2020 Winner of the Kraken Book Prize for Middle-Grade Fiction
The story as told by Marcie’s parents is that she picked up a book at age three and hasn’t put one down since. While her family is fond of stretching stories to just the other side of truth, years of family photos of Marcie with book in hand provides sufficient evidence to support their claim.
Marcie soon felt the pull to not just read stories, but tell them. After bedtime, she would sneak into the lighted hallway to pencil-scratch stories and poems onto a yellow legal pad, ready to scamper into her room at the telltale creak of floorboard announcing a parent’s approach. As Marcie recalls, these earliest tales involved a squirrel in various iterations of found a nut, lost a nut, found a nut.
Perhaps the greatest gift Marcie’s parents gave her—although she didn’t know it at the time—arrived when her birthday dream of owning a Mickey Mouse toy organ was crushed by those two dreaded words: “Sold out.” Instead, her parents surprised her with an electric typewriter. Yes, it had keys you could press. Yes, it plugged in. But, Marcie was pretty sure that was where the comparison ended. Except….who knew language could make music? Marcie’s parents clearly did, and soon she was practicing her alphabet scales as she imitated the writers she admired. Writing, along with reading, enabled Marcie to engage her deep curiosity about what it might be like to be another person (or in the case of her imagined squirrel, another creature entirely).
Onward, Marcie followed a path guided by signposts that read “storytelling this way,” from pursuing acting in high school to film studies at Northwestern University, where she was a founding ensemble member of a student-run children’s theater company. Post college, she entered more storytelling portals through behind-the-scenes work in TV and film production in Chicago and LA. The years passed and, as she happily added two new readers to the world, Marcie moved into script development; her days filled with words and stories as she played with scripts at the office, and with her children at home.
When the opportunity came for Marcie to re-connect with her earlier love of theater, she jumped on board as Company Manager for the Chicago production of the musical Million Dollar Quartet. After the show’s seven-year run, she returned to language-saturated days by pursuing an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Since graduating, Marcie has continued to work on various art related endeavors including: grant writing for a not-for-profit theater, Company Managing an interactive drum show, and, most recently, as General Manager for Nevermore Park, an immersive art experience based on the work of Hebru Brantley. And, of course, she is never without a book close at hand (possibly two).
Marcie is thrilled that her debut novel, The Parallels, has won the 2020 Kraken Book Prize for Middle Grade fiction and will be published by Fitzroy Books. The characters and situations in the book came about after so many years of allowing the real and the make believe to intersect, and wondering “why” and “what would happen if…” Marcie’s short stories appear or are forthcoming in CALYX, upstreet, Split Lip Magazine, Black Fox, and The Gravity of the Thing, among others. Her short story collection, Residential Units, was a finalist in the 2019 Autumn House Press fiction contest. Originally from Baltimore, Marcie now lives in Evanston, IL with her husband, two teenagers, two dogs, a friendly backyard squirrel, and lots and lots of books.