Former Newspaper Reporter Mary Webb
Mary Webb is a former newspaper reporter turned high school English teacher. She is a proud native New Orleanian.
She has written for The San Antonio Express-News, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, The (Monroe, LA) News-Star, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, The Associated Press’ Denver Bureau, The (Houma, LA) Courier, and The Denton Record-Chronicle. Currently, she teaches English at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School in New Orleans. Previously, she also taught English in Iberia and St. Mary parishes, as well as in Dallas, TX. She resides in New Orleans with her two children, Quentin and Jory, the subjects of The Summer of Superheroes and the Making of Iron Boy. This is her first published novel.
She blogs routinely about the crazy antics of her kids at ironmommy.webs.com.
Mary is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana where she received a bachelor of arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in print journalism.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m a former newspaper reporter turned high school English teacher. The Summer of Superheroes and the Making of Iron Boy is my first literary offering. I self-published it 2011, but it was re-released in e-book form through Whiskey Creek Press this past February. It’s the story of my son Quentin’s 18-month leukemia and how he became the world’s first-ever cord and placental blood transplant recipient, courtesy of my newborn daughter Jory, who was his donor. She was an unexpected pregnancy.
I continue to write about them and their crazy antics in my weekly blog at www.ironmommy.webs.com.
Please tell us your latest news!
Whoops! I’m not even a high school English teacher anymore, having signed a contract today to work as an instructional interventionist at the middle school level.
Also, I’m working on my second book, tentatively titled Daddy’s Little Woman. Trying my hand at fiction this time around.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
I think, by now, it’s normal for them. As my father would say, I write my life away. I think they think it’s neat, but it’s just so me, that no true extra attention is paid to it. Perhaps if I were to gain some notoriety, they’d be mystified that the rest of the world sat up and took notice.
That’s not to say that they aren’t supportive. And, yes, they do read my books. My little sister Christine said the first draft of the first chapter of the book I’m working on had her at her office desk past 5 p.m. on a Friday, sobbing. I think that’s one of the highest compliments anyone has ever paid my writing.
What are your hobbies?
I’m a voracious reader (or would be if I had unlimited time). I love movies and music. And, I love hanging out with my family and friends, but especially my kids.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it started with a diary my mother bought me as a souvenir from Disneyland. Writing about what happened to be on any given day simply appealed to me, and it seemed I could weave a tale and go on for pages about even the most mundane of days. I kept a diary well into adulthood, but also excelled in composition classes. Had it not been for a college professor, I don’t think it would have ever occurred to me that’s how I wanted to make my living. I had taken a black and white photography class to satisfy my art requirement. I decided to apply my “skills” and get my money’s worth out such an expensive class by working for the school newspaper. I picked up a few writing assignments, and the newspaper’s coordinator took notice. He told me I wrote a whole lot better than I took pictures. That resonated with me, and I went and changed my major for the umpteenth, but final time, to Mass Communication with a concentration in print journalism. I knew there was a book or two in me somewhere down the line.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
Mostly, I’m fly by the seat of my pants, though I hate to refer to my practice in such a unorganized sort of way. I prefer to think of it as allowing my creative juices to flow or allowing the characters to be who they are. I’d hate to think that the beautiful prose and the unbelievably poetic lines Toni Morrison spills on her pages are the result of stodgy outlines, though for all I know, they could be.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
My son Quentin is my perfect hero, my Iron Boy, because he handled cancer like a true champion. It may have weakened his body, but never his spirit, and I learned more than I ever have through any other experience about how to live life. All this from a 5-year-old.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
Readers can reach me at email@example.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mary.webb.7737 or they can leave me a comment at www.ironmommy.webs.com.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I belong to a writer’s group called MelaNated Writers Collective, which is made up a group of writer phenoms in New Orleans. As one of the newest members, I have yet to submit anything to be workshopped. I can’t decide if I’m being shy, which is so not me, or deferring to longer-term members and waiting my turn patiently. Could be I’m just being chicken poo and need to throw the work out there, as it can only help me.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
My first published work was a story that ran in the San Antonio Express-News about a family killed in an automobile accident. It was an unfortunate event, obviously, but I was honored to write it and to have the Metro editor have enough faith in an unproven intern to assign it to me. It made the front page of the Metro section.