Marsha Qualey

mail.google.comOne April day in 1992 Marsha Qualey’s husband showed her an article in the Minneapolis morning paper about an upcoming event at an area bookstore—a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Minnesota children’s author Maud Hart Lovelace. Qualey was a devoted fan of Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books; nevertheless, she had this response: “That’s weird.” She didn’t go.

Over 300 people did go, and it would be one of the few events over the next several years organized by the Maud Hart Lovelace Society that Qualey would miss. Once she’d decided that perhaps it wasn’t too weird to hang out with other women who shared her passion for the books, she attended conventions, joined bus tours of Lovelace’s Minnesota home town, and participated in dead-of-winter walking tours of the Minneapolis locations mentioned in Betsy’s Wedding, the final book in the Betsy-Tacy series. Her involvement in the fan club coincided with the beginning of her career as a young adult novelist, and she is quick18304738 to acknowledge that fandom was a personal and professional blessing. She is also quick to acknowledge that she and her fellow “Maudlers” were at times “just plain nuts.”

That involvement in a literary fan club is the inspiration for Qualey’s first novel for adults, Venom and the River: A Novel of Pepin (Untreed Reads, 2013), which explores how one woman’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a (resistant) participant in activities at a convention celebrating the life and books of one Ida May Turnbull, a very famous and long-dead children’s author.

Qualey’s novels for young adults have been on many “Best of the Year” lists, including the American Library Association’s “Best Books for Young Adults” and the New York Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age.” She’s won two Minnesota Book Awards for YA fiction, and her novel Thin Ice was a finalist for the Edgar Award.

In addition to writing fiction, she also teaches at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota) in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and is as a website editor and social media manager for Winding Oak, a marketing and web design firm for authors and illustrators of children’s books.

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