Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Murielle Cyr, Culloo

AUTHOR:  Murielle Cyr
GENRE:  Children's Book: Preteen to Teen
PUBLISHER: McRites Press

Please tell us about yourself.

Writing has always played an important role in my life. It remained constant throughout the many stages of my life and has become even stronger now that I have more time. Short stories and poetry managed to find a place in various literary magazines and anthologies while I was a struggling mother juggling a teaching career, parental responsibilities and piles of unpublished materials. I'm at a stage in my life now where I can give writing its rightful place. Two of children's stories have been published and I am working on a third.

Writing and social media take a lot of my time, but I also love to do Tai Chi, make handcrafted soap, spend hours in the garden, and spend time with my family.

Please tell us your latest news.

My second children's book, Turtle Wish, has been released. Four of my poems were included in A World of Verse, a poetry anthology. I'm almost completed a science fiction novel for YA.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I'm as full-time as I can be since I've retired from teaching two years ago. I start after breakfast on the days that I don't have errands or social obligations. I don't believe in isolating myself from my daily activities. I write with the normal TV, video games, dog barking and any other daily background noises. If someone needs to talk, I put my computer to sleep. Sometimes I write for long periods, but at times its twenty minutes every few hours. I write with the flow, all these disturbances find their way in my writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing in grade school. I'd write stories using the different students in the class. It got problematic in high school when I'd get caught writing during math or history. Writing is an urge, just like any art. It can't always be justified.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book, Culloo, was inspired by stories my mother used to tell my sisters and I when we were kids. The book is a tribute to her and her (as well as mine) Métis ancestry.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I'm always reading. I read everywhere, even while standing on a bus. I also like to experiment with recipes I find on the Internet. Tai Chi and yoga keep me grounded. I also love to putter in my garden and visit friends and family. My perky Labrador gets me out of the house often.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

A necessary evil. Social media takes a lot of my writing time. It gets overwhelming at times but it's the only way to get your work noticed whether you self publish or go the traditional publisher route.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

One of my earliest criticism was that one of my characters hadn't done enough to solve the problem. When I reread my work I realized it was dead on. I ended up rewriting the whole story and thanked the person who had pointed that out.

My biggest compliment is when someone says my writing has touched him or her in some way. That's what every writer wants hear.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

Writer's block can be frustrating. I do extensive character descriptions before I start writing, so when I'm stuck I go back and reread them. That usually works for me since characters have the tendency to write the story.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

You can find me at my various rest stops:



Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Culloo is a teen and preteen adventure story about two children searching for their father in secluded woods. As a single parent, the father must juggle work with family responsibilities. Tala and her brother are often left on their own because of his work. Children's Services have been contacted and threaten to place the children in foster care. The children throw caution to the wind and set out to find him. They soon discover that bear poachers are responsible for their father's disappearance and their adventures begin. They must find their father before the poachers do. They must also come to terms with the legendary woodland characters in order to find a way out of their predicament.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?

I taught grade school for many years and enjoyed interacting with children of all ages. My favourite activity was reading out loud to them. Children will often relate to the character's problems and are interested in how a solution is found.

That's why it's so important to expose them to stories that will help them solve their own problems and make them think of others.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

One of the themes in the book is the importance of remembering your cultural roots and to find strength in the wisdom of your ancestors. After all, it's the courage and creativity of those who came before us that make us who we are. I remember when I was a young mother overwhelmed with diapers and sleepless nights. All I had to do was think of my own mother and how she brought up seven children while working outside the home. Just thinking of how she never complained would remind me how minor my problems were

What comes first: the plot or characters?

My characters always come first for me. I do an extensive interview with them before I even start writing. The story develops in my mind as their character develops. I often refer back to the character sketch when I'm short of ideas.

How did you decide how your characters should look?

I usually have an initial general idea of what they look like. This sometimes changes when I interview them. Sometimes I leaf through magazines to get a more visual picture. When I find a good picture I cut it out and pin it on the wall in front of my computer.


What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

I look for fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters. If I enjoy their company, it doesn't really matter to me if nothing extraordinary is happening in the story. If the character makes me forget the world around me, it's a good read.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

When there's so much action that the character comes out looking like a hyper robot, I close the book. I guess I'm a social reader; I need to hang out with the characters.


Tala can’t answer the door. The welfare officer is knocking and her father isn’t home again. She needs to find him before her and her young brother get placed in foster care. Their quest brings them to secluded woods where they discover bear poachers are responsible for their father’s disappearance.
Their adventures bring them in contact with the legendary woodland characters: the pipe-smoking frog-like people and the giant, ferocious black bird. Will they be able to survive the night alone with hungry bears and angry poachers and find their father before the hunters do?


  1. Thanks for this wonderful interview Penny. Namasté.

  2. amazinbg book!!!!! absolutely loved it