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  • Writer's pictureMary Boone

Six Questions with Rochelle Melander

Rochelle Melander is a professional certified coach, artist educator, and the author of 11 books for adults including Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. Rochelle’s debut book for children, Mightier than The Sword Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing (Beaming Books, 2021) won the 2021 Cybils Award for Middle Grade Nonfiction and the Council for Wisconsin Writers Tofte/Wright Children’s Literary Award. Visit her online at writenowcoach.com or rochellemelander.com


1. What was your favorite book as a child? Why?

I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle in second grade, and it blew my mind! I’d never considered that there were other universes, let alone other beings. That book opened up a whole new world to me. I returned to that book throughout my childhood and again as a young adult. It became my go-to book for surviving life transitions. If Meg could do it—so could I!


2. Do you ever get stuck creatively? What do you do to get unstuck?

We all do. (If you don’t, I want to talk to you!) Mostly, I get stuck when I am not sure how to execute an idea. It doesn’t help to stare at a document, trying to figure out what’s the best structure, point of view, or hook. As a writer and a writing coach, I’ve developed many tools for helping myself and my clients get unstuck. They include going on art dates, having brainstorms, playing with a different kind of writing or art making, and talking about the story with a creative partner.

 

3. What are your daily or weekly habits?

I write pretty much every day. I write best in the morning. After coffee, breakfast, and a walk, I work for a few hours on my current writing priority. In the afternoons, I either coach, edit, or teach. If I’m lucky, and I have extra time in the office, I will return to writing after lunch. When I am under deadline, like I was with Mightier Than the Sword, I wrote every morning, edited right after lunch, and then researched in the afternoon. Other habits include regular journaling, belonging to critique groups, and reading!


4. Where did you get the idea for Mightier Than the Sword? What was your inspiration?

Since 2005, I’ve run a writing program for kids called Dream Keepers. I’ve always used the life stories and writing of changemakers as inspiration and story prompts. For years, I schlepped around books about Nina Simone, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Langston Hughes. I dreamed of having a single book that held their stories and writing prompts—so I could offer kids a book of stories filled with people who look like them. I had the idea of writing that book in 2009 and included it in a book proposal for another book. I wrote the book proposal for Mightier Than the Sword in 2018, got the contract in 2019, and wrote the book in 2020.

 

5. Who should read this book?

Mightier than The Sword Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing tells the stories of historical figures who used their writing to impact history. Geared toward 8-12-year-old readers, the book will delight anyone who is curious about the many ways that writers have used their words to change the course of history.

 

I tried to feature people from a wide variety of fields including science, math, nature, computers, and more. I also included different forms of writing—songwriting, laws, computer codes, nature and science journals, comic books, films, and science fiction stories! I hope that teachers of all fields will find my book to be a helpful tool for classroom use.

 

6. If you read this book to a roomful of kids, what message would you want them to leave with?

I currently work as an artist educator in the schools. It’s a joy to be able to tell kids the stories of kids who were their age when they wrote a protest letter, blog, or song—and point to a picture in my own book! I want kids to leave these conversations empowered to write and sing and speak for justice in their own communities.


The Six Questions blog is scheduling traditionally published picture book and middle-grade creators for Fall 2024 through Summer 2025. If you're interested, please email mary@boonewrites.com


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