Meet Cammy Marble, a soul deeply rooted in the harmony of nature and spirituality. Growing up on a farm and within the enchanting woods, she learned to listen to the wisdom of God and the secrets whispered by Nature. Today, Cammy resides on a picturesque two-acre property in Missouri, where she shares her life with her husband, Ken, and their cherished young granddaughter. A graduate of the University of Central Missouri, Cammy’s life has been a remarkable journey as a homeschooler, tutor, and a dedicated enthusiast of teaching, gardening, art, volunteering, and the joy of creating music.
1. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
One time, a friend of mine referred to me as “an Earth Mother.”
2. Your book series, “Holidays in Trees,” sounds intriguing. Could you share the story behind how this idea came to you in a vivid nighttime dream?
Around 2000, I had an intricate, vivid, colorful dream about a community of woodland creatures that lived in the trees. I really was there!
3. Your husband, Ken Marble, played a significant role in encouraging you to write the “Holidays in Trees” series. Could you tell us more about his support and how it influenced your decision to pursue this creative project?
I told my husband, Ken, about my dream the next morning. He told me, “You have to write that down!” So, I wrote down all that I could remember. Then over the next several months, as I went for my daily walks, I formulated how I could add details of my life, using my storytelling skills to create a book. I was always writing, so this seemed like a good idea. As I proceeded with the project, I would sometimes ask Ken’s advice about how to word a certain passage, or how to best illustrate a concept. He also helped me title the series. (He also writes and draws.) Those are the reasons why I dedicated Volume 1 (Home Sweet Home) to him.
4. The concept of a community of animals living in trees is so unique and intriguing. What inspired you to create this imaginative world in “Holidays in Trees: Home Sweet Home”
The “creating” of the story was formed in my dream. Then I just filled it out with experiences from my childhood and from raising my own children and grandchild. I gave the characters names that would give clues to the reader about what species each animal is. I also tried to write and draw in such a way as to complement children’s cognitive and physical development. My mom was a writer and musician, and so I, too, have always been writing. My granddaughter, age 10, writes and draws all the time. I guess it is a family thing!
5. Can you tell us about your artistic process in bringing this imaginative world to life? How did you approach illustrating the tree-dwelling animals and their habitat?
After I wrote the text, I started on the sketches. Then I decided that they needed to be in color. I love working with colored pencils, but that didn’t seem to fit the feeling of the project, so I switched to watercolors, which can lend a more dreamy aspect to a picture. As a busy person, this process of writing and painting took me years! Then when I thought I was done, I realized the book was too long. So, I separated it into seven volumes, rewriting the text about six times. But, after I separated it, then it needed more drawings! Life gets busy, so at intervals, I would put it aside and then take it up again later. I finally made an additional fifty artwork pieces for the volumes. My granddaughter was about three at the time and helped me choose some of the colors to use for those final drawings!
6. “Holidays in Trees: Harvest Festival” takes readers into the world of these tree-dwelling animal characters once again. Can you share what inspired you to continue their adventures in this second volume?
In my dream, there was a prominent theme: holidays and seasons. As a teacher and home schooler, dividing the year into holidays and seasons was something I always did, so this made sense to me. The first book, Home Sweet Home, basically introduces the characters in the series. Volume 2, Harvest Festival, is the first season of which I wrote. The characters are bustling about their autumnal routine. My granddaughter reminds me of one of the nature fairies from my series, so I dedicated Volume 2 to her.
7. The concept of the animal friends spending a happy day together, sharing what they have, and counting their blessings is heartwarming. Could you tell us more about the themes of gratitude and sharing in this volume and how they resonate with the characters?
It is important, no matter what your age, to be grateful for what you have. The characters, living in nature, know this all too well as they live and thrive in the wild. They do not take things for granted. They all depend upon each other. Joys and sorrows are shared.
8. Autumn is often associated with harvest and the changing of seasons. How does the autumnal setting and atmosphere contribute to the overall tone and mood of “Holidays in Trees: Harvest Festival”?
