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Local Artist Martha Wilson, center, in the photo above, signs copies of her new book, What Is The Laughing Volcano? at a recent booksigning at Colley Cantina in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk.

Norfolk Native Publishes First in a Series of Lava-ly Children's Books

By Susan M. Vertullo
Downtowner Contributing Writer

When she was a little, girl, Martha Wilson's father told her a joke: "What did the boy volcano say to the girl volcano? I LAVA YOU!"

The joke instantly became eight-year-old Martha's favorite, and eventually, the inspiration for her career in art and writing. "That joke has shaped my whole life," she exclaims with a laugh.

Always creative, Wilson has known since the fourth grade that she would pursue a career in art. As a child, she made up stories to accompany her drawings, many of which featured cartoon-like, happy volcanoes. Years later, this theme also surfaced during her studies at Old Dominion University, where Wilson earned a Bachelor's degree in studio art.

"One of my assignments was to create a bust out of clay," she explains. "Somehow, mine became a laughing volcano."

After college, Wilson spent nearly two decades in California, where she established her aptly named Laughing Volcano Art Studio. Wilson's art, often described as whimsical and happy, features smiling characters with large noses and willowy bodies. Wilson's career has been immensely rewarding, but she still had those characters and stories from childhood dancing in her mind.

Wilson returned to Coastal Virginia in 2013, and was determined to put her stories and art into not one, but a series of children's books. While working on her books, she continued to paint and sell art. She was commissioned to paint the art displayed on eight lifeguard deck boxes at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and has participated in numerous art shows at local galleries. Wilson also engaged
the local arts community as founding member of Virginia Art with Heart, a nonprofit that creates fundraising events to benefit other charitable organizations through the sale of local art.

Wilson is also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). This nonprofit organization strives to increase the quality and quantity of children's books in the marketplace, and acts as a consolidated voice for writers and illustrators of children's books worldwide. SCBWI and Virginia Art with Heart have been sources of encouragement in pursuing her dream to write and illustrate books.

After four years and countless revisions, What Is The Laughing Volcano? was released in February, 2017. Wilson's first book shares the heartwarming story of two volcanoes that meet and fall in love. Although written and illustrated for children, the book appeals to all ages. A well-attended book launch party at Colley Cantina in Norfolk coincided with the author's birthday.

Since launching What Is The Laughing Volcano?, Wilson has also released a companion coloring book, The Laughing Volcano with Ant Martha and her Colony of Friends. Later this spring, Wilson plans to release another children's book, Who Are the Nose People? Wilson says she is excited and encouraged by the initial sales of her first book, "And, to think, it all started with a joke."

For information about Martha Wilson's art and books, please visit:
https://www.facebook.com/Laughing-Volcano-Art-Studio-220228774664755/

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