Words with a Wordsmith: Marie Powell
By Edie Cay
February 26, 2021

Award-winning Canadian author of over 40 children’s books, and a new YA series set in 13th century Wales, Marie Powell checks in with Paper Lanterns about her writing process.

Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, what’s on your writing playlist?

This is an interesting question. Sometimes I prefer quiet, but sometimes I need music to help me focus. In the quiet times, I take my laptop out onto my covered deck and write there. In the winter I open my blinds and sit at the kitchen table, where I can watch the cars and people on the street while I work. But when I feel restless, I like to listen to the rainy-day jazz programs on Youtube. That works for writing and editing. It’s a bit like coffee-shop music, and I used to write in coffee shops and university cafeterias, so it settles me down and helps me create a steady flow of words.

How long do you read until you bail on a book you don’t like?

I read or listen to at least 50 books a year, or about a book a week, not counting books for research. I never count books I start and decide not to read, so I’ve developed an 80-page rule. I give anything 80 pages, which should take me beyond the first act of any story. But rules are made to be broken, and if the writing is really bad or there are too many grammar and word usage errors, I tend to set it aside before that.

Is there another profession you would like to try? 

If I could clone myself, I’d become an archaeologist. I love the idea of piecing together past lives from evidence left in the world around us. I love seeing plans and 3-D models of castles based on nothing more than a pattern of rocks in the ground. And I love the idea that we can trace the activities of ancient civilizations by examining the rocks and stones and layer of the earth.

Do you collect anything? If so, what, why, and for how long?

Yes, I do! Thanks for asking. I’m a bit of a magpie: I like bright, shiny things. I collect pins from various places I’ve been, and souvenir coins. Bright, shiny things. My mom used to have a collection of tiny spoons that was similar: often a souvenir she bought or traded for as she travelled. I inherited her collection when she passed away a few years ago. My absolute favourite is ammolite jewelry, but that’s an expensive habit. The ammolite is a Canadian gemstone, and my favourite company is Korite, located in Alberta. I travelled to Lloydminster one year to tour their ammolite mines and see their sustainability measures for restoring the land after they have closed a mine. That convinced me to look for Korite jewelry over any other brand.

What brings you great joy as a writer?

Actually, I’m in it for the process. I like the call of a new book or short story idea. I enjoy gathering the research and coming up with ideas by free-writing in my journal. A little while ago, I was suddenly not writing very much in the way of new work. I was editing and marketing the books, but I had slowed down way too much in generating new material. While discussing this with some writer-friends, I came to the conclusion that I had switched over to a more digital or electronic process. I got out a plain lined notebook and started journaling the story scenes, and suddenly I was writing again. It feels good to just let the words flow into a first draft, and then work on getting the sequence of scenes and actions just right. That’s what really brings me joy.

Marie Powell’s adventures in castle-hopping across North Wales resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series, Last of the Gifted. Spirit Sight (Book 1) and Water Sight (Book 2). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books, along with award-winning short stories and poetry. She holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC, among other degrees. Marie is an experienced speaker/panelist, and currently lives and works on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at


Two siblings pledge their magic to protect their people from the invading English, with the help of the last true Prince of Wales — after his murder. Warrior-in-training Hyw can control the minds of animals. His sister Catrin can see the future in a drop of water. Hyw wants to use his gift to win a place in the Prince of Wales’ bodyguard. Then ambush and murder stretch the gift in unexpected ways as the slain prince’s spirit melds with Hyw to help guide him in fighting back against the invading English army. Catrin visions hold only disaster and death. She must convince the young nobleman she’s pledged to marry to help prevent the genocide she foresees. Can the gifts be trusted? Or will their world shatter around them? This award-winning medieval fantasy combines magic, mythology, and historical legends with the realities of 13th Century Wales.





YouTube: Last of the Gifted

Book Purchase Links:

Spirit Sight 

Water Sight  

Edie Cay
Written by Edie Cay

Edie Cay writes award-winning feminist Regency Romance about women’s boxing and relatable misfits. She is a member of the Regency Fiction Writers, the Historical Novel Society, ALLi, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. You can drop her a line on Facebook and Instagram @authorediecay.

View Edie’s PLW Profile

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