I want to welcome Marilyn Gardiner. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
I’ve been writing nearly all my life. My first novel was written under the covers, at night, with a flashlight. I was eight years old. I still have my handwritten notes and to my horror the plot sounds a lot like Anne of Green Gables! I have been printed in every kind of magazine, newspaper and publishing house you can think of, starting out with children’s stories and inspirational pieces. My husband is a minister, and we have two grown daughters, five grandchildren and five greats. I live across the street from the library, which makes it convenient to always have books on hand. I rarely leave the house without a book in hand, and there are books in every room in my house.
More about me can be found on my webpage: www.booksbymarilyn.com
Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release was a story about a wagon train going west along the
Oregon Trail. Comanche Moon won
first place in the latest EPIC contest—historical romance category. I love to
do research and writing. This book was a joy. I also have another historical
romance: Like A River My Love. The setting was on the Ohio River in 1778,
traveling with George Rogers Clark to Kaskaskia in Illinois. I was born and raised in that
country, and writing about it was like reliving my childhood.
Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.
1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
I find it hard to pick one favorite villain. I want my villains to be complex, with both faults (some truly horrific) and a compassionate streak of some sort. Humans are a bewildering mix of experience, temptations, challenges and decisions…villains more than others. Villains are fascinating to me.
2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
My favorite character in my own work is Jenny, the heroine in Comanche Moon. She is faced with enormous problems and feels inadequate to cope with them. She has no choice, however, there is no one else to take charge of her little daughter and herself. She grows, rather she matures, out of sheer necessity, kicking and screaming all the way, but she emerges as a strong and capable young woman – and she finds love in the bargain.
3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write in whatever genre my story chooses. I have two historical romances, a four-book series of romantic suspense, one inspirational, several action-packed mysteries and two classified as “women’s literature.”
4.) What are you working on now?
Right now I am finishing the rewrite on the story of a coal mining disaster in
and how the lives of an entire valley were forever changed. Title: Thine Is The
Kingdom, a symbol for the mine tipple which dominates the entire valley and the
lives of the people who live there in a thousand ways.
Then, I have another finished book waiting for me to correct. Night Travelers is the story of four women, in four generations, living under one roof all summer. Each has her own problems and solves them in her individual way, yet at the bottom of their soul they are surprised to find they are much alike.
5.) What got you to start writing?
As I said before I was very young when I began to write. When I was about ten my grandmother informed the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) that one day I was going to write all the books she never could. She only had a sixth grade education, but was an avid reader. Sometimes I think I write for her. I often have a grandmother in my books. Cicada Summer is my latest short story, available as a download through Amazon—cheap, cheap, cheap. Grandma Livvy is one of the central characters in this story.
6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
From life. My own experiences and what I hear or read about. Television, newspapers, conversations that I have had and those I’ve only overheard. Every word I hear is grist for my writing mill. I research a lot and have been in an unimproved cave, where the worst thing was having to crawl beneath a low ceiling and not knowing what I was putting my hands in on the floor! For another book I had to know what the banks of a large river looked like and what it felt like to be on a river, in Like A River…so I pleaded with a nephew to take me out in his boat and took a ton of notes. I’ve traveled extensively in
Great Britain, and in Jamaica, and all over the U.S.
Often I have put myself in danger wanting to know what was going on. Fires, tornados,
floods, etc. My husband gets quite upset with me. Having grown up with my
curiosity, my children take it for granted.
7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
I live a very ordinary life. I have flown an airplane (with the pilot beside me), I have sung, sometimes professionally, since I was twelve years old. My best friend was my accompanist for many years, and we had a lot of fun. Music and writing/reading are the two passions in my life. I enjoy knitting. Although the first sweater I knitted was for my husband and one sleeve somehow grew three inches longer than the other one! My husband and I have taken in too many troubled teenagers to count, for various lengths of time. I am profoundly grateful to have been a solid presence in the lives of young people who had very little or no stability at all in their lives.
8.) Do you have any special talents?
Music and writing are, I think, all I know. I was a secretary for the years my husband was in school. That was four years of college, plus a couple more while working for two Masters degrees and a PhD. I gathered many experiences during those years, most of which show up in my books.
9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
A speaker at a conference once told me…”White! Write! Write! Hell, in the teeth of the storm, write. Success comes from applying the seat of the pants to the chair!” I have taken that advice seriously. I keep regular office hours. And I take my writing seriously. It isn’t a hobby, it is my passion, and I respect it.
10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d love to talk with Ghandi, with some of the women in the Bible, with Harper Lee, Maya Angelou…with so many people who have been effective in the lives of others—and Wilbur Smith, a fabulous word-smith.
11.) What song would you say describes your life?
“As Time Goes By.” I am at that point in my life where the years seem to fly by at warp speed. I’ll never live long enough to write all the books that are in my head.
12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?I can’t make up my mind between an elephant and a hummingbird. Basically for the same reason. Because of their size they enjoy total freedom.
Spring has come early along the Oregon Trail. Jenny Nation, her husband and five-year-old daughter are only three weeks into the trip by wagon train when Daniel is killed. Frozen in grief and fear, Jenny must make up her mind whether to press on with the train or turn around and go back to Independence. She chooses to go on, knowing she’ll have to drive the wagon alone, care for the oxen, hunt for food, and possibly fight Indians. Through stultifying heat, terrifying storms, walking beside the oxen, a buffalo stampede, and the kidnapping of her daughter by the Comanches, Jenny refuses to give up. “Every step brings me closer to Oregon,” she tells herself, over and over again. Jenny somehow finds romance with the train’s guide, Zane Thatcher. To keep Jenny—a lone woman—from being thrown off the train as a burden, Zane agrees to be responsible for her. However, it isn’t easy because Jenny insists on being independent and they argue at every juncture. In spite of it all, she faces the challenges of the trail with growing confidence, courage, and humor. “Every step…Oregon. Every step…”