This Week’s Feature Author Interview with
Hi Judy Martialay, welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website. Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what do you enjoy doing, hobbies and interests.
Hi! I’m Judy Martialay. I live in Sea Cliff, a picturesque town on the North Shore of Long Island, with my husband. We have two daughters, one son-in-law, and a toddler granddaughter.
I’m from Mount Vernon, N.Y., graduated Mount Holyoke College and have an MA from Columbia U.
I taught French, Spanish, and some Italian until retirement. Besides languages, I love oil painting. I take classes and like to paint landscapes with people. I have painted members of my family several times. My cards with paintings of local scenes are on sale at the library and some neighborhood stores. I thank my art teacher, Marla Korr, for her expert help with painting.
I also play guitar: I play in the Sea Cliff guitar jam. Musicians come to the jam from all over Long Island; some play several instruments.
I also like gardening, knitting, and I’ve gone back to tai chi class, keeping one of my New Year’s Resolutions.
We have traveled to many countries. When we traveled to a country where English wasn’t spoken, I would try to learn something about the language before going. I learned some phrases in Amharic when we went to Ethiopia! People appreciate this very much.
My husband is from Spain, and my daughters were born in Spain. We speak Spanish at least half the time at home.
When did you start writing and why?
My teaching experience made me aware that foreign languages are undervalued in the U.S. Requirements are weak, most students start study of a language late and for only a few years. This is in contrast with most other countries. In other countries in the developed world, children begin study of one or more languages at an early age. Children are naturally bilingual in many parts of the undeveloped world because of the numerous local languages.
Knowing another language has enormous benefits. To begin with, if you know the language you have direct access to millions of people. It is easier to form bonds of friendship with people when you know the languages. People who are bilingual have more career possibilities, improved mental ability, better mastery of English, and more appreciation of other cultures and our native culture.
Children benefit from starting a language early. They learn naturally; they have the ability to have native-like pronunciation, and they have many years to master the complexities of human expression inherent in the language. According to the latest figures, however, only 15% of public schools offer any form of foreign language instruction in public elementary schools in the U.S.
After years of lobbying our state legislature and the legislators in Washington without success, I decided that the best way to generate enthusiasm for languages was to write a series of books for children that would get parents and kids “hooked”, books that would be easy enough for parents to use even without knowing the language.
So I started to write. I became a member of the SCWBI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and attended some conferences. I asked my colleagues in language teaching for advice. I made rough drafts of several illustrations for each book.
I am indebted to my editor, Susan Korman, for helping me polish up my English lines, to express ideas more clearly and more elegantly, and of course to correct my punctuation.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I have published the first book, ¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish Visit New Places and Make New Friends. I wanted the title to show what the book is about. The purpose of the book is to give kids and parents a fun, easy and early introduction to Spanish. The language is kept simple in order to give everyone a pleasant experience. There is a free downloadable audio version on my website, http://polyglotkidz.com.
The book begins with a ride to Mexico on Pete the Pilot’s magic airplane. Kids learn their first Spanish words on the plane. In Mexico, they follow the adventures of Panchito, Mexico’s favorite Jumping Bean, learn Spanish and absorb the culture. When they return home, they practice the Spanish they learned with friends and family with fun activities, such as a treasure hunt, daily expression, a skit, Culture Corner, a song, and a craft.
Who helped you with the cover? Or did your design it yourself? What was your inspiration for your cover design?
When I decided to self-publish, I taught myself InDesign for the format of the book and photoshop for enhancing my illustrations.
The cover illustration shows the plane trip that kids take to Mexico. Although the cover is professionally produced by Bookbaby, the design was my idea. It incorporates one of my illustrations.
Have you got anything you’re working on now?
I’m currently working on a book to introduce children to French, Bonjour, Let’s Learn French. The text has already been edited, and I’m working on the illustrations. It follows the same format as the book for Spanish. There is a plane ride to France, a story where kids learn French, activities where they can practice, Culture Corner, a song and a craft. After putting all together and just before publishing, I will go to a local studio together with a native speaker of French to make the audio version.
Over a period of ten years, I wrote the texts and did drafts of illustrations for books for Italian, Arabic and Chinese as well as French and Spanish. I hope that I’ll have time, energy and ability to dust these off, update and publish them.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Now I’m reading El amor en el tiempo del cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera) by Gabriel García Marquéz. I’m reading it in Spanish with the dictionary on my lap constantly open. He has a rich, extensive and challenging vocabulary, and he keeps me turning the pages of the dictionary!
One of my favorite authors is Thomas Cahill. He has a series of books, “Hinges of History” about positive contributions to Western civilization at different historical periods. Some books in this series are: Gifts of the Jews , Desire of the Everlasting Hills, about Jesus, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, about ancient Greece, and Mysteries of the Middle Ages.
I thank Ben Jackson, Indie Publishing Group, and you, the readers, for giving me the opportunity to discuss my work.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do an author interview. Take a minute and check Judy Martialay out on the links below.