About Me


Okay. Here it is, the short version: I am an award-winning writer + creator for BIG and not-so-big-kids, a communications and marketing consultant, educator, and the founder/​chief creative officer of Pattycake Productions, a creative services agency.

I've written dozens of magazine articles, over 150 children’s books--with more on the way (including board books, early readers, picture books, creative non-fiction titles, chapter books, middle grade novels) as well as a growing list of scripts for children's television. Lucky me.

When I am not writing, I spend time with my family and friends, dabble in acting, volunteer for worthy causes (e.g. Bernie's Book Bank, Art Institute of Chicago, etc.), read, run, explore the great outdoors and my beloved city of Chicago, enjoy classic movies, and visit Ireland every chance I can get.

Yours sincerely,

Patricia


From Something about the Author
(VOLUME 132)


As long as I could either hold a book or a pencil, I loved to read, write, and share what I learned. As I grew older (and taller), I realized the power of words--how they can heal, inspire, build bridges, and touch hearts and souls. This is why I write.

Whether I am writing something for big people (adults) or smaller ones (Pre-K to 6th grade), I try to picture the faces of the people who will be reading what I write. This reminds me of the great privilege and responsibility that I have being a writer. I am very grateful to be able to do what I do. And, I take it very seriously.

I am not sure which stage of writing I enjoy the most. Writing is lot like life. Beginnings can be fun and scary at the same time. Then, the middles...they can be filled with unexpected adventures, surprises--and a lot of mess and hard work. And, the ends--they are filled with exhilaration, excitement, some sadness, and the realization that something's over. But, then it's back to the beginning again!

I often tell aspiring writers to "read, read, read, read, read, and then write, write, write, write." My mother taught me to love to read and to write. I believe that this love (and my continued reading and writing) have rubbed off on me and made me the writer that I am today. (Thanks, Mom!)

If writers have their hearts set on writing for children, I share with them one of my trade secrets. What is it? Well...it is to NEVER grow up. That's it. Because then, when you're writing for children, you'll always be writing for kids around your own age! Don't believe me? Ask me how old I am. That would be nine. I think I will always be nine. Nine is a great age. Don't you think?


Text by Patricia J. Murphy. Copyright 2002, by The Gale Group, Inc., a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

A Student Interview (AKA I write answers for somebody's homework:)


A while back, a young reader interviewed me for a class project. Here are my answers to some of her questions.

HOW DID YOU BECOME AN AUTHOR?
I started writing when I was around five years old and I haven't stopped.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
Everywhere. I am inspired by nature, people, love, everything that is around me. There are stories and ideas everywhere I look.

HOW DO YOU GET STARTED? I am assuming that you are asking how do I get started writing. Well, I pick up a pencil and move it across a blank page.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TOPIC? There is no right or wrong topics--but there are good and better story ideas. I often come up with my own ideas as well as get them from my editors. Many times, it's team work.

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH A TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK? I come up with a working title when I start writing and then change it when my story is done. Other times, my editors and I brainstorm a number of titles and we each vote on which one we like the best.

HOW DO YOU GET YOUR BOOK TO CATCH SOMEONE'S EYE? My job is to write the best book that I know how--to make it interesting, entertaining, accessible (so that kids can read it, etc.) and chock full of lesser-known facts, rare tidbits, and all kinds of gems. While I do come up with many picture, illustration, graphic, and design ideas for my books, it's the art directors and the marketing people at my pub companies that make sure my books catch people's eyes.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE TO WRITE A BOOK? No matter if it is fiction or non-fiction, I read everything I can about whatever I am writing about, interview people, walk in the shoes of my characters, visit places in my stories, and experience the things I need to--to write from an authentic or real place, then I start writing.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO END A CHAPTER? This depends on what I am writing about. But, I like to leave a little suspense at the end of the chapter, so my readers want to--need to--read the next chapter...and then the next.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR FIRST BOOK BE? There aren't any rules on how long a book should be. It should be as long as it needs to be to tell its story.

HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM BEING DISCOURAGED? I don't let myself get discouraged.

WHEN SHOULD YOU MAKE TIME TO WRITE? Everyday.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST TOPIC TO WRITE ABOUT? Nothing is hard to write about if you have the talent, skill, and time.

HOW SHOULD YOU GO ABOUT EDITING A BOOK? I revise and edit while I am writing. It's an on-going process. Then, my editors jump in and give their input.

DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A CERTAIN AGE TO START WRITING? No. As soon as you have something to say, WRITE. Writing is thinking put down on paper.

WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST TO WRITERS LOOKING FOR ADVICE ON WRITING? READ, READ, READ, READ...and then write.

DO YOU SUGGEST MAKING A PLAN BEFORE YOU WRITE? Yes and no. I often make story maps, sketches, book dummies, outlines, interview my characters, and much more before I write...then, other times, I just let the characters or topics take me where they want to go.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE STRUCTURE OF A BOOK? Every book is different. Certainly in fiction, you need a problem, a beginning, a middle, and an end.

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR CHARACTERS COME ALIVE? I observe people, listen to dialogue, read a whole bunch, and pattern characters after some of the dear people in my life.

PJMJ © 2016