Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with historical (with some romance, paranormal, and a bit of mystery) novelist Marion Marchetto. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Marion. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Marion: I’m currently based in Northwest Florida but hope to soon be moving to Central Florida. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was old enough to read; but the final impetus for me to move was after I watched the movie The Bucket List – at 55 years of age I figured it was time to make my dream come true.
Morgen: I love that movie. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Marion: I generally write historical fiction – at least that’s what I’m told. My stories are rather unique in that they cover a cross-section of time periods. As for other genres, my stories include romance, paranormal, and a bit of mystery.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Marion: My first three books are considered as a trilogy: 201 Atwater, Honeysuckle Hill, and Oak Cliff: A Tale of Darkness and Despair. They follow the exploits of Merline Madagascar who is a house-whisperer of sorts. My newest series – The Bridgewater Chronicles – is a family saga that will span five generations. Book #1 of the series, Stairway To My Heart, was published in June of 2012.
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Marion: After finishing 201 Atwater – my first book. I looked around for an easy way to publish it. I found a self-publishing company I was comfortable with and could afford and five months later my book was published. At that time I didn’t foresee writing any additional books. I had made my dream of writing a book come true. I was ready for the next item on my bucket list. Then came the lovely reviews and requests for the ‘next one’. So two years later my second book was published.
Now on my fourth self-published book, I find that with so many people entering the author arena major publishers are rethinking their marketing budgets. Most authors who are represented by major publishing houses are still required to do a great deal of self-promotion and marketing. Since I do that for myself now, I decided to continue with self-publishing and retain creative control of my work.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Marion: I was a hold-out for a long time because I’ve always loved the feel of a real book and the crisp pages. As I move through the book I can see how much I’ve read and what remains. But since so many people have been telling me what a great invention e-readers are I gave in and bought one. I do think it has its merits and use it to purchase books that have been published as e-books only.
My own books all have ebook editions and thankfully my publishing company takes care of producing the ebook editions.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Marion: I think my favourite character is Merline Madagascar – because she is so complex. I like the idea that she tries different trends and changes over time without losing her quirkiness. I’ve always pictured her as a cross between Carol Burnett and Julia Roberts. As for my favorite book, I think Stairway To My Heart is my favourite at this point.
Morgen: I don’t know Carol, but Julia’s a great actress. Which author(s) would you compare your writing to?
Marion: I never really gave it that much thought; I believe each writer is unique unto him- or herself. But if I had to choose, I would compare myself to Charles Dickens mostly because of his way of telling a story and because he too chose to tie up all the loose end of the story at the end.
Morgen: A classic author. Did you have any say in the titles/covers of your books? How important to you think they are?
Marion: Titles and covers are very important. They are what attract a reader’s eye. They are what entice a would-be buyer to pick up the book and examine it. Except for 201 Atwater – my first book – I have had a lot of input for the covers especially. I want them to be reflective of the story within. As for the titles, those are of my own choosing. Sometimes a title will come to me in a dream or in a bit of overheard conversation; other times they are suggested by something that occurs during the story itself.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Marion: I am currently working on the second book in The Bridgewater Chronicles – working title The Gilded Life. This is the sequel to Stairway To My Heart and is the story of the eldest daughter.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Marion: I mostly write when the characters living in my head tell me to! Which may be every day for a week or so, or not at all for a spell. I rarely have writer’s block but when I’m not inspired I take the time to reread what I’ve already written and polish and edit it.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Marion: Normally I run with an idea. About two chapters into the story is when the plot reveals itself and I madly write the outline – which is as changeable as the wind.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Marion: Most of my female leads are patterned in some part on facets of myself – I get to live vicariously through them. Other characters are based on people I may have met. Oftentimes I’ll use a name of a friend although I try not to for obvious reasons – they may not like the character I’ve name after them. I research names that were popular during a given time frame and try to choose names that haven’t been used in books I’ve lately read. For example, in Stairway To My Heart, Cordelia’s maiden name was to have been Crowley but after watching Downton Abbey I feared that it was too close to the family name of Crawley so I changed Cordelia’s family name to Connor.
Morgen: Downton’s such a big hit. I missed the first series but then started watching the second series and was so hooked that I went out and bought the first series on DVD. I’ve named a short story character after one of my friends (and gave her a promotion) and she loved it. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Marion: My latest work is my best. Over time, and with continued writing, my skills have improved. But there is always editing to be done. I owe my readers the best written works I am capable of producing, therefore, I will do at least three edits on a manuscript – sometimes more if needed.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Marion: Yes. Because my stories are set in different time periods, I want to be as accurate as possible – not only in my descriptions but always in the way my characters speak.
