Mary-anne Scott

Proving you're never too old to start a new chapter

  • Mary-anne Scott

    Mary-anne Scott

For Mary-anne Scott, an accomplished musician, music teacher, performer and now published author, writing happened “relatively late in life”.  Her debut book, Snakes and Ladders has just been selected as a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction section of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2013; an impressive achievement for a first-time novelist.Snakes and Ladders is a gritty and realistic tale about teenager Finn Fletcher, following him as he navigates life at a new boarding school, encounters bullies, meets girls and tries to fit in, all the while hiding a terrible secret.  As a mother of four boys now aged between 20 and 29, Mary-anne didn’t have to go far for inspiration.

“The issues Snakes and Ladders deals with emerged out of experiences with my own children,” she says.  “That sense of dread you feel when your children start going to balls and after-ball parties, drinking with their friends, getting into cars and problems fitting in to society.  The novel isn’t based on any specific events or people, rather the broader issues that we as parents have to deal with.”

She also found other inspiration through conversations with her music pupils in her role as a high school cello and guitar teacher. “Teenagers are very open with me – it’s very important that they have one-on-one time with an adult who isn’t a parent.  We really get to know each other.”

In 2009, Mary-anne sent Snakes and Ladders to publishing company Scholastic, but it was only this year that the novel hit the bookshop shelves.  “It’s been a long time coming,” she says.

Mary-anne had been writing short stories “for years”.  “I wrote from instinct and quickly found out I needed to ‘learn to write’.  So I enrolled in a one-year creative writing course at Wellington’s Whitireia Polytech.  It really helped – critiquing other’s writing – it was so stimulating and has made me a much better writer and reader.”

Mary-anne insists writing is not a money-making career at this stage and that she’s “very lucky to be able to do it”, with husband Paul her “number one supporter”.  “You’ve got to write the truth as you know it, and not write for money.  It’s vital to keep it authentic.”

The story Mary-anne has “in her head” at the moment and has almost finished, is about a teenage father and the issues he faces.

With her own children focused on sports, Mary-anne is unsure whether any have inherited her “writing gene”.  “It’s too early to tell whether they’ll be writers – writing often comes later in life – it’s something that just ticks away in your subconscious.”

The Scott family has been involved with Moore Stephens Markhams director Barry Rosenberg for more than three decades.  “Barry’s brother Ian is a family friend of ours and that’s how we met him,” she says.  “The boys have also developed their own relationship with Barry and he can often be found sitting at our kitchen bench chatting with them, imparting financial advice about funding, loans and the like.

“I am the least financial person in the world and Barry is very patient and kind about it,” she says.  “He is a great supporter of mine; in fact he was one of the first to buy my book!

“To want to tell a story is a strange thing.  But for the time being I’ll keep writing and keep playing music and see what happens.”

Published Winter 2013.

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