Autumn is a significant time of the year. This is true in most all cultures as far back as we know. Not only is it a thankful harvest time, but creativity is very strong during the few months of autumn. I know I have my best ideas and get more creative things done in the fall than at any other time. Fall inspires. Some even say that the veil between Earth and God’s Realm is at its thinnest during this time. I also love Michaelmas at the end of September, and Michaelmas daisies. These flowers are scattered all about in Harvest Festival.
9. “Holidays in Trees: School Days” introduces the concept of woodland animal children attending Apple Grove Academy. What inspired you to explore the theme of education and school life in the forest in this third volume?
My whole life has been about education. Every fall since 1974, I have either been in school, teaching school, or home schooling. I have also volunteered much of my time in these areas that include tutoring, music lessons, 4-H, VFW, city committees and other organizations. So, as a teacher, home schooler, and tutor, School Days is close to my heart. I have experienced and worked with different approaches to education over the past 25 years. This doesn’t include the experiences I had growing up as a child in public schools, private schools, and home schooling. I had wanted to be a teacher since I was in the eighth grade. As the years go by, there are more and more education options for parents and teachers, as people get more and more involved with their children’s educations. I am happy to see this trend as families can choose which type of education best fits their family. School Days borrows from several approaches in education and from my personal experiences.
10. Learning love and compassion for one another is a valuable lesson. Can you discuss how these themes are integrated into the school life of the woodland animal children, and what messages you hope to convey through their experiences?
In a school environment, teachers must love their students. It has to start there. Kids mimic what they see at home and in school. Home and school are where kids form who they are. It is important.
11. “Holidays in Trees: School Days” appears to focus on the growth and development of the young animal characters. How do their experiences in school contribute to their personal growth and the overarching themes of the series?
The students in the story are involved in their community. What they do matters and they can see how their actions affect others firsthand. This experience helps mold and shape who they become as adults. It fosters kindness where needed, and strength where needed. Life calls for both attributes.
12. Many authors draw inspiration from various hobbies and interests. Can you tell us more about your passion for gardening, drawing, and playing musical instruments, and how these activities influence your creative process?
I do not do much landscaping around my house. I would like to, but the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens always win out for my time. Having grown up on a self-sustaining, organic farm, growing food for humans and animals is just second nature. Any type of drawing or art projects are very satisfying, although as I am still home schooling, most of the art is kid-related right now. That is fun too! Where is music not needed these days?? I especially like to incorporate it into our holiday programs. All that is great, but it still doesn’t compare to a fall walk in the woods to soothe the spirit and activate the imagination.
13. Your love for burr oak trees is evident in your work. Could you explain what makes the burr oak your favorite and how it plays a role in your stories?
On the family farm, there is a grove of old, black walnut trees. (This is where the town in the series gets its name: Black Walnut Ridge Resort.) With that gathering of trees, there is one, ancient, huge burr oak. It is my favorite spot, among the Ents. Those huge furry acorns from the burr oak just intrigued me since I was small. One time, I had the shell of one and I carried a pink, baby mouse around in it. I loved collecting walnuts with my dad. He would drive the tractor pulling a trailer to that spot and we would get to work. Dad and I loved discussing philosophy!
14. Can you share any specific anecdotes or experiences from your childhood on the farm that have had a lasting impact on your life and work as an author and artist?
