Friday, September 4, 2009

Interview with Author Mary Malcolm

I want to welcome Mary Malcolm, debut author of DINER GIRL, as one of my September authors of the month. Mary is a fellow Texan lady, and one I've had the pleasure of meeting and knowing in person. She also has a wonderful way with words (which um, is always important being an author and all, but seriously! The first page of DINER GIRL snagged me, I had to get a copy!)

P.S. -- There is a book giveaway at the end of this interview!

Thanks, Mary, for letting me pick your brain!

No problem! I love to have my brain picked. Not my nose, though, I don't know you well enough yet for that. Give me a few years, I might change my mind. *grin*

First up, how long have you been in the writing biz?

When I was twelve my family moved me from beautiful, cool, so urban Kent Washington to a farm in the middle no where Arkansas . Actually, the town was named Leslie and I miss it now, but at twelve, I was not a fan. No close neighbors, no one close to my age up on the mountain (yes, we lived eleven miles up a mountain. Talk about making it harder to sneak out of a bedroom window). So, I decided to write a book. It was about a girl who moved to a farm because her family did not love her. *grin* She lived with her Aunt Jenny, met a boy over the fence when the family bull broke out, and learned to love the place just in time for her family to move her again. *lol* I have No idea where that book is now, but I'm So tempted to try to recreate it.


Was DINER GIRL your first completed novel? Tell us about the story!

DINER GIRL was my first completed adult, romance novel. I actually wrote the first chapter while dating a doctor a year and a half before I wrote the rest of the book. I didn't know I had an entire book in me and I took a creative writing class with Von Jocks at Tarrant County Community College South East Campus (plug out to the very amazing Ms. Jocks). Finished that first semester, then DINER GIRL popped out within three weeks that summer.

It's about a young woman, Jennifer, who finds herself having to depend on a stranger, Mark, when she's used to being completely self sufficient. They spend one very sexy and very wonderful night together and then doubt kicks in. She finds out she's pregnant, thinks he's in a relationship and decides not to tell him about the baby.

Mark, of course, does everything in his power to win Jennifer's love, make a family and keep the three of them together. Her independence and his desire for a deep love and a family of his own are what keep them together and ultimately push them apart.

This book is so meaningful to me. The characters are ultimately really great people, something important to me in a romance novel, and Mark is just one of those guys who you really want to wrap your arms around and smother in kisses. Totally my kind of guy. Jennifer, on the other hand, is just so freakin' independent. She is completely bent on doing things her way, on finding her own path. That's what makes her awesome.


What is your outlook on Contemporary Romance as a genre, and where do you think its market is headed to?

Questions like that are so tough. I love Contemporary Romance. I think there will always be a place for it in the market, but I can see that its popularity fizzles from time to time. It's been fizzled for the past year or so, not as many being bought, and the authors being bought not making as much as they should.

I'm not sure if that's from the writing, or the stories being bought, or perhaps just people being pulled into different things. Personally, I think it's up for a big comeback Very soon.. With life being so hard on so many people, I can't imagine much better than being able to read some funny, Contemporary Romance and step away from the bills and crying babies, and possible eviction notices...even if just for a few hours.

I had an agent tell me that people aren't buying it because it's too close to real life. Right now they want the fantasy. They want the vampires, representative of things they have no control over, they want to read things that don't remind them of the stuff they're dealing with at home.

I disagree. I think people like to read about individuals being faced with their same challenges, and coming out ahead. I can totally see a place for someone who is struggling in their life to pick up a book that's close to what they're struggling with, feel attached to the characters and feel they too can make it out in the end.

*phew* That was a very long answer! In short, Contemporary Romance, good. Market's going to pick up. People Will read Mary Malcolm. Read Mary Malcolm. Read Mary Malcolm. Just kidding. But do. Read me. *grin*

What was the experience like working with Cindy Davis, your editor at The Wild Rose Press?

