s and D`s my parents usually saw on my report cards.

I don`t know what happened to Mrs. Francis. Wherever you are, Mrs. Francis, thank you. If you could only see me now as a children`s author, I think you would be pleased.

A magical thing happened when Mrs. Francis treated me like I was a smart kid: I started believing I was smart and then I did all sorts of amazing things. For the rest of my school days, I got mostly A`s with a few B`s.

In 1972, I graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor with honors. When I graduated from Eastern Michigan University`s School of Nursing in 1979, again it was with honors. I have always loved children. In high school, I was the busiest baby-sitter in the neighborhood.

July 6, 1974, I married Bruce Hilary Purmell, my high school sweetheart. We worked many jobs so we could pay for college.

It was a grand day when twelve years after we married, Bruce graduated from the University of Michigan`s Dental School. Today, Bruce is a busy dentist.

After college I was a psychiatric nurse for many years with children and teenagers.

I have two children. Michael McGarry Purmell, loves to watch movies and play his guitar. Michael knows the answers to all kinds of movie and music trivia. He`s also very smart about computers.

Hilary Ann Purmell loves her dog, Asta, her hamster, Fee, and her horse jumping lessons. She has many fish and just added a rat, Snowflake, to her menagerie.

I decided to become an elementary teacher and went back to college when I was forty-two years old. Right before my student teaching, I became very sick. I spent most of my time in bed for three months.

It turned out I have a lung disease called Sarcoidosis. Doctors do not know what causes this disease.

I wrote children`s stories to help me pass the time while I was in bed. I am honored to write for children and happy to have the job of children`s author.

Although I wanted to be a teacher, being invited to visit classrooms to talk to kids about writing is a joy. I thank every teacher, librarian and school who has allowed me to be a part of their students` lives even if for only an hour.

May 2000, I decided to children`s picture books. All summer long, I wrote one picture book after another. They were not very good.

October 4, 2000, I sent a picture book manuscript, "Apple Cider Making Days," to several publishers. The Millbrook Press sent me a letter dated October 13, 2000, saying they would like to buy it and make it into a children`s picture book.

I spent a week at a conference which taught me how to be a children`s writer. The conference was in Chautauqua, New York. It is held every summer by Highlights for Children magazine. Boyds Mills Press which is the book publishing house owned by Highlights for Children bought my book, Where Wild Babies Sleep.

My favorite part of being an author is being invited to talk to students about the craft of writing and my books. An author spends so much time alone writing, it is wonderful to go to schools and be with children. Children love to hear my stories and they ask great questions.

Thank you for taking the time to read about me. I hope to meet you someday.

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