1. Tell me about you, Marilyn. Are you married?
I was born in Nottingham (U.K) in February 1951. That makes me proud of two things: sharing a home town with D H Lawrence and being an Aquarian and I’m a typical Aquarian – independent, forward thinking, humanitarian and definitely unconventional!
My father, a man I adored and idolized, was a farmer and I spent my early childhood in a Nottinghamshire country village. I have fond memories of that time in the fifties when the pace of life was much slower (before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and the computer became an essential everyday item!) I enjoyed school and naturally loved reading and writing. The saddest memory I have of those days is the death of my young sister who was born with Down’s Syndrome and only lived for a few months.
We moved to Derbyshire in 1960 when I was nine. I passed the 11+ exam and attended the local Grammar School and then to a College of Education and University where I trained to become a teacher. I taught in Secondary schools for twenty years.
Life, people, cultures all hold a fascination for me. I enjoyed living in the fast lane, looking for adventure and gaining as many experiences as possible. I used the College holidays to take up employment for both money and experience. I was a waitress, a barmaid, a shop assistant, a baby-sitter and I even delivered the Christmas post. Tomorrow is not promised to us, so enjoy today is one of my mottos.
I vaguely remember getting married in 1980; but we all make mistakes! My divorce came through in 1985.
Lisa, you tell me that most of your readers are American and would like to know something about life in England. Well, I have visited and enjoyed the hospitality of some of your Southern States. The one BIG difference between America and here is size. Does size matter? Over here, everything is so much smaller, our buildings, our homes, our schools, our roads, etcetera. The distance between our towns and cities is much less than yours. We are an island and would probably fit into one of your States about 4 times. We just do not have space.
We are now very much a multi-racial society, but Christianity is still our main religion. I live in a street which only has three houses and the other two are occupied by Asians. I joke that I am the ethnic minority here but if I had been told that this would happen back in the 1950’s I would never have believed it.
Our weather seems to be a main topic of conversation and it is something we are never satisfied with. It’s either too hot, too cold, wet or something. We have had two unusually dry winters forcing us into hosepipe bans in March. Since then, we have had rain most days and in abundance resulting in floods in many areas.
One of the best things I feel about England is having a Monarchy. Our Royal Family makes us the envy of many countries in the world. Our country is steeped in traditions and when we put on a show it is for the world to see and we do it in style! This year we have celebrated our Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and we are hosting the Olympics. Last year, Prince William married Kate and the rest of the world joined in our party.
On the music scene, you Americans, have Elvis and Graceland but we have the Beatles and Cliff. I remember the ‘swinging sixties’ over here, a magic time when suddenly after the austerity of the post-war years we seemed to have everything and life was really good.
Finally, our Government! We have two main parties, Conservative and Labor and our elections are every five years. Like you, we are never satisfied with whichever party is in power and they will always blame the previous government for the mess they left behind.
2. How did you get started in writing and what’s your genre and why?
I have always wanted to write. As a child I loved reading and writing. Reading is a form of escapism. Stories will transport you to mysterious, magic and unknown pastures. I loved that. I always wanted to write a book! Some people write short stories, others poetry, but for me it has always been fiction and books. I have done a few articles when requested for specific things, but not many.
I completed a writing course in the 1980’s but it was not until early retirement from teaching that I was able to really start writing. I decided on a book which I thought would be suitable for the Millennium, Time & Tide. It was a family saga from 1950-2000 with one of the characters keeping a diary of the social and historical events of the period. I described it as a ‘two in one’ and expected a mainstream publisher to be delighted with my idea and offer me a publishing contract. Alas! I was so naive in those days! I learned that it was extremely difficult to get into mainstream publishing and decided to take the self-publishing route. On my 50th birthday in February 2001 I proudly launched Time & Tide in a West Bromwich Shopping Mall. No Regrets followed in May 2003.
Then, Stay in Touch in 2005 and on September 16th 2007 at Slaithwaite in Yorkshire I launched my fourth work, Look After Each Other. My fourth book was taken on by Strategic Book Publishing, and is now available in hardback from them. On December 28th, 2010 they released the sequel to Look After Each Other. It is Sofia’s Legacy.
My genre is loosely contemporary women’s fiction/spiritualism. All of my books are different. My first, Time & Tide is a saga/history. My second, No Regrets is written in a diary format and follows the life and times of Joanna, newly divorced, teacher through 1986; a kind of comedy chic-lit. Stay in Touch is a black comedy. Christabelle and Lucy arrange to meet on Sheffield station 15 years after leaving school. Neither of them realize that what transpires as a result of this first meeting will change their lives forever.
My last two books are in the spiritualism category and the first two of a trilogy although when I began Look After Each Other I wasn’t even sure if I had enough material for one book never mind three. It just shows how things can develop in writing. I had an unfortunate encounter with a man called Derek who seemed to spend his entire life complaining and finding fault; I tried linking this experience with two others in my life, namely, my strong relationship with my father and my experience with clairvoyance. On completing the book I realized that there were many unanswered questions, in fact enough to write a sequel, Sofia’s Legacy.
