Blog Tour Exclusive with Trailblazer, Marianne K. Martin
I would like to thank the wonderfully talented author, Sally Bellerose, for tagging me for this blog tour. If you have not read Sally’s book, The Girl’s Club, you are missing a real treat. I am anxiously awaiting the release of her next book, Fish Wives, which she describes as “old ladies behaving badly”. Yes, this is going to be a good one.
As for my therapy, or I mean, my own writing process, here you go:
1. What am I working on?
Actually, I have just finished Tangled Roots, which is the prequel to a book I wrote ten years ago, Under the Witness Tree. The characters from that book, especially a tiny ninety + year old black woman named Nessie, just stayed in my mind all those years. I kept wondering what her life would have been like growing up in Georgia in the early 1900’s. What were her hopes and dreams, and her challenges. And then I wondered about her best friend, Anna, whose family once owned the land that Nessie’s family worked as slaves. What were Anna’s challenges? How were they different from Nessie’s? What would have happened if Anna fell in love with Nessie? I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading and researching and asking questions of Southern history teachers. And then I became angry. The more I wrote about their lives and their struggles, the more I questioned just how far we have come.
2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?
This book, like a number of others I’ve written, doesn’t fall cleanly into a single genre. The amount of plot devoted to a love relationship is not usual to general fiction, and the amount dedicated to social issues affecting their lives is not common to the romance genre – a result of my allowing the balance to find its own level as each story unfolds. So, I don’t know that I can claim a genre, only stories that fall where they may.
And the story always begins when I ask ‘what if’. What if a seventeen-year-old lesbian fights for custody of her young siblings? What if two of your close lesbian friends are murdered in a hate crime? What if your teaching job could be terminated if your sexuality was exposed? What if…
3. Why do I write what I do?
I’ve always joked that on a teacher’s salary writing was my only affordable therapy. But, that is more true than not. Growing up during a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness, and choosing a career in one of the most closeted professions, offered me very few times when I was free to be myself. And I knew that I wasn’t alone. By writing I’ve been able to talk about our hopes and dreams and struggles, to show our lives as they are, and to explore how we hope them to be. Therapy, yes it is that. And if what I write also offers affirmation or empowerment, or in some way lifts up someone else, then I feel even better.
4. How does my writing process work?
I am most productive in my writing process when I can tuck myself away in a booth in a neighborhood restaurant with a supply of Pepsi refills and surrounded by white noise. There are no unfinished projects or daily household tasks staring at me every time I look up, and my mind is free to explore the world of my characters. In the summer I love to write outside, or in the pool, for the same reasons. I just have to be sure to mow the yard before I sit down.
I always write out the first draft in longhand and am constantly tracking down scraps of paper, envelopes, napkins, even pieces of wood with scribbled notes on them. I do my first self-edit as I type the manuscript into the computer, then print it out and work from the hard copy for further editing. I always work most efficiently from a hard copy.
Up next I would like to introduce you to two fantastic writers, Sandra Moran and Ann McMan.
Sandra Moran is an exciting new voice, knowledgeable and mature. I loved her highly regarded debut novel, Letters Never Sent, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. I am realy looking forward to reading her new novel, Nudge.
Sandra Moran is an author and assistant adjunct professor of anthropology at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.
A native Kansan, she has worked professionally as a newspaper journalist, a political speech writer, and an archaeological tour manager. In her novels, she strives to create flawed characters struggling to find themselves within the cultural constructs of gender, religion and sexuality.
She is the author of Letters Never Sent and Nudge. The Addendum, a companion piece to Nudge will be released in July 2014. Her next novel, All That We Lack is scheduled for release in Winter 2014.
You can find Sandra’s books at http://bink.bedazzledink.com
Ann McMan is the author of four novels, Jericho, Dust, Aftermath, and Hoosier Daddy, and the story collections Sidecar and Three. In 2011, she joined Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company, which published the Golden Crown Literary Society Award finalists Jericho, Dust, and Aftermath, and the Goldie-winning Sidecar. Hoosier Daddy, coauthored with Salem West, is a finalist for a 2014 Lambda Literary Award.
Other honors include induction into The Royal Academy of Bards Hall of Fame, the Alice B. Lavender Certificate for Outstanding Debut Novel, and numerous Rainbow Awards and Readers Choice Awards. Ann was one of 25 emerging authors invited to write an introductory essay for the Lambda Literary Foundation’s 25 for 25: An Anthology of Works by 25 Outstanding LGBT Authors and Those They Inspired. Bywater Books will publish her newest book, Backcast, in 2015. She and her wife, reviewer Salem West, live in central North Carolina with their three dogs, two cats, and an exhaustive supply of vacuum cleaner bags.