He flicked black hair from his eyes and straightened his bowtie. He could feel the heat rising from his collar and hoped he wasn’t blushing. Blushing would not be dignified. And he wanted dignity, perhaps even a little presence, when interviewing Marie Ann Bailey, writer and blogger extraordinaire at 1WriteWay.
D: Nothing about that is dignified, A.
A: Well, I’m not the one who wanted to present Marie with a bouquet of flowers.
D: Impossible woman. Is there something wrong with trying to impress a lady? She was gracious enough to allow me to interview her, again. Sheesh. Some people.
Without further ado (or interruptions from A), please welcome Marie Ann Bailey.
D: Give those who may not know about your series, The Widows Club, a quick snapshot:
M: The series is about three cousins who grew up together, went slightly separate ways when they married, and then regrouped when all three become widows. And all three cousins are in dire financial straits with few marketable skills, so they get the idea to set up their own private investigation business. The business leads them into interesting but dangerous adventures such as kidnapping and murder.
D: By the way, how is Brittany? She and I met briefly, if I recall. I hope the poor girl makes it.
M: Well, I would be giving it away if I told you, D. Let’s just say, at this point in the draft, she survives, but barely 🙂
D: Oh, I forgot about A’s favorite word: Spoilers. Of course – and thank you for the update. I shall continue to hope for her.
D: How did you meet the lovely Mary, Melissa and Maggie? Have you known them all your life, or did they knock down your door, demanding to be written?
They gave me insomnia, to be honest. The thing is, I do have a lot of cousins and many of us are close in age so we spent a lot of time together when we were growing up. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the difference between the relationships one has with their families and their friends. One of my cousins often said, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.” Lovely sentiment, don’t you think? Anyway, one night I couldn’t sleep because these three women kept popping into my head. I got up and wrote a page or two, and then the next I knew it was October 31 and I had decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I took those two pages and ran with it … whatever “it” is.
D: I think “it” sounds fantastic so far. I’m looking forward to A reading it someday soon!
D: I have it on good authority that you are indeed the Great Cat Rescuer: how many and do they all get along? Any cuddly stories for the cat fanciers out there (you know who you are)?
M: Do you like cats, D? I imagine you as more of a timber wolf kind of guy 🙂
D: Ah, timber wolves, wolfhounds and mastiffs . . . those are my kind of animals, but cats do have their uses, I suppose.
M: Right now we have four cats, which is the most we’ve ever had indoors. Two of the cats, though, Maxine and Junior are indoor/outdoor because they do stay close to the house and it helps the dynamics if they are not indoors 24/7. Maxine is a b**ch because she wants to be the “only kitty” and doesn’t really like to share. She’s not above tormenting the old lady (Luisa). She tries to give Junior a wide berth because he enjoys beating up on her.
The good news is our most recent “rescue”, Wendy, is generally getting along with everyone now. We think Wendy has a crush on Junior, the only male of the bunch. He’s quite rambunctious and likes to play and run around. The last few nights they’ve taken to running up and down our hallway for several minutes. You know, right when we’re ready to go to sleep. That’s when they like to play. As soon as lights are out. It makes me feel very old, like Wendy is our late-in-life child.
D: I can relate – A makes me feel like that sometimes. Speaking of which, do you have a least favorite character within your series – or any other novel-in-progress?
M: I’m struggling with Melissa, one of the cousins. I’ve become very fond of Maggie and Mary, but Melissa is turning out to be a challenge. All three women have their flaws of course. Maggie is a bit too reticent and trusting. Mary is headstrong and acts before she thinks. But Melissa has some issues with her cousins that frustrate me. She has some deep-seated issues stemming from childhood that are only now starting to surface and create rifts between her and her cousins. The upside is that their conflicts drive some of the plots in the series; the downside is I have to keep my eye on Melissa, try to make sure she doesn’t go off the deep end and ruin everything (as in, I will no longer have a story to tell).
D: Following on that, do you have any methods you use to keep troublesome characters in line?
M: Well, to be honest, D, I was thinking of asking A how she keeps you in line. Wait, not that I mean you are troublesome! Please don’t scowl at me, D. It makes you look your age. No, let’s just say you are very independent.
Anyway, it’s still a mystery to me how to control a character who starts developing issues, like Melissa. I don’t want her to ruin the relationship with her cousins because then their story would end. But she needs to work through what is bugging her. I’m hoping we resolve things in the third novel. It’s almost like I have to be her counselor and try to nudge her toward making better decisions. Easier said than done, though.
