Creative Multi-Hyphenate Marina Makaron
By Samantha Skelton
It's always so refreshing to speak with a creative multi-hyphenate like Marina Makaron. She's a strong woman who has found success in fashion, business, and now as an author.
In her new book, Mashka and Mishka: Get Trapped in a Rainbow, Marina brings important topics to the forefront of tomorrow's leader's minds: children.
She dives into what culture influenced this story, as well as what she saw missing from today's classroom that inspired her to write this colorful, hopeful book with themes of gender identity and the power to dream big.
Can you tell me about yourself and how you got into writing?
I am a certified yoga instructor with two Masters degrees in business and my own fashion brand, but most importantly I am a mom of four. I have been writing poetry since I can remember myself, I also started my first novel 14 years ago.
I have always been telling stories, may it be through lookbooks, fashion shows, marketing materials... but it wasn't until last year that I felt I needed to write a children's book.
What inspired you to write the illustrated chapter book for children, Mashka and Mishka: Get Trapped in a Rainbow?
My kids go to a school that motivated (before Covid19) parents to come in as much as possible and read to the class. I grew up in Soviet Union Russia and my grandmother would always read Eastern European fairytales to me. She was a wonderful storyteller and I wanted to share that positive experience with children.
I would come in with my Russian book to class and translate it to the kids. However, in the process it became apparent that there was more than a language barrier. Cultural aspects, modernization, and an overall rural lifestyle created a large gap between the fairytale and the listener.
So last year, when I was scheduled to read to my son's 3rd grade, I just decided to write my own story. Clearly, I got carried away a bit and in a year the story became an illustrated chapter book.
Where did you draw inspiration from for the characters?
Eastern European folklore plays a big part in some fundamental ideas and names like the Tiny Royal de Vasil and the Phoenix like creature- Zharlak. Then, with the help of my children, we splashed some modernity into the story like the skyscraper city of flowers, the Florenton.
But overall, I wanted to create characters the kids themselves could associate with. Moreover, I wanted to create an inclusive story that touches on diversity and gender identity.
What's the main takeaway you want kids to have after reading your book?
I think one of the more important messages in this story is that in the search for your identity, wherever it may take you, know that there are people around you who love you and accept you for whatever it is that you choose.
I think it's important to know that you are never alone and regardless how difficult is the journey, be confident and true to yourself.
How did your background in fashion influence your book?
I began my journey as a textile designer creating prints that were, as well, inspired by Eastern European folklore imagery. Being a very colorful brand helped me generate colorful images and gave me the tools to be able to find an artist that would be able to realize my ideas.
How has your first book influenced the writing of your second book, a novel?
My first novel touches upon gender identity as well. It is a book with no gender identifiers and ambiguous names, so the characters are not attached to bias we may have associating with gender. But that book is very different from Mashka and Mishka.
I am planning on creating a series from Mashka and Mishka. It has really empowered me to want to create further.
What else are you working on?
I am in the process of receiving a nutritionist certification, studying Italian, and taking art classes from Central Saint Martin's in London. I believe that it is good to feed the hungry mind and keep developing various skills even when you are out of school.
I always look for new knowledge and things I can perfect myself in.
How has your writing style changed over the years?
Writing is such a deep and beautiful but complicated field that you have to do it every day for the rest of your life to even consider it on-par with some of our greatest writers. Whenever I create something, I want it to be of quality, not just to put it out there.
It's always a learning process and I'm sure every book is better than the previous book. That's why I'm returning to my first novel, because I've learned so much and I'm able to pick it back up and write from a much stronger place of craft.
Where can we learn more about you and buy your children's book?
You can visit my website, https://marinalmakaron.wixsite.com/books where Mashka and Mishka: Get Trapped in a Rainbow is available for pre-order, and will be available on Amazon and Kindle on November 18th.
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