Being Mama: Author Marisa Howard
Author, communications director, former dancer and model Marisa Howard discusses her delightful Sissies Adventures board books and what it’s like to balance writing, parenting and working in the family business.
For Dallas-based author Marisa Howard, traveling inspires learning, adventure, excitement and family togetherness. Her popular Sissies Adventure series feature two sisters venturing with their family to the mountains, the sea and Mexico, where they swim and build sand castles, hike, dance, and most importantly, strengthen their sisterly bond.
What inspired you to write the Sissies adventure series?
A few years ago, our family went on vacation to Vero Beach Florida, a place we frequent since my husband is originally from there. It was my younger daughter’s first time to see the ocean and I witnessed my older daughter sweetly showing her all the fun things to do at the beach. It was such an obvious display of sisterly love that I wrote a short story in iambic pentameter from the voice of my older daughter, just to capture the moment for them.
What aspects of your daughters do you incorporate into your books?
The three Sissies books are based on my daughters and their sisterly adventures in three locations: Florida, Colorado and Mexico. The plots were all inspired by real-life events that took place on our trips to Vero Beach, Aspen, and both Cabo and Mayakoba in Mexico.
How did your personal experiences as a sister influence this book series? Your parenting?
I have an older sister and an older brother, and we went on many trips growing up, so I would say that my personal experiences as a little sister definitely shaped my perspective. My older siblings certainly both showed me the ropes along the way.
Your three books include mountains, the sea and Mexico. How do these locations resonate for you and your family?
We really enjoy being outside in nature’s beauty and making new memories, so we take our girls everywhere we go. Being based in Dallas, these locations are all just a few hours away from us. We love to chase the warmer weather when it gets cold and the cooler weather when it gets hot.
What sorts of books did you enjoy reading as a child?
I remember loving Madeline and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom when I was a little girl, probably both due to their rhyming aspects. I particularly enjoyed poetry and literature growing up and often wrote little poems for fun. My mother always encouraged me to continue to write and pursue the arts.
How did you inspire a love of reading for your own children? What are your daughters’ favorite books?
Since the time my girls were babies, we’ve had a three book per night bedtime routine that we still follow. My daughters’ favorite books are Pig the Pug, Claris the Chicest Mouse in Paris and The Sissies Adventure Series, of course!
Tell us about your professional and creative background. How did you get into writing?
I always enjoyed writing and it was my strength in school. I went to the University of Texas and studied dance, then went on to work in various creative industries. I taught ballet for a short period and then modeled professionally for a decade. I also worked at an art gallery and had a blog for a few years for which I enjoyed creating content. I currently work as the Director of Communications for a molecular diagnostics company that we own called GeneIQ. I handle our branding and marketing and write our collateral. Our lab conducts PCR testing and vaccines for COVID-19 nationwide, so it’s been a busy past few years between my job and publishing my books.
How do you juggle parenting, work and writing?
It’s been one of the biggest challenges to navigate all three simultaneously, but I think learning how to delegate and prioritize comes with the territory for any working mom. I work from our home office most of the time so that I can be close to my kids, and I delegate anything that can be tasked to a housekeeper or assistant, like errands and chores. When my younger daughter starts school this fall, I’ll return to the lab headquarters.
What would you most like to communicate to your young audience through these books?
I wrote the first story, Sissies at the Sea, years ago when my younger daughter was barely walking, so I chose to keep it short and to make it a durable board book tailored for toddlers. My hope is that no matter what age the reader, that the bonds of sisterhood are illuminated so that they realize just how precious it is to have a sister.
What’s next for the Sissies Adventure series?
I would love to continue the series where the Sissies travel to other U.S. locations like New England, and also feature a box set on our favorite spots in Europe – when we can get back there!