Morgen: It’s important for everything we write to be believable. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Marion: I am most comfortable with the first person point of view. I find that it is easier to express a person’s thoughts and emotions if told in the first person. I have yet to try third person.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see the light of day?
Marion: Heavens, yes! In the early 1990s I wrote several murder mystery games that our circle of friends played and enjoyed. I’ve toyed with the idea of turning these into a series of mysteries but have yet to tackle that project. I might leave them for when I’m sitting on the porch of a retirement home and won’t have to think so hard!
Morgen: You could do them alongside your current project. Sometimes if we get stuck on one thing, it’s useful to have another. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Marion: I started out trying to get an agent to represent me. Sadly, I was rejected because I believe my early novels were too unique and couldn’t be button-holed into a specific genre. While I do think there are certain advantages to having an agent, I see that there are many authors who have made a name for themselves without one.
Morgen: Agents and mainstream publishers do seem to be stuck in a genre groove. More authors are writing cross-genres than ever. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Marion: I now do it all. I am not a salesperson in way, so I find this the most difficult part. However, I write my own press releases and sell sheets. I am always looking for opportunities to get my name in front of potential readers. I have a blog and a newsletter. My website is constantly being updated and I’ve now become a public school speaker talking to students about the importance of reading.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Marion: The same advice I recently gave to middle school aspiring writers: cultivate patience and practice. Patience with yourself when the inspiration is at a low point and practice writing the same sentence or paragraph over and over until it is the best it can be. Also to be a reader, for that’s how you learn to find your own writing voice.
Morgen: Yes. Every writer should be a reader too. If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Marion: There are a handful of those days in each of our lives but for me it would be my wedding day – the day I married my best friend, confidante, and supporter. We’ve just celebrated forty years of marriage and I pray we have many more ahead of us.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Marion: Yes. “Life is not a dress rehearsal” is something that has stayed with me for a long time. We only have one shot at this life so make it the best it can be – every day.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Marion: I recently resigned as a columnist for a small weekly newspaper in the area where I grew up. While I enjoyed the challenge of writing something different I’ve decided to dedicate my endeavors to my novel-writing.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Marion: You mean in addition to my full-time day job? Just joking. But I do have a full-time job as an administrative assistant. Additionally, I like to spend my spare time reading, playing with my three cats, and sharing quiet moments with my hubby.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Marion: My website has all of the information on me and my books – www.marionmarchetto.com – additionally there are links there for following me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Morgen: Thank you, Marion. Delighted to have you join me today.
I then invited Marion to include a sample of her writing and this is an excerpt from Stairway To My Heart…
At last Kevin led me onto the dance floor and waltzed me around the room to the melody of Strauss’s Blue Danube; I noticed smiles on the gentlemen’s faces. It was the countenances of their wives that annoyed me. As Kevin’s wife I would be held responsible for the way society accepted our union. From the bland expressions on the women’s faces it was clear to me that they would only begrudgingly accept my presence in their world. When the dance ended Kevin walked with me to the cluster of our parents. I kept a smile on my face the entire time.
“You look lovely, dear,” momma murmured as she hugged me.
“Took you long enough to make an appearance,” commented Kevin’s mother.
“Mother Newkirk, perhaps I could have a word with you, in private?”
“There’s nothing that can’t be said here, Cordelia.”
“Oh, but I believe there is. I’ll be waiting in the hall.”
I sailed past her and into the hall. A few moments later Fannie Newkirk appeared, looking put out and about to give me a dressing down.
“What seems to be the problem, Cordelia? Is the champagne not to your liking?”
“The champagne is not the problem, Mother Newkirk. You are.”
and a synopsis of the same book…
From the moment Cordelia Conner is born in New York in 1890, her seamstress mother vows her daughter’s life will be far better than hers. She dreams that one day, her daughter will become a lady of quality and marry a wealthy man; she is prepared to dedicate her life to make it happen.
Hundreds of miles away, young Kevin Newkirk is growing up in an influential Boston family. Kevin is accustomed to a life of prestige. But he is also very aware that he is the last male in the line and in need of a suitable wife to provide him with a son. In love with a woman whose heritage is questionable, Kevin has no idea that Cordelia even exists. But when fate brings Kevin and Cordelia together during a weekend at a summer home, Kevin decides she is the answer to his dilemma. Cordelia sees Kevin as the means to fulfil her mother’s burning passion. Their relationship seems destined to be a match made in heaven.
As the young couple marries and establishes their new life, only time will tell if the union between an unlikely pair will survive and create the dynasty their parents dreamed of.
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