Ever since she set pen to paper as a child, Maryann Cocca-Leffler knew she was destined to be an illustrator of children's books. She went on to become a successful author in her own right, delighting children everywhere. Maryann then turned two of her most successful books, "Princess K.I.M and The Lie That Grew" and "Princess Kim and Too Much Truth" into a musical which can now be licensed through Stage Rights. Maryann was gracious enough to tell us about her creative process and the origins of K.I.M., the little girl whose little lie went way too far.
What’s your name?
Where do you live?
I currently live in Amherst, NH but will soon be moving to Maine.
Where is your hometown? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Everett, MA, right outside of Boston.
Tell us about the first play you ever wrote.
Princess K.I.M. The Musical was the first play I wrote, but I spend my career as an author and illustrator of children’s books. So far I have published over 50 children’s book titles. The combination of writing for children and being involved in my community theater inspired me to develop my Princess K.I.M. books into a play.
"Princess K.I.M. And The Lie That Grew" (the children’s book) was published in 2009. A few years later, the sequel, Princess Kim and Too Much Truth was published. Soon after, I began to write the play script for Princess K.I.M. The Musical, combining the storylines from both books. I gathered a wonderful team of talent and in 2013 Princess K.I.M the Musical made it’s debut at a National Play Festival. We WON!
What’s your writing routine?
I write when inspiration strikes…and it can strike anywhere.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’d like to be a creative person who stays young at heart.
What were you like when you were K.I.M’s age?
I was always drawing and writing. I come from a big family
and like most families in the 1960-70s, we played outside a lot with the
neighborhood kids. We use to make up games, put on shows, and ride our bikes
Tell me a little about Princess K.I.M. What inspired you to write it?
It all started in first grade. I had just started a new school and desperately wanted the kids to like me, so to impress them, I told a teeny lie. With my last name being ‘Cocca’, I informed my new classmates that my father owned the Coca Cola Company, (he didn’t). My well-intended scheme backfired and became a big problem when the kids discovered the truth. Lessoned learned.
The idea of a tiny lie growing out of control seemed like a great concept. With some twists and imagination, the idea developed into my children’s book "Princess K.I.M and The Lie That Grew" in which, Kim, my main character, tells a teeny lie to impress the kids in her new school. This time, Kim announces that she is from Royalty (she isn’t) and her lie grows into a big, gigantic, sometimes comical, problem. As mentioned above…the Princess K.I.M. books ended up being the inspiration for the play….So I guess you can say- it all started in first grade!
What were the challenges in adapting
your own work for the stage?
Confession- I cannot play a note of music. I am a writer, an artist with vision and a dreamer, but I’m also practical enough to know that I needed a creative team. Luckily, I founder wonderful musicians and lyricists who wrote fabulous music. It was a wonderful collaboration. One of our big challenges now is getting theaters to give a NEW musical a try.
What are you working on now?
I am working on two children’s books to be published in 2018 & 2019.
On the play front, I am collaborating with a creative director in Hoboken, NJ to bring my JANINE books to the stage. Stay tuned.
To find out more Maryann’s books and play, visit: www.maryanncoccaleffler.com
Princess K.I.M. The Musical is also available as a Junior version and a TYA version.