Maria Norris

Author, Editor
FULL Member

About

I was born in Italy to an Italian mother and American father (Mom was a war bride). Soon afterwards, Dad moved us back to his small Ohio hometown where much of the blond-haired, blue-eyed population could trace its roots back to Germany. A lot of my DNA is German, too, but thanks to my dark hair and olive complexion, most people saw just the Italian side. There were times growing up when I felt like a plain little brown wren in a cage filled with bright yellow canaries. But despite the occasional ethnic slurs, my childhood was pretty great, spent in that idyllic time before video games and social media. Much of it was spent outdoors - riding bikes, climbing trees, exploring – and, of course, reading.I have loved books all my life. I still remember many of my childhood favorites: Raggedy Ann, The Black Stallion, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, and the wonderful mysteries of Helen Fuller Orton. These books were some of my best friends and the reason I never minded long, rainy summer days. I grew up and left my friends behind - but I never forgot them. And often, when I’d pass a bookstore or library, I’d sneak into the children's section to pay them (as well as their more contemporary brethren) a visit. As the only adult without a kid in tow, I may have seemed a bit conspicuous, but I didn’t care.After graduating from Ohio State with a degree in journalism, I moved to Southern California, where the idea of writing for children niggled at my brain. I purchased a how-to book by Jane Yolen, but that’s as far as it went. I needed to make a living, so for the next few decades, I enjoyed (or suffered through, depending on my mood) a career that included newspaper writing, advertising, public relations and sales – lots of writing but no real fulfillment. (I wish I’d known about SCBWI then.)In 2002, it fell to me to become the full-time caregiver for my elderly parents. This interlude, as unwelcome as it was at first, gave my mind a chance to wander, and for some reason it wandered in the direction of children’s poetry. It was almost as if I were channeling the light, humorous verses that flowed out of me almost as fast as I could write them down. My quest to learn how to market them and hone my writing skills led me to join SCBWI.In 2008, after my parents passed, I moved to North Texas to be with family. Since then, I have written several picture books and short stories for children; a chapter book, Myrtle Goes to the Big City, and a middle grade novel, The Ghosts in Grandma’s Attic. Set in 1959 and based partly on events in my own life, it touches on bullying, prejudice and other issues kids face today.I am currently seeking representation.        

Books

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times (The Grand Canyon Angel)

Member regions

Explore other members at SCBWI

Catherine Johansen
Author
Janet (Anne) Boyle
Author
Judith Blanco
Author
Barbara Gregorich
Author
Melissa Miles
Co-Regional Advisor