TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Jacqueline Briggs Martin is an author of several picture books. She often uses experiences in her own life in her books. She got the idea for Bizzy Bones and Uncle Ezra from her son who was afraid of the wind. The story began as a young boy being afraid of the wind. After several revisions the boy became a mouse. The idea for a mouse character came from an experience she had with mice over-running her home while she was on vacation.

When she starts a new book she buys a new notebook and a new pen. All of the notes for that book - reading or ideas - go into that notebook. Her rough draft is written in the notebook by hand. Later she puts it on the computer. She thinks it is easier to revise on the computer. By using the computer she is able to try out new phrases. She says, "I still like to do the first draft by hand. It keeps me from writing too fast and, for me, gives the story a better foundation."

Each story is revised several times. After the final revision she puts the story away for several months. "This is very hard to do. Usually I am so excited about it that I want to send it to someone immediately." Sometimes if she does decide to send it off right away she says she has "been very embarrassed." That is because it takes a few months for the blemishes, writing mistakes, and shallow characters to show up. Things "that (she) did not see during the writing phase."

She got the idea for Washing the Willow Tree Loon from a magazine that told about oil spills and how the spill was affecting the wild life. She did a lot of research with about how to clean up birds covered with oil. Her book has an author's note that explains her research and things readers can do to be a part of cleaning up the environment. The American Bookseller named her book a "Pick of the Lists" for 1995.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin was born in Maine. She lived on a dairy farm during her childhood. One of the cows that the family owned was named Blanche Wisconsin. That cow showed up in her book Good Times on Grandfather Mountain.

Her book The Finest Horse in Town came about because she was investigating her ancestors, two of her mother's aunts, who owned a dry goods store in Maine. When she could only find out that they owned the "finest horse in town" she decided to use that as the core for her story but made up three episodes about what happened to the horse when the aunts were busy running the store.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin lives in Iowa. For many years she was a preschool teacher and wrote books. Now she is a full-time writer but often visits schools and talks to her readers about her writing and stories.