Today I welcome another author from Black Rose Writing, Mary Ellen Bramwell, author of The Apple of My Eye.
IDI – Hi Mary Ellen. How are you today?
MEB – I’m feeling wonderful. Thank you for having me.
IDI – Tell us, Mary Ellen, when did you have your Eureka moment? When did know that you were born to be a writer?
MEB – I discovered writing when I was ten, and from then on it was my favorite hobby. However, years later, it had to find me. When my youngest child started school, I was looking for work, but no one wanted to talk to the stay-at-home mom. I started to write because it was one of my last options, only to discover that I love it more than life itself. I am definitely addicted, and I don’t ever want to be cured.
IDI – How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?
MEB – I think I have the greatest job in the world, because I get to read and call it work! How great is that? Reading inspires my writing and I read all different genres and authors so I can learn my craft better. If I’m not reading a lot, my writing suffers.
IDI – Favorite author, and why?
MEB – I like this question, because I don’t have a straight answer for it. My taste in books and authors is very eclectic. For instance, I love Agatha Christie because she is so clever. I enjoy Kate Morton for her multi-layered stories. One of my favorite books is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because of the fascinating choice of death as the narrator along with all the wonderful metaphors and imagery. However, I read one of his other books and absolutely detested it.
IDI – I also have read a book by an author and wished it would never end and their next book I had to drag myself through.
We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?
MEB – Probably the biggest influence my own life has on my writing is my religious beliefs. None of my books or stories are overtly religious, however, I have a great sense of faith and hope. Hope is the underlying theme of everything I write.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our tastebuds?
MEB – I’m working on a novel titled, When I Was Seven, narrated by a seven-year-old boy, Lucas. The first chapter begins:
When I was seven, Grandma came to our house to live. It felt like something familiar, yet something that’s hard to put into words. It’s as if when she came she left the front door open. Only you’re not sorry it’s open because you sense that spring has finally come. You rush to the door to discover that the world looks exactly the same as when you last looked, only it smells better and it makes you smile. And when you tell Mom, she looks up with tired eyes and doesn’t see the difference. But Grandma saw it; Grandma was it.
But then this is how that chapter ends:
“ … the next thing I knew, Grandma was moving into our house to live, or actually she was coming to our house to die.”
IDI – Sounds intriguing. Define a great book for us.
MEB – A good book has an interesting story; a great book has a satisfying ending. The ending should put an exclamation point on the whole book. The last sentence, even the last word, is the most critical part of an entire book to me. Of course, the rest of the story should be compelling enough so I keep reading to the end.
IDI – Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
MEB – My family. My husband has taken over most of the household chores so I can write. My daughter is my first (and most amazing) beta reader. My parents have always been ardent cheerleaders.
IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?
MEB – Actually, for me it’s getting over the fear that my book is boring. It can take a while to create a scene. When you read it, it goes fast and the suspense or drama flows. But when you write it, it’s slow. I have to stop periodically and reread from the beginning to know that the flow and timing are what they should be.
IDI – You’re absolutely right about that. The writing process is much slower than the reading process and it does make the scenes seem like they are dragging, but when you read it, it often seems too short.
What’s one thing you would like to do to improve your writing?
MEB – I would love to travel more. There’s nothing like describing a place you have been or something you have experienced. You can’t fake that in writing. For instance, in my WIP, a character walks along a beach. Having been there, I can describe the feel of the sand or the waves as they wash over your toes.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
MEB – That if you build it, they will come. Marketing is the elephant in the room. You may have a great book, but if people don’t know about it, they’re not going to buy it. I thought it would be like – I tell a few friends, and they tell a few friends, and so on. My friends love my book, but I can’t expect them to be my marketing partners.
IDI – I once thought that, too! It’s a lesson soon learned.
If you could pick a fictional character to have as a friend, who would that be and why?
MEB – Elizabeth Bennett. She is intelligent, unafraid to speak her mind, yet humble enough to accept her own failings and make changes.
IDI – Okay, something fun to finish up with.
Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?
MEB – Don’t already know… let’s see,
1 – I have five children ranging in age from 27 to 8. They provide interesting perspectives.
2 – I used to work as a computer scientist. The puzzle of writing a computer program isn’t much different from crafting an intricate plot.
3 – I won awards in high school for drama and acted in many plays. Whenever I write characters or dialog, I imagine saying those lines or acting that part. If it works in my actor’s brain, I go with it.
IDI – Twenty-seven to eight, wow. It’s a wonder you have time to write! Mary Ellen, thank you so much for being here today and the very best of luck in your writing endeavors.
If you would like to know more about Mary Ellen and her work, you can follow the links below:
k.e. garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes & Missouri in a Suitcase