We had an amazing time meeting authors Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce. We felt so professional, especially when we went to Applebee’s Restaurant in Huntington to interview them exclusively. They were really inspiring to us.

When we were younger, we loved to read the “Magic Tree House” book series. Before we met the authors, we reread some of the books, and we still enjoyed them.

Osborne wanted to tell us about her latest book, “Magic Tree House No. 43, Leprechaun in Late Winter.” She said it’s about two characters, Jack and Annie, who go to Ireland in the late 1860s. She added, “They meet a little girl, and they take her into the world of the fairies, and a leprechaun helps them lead the way. It’s really about Irish folklore and the legacy of Ireland and the world.”

Osborne told us many things about her books, including that some of her characters are based on real people.

We were very interested in her “Magic Tree House” series. “I love living in my imagination,” she said. “When I was growing up, kids would go outside and play all day and invent things. And my brothers and I pretended our picnic table was a ship one summer. Our bikes were horses, and our trees were forts. We turned everything in the world into make-believe. So I went into theater when I was a teenager, and when I came to New York to live with my husband, who is an actor, I started writing. I discovered writing children’s books was a way to keep living in my imagination like a child. So I wrote a number of books before I started “Magic Tree House.” Then, once I got that, I never looked back because I could be somewhere different in every single book.”

Kidsday reporters, from left, Sara Balsamo, Emily Parini and Patrick Kearney with authors (and sisters) Mary Pope Osborne, left, and Natalie Pope Boyce at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Huntington Photo Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

Boyce works on the nonfiction research guides that are published as companions to the “Magic Tree House” books. We asked Boyce what it’s like to work with Osborne, her sister. She said, “She is really wonderful to work with. Everything you can think about her that’s good is true. We work very well together. I write the nonfiction, and she writes fiction. We live fairly close together; we’ll call each other up and discuss our ideas and she’ll say, ‘What’s been your research on this?’ — and I’ll say this. And I’ll ask her what her research has been on her books. And in that way, we can . . . make sure we’re on the same page. But she’s very easy to work with, and I’m the older sister, so it’s not that hard.”

We were curious if Boyce ever thought their books would have such an impact on so many children over all these years. She said, “No, and that’s mostly Mary’s exciting beginning with this adventure of the “Magic Tree House.” She really had an audience that was bigger than we ever imagined, and now I’m doing the nonfiction and I can’t believe it. The number of kids who say they read the nonfiction and read the fiction is overwhelming. It’s amazing.”
 

Here are our interviews with the authors.

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Mary Pope Osborne

What inspired you to become an author and write the Tree House Series?

Well, I love living in my imagination.  When I was growing up kids would go outside and play all day and invent things.  And my brothers and I pretended our picnic table was a ship one summer. Our bikes were horses and our trees were forts.  We turned everything in the world into make believe.  So I went into theatre when I was a teenager, and when I came to NY to live with my husband, who is an actor, I started writing.  And I discovered writing children’s books was a way to keep living in my imagination like a child.  So I wrote a number of books before I started Magic Tree House.  Then once I got that I never looked back because I could be somewhere different in every single book.

 

How do you feel when you see a young person reading, “Run, Run as Fast As You Can”?

 

I never see a young person reading “Run, Run as Fast As You Can.” If I did I would just die. That was my first book.  And I loved that book more than any other because it was my first book.  It was very, very sad about a child who dies.  So when Magic Tree House took off with little kids, I didn’t let that book go back in print because I was afraid a little kid might think it’s a “Magic Treehouse” story, but it would have something really sad in it and upset them.  It was really meant for teenagers.  Thank you for that question.  That was a great question.

 

After writing all your books how do you come up with ideas?

 

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I talk to kids and every time I go to a book signing, book store or any group, I ask kids to vote on ideas I’ve been thinking about and then I usually chose the majority vote.  And that’s navigated the series for 18 years.  And I think it’s a good method because kids are still reading the books.

 

What does it feel like to have so many children love your books?

 

I don’t think about it a whole lot because I live out in the country and I have three dogs and they treat me like I’m their servant.  So I’m not use to being treated like an idol of any kind. Sometimes when I go out on the road I feel almost embarrassed or dismayed because I can’t be the image of what kids want me to be.  So I just try to be myself and usually that works out OK.

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What was it like working with your sister?

 

Oh, it was fabulous working with my sister and my husband.  My husband did the first eight books of the non-fiction and then my sister took off and did the next 13, while my husband worked on a musical of “Magic Tree House.” And he also worked on a Planetarium show for North Carolina Planetarium of Magic Tree House.  So it’s a family affair. Working with my husband and my sister has been the most fun in the world.  One or the other travels with me everywhere and we always have a good time.

