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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Marc Tyler Nobleman

FIVE ON FRIDAY is pleased to welcome Marc Tyler Nobleman, who hails from the uniquely named Cors Cob, CT. (Care to explain that one Marc?). He is the author of more than 70 books (I’m tired just thinking about it). His latest book is a fascinating look into the creators of Superman. If you’re a regular visitor to this website you know what a comics geek I am, and BOYS OF STEEL: the Creators of Superman is a book you should have on your shelf.

Please visit Marc at his website

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer/illustrator?

It’s hard for a guy who pays attention to detail to admit this, but I don’t remember! What I do remember is that my mom knew it first. I used to spend most of my creative time drawing; when I was in high school, my mom gently encouraged me to think about devoting some time to writing as well. In college, I intended to become a screenwriter, and indeed, right after graduation, wrote three that were never produced. I stumbled into writing books for children by working (in marketing) for a publisher that wanted to create an activity book based on a character the company had already published in picture book stories. That was in 1996.

What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?

This may be another less than satisfying answer, but there was no one writer who influenced me. I was influenced by every book I ever liked, which includes lots of adventure, historical fiction, nonfiction, and of course picture books. Another huge influence on me was DC Comics comic books, particularly ones featuring Superman and Batman. And movies have also had a significant influence on the way I write. I think one of the most cleverly constructed stories I’ve experienced is Back to the Future. What a feat to take a premise which at first seems more than challenging to do tastefully and turn it into a story that works as comedy, adventure, romance, and suspense all at once.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

Most of what I read right now is research for projects I’m writing! But a few novels that I love are Life of Pi, Morality Play, Blindness, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. And I still am captivated by the seemingly simple yet wonderfully lyrical prose of Where the Wild Things Are every time I read it to my daughter.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers (or illustrators), what would it be?

Self-educate. Read lots of books, including books on the craft of writing. Pay constant attention to the types of books being published in the genre/format you want to write in. I think it makes sense to choose subjects that you are both passionate about and which have some commercial prospects. Finally, be bold in your storytelling. My film professor in college used to say it’s not enough to have a good story. You must have a “good story, well told.” That probably does not count as only one piece of advice, but it does all come back to self-educating.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

Gladly! I have four nonfiction picture book manuscripts in various stages. Three are being shopped around, one I am still writing. All fill gaps in the market–none have been the subject of a picture book before, and three of the four have not been the subject of ANY trade book before. All are twentieth century stories and most have a pop culture bent. I am drawn to stories with an accessible angle but a mystery back-story. For example, everyone knows Superman but few know who created him, when, or why. That disconnect led to my latest book, and first picture book,  BOYS OF STEEL: the Creators of Superman. One of the four picture book manuscripts is a companion to Boys of Steel in a way. It’s about the creation of Batman, focusing on Bill Finger, the uncredited co-creator and original writer.

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