What What is your favorite thing to do on your off time?
‘Off time’ is an interesting concept. I do not have a set routine for work because I work best when in inspirational mood. If I am not feeling creative there is very little point in my making an attempt at writing. I like to think of every day as a holiday because that way life is a much more enjoyable experience.
I obviously enjoy reading and love escaping with a good book. I like sitting down in front of the television and watching films, documentaries and ‘soaps’ amongst other things. Like so many people these days, I spend a lot of time on the computer and enjoy games and chat on FB. Have I just admitted to that?
I have two real treats each week. On a Monday afternoon I visit a local library where they give tea and cakes to the Over 55’s. I meet with a great group of people and we have a good chat and laugh. I was really pleased when they read my books and liked them. I think that is what we all aim for as writers, to have our humble offerings appreciated. On this point I would like to impress on your readers the importance of visiting libraries to keep them alive. Many people still have the concept of libraries as quiet places with books and large notices saying ‘Silence’ everywhere. Please, if you have not visited a library recently, pop along and have a look. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. Like everything else the libraries have changed their image. They now have CD’s, computers and various activities. Help save them from closure!
My other weekly treat is a trip to the Sandwell Valley Country Park and Farm on a Friday. I have, weather permitting, a stroll around the Ice House Pool or the Swan Pool and then have lunch at the cafe in the Farm. Sometimes, I’ll have another stroll around the gardens or sit down with an ice cream and enjoy the sun. Sadly, there have not been any of the latter occasions yet this summer.
In the winter months I spend some time in Cyprus, an island I love. I have in the past sixty years visited many places but in more recent years I have been happy thinking of Cyprus as my second or winter home.
4. Tell me about your new book
The book I am working on is, Love You Forever. It is the final book of my trilogy where all the outstanding questions regarding Derek, Miranda, Charles Urquart-Latterley are answered. As usual, the ending is all ready written. I always write my ending FIRST; I know this is an unorthodox method of working but it works for me!
The ‘Sofia’ trilogy is about a young housewife and mother who is also under the thumb of a control-freak, Derek. She visits a clairvoyant in the hope of finding that there will be a better future for her. In fact, what she learns from the reading, changes both her life and character. She thinks she only has a few months left to live and intends enjoying every moment. She focuses on her children, gives herself a mantra for support and makes a ‘do-or-die’ list of all she wants to do before she dies. She has lost all her self-confidence and become an isolated individual feeling like a prisoner in her home which she has named, Haslington Towers. Her first step forward is to buy a new ‘confidence’ lipstick. She develops a positive nature and turns her life around.
In the second book, Sofia’s Legacy, Sofia has died, but was it as she expected? Well, sorry but you will have to read Look After Each Other to find out! In the sequel, we find out about the Sofia in the afterlife while, simultaneously, life carries on at Haslington Towers. We see how those ‘upstairs’ work with those left ‘downstairs’, either helping them along or causing mischief!
And the third book? Wait and see!
I love all of the books I have written and think of them as my ‘babies’. I live with all of the characters I create, I interact with them so that they, hopefully, come across to the reader as ‘real’. My favorite characters and book is always the one I’m working on. I, also, always read my work out aloud and save it as I go on three different discs. There’s safety in numbers.
5. Do you work with a critique partner or are you in any writing groups for support?
The short answer is, No! I work alone until I reach the publishing stage. When my work is complete I always leave it for a few months and then look at it again with a fresh approach. I then do additional editing before sending the ms to an editor. I rely on the editor’s final judgement.
I think one thing that new writers do not realize is that it is far easier to write a book than it is to promote or market it. In the present economical situation and digital age, people are just not buying books in the same way that they once did. Many independent bookstores have been forced to either close their doors or diversify to survive. Borders have disappeared. In the UK Waterstones have taken over Ottakars and the only other main bookstore is WHSmith. The majority of books are bought from supermarkets or online and usually at knock down prices.
I take every opportunity I can to promote and sell my work. I belong to the New Writers UK group. This group gives its members the opportunity to visit Book Fayres and Festivals, give readings from their books and sell them.
Lisa, I know you are waiting to publish your first book; I wish you and every other new author success in this difficult area. If I can be of any help to you or your readers, please email me. We have to help each other in this writing game.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
My blog is http://lookaftereachother.blogspot.com
My publisher’s websites are www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/SofiasLegacy.html
You Tube http://youtu.be/BxLUMUCjAsU
You may also find my books at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble and other Internet sites.
You may also GOOGLE me at Marilyn L Rice author. I often do that to see what I am doing!
I hope you have all enjoyed reading this and if you would care to leave a comment or question I will be giving ONE copy of my second book, No Regrets for a competition draw from all comments received.
Thank you, Lisa for having me as your guest this week.
Thank you so much, it's been wonderful getting to know you better and find out a few things about living in England. I have always wanted to go there and now when I do, I will have someone to have tea with. Take care and may you have success with your writing and books!
Don't for get to leave Marilyn and comment. I am sure she would love to hear from you!
Have a great weekend, Lisa