Marcia Williams is the author and illustrator of many children's books, including The Stone Age: Hunters, Gatherers, and Woolly Mammoths, The Tudors: Kings, Queens, Scribes, and Ferrets!, and Tales from Shakespeare. She lives in London.
Q: Your new book is about the Stone Age. Why did you decide to focus on that, and did anything particularly surprise you in your research for the book?
A: My new book out last month is The Stone Age - Hunters, Gatherers and Woolly Mammoths. I decided to write about this period as it is just so unknown and exciting to both imagine and research.
Many things surprised me, not least the endurance of mankind and how completely brilliant and inventive we are and have always been!
Q: What usually comes first for you, the writing or the illustrations--or do you go back and forth between them?
A: The writing always comes first, as you need a strong story to hang the illustrations on. Having said that, the writing always changes as you illustrate and you find that some things are better said without words.
Q: How did you first get interested in writing about history for kids?
A: I have been interested not only in writing history for children, but also retelling classic tales as I hope to make them accessible and spark a passion. I had very few illustrated books as a child and always longed for them.
Q: You've also focused on retelling Shakespeare plays for young readers. What do you try to focus on to make the plays more accessible to children?
A: Retelling Shakespeare’s plays presented an extra challenge, but these books are now some of my most popular retellings. Many adults read them to remind themselves of a plot before seeing a play and children use them as the basis for their own performances. It is wonderful to see the creativity Shakespeare still inspires.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: The book I am working on now is a secret, but it will be out at the end of next year - if I finish it on time. It has been a very inspiring book to research and has reminded me how many wonderful people there are, and have been, in this world - which is a clue!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I feel hugely lucky to create children’s books; it is both my work and my passion!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb