Stories have arcs. Characters have arcs. Writers have arcs. We write, we get better at our craft. We read, we get better at our craft. We interact with other writers and our readers, we get better at our craft. Whether you are a professional writer or just starting out. Hobby or career. We are all in this together. Welcome.

Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com

Spotlight on Marc Tyler Nobleman

Marc Tyler Nobleman may not have succeeded in his early childhood dream to become an astronaut, but he did become the prolific author of more than 70 books, a widely published cartoonist, and a sought-after public speaker. His books include Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, which made the front page of USA Today, and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, both the first standalone works on their topics. Marc’s other titles for children and young adults are too numerous to list but include narrative nonfiction, fiction, humor, and writing instruction. Click on the links to learn more about individual books, see the book trailer, see his speaking calendar, and read about research adventures and promotional gambles on his blog, Noblemania. 

The Interview

Part II
Scroll Down to read Part I

How different is the process for getting a cartoon published, a short story published, and a children's book published? (Do you work with an agent?)
I don’t currently work with an agent. Neither cartoons nor children’s writing requires one, or even a college degree. No one asks what my major was or if they can see my résumé. What counts is the quality of the work. (I am NOT advocating skipping college! College was indispensable in shaping me as not only an artist but also as a rounded adult.) So the process is simply do the most polished work I can and do the best legwork I can to find the best possible outlets for that work—and send it in. Naturally, it’s more complicated getting a piece of writing published than a cartoon. Sometimes I e-mail cartoons and get a response almost instantly. With writing, it happens that quickly much less frequently.

You do a lot of classroom visits, do you work with students on writing? Lecture on a specific book? What might a teacher expect from bringing you into their classroom or school?
I feel speaking is part of any writer’s portfolio. It not only helps you promote your work and your message (ideally you have both), but it keeps you connected to the real world. I offer various topics to various venues, but schools and conferences are the two biggest segments of my speaking schedule. I do give writing workshops to students (and often teachers, too); one is on hooks, another is on nonfiction. Even when I give a more general talk on the life of a creative professional, I smuggle in some writing tips. I have a cartooning workshop as well, plus talks focused on specific books, namely my superhero books, both of which required more research than my 70 other book combined. I take presentations very seriously—but have a lot of fun with them. Mine are diverse, helpful, and witty. Teachers can expect a talk that will excite and entertain all students on some level, and some students on a deep level. I’m told that after many of my presentations, students are eager to get back to the classroom to write. I couldn’t ask for more.

What are you working on now?
Batman! My nonfiction picture book on the secret behind the creation of Batman is out in July, and I’m more than excited about it. I’m also shopping around an unconventional nonfiction pic book on a little-known but flat-out riveting WWII story focusing on a Japanese pilot. Most if not all WWII picture books I have seen somehow involve the internment camps; this one doesn’t. And I’m also writing what might be considered my first “girl” book, also a true story.

Sidebar... a funny email from Marc this week....

After six years of work, multiple rumors debunked, 34 rejections, and more status updates than any friend should have to endure, my nonfiction picture book for older readers, Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, is now available. It tells the startling story of Bill Finger.

Bill who?

Bill who...

...designed Batman’s now-iconic costume in 1939.
...wrote the first Batman story, also in 1939.
...wrote many of the best Batman stories of his first 25 years, including his groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) origin.
...was the original writer of other characters who are now household names including Robin, the Joker, and Catwoman.
...named Gotham City, the Batmobile, and Batman’s secret identity, Bruce Wayne.
...nicknamed Batman “the Dark Knight.”

But Bill who...

...was barely credited as a Batman writerand never as co-creatorin his lifetime. He is not even in the credits of either film named for the nickname he coined.


Because cartoonist Bob Kane, Bill’s onetime partner, took all the credit. In 1974, Bill died alone and poor. No obit. No funeral. No gravestone.

No kidding.

Final Words of Wisdom:
If you want to write, start TODAY. Unlike many other creative pursuits, you don’t need much. Musicians need instruments, bands, studio time, late nights in dingy bars. Filmmakers needs cameras, crews, travel budgets. You get the idea. But we already have the tools (computer, brain) we need to be writers; all you need to do is summon the discipline. Remember, it’s hard work, but it’s supposed to be rewarding, too.

The Interview Marc Tyler Nobleman

Part I - check back July 15 for Part II

You write nonfiction, children's books, and you draw/write cartoons, how did you end up working in such different genres?
I sometimes laugh to myself about the same thing. I didn’t set out to be any of this, really, unless you count my wish as a seven-year-old to be a cartoonist. I ended up in children’s books because my first job after college was at a book publisher—as a marketing assistant. But when the president of the company wanted to create an activity book based on a series of picture books they were publishing, I volunteered—and, somehow, got the job. I wanted to write and found that it was possible by writing books for the school and library market—all nonfiction. From there I evolved to narrative nonfiction picture books and longer form nonfiction. 

The cartoons, I suppose, never left me, but as an adult, one of my life list goals was to get a cartoon published in THE NEW YORKER. I began churning them out…14 years and thousands of cartoons later, I still haven’t cracked TNY but put that output to good use by licensing many of them to other publications. (And I actually haven’t submitted to TNY in 10 years; I will again…)

What's a "typical" day like for you?
I’m not a writer with fixed writing hours. I am disciplined but not locked into a set schedule because there are components to the job besides writing. I have to be flexible to fit in marketing, speaking, research, and the mundane aspects such as invoicing and IT. A typical day always involves some form of marketing (and that always involves some form of social media, including blogging); research; and when I’m lucky, writing.

Your children's books focus primarily on educational themes. How do you decide what to put into a book for your audience?
As noted above, I ended up in nonfiction because it was the easier way to break in—there’s a steady demand with specific topics needed. Now I don’t write books that are educational as their primary reason for being—I want to tell a good story. And if there’s something to be learned from it, all the better. The reality is that every book has SOME lesson to impart. The subjects I write about these days are all passions. Deciding what to include in my books is an intricate process, as any writer will likely say. I often narrow down the material to what I hope is manageable, but find even that might be too much. Part of being a writer is being an editor—and that often means cutting out something you like for the greater good of the book. Of course, there are some things you know you must use from the moment you learn of them.

Check Back July 15 for Part II