Before we left for China, I discovered a great author, but it wasn’t until we returned home I was really able to seriously dig in to her books. She writes with courage. Her stories are fresh, deep and real. The more I’ve learned about writing fiction, the more discriminating I’ve become about what I read, but Mary’s books never disappoint.
After several of her titles published, Mary felt the itch to bring to publication the very first novel she penned. It’s called The Quarryman’s Wife. (I’ll review it here next week.)
Mary graciously agreed to be interviewed here at enCouragement. It’s an honor, as she definitely ranks as one of my favorite authors.
This novel is based on the story of your great-grandmother. Why did you choose to fictionalize it?
I couldn’t possibly have it be 100% true. This way I could take elements of her story and weave one that made for a little more drama.
Again, the story idea comes from your great-grandmother? How exactly are you related?
She was my father’s grandmother.
How much of the story is true and how much is fiction?
That’s really hard to say. The “truth” is sprinkled throughout the manuscript in historical details and old family stories. But the storyline is mostly my invention.
How was it that you were able to glean so much of your great-grandmother’s story?
I talked to her when I visited her in Ohio. I also had a lot of relatives who sent me information. I had video and audio tapes, and she wrote a lot of poetry which inspired me to make Augusta a poet.
Can you tell more about your relationship with her? What was it about her you most admired and why?
She loved Jesus. I so needed a matriarch like that in my life, so I absorbed her love like a sponge. I didn’t have a close, close relationship because I only visited her in the summer during my weeklong trip to Ohio. (I’m not from Ohio but I vacationed there with my father’s parents nearly every summer).
How did/does your family feel about this book?
I honestly don’t know. I wrote it almost a decade ago and shared it with them then. They liked it. But I haven’t heard recently what they thought.
You said that when you tried to have this novel published, editors said they weren’t interested in Depression-era fiction. How many publishing houses did you try?
It was my agent who shopped the book, not me. Probably 10-15 houses.
You’ve published several novels since then. How did you decide now was the right time for The Quarrymans Wife?
With the “invention” of ebooks, it seemed like an inexpensive way to finally realize the dream of seeing this book in print.
Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
It was an experiment, actually. I hadn’t tried much to re-interest publishers, so I thought I’d just try it on my own.
You made the decision not to edit your original effort, though you feel youve grown as a writer since then. How difficult was that decision? What finally convinced you to leave it as it is?
Well, after I sent the file to Amazon, I re-read it and found several errors. So I did go back and correct those. I had to stop myself from throwing the entire thing away and rewriting it. It truly is me as a new novelist. But if you’ve read my other fiction, it will be interesting for you to see my growth. I’m much less flowery.
How is this book different from your other books?
It’s historical fiction. I will most likely never write that again. I’m a contemporary gal.
Your other books touch on areas of your own personal testimony. Did it take an equal amount of courage to write this story?
Not as much because it was loosely someone else’s story.
What do you hope the reader takes away from reading this book?
That grief is hard on us and we have to find ways to reconnect with life in its aftermath.
Thank you so much, Mary, for chatting with us today.
If you’re interested in The Quarryman’s Wife, you can purchase it here: The Quarryman’s Wife
You may also want to check out Mary’s other books.