TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Rafe Martin

Rafe Martin

Rafe Martin says: “I began telling stories professionally about the same time I started writing picture books-over twenty years ago. Foolish Rabbit's Big Mistake, The Rough-Face Girl and Will's Mammoth were where I began, and each of those books retains a special place in my heart.

Children's books remind us of real and important things-trusting the heart, following one's dreams, respecting oneself and all the many lives and life-forms with whom we share our planet. Children's literature allows us to speak directly to the imagination. There is nothing "kiddie" about that. And the imagination is quite reasonable, even rational. But its logic is not of the marketplace, but of dream. And out of our dreams comes our lives. If we dream well, we have the possibility of living well. Stories teach us to dream well. In stories, our deepest wishes and dreams have a chance of coming true. In so-called children's literature, we remind ourselves of what we really want, and what we really hope will happen-for all of us. Every good book is an attempt to bring the world we wish for that much closer. Every good book leads through difficulties and dangers to a happy ending. But every good book also shows us, experientially, through the lives and thoughts and deeds of the characters, what qualities will help us through the hedge of thorns that guards and surrounds the hidden castle of fulfilled and awakened dreams.

Recently I have focused on writing novels instead of picture books. In writing picture books I "take back" words, leaving space for the illustrator. A good picture book is Not words plus images, but rather, words and images that need each other, and blend so perfectly as to produce a third note, a harmonic in our minds, which is the book itself.

But in novels I can let words go further, climb higher, take more risks.

My first novel, The World Before This One, was built of Seneca (Iroquois) legends from Rochester, NY., where I live, but it becomes a story about all of us, about stories and how they change our lives and communities.

Birdwing, my newest novel, is about our differences, and the discovery that the very things that may make us feel most alone, can, in the end, become the sources of our greatest strength and healing. It's a book I'm very excited about. It is mythic and heroic and brings folklore alive in an original way, so that it can speak to us, and function in our own lives today. You can read about Birdwing in depth and even find an excerpt at my website, Starting in January my serialized sci-fi novel, Future Times Past: What the Eagles Knew, will appear in newspapers around the country through Breakfast Serials.

Stories entertain, and teach. They can also extend wisdom. Writing and telling tales is to me, the most interesting and the greatest of adventures. "