20 May Meet the Author: Jean Schoonover-Egolf
Jean Schoonover Egolf is the author and illustrator of the popular Molly McBride series. She is a retired Internal Medicine physician turned children’s author and illustrator. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two daughters which inspire many of her books.
What do you love the most about writing?
Words. The creative process of using words to evoke emotional responses in readers, especially to the degree that they are called to action, both fascinates and brings great joy to me. At the risk of appearing trite, I’ll admit that I firmly believe the pen is mightier than the sword. Words have the power to change people, and therefore history, at a far more palatable price than swords.
What inspired you to write the Molly McBride Series?
Mother Margaret Mary, prioress of the Sisters of Children of Mary in Norwood, OH, is the voice behind many of the words of Purple Habit, book #1 in the Molly McBride series. Specifically, my daughters’ and their friends’ relationships with the Sisters of Children of Mary, is the inspiration behind Molly McBride. “Molly” as a character is an amalgamation of both my daughters, each of whom has considered a religious vocation from time to time.
You are both a writer and illustrator, which one do you enjoy doing most?
Illustrating! Ha! I can give that knee-jerk answer, but, when I’m deep into illustrating jobs for clients, I miss writing, too.
You recently started a publishing company. Can you tell us more about that?
After several author-friends were unable to find traditional publishing houses willing to produce their beautiful stories, I felt called to help. There is a vast, untapped pool of talented Catholic authors and artists out there, and we can never have enough good, inspiring media for children. There’s a lot of bad stuff being produced out there. Yes, we have access to beautiful classics to read to our children, but I think it’s important that kids know that good books and media aren’t just a thing of the past. There are fantastic Catholic creatives living in the present, too. Perpetual Light Publishing is a service, a “boutique” hybrid publishing business.
What do you like most about your main character?
Molly is the face of childhood innocence. She’s quirky, steadfast, and faithful. She’s not afraid to be different, and she knows what she wants in life: to be with God. She’s got her priorities straight!
What is the daily schedule of a writer/illustrator?
Morning begins with coffee over email. And more coffee. Afternoon requires coffee as well. I see no reason to not add a decaf after dinner, for that matter. Coffee is a big part of my day. Coffee and a wide assortment of glowing rectangles.
What advice you would give to an aspiring writer?
There are so many careers you can do that incorporate writing with skill. You may have to get creative, and at times do some dull work, but writers will always be needed. The best advice I think I can give is this: I get it that it’s fun to write “for yourself,” but that’s what diaries are for. Aside from personal journaling, you’ve got to write with your audience in mind. Sorry, but if no one else likes it but you, then no one but you will ever read it. Put aside pride and accept constructive criticism with graciousness. Work towards perfection, not mediocrity.
Anything else you would like to share about your books?
All four Molly McBride books feature funny, real-life kids and the situations they (and their parents!) find themselves in. They subtly bring awareness of vocations, both religious life and the family life, as a means of growing in virtue and serving God. I’d like to believe that all my books do this without seeming overly preachy, so I really appreciate feedback from “Molly fans” to keep me on track as new Molly (and Dominic!) tales develop. We need more books to let kids know that being good and holy is still the path to true happiness, no matter what society and the plethora of “modern” stories would have our kids believe.