Christmas! It is my favorite holiday. It has always been my favorite holiday. It is my favorite story. When I was young, we did not have much in the way of material possessions. But, growing up on a farm, we always had a fresh tree, plenty of good food, and wonderful homemade gifts. Mom always made sure of that. And, to this day, I prefer a homemade gift to anything from the store. We usually opened our gifts on Christmas Eve when it was nice and dark so that our tree lights looked the prettiest. Occasionally we would decorate using the old-fashioned tree candles. We always made homemade ornaments like gingerbread cookies, colored paper chains, popcorn strings, nature items, a star at the top. Under the tree with our presents was a cradle-type manger that Dad carved out of a tree stump. I always had a doll wrapped in it lying in the straw. I still use that manger. We had a simple Nativity Scene and I remember being in love with the Baby Jesus and just peering in at the Holy Family. As an adult, it reminds me how soft feelings of veneration help warm and shape the souls of the little ones; it lasts a lifetime. Nothing has to be fancy. Mom would play Silent Night on the pump organ or piano, and Dad would read The Christmas Story. Once-in-a-while, there would be the first soft snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. You can’t really top that. We usually went into the city to visit the grandparents on Christmas Day. Before a meal and gifts there, we would provide some sort of Christmas program. Or, sometimes, family would come to the farm for Christmas and we would celebrate there. In my family, Christ is not just for Christians; He is for all people. Sometimes the simplest celebration has the greatest impact, especially in our modern, materialistic world.
Holidays in Trees: Christmastide (Volume 4) should be out September 2024!
Keep up with me at: www.HolidaysinTrees.com
Or follow me on Facebook: Cammy Marble the Author
15. Your father’s role as an organic farmer and beekeeper is fascinating. How do elements of farming and beekeeping appear in your series, and do they hold any symbolism or lessons for your characters or readers?
If we could verbally communicate with wildlife, we would find how it is suffering today. And not just wildlife. Human life is suffering as well. We have gotten so far away from what is real and essential, that we have lost our way. Something seemingly as simple as hives of bees can make or break our existence. All living kind works together and is dependent on the system as a whole.
16. Growing up with your mother, who was a writer, and the presence of music in your home must have had a profound impact on your creative development. Can you share more about how these influences shaped your artistic journey?
There is nothing like going to sleep in the evening after your father has told you a fairytale and then your mother practices the piano. I do not want to give the impression that we had the perfect life. We did not. We had our problems just like any other family and solving those problems helped me develop into who I am today. I would not trade my experiences. But, my brother and I had many advantages living a simple, creative, clean, thankful life with accomplished parents. Interestingly, it was Dad who taught me how to draw. He was also a great storyteller. My family has been my greatest teacher, and so I dedicated Volume 3, School Days, to them.
17. Do you have other writers in the family and friends
Yes. My ten-year-old granddaughter, who is serious about writing and drawing, has published a book. It is not for sale to the general public, but as an adult, I can envision her turning it into a series! I also have a few family and friends who like to write. Ken writes as well.
18. What advice do you have for aspiring writers and artists who are looking to find inspiration in their everyday lives, as you have?
Write what you know. Be who you are. Be humble and grateful, keeping your ego in check. Do not get discouraged. Artistic people must “let it out,” even if it is only for their own private use. I did not start out writing my series to share with the world. It just evolved to that over time. It is more about sharing your gifts and letting that occur in a natural manner. Many times the process of human artistic nature is more important than the outcome.
19. Lastly, what’s next for you as an author? Are there any upcoming projects or themes you’re excited to explore in your future writing?
Now that I am on this publishing road, my goal is to produce one book per year until all seven are done. After that, I am interested in writing a collection of familiar fairytales using animal characters. I don’t know if I will accomplish it, but that is what I would like to do. And, I will use colored pencils for this. Ken already bought me a set of 150 count Prismacolors for the task. I have one story done.
A few final words: My woodland creatures do not have all the answers; and I certainly do not. And, I am not a political person. I stand for good, just, smart, things that make sense, essentials of life, respect. My publishing goals are simple: if I could earn enough to pay my costs, send my grandgirl to college, and have some left to do some good in the world, that would be enough.
Thank you for this opportunity to reach people who may have an interest in my writing.
Discover the enchanting world of ‘Holidays in Trees’ on Amazon, where dreams come alive. Dive into Cammy’s vivid imagination, where creativity and humor bring this delightful series to life. Embrace the magic and get your copy today!