A while back I had invited a local author as a guest to our Christian writers’ group that meets in my home. As a local author who had several publications under her belt, I wanted to interview her.Thank you so much for sharing your journey to inspire others to follow their dream.
As a guest, tell us a little about your background and about yourself?
I grew up in Thunder Bay in a family that loved books and reading. I guess we were a bit nerdy! I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a writer, and I published my first story at age fourteen in “Miss Chatelaine” magazine. After that came a long writing hiatus. I was too consumed with school, marriage, and raising a family to write. The truth was, I was afraid to try in case I failed. Eventually, I came back to it, and experimented with poetry, fiction and magazine articles. I had a very long apprenticeship before seeing results. Now I have five books, several plays and numerous published articles, stories and poems to my credit. Three of my poems are carved in stone benches at the Marina Park, which makes me pretty happy.
Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
From nature and from life itself. My children’s picture book, “Great-Grandma’s Gifts”, for example, came to me in the last year of my mother’s life. I wanted to honour my Mom for all the beautiful things she sewed for her family, especially her grandchildren. And I wanted my granddaughters to know who their great-grandmother was, and what made her special. I was so happy that the book was published in time for my Mom to see it. She displayed it proudly in her nursing home.
How did you know that you wanted to write for publication?
As a child, I wasn’t aware there was any other kind of writing. I loved reading books, and I wanted to be one of those people who wrote books for other people to read.
Writing can be hard at times, especially when motivation drops so what gets you back on track?
Mostly I guilt myself back into it. If the task seems too daunting, like the novel I’m working on at present, I use the “How do you eat an elephant?”approach. I tell myself I don’t have to write the whole thing, just a few paragraphs. It gets me back into the flow again. If it doesn’t I tell myself I have a few more paragraphs than I had the day before.
What inspired you to write your first novel, The Serenity Stone Murder?
My sister. She loves murder mysteries, and kept bugging me to write one set in Thunder Bay. Finally, I told her that if she came up with an idea, I would write it. And she did. It was quite a quirky, funny idea, about two middle-aged church ladies who get embroiled in trying to find out who killed the manager of the Thunder Bay Charity Casino. As she was talking, I could visualize the two ladies. I felt as though I knew them. Once I can see the characters, I know I can write the story. The fact that the story was funny was what made it so enjoyable to write.
What inspired you to meet up with Linda Stewardson and write her story, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die?
I didn’t know Linda when she shared her story at church, but, like everyone else who listened to her, I was riveted. The thought came to me, “There is a book here.” Later, I introduced myself to her and asked if I could write her story. She had been told many times over the years that people wanted her story in book form so that they could buy it, so she was happy to work with me on the manuscript. When it was done, I entered it in the Word Alive publishing contest with Women’s Journey of Faith, and it won!
What writing project are you working on now?
I’m working on a literary novel about a minister’s wife wrestling with a lot of issues. It’s very close to my heart, because, although I’m not a minister’s wife, I have grappled with many different questions throughout my adult life that were impossible to raise openly in Christian circles. I was awarded a Ontario Arts Council grant to complete the novel, which gives me the necessary motivation to complete it.
If you were to pick, what is your favorite kind of writing?
Perhaps poems, because they are short and self-contained. But I love the act of writing itself. I was that weird kid in school who was inwardly cheering when the teacher assigned an essay. All the other kids were groaning at the thought, and I was thrilled that I got to write something.
When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
Read. Walk. Go to plays. Have friends over for dinner. Visit my granddaughters. Hang out with my husband.
Connect with Marianne