Oh! Cindy Davis is the bomb. She's so great at asking the questions that I think readers would ask. As a writer, it's nice to have someone point out, "Hey, I don't think a woman would do that here" and you having to come up with a reasonable answer as to why she would. The other amazing thing, she didn't try to change my story.

I had another house look at it, another editor. She wanted me to change so many things that I felt were essential to the story. I'm so glad I didn't do it. DINER GIRL is personal to me, and I think the right audience will find it is personal to them, as well. And Thank You, Thank You Cindy Davis for seeing the story inside and helping tell it in ways that make it more accessible. Such a great experience.

As someone who is eagerly pushing me to join the RWA (which I'm so planning to when I get the moola!) tell us the benefits of being in a group like this?

As a national organization, Romance Writers of America has the largest membership of pre-published to well-published industry members of Any writing organization in the US , and most certainly the world. We have writers from across all Genres’ join because of the amazing benefits offered (seriously, James Patterson and Barry Eisler are both members. So totally not romance writers). It's not just about Romance. It's about building one's career as an author. From knowledge building workshops, to marketing tools, insider information on publishers and agents, contests, conferences, and possibly the largest networking mega-frame out there, RWA offers writers from every level a chance to build their careers and grow in this sometimes impossible industry.

On a more personal note, if you step outside of RWA as a national organization, one of the biggest perks are the local organizations. I'm a member of North Texas Romance Writers of America. We meet on the Third Saturday of every month at La Hacienda Ranch in Colleyville Texas (another shout out). What makes this organization so terrific, and specifically, NTRWA, is that you Meet people just like you. At any given level in your career, you will find your writing soul mates in these chapters. These are people struggling, succeeding, growing, changing the face of writing...and you have a chance to hug their necks and pick their brains any time you want.

I believe the only reason I am published today is the support, the love, the push and ego boosting these people give me. I wish Everyone had a group like this. I would Highly recommend RWA for writers of every genre and at every level in their careers. It is an investment, but it is worth it when you realize what you get out of it in return.

What is your writing work-day like? How do you plot and organize?

*snicker* P-plot?? *snicker* O-o-organize?? *lol*

My writing day consists of me going to my daily (night shift) job and making it my priority to do Something writerly every stinkin’ night. So, some nights it’s editing, some nights it’s writing, some nights its reading up on industry, or coming up with lists of agents and publishers I think would be interested in my current work. I’m trying like heck to finish my current work-in-progress before November, so right now my writing day is me working like crazy to get out the word count that will get me there.

Okay, as for plotting and organizing, actually, I am a pantser through and through. Not everyone is. I do organize my writing; I just do it in a way that does not plot out the story ahead of time. Um...how to explain...I write from a three-act structure. I know where everything is supposed to hit. Knowing this, I can create parts of the stories and weave them together following the three act structure, rather than an actual plotting grid.

This is best for me. I know a lot Lot of people who say the characters do not actually tell the story, the author does...and while I agree with them, it is only so I don't have rocks thrown at me. *grin* I enjoy thinking through situations as they fall on paper. Do you remember those Adventure novels from when you were a kid? Pick Your Own Adventure, or something like that?? That's what my writing is like. To make heroine kiss hero, turn to page 23, to make her fall into a pit of mud and break her pinky, meeting the cute doctor at the hospital, turn to page 16.

Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but I like having that freedom. Part of the fun for me is knowing the story can go in So many different directions. Ultimately, because I follow a general structure, it gets where it needs to go.

I just don't always know where that is at the beginning.

Are you currently working on anything else? If so, can you tell us about it?

Oh So Fabulous! I'm working on a novel named FIRST DATE KATE. Totally awesome name, right?? FIRST DATE KATE is a romance columnist who dates guys from the personals section of her paper and then rates them on a scale of Dud to Stud. Everything is going along great until one of the duds fights back and her matchmaking editor talks her into a series of five dates. Definitely not something someone named First Date Kate would be excited about. *grin* You all will Love it. Think, "How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days" meets "Fifty First Dates." So Much Fun. This is my new favorite book and I can't wait to share it with the world.

(LOVE that title!) How can people find you? Do you have a website?