 

Do you think you imagination was affected by living in so many places?

 

I’m sure it was because I kind of became addicted to changing scenery and meeting different people. I became more curious.  All of that plays into my adult life, but I don’t have to leave all the time.  I can be at home and be in different places with my imagination.

 

Do you like writing solo better?

 

No, I wouldn’t say so. Actually my sister and my husband both, they work on the research guides exclusively and I’m just a consultant and I work exclusively on the fiction.  So we divide our writing.  It doesn’t feel like we’re jostling for a position.  We’re basically working in parallel lines and not back and forth every day.

 

Do you think you’ll write anymore books in the future?

 

Oh yeah. I can’t stop.  It’s so much fun. I love what I do.  A vacation for me is when I’m home and I’m writing.  That’s a vacation.  Because often I get pulled away from that and there’s nothing I love more than have my dogs with me and sit down with a cup of tea and do my research and find out what Jack and Annie are going to do today.  That’s my idea of heaven.

 

Were you and your sister always good friends?

 

Always.  She was my older sister, so I idolized her.  And my brothers, my twin brother and my other brothers, my younger brother, we were always and still are best friends.  And we laugh, and laugh, and laugh.  And I think that’s the secret of friendship.

 

 

Natalie Boyce

 

Do you work together on the book?

 

No, I write the non-fiction and Mary writes the fiction.  So we work separately, but we’re constantly collaborating with each other and her ideas generate ideas for me because this is Mary’s series and she’s so invested in it and so energetic about it.  I feed off of that and I get the enthusiasm from her.  So that’s how we really work together really well. 

 

How did you and your sister start writing?

 

Well my brother-in-law, Mary’s husband did the first eight of the research guides and he had to write the play for the Magic Tree House and he had to do other things.  So my sister knows I have written all my life and she asked me to do it with her.  And I have done it now for about 13 books. And it’s been more fun then I can tell you.  I loved every minute of it.

 

What was it like working with your sister?

 

She was really wonderful to work with.  Everything you can think about her that’s good is true.  We work very well together.  I write the non-fiction and she writes fiction.  She what we’ll do, we live fairly close together, we’ll call each other up and discuss our ideas and she’ll say what’s been your research on this and I’ll say this.  And I’ll ask her what her research has been on her books.  And in that way we can kind of make sure we’re on the same page.  But she’s very easy to work with and I’m the older sister so it’s not that hard.

 

Did you ever imagine that your books would have such an impact on so many children over all these years?

 

No, and that’s mostly Mary’s exciting beginning with this adventure of the “Magic Tree House.” She really had an audience that was bigger then we ever imagine and now I’m doing the non-fiction and I can’t believe it. The number of kids who say they read the non-fiction and read the fiction is overwhelming. It’s amazing.

 

Do you travel around the world for information?

 

No, but we’ve lived in a lot of different places that we’ve written about.  So for example this Irish book.  I’ve lived in Ireland and my son went to school in Ireland and Mary has traveled quite a bit in the mid-East when she was younger and I lived all over.  So we kind of used things that we know about, places we’ve been and then occasionally we think about it and get to actually go and almost have to rewrite the book.  Take a little break and see what it’s actually like.

 

Can you tell us what your new non-fiction book is about?

 

My non-fiction – there are two actually.  One that will be out next fall is about kids. You know about Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”?  This is about kids in that time and what you might now know is that there were so many poor children that many of them worked in factories.  And they would work six or seven days a week, 17 hours at a time and die from early deaths because of the terribly dangerous work that they did.  And they start working as young as 4 years old.  So that’s a lot of what my book’s about to go along with Mary’s fiction book on Charles Dickens.  I’m doing kids in the time of Charles Dickens.  I think that’s going to be good and then we’re currently both working on – she’s almost finished a book about India in the time of the building of the Taj Mahal.  I’m doing, because of the great number of snakes in India. I’m doing snakes and other reptiles.  Then you could read about king cobras and things like that that might interest you.

 

What inspired you to become an author?
 

My sister and I and my whole family were big readers.  And I think if you’re a big reader you’re almost a natural writer.  If you love to devour books then you are sort of automatically at ease with writing because you have big vocabularies, you have excitement about how to put a sentence together and make it powerful.  And so all of those things really are the wonderful inspiration of writing and it all comes from reading.  We didn’t have TV until I was much older.  It wasn’t around.  But anyway, that’s the whole joy of what we do together.