Monday, August 4, 2014

Interview With a Young Writer--Rena Marthaler, author of MAGIC THE CREST

Rena bottle-feeding koi
(picture taken from her website)
This is the second of my occasional series, featuring young authors. (The first was about Felicia, of Stanley and Katrina, which you can read HERE, if you missed it the first time around.)

I am in awe of the creativity, work ethic, and gumption of these authors. I'm even more thrilled because Rena Marthaler lives in Portland, Oregon--and though we haven't met yet, it would certainly be fun to do so!

Here are Rena's answers to my infintely probing questions. Enjoy!

Me: When did you write and publish Magic The Crest?

Rena: I wrote Magic The Crest during the annual National Novel Writing Month in November, 2013. The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is used in classrooms, or kids can participate on their own, which I did. I published the book in December, 2013.

Me: What was the most enjoyable part of the writing, and then the publishing, process?

Rena: Not having to do my homework that month, I mean - er - not completing all of my homework was a nice side effect to having to finish a whole novel in 30 days. The best part of the publishing process was working with the cover illustrator.

Me: Can you give our readers the "pitch" for Magic The Crest?

Rena: My book is about four girls who just found out they have powers. They are given a quest to find a lost girl. She is also a “magic.” Together, they travel to a magical universe of elemental planets, where they have to find different gems. To get the gems, they must battle monsters and meet creatures that you would never encounter in the mortal world.
Magic The Crest Book Cover Image

Me: Are you writing anything else now?

Rena: Yes, I’m co-writing a story called The Place Beyond Our World with one of my friends. We write it on a shared Google doc. And I’m planning the sequel to Magic The Crest. I also write on my blog,

Me: How much time per week do you spend writing?

Rena: That varies a lot. During NaNoWriMo, it was four to six hours a day. Now, it’s more like two hours a week not including school assignments (and it’s summertime, so I don’t have homework!).

Me: What about schoolwork? Besides writing (and reading) what are your favorite subjects at school?

Rena: I love art and spelling. My second-grade teacher taught us “bookmaking,” which was making elaborate boxes with folded pages with our stories in them. I also liked studying the Oregon Trail and making a covered wagon out of resources that were already in our house.

Me: What books are you reading right now? 

Rena: This summer, I read The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King. I’m halfway through the Sisters Grimm series. I read Matilda by Roald Dahl, and I would like to read all of the novels that are mentioned in that book. I liked the first Andy Smithson book by L.R.W. Lee and I've started the sequel.

Me: When you read, do you like hard copy books, or e-books--or both?

Rena: I like either, as long as the book is good!

Me: I'm wondering if you have had an inspirational teacher?

Rena: I have really loved all of my teachers. This year, I felt inspired because my teacher was enthusiastic about our achievements. One of my most inspiring teachers is my guitar teacher - he shows me how to take the next steps in a way that makes me excited about learning guitar.

Me: Would you mind filling the blank: "I am awesome at..."

Rena: I’m awesome at making friends. I’m getting awesome at Minecraft. But mostly, I think I’m awesome because I enjoy trying new things.

Those were totally awesome answers! There is also an interview with Rena on This Kid Reviews Books (and "This Kid"--a.k.a. Erik W.--is someone I hope to feature on this series in the future.

About the Author: Rena Marthaler is a ten-year-old living in Portland, Oregon with her two dogs. She wrote Magic The Crest, a middle grade fantasy adventure novel, during the 2013 NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. Her website is RenaWrites.

Thanks so much, Rena, for joining us on Project Mayhem today. Best of luck in your future writing projects--keep us informed about how things go!


  1. Congrats to Rena for doing NaNo and publishing her book. It sounds awesome. Loved learning more about her.

    1. Thank you, Natalie! I hope to do NaNo again this year.

  2. Rena -- I LOVE that your teacher excused you for homework for the month under the condition that you finished your novel! It's the kind of thing I would have loved to do as a teacher -- but I wasn't allowed. Sadly, I just gave up teaching because I was unhappy with all the testing I was required to do. (Happily, I can be a full time writer now.)

    Can I ask, Rena? Do you attend a private school or a public school?

    Best of luck to you in your next writing project!!!

    1. I do go to a public school and the teachers are very flexible there. That's great that you were a teacher. If I were a teacher, I wouldn't want to do those tests, either!

  3. Rena -- you've got spunk and drive. You're amazing at writing too! Congrats on your novel. It's quite an achievement.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you, Kimberly! Sometimes I get in trouble for being spunky... but sometimes it's just too funny.

  4. I loved reading about you, your book, and your writing process. Thanks for sharing, Rena!

    1. Thank you! I am really glad to be on the Project Mayhem blog! When I saw the amazing colors on the site, I thought I was really cool and interesting, and I'm so happy to be in it!

  5. Great interview! I, too, think it's awesome that you love to try new things. And I really like your book cover - very magical! Thanks for stopping by, Rena! Happy writing. :)

  6. Thank you - it is always great to try new things!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!