Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Getting to Know...Marcus Sikora and Mardra Sikora!

This summer I had the pleasure of meeting first-time author and Omahan Marcus Sikora and his mom, Mardra, at The Bookworm Bookstore.  They were at The Bookworm to read and promote their newly-published picture book, "Black Day - The Monster Rock Band". The book is illustrated by Noah Witchell.  Here is my interview with Noah.

Following the pictures and videos you can read my interview with Mardra.

As you may be able to tell from the photos, there was a full house for the event!  Mardra read the story aloud for the audience, while Marcus added character voices and comedic touches!

Kitchen Sink Cookie Company provided these whimsical (and delicious!) monster cookies after the program!  If I'm not mistaken, this is the first book to have its own "Official Cookie"! 

My conversation with Mardra:

Q: Is this the first time you and Marcus have developed a story together?  Or is this book just the tip of the iceberg?!

Mardra:  Marcus and I have been writing together every weekend for many years, in fact, I think it’s been a ritual for about 10 years. He has many many ideas, but this is the first book we’ve worked all the way through. Marcus has also completed a one-act play that was produced as a multi-class project at North High School last spring. 

Q: From his appearance at The Bookworm, and from reading through your blog, Marcus impresses me as someone who enjoys jokes, plays on words, creative writing, etc.  What can either of you share about Marcus' childhood? 
Mardra:  Oh the stories! He has always expressed himself creatively. In fact, while he was learning to become more “verbal” he used his hands in the shape of puppets a lot as part of expressing himself and what was happening in his world. In fact, here is a funny story.  Also, he and Quinn, Marcus’ dad, also work/play together every week and record an improvised session of voice characterizations/sketches. 

Q: I am fascinated by the correlation between the amount and quality of verbal interactions between parent and child, and that child's later command of language, appreciation of literature, ability to spell and read, etc.  I suspect "language" was plentiful during his early years.  Words, rhymes, & songs, as well as imaginative play and conversation?  
Mardra:  I believe that teaching “the whole child” is important for every person. This includes math plus music plus arts plus reading and spelling and so on. These things all do play a part not only in academic success, but more importantly, in a person’s ability to thrive in his/her skin and environment. In neuro-typical children music education, for example, is a well-documented way to improve all areas of academic achievements. Marcus was fortunate to go to the Madonna School in Omaha, which also holds these values and has a Full Time Music Therapist. Since his graduation he has continued with voice lessons, which is perhaps his favorite hour every week. In our house we have the mantra, “Learning is Fun” –Sometimes we say it sarcastically because we’ve learned something the hard way, but often it’s because we are always learning at our house and we know that creating new paths in our brains is important to all of our brains and long term health.  

Q: Somewhere I read that Marcus has acting experience.  Can you share what roles or productions Marcus has been involved in?
Mardra:  Marcus’ biggest acting claim-to-fame was as a walk-on character (Kite-Boy) for one night a few years ago in the touring Broadway Cast of Mary Poppins. He also participates in the “Art of Imagination” classes and performances with the Ollie Webb Center in Omaha.  

Q: I loved the illustration showing the band running through the graveyard and past a grave stone that says "Limitations".  Who came up with that idea?
Mardra: The tombstone copy was collaboration between Quinn, Noah, and I.  We started with a few joke ideas, and then decided with this prime retail space – maybe go ahead and choose a real message. We were thinking of not only Marcus but also everyone we know who is trying to pursue his or her dreams. We talked about a 3.21 reference* but decided – No, this is for and about…everyone. Bury those limitations and do what you love.
* Not being familiar with the reference, I looked up "3.21".  It refers to the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome.

When I asked if Mardra or Marcus had anything else to add, Mardra responded by sharing several anecdotes that highlight Marcus' sharp wit and playful nature:
Q to Marcus: Are you a musician?
Marcus; Yes
Q: What instrument do you play?
M: The Microphone

Q to Marcus: How long have you been Writing?
M: Just was  (= always)

Q to Marcus: How have you gone from acting on the stage to writing scripts.
M: Practice

An online debut of the trailer for Black Day was recently released.  Watch it here

For those interested in buying the book and The DVD – please visit their website: BlackDayBook.com.   They can be purchased locally at the Bookworm Bookstore in Omaha or via typical online sources such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

I also encourage you to check out their Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/GrownUpsAndDowns 

No comments:

Post a Comment