Yes! www.marymalcolm.com You can find links to buy Diner Girl, as well as excerpts from the first chapter. I love to hear from people, so please feel free to drop me a line. Also, I would LOVE to give away a paperback copy of DINER GIRL to someone reading this blog. Just send an e-mail to me at: mary@marymalcolm.com and let me know you found me on ChristaCarol's blog. You'll have up to two weeks after this interview is posted to send the e-mail, but, sadly, only one person will be chosen. Thank you so much for having me, ChristaCarol, and thank you all for stopping by!

12 comments:

  1. Awesome interview! I really want to join the RWA, but like you, Christa, I just can't swing the cash. It would be great though!

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  2. Hah, I used to LOVE those Choose Your Own Adventure books. And I think like that often when I'm writing too. :)

    Great interview, ladies!

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  3. Great interview! I particularly loved the contemporary romance answer. There's always a market for great books, no matter the genre!

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  4. Thanks guys! Mary is a blast and as you can tell, really fun to interview! Sarah, Mary has talked me into visiting her local chapter at one of their meetings. I may end up forking it over sooner than I thought!

    And Tracy, I totally agree with that.

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  5. fabulous interview Mary! !

    Funny you should mention living 11 miles up a mountain I just got back from a side trip to Wyoming and kept asking myself as I drove across the continental divide "Why do people live out here?" lol.

    I've already ordered my copy of Diner Girl and can hardly wait to get started on it!

    Chris K

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  6. This has been so fun. I'm truly enjoying this more than I ever imagined possible. Thank you guys for commenting! Sraasch, I know you should be able to visit your local RWA chapter for free at least twice before forking over the dough, might be something to look into...free is nice!

    Sunna, I used to Live on those books. *lol* I still have a couple, I play with them now and again just because they are so much fun.

    Thanks for stopping by, Tracy! I'm with you, I think where there is great writing, there Will be an audience. If my books only got read by one other person, I'd be thrilled. Not as thrilled as with millions, but just the idea that someone else has read the thing that was inside me makes me incredibly happy.

    Thanks, Chris K! Actually, I Hated that stupid mountain when we lived on it...and now every time my job bugs me, I think about how nice it would be to disappear up a mountain somewhere and live off the land. I miss our house, the garden, the land...but not the chickens. Them I did not like.

    Thank you all for coming out! I know I said I'd offer a free copy to someone who e-mails me, but I'll make sure and extend that to people who comment on here as well. I'll hunt you down, somehow. Thank you all so much!

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  7. Great interview!

    ChristaCarol, I love that you're doing such awesome interviews with writer, and encouraging us to go out and buy their books. Because really, who can read these interviews and NOT want to go out and read more from the authors?

    Mary, I'm so happy for you that your book has been released. I know it's a big milestone in a writer's life, and Ever So Cool. I can't wait to read it!

    I'll also second the awesomeness that is the NTRWA. They are a great group of ladies (and men! it's not exclusive!). They give amazing inspiration and support to keep writing. And they write fun books!

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  8. Great interview, of a *fantastic* writer. I love that the interview actually manages to capture "Mary" so well.

    Oh, and Christa, do join NT. We're not all as fabo as Mary, but we try. :)

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  9. I so agree about the local chapter thing, it's like you have a family and then you have your writing family with your chapter. They get what you are doing. How cool is that?

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  10. Mary! Your personality just shines right through. Nicely done. And sraasch and Christa, c'mon out and hang with us NTers. I didn't join for a long time either, but have loved every minute of it since I have.

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  11. Great interview, and thanks for picking Mary's brain. I've known her several years, and found out new things today -- always nice!

    Drop by the NTRWA meeting, Mary's group, any 3rd Saturday of the month. We always love visitors.

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  12. AND THE WINNER IS:::

    SUNNA!

    Thank you all for posting such great comments. This was more fun than I could have imagined and I'm truly glad to have gotten to participate! so, Sunna, send me your address and I will pop your book in the mail!

    Thank you all again and I wish you the best!

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