A: It is rather like being a counselor . . . and ‘independent’ is a good – much nicer than I would use – word for D. Of course, I do let him get away with anything, within reason. Later, I kill the darlings when he’s not looking.
D: A! How could you?
D: Well, I never . . . Marie, If you were to find yourself alone in the world as your characters in The Widow’s Club are, how would you face that challenge?
M: Oh, dear, if you mean, if I found myself as a widow? I hate to admit that it’s crossed my mind and perhaps to some extent, that’s why all three women are widows. My husband is several years older than me and statistically . . . (D, I know you think you’re an exception, but you do just exist in A’s mind) . . . Anyway, some of my female friends and I have discussed the possibility of moving in together if we should become widowed. Although I doubt that any of us would want to start a private investigation business. Actually, Maggie and Melissa don’t like the PI business. Just Mary does. She’s nosy.
D: Nothing wrong with nosy – I would have very little to do if A weren’t a bit of a nosy madam herself. Speaking of nosey, A’s friend once knit her a nose warmer. Are all knitters mad or is it just A? What has been your favorite piece to knit?
M: What? Knitters aren’t mad. Hatters are mad. I imagine that where A lives, a nose warmer would be a nice thing to have. For a while, I was knitting a lot of socks. I learned how to knit two at a time, toe-up, and made a few. I made my husband a pair of wool knee socks that have Aran cables on the sides. Those were fun. I want to knit more socks, but right now I’m knitting a shawl. Shawls are my next favorite things to knit. I pretty much like to knit anything I don’t have to sew together.
D: You are a huge advocate for NaNoWriMo – any plans for November? Do you have any future stories you’d like to share?
M: I love NaNoWriMo! Thanks to last November’s challenge, and the camps in April and July, I now have three (poorly written) first drafts for my series. I will be participating again this November. I’m not sure what I will do, but I’d like to write another horror novel. My very first NaNoWriMo was in 2007 and that was a horror novel, and my very first novel actually. The first two chapters of it received the Featured Post badge from the Community Storyboard. I hadn’t looked at the novel in so long; now I’m thinking of editing it to see if I can make something more of it. But in November, I’ll have to come up with something else. Unfortunately, I’m a pantser so I probably won’t know what I’m doing until I start doing it 😉
D: You are a versatile writer – as your blog, and your work on the Community Storyboard proves – do you find that helpful overall when writing a series, or can it be a distraction?
M: Why thank you for saying I’m versatile, D. I’ve never really thought about it before. Aside from the wonderful community of bloggers and the Community Storyboard, all this writing is helpful because it gets me to write. The more I write, the quicker ideas come to me, the faster I write, the more productive I am. Before my blog, I could go for long periods without writing. And actually I was fairly convinced that I didn’t have it in me to be a writer. Blogging has changed all that.
The only distraction now is just trying to keep up with everyone else who blogs. I could spend days and days just reading other blogs. There is so much good stuff out here! And that’s why it’s really great that you are doing these interviews, D. You need to get out A’s head now and then (and give her a break).
D: A break?! The woman takes enough breaks. She needs to work harder! Do more!
A: D? Come back, D. Your dictatorial tendencies are showing.
D: Oh dear, I don’t know where that came from. Anyway, continuing on your versatility, is there any genre that you would love to explore more? Why?
M: I would like to explore writing a memoir. I have a very poor memory of my childhood, which may be a blessing, but I still want to write what I remember of it and of the people in my life. I think writing a memoir could be cathartic in a way that writing fiction is not, even though a memoir may border on fiction. It would be a way for me to preserve the memory of people I’ve known, people who should not be forgotten.
D: Say, how is Mary doing? Do you think she’s really ready for commitment with that ‘old friend?’ Don’t you think she could spice up her life with a little Druid love? Please?
M: Hmmm … Druid Love. Sounds like a good name for a rock band. Tell you what, D. Mary is … well, has become intimate with her old friend, but that doesn’t mean you two can’t have a date together. I know she would find you very interesting … and her late husband was quite a bit older than her so, you know, she likes older guys. Have a talk with A. Maybe she’ll let you out for an evening. And thanks for the interview. You were quite (surprisingly) the gentleman.
D: And you madam, are ever the treat to have on this space. Thank you for gracing it again and chatting with me.
A: Yes, thank you Marie for giving D another chance! It was such a pleasure to have you here! And PS: I love that you knit Aran cables on socks – they sound really cute! Now everyone, go check out 1WriteWay, Marie’s blog! You won’t be sorry!