Author Interview……..Marie Flanigan

A Little About You……….

I grew up in Virginia on the east coast of the United States. I’m the youngest of three daughters and lived in small towns and on farms. I spent a lot of time in nature and around animals. Books were how I explored the larger world. Reading and writing have always been a big part of my life. I started my working life as a disc jockey for a local radio station when I was sixteen. They hired me over the phone without asking my age and were a little shocked when I showed up, but they kept me on. After that, I went to George Mason University and spent the next decade getting degrees and working for the university before moving on to be a web developer and then a children’s librarian. I’ve been an avid gamer since the Atari 2600 showed up under the Christmas tree many years ago, so I started writing video game reviews for I still do that, but my game consoles have gotten considerably more sophisticated. Writing is my full time job now. In addition to writing reviews, I occasionally blog for The Motley Fool, while I work on my novels. I’m still a resident of Virginia, but now I live outside of Washington DC with my husband and three dogs.

A Little About Your Writing……….

One Big Beautiful Thing is my first novel. It’s the story of Kate Abernethy, an artist, who is trying to recover from a personal loss and put her life back together. At first, moving back in with her mother seems like a good way to sort out her finances and re-evaluate her life—instead it proves to be a minefield of doubt and recrimination. Floundering, she pushes herself to take new opportunities so she can rebuild her life and have a second chance at happiness.
I’m currently working on a mystery that takes place in Leesburg, Virginia. The main character, Annie Fitch, is a former police detective turned private investigator whose life is thrown into turmoil when a man she’s following for a divorce case ends up murdered.
Everything I write is character driven. Plot is important, but without good characters the most intriguing plot in the world can’t hold my interest. For me, strong characters and realistic dialogue drive a book.

What Inspired You To Start Writing?

Reading inspired me to write. I was a voracious reader as a child and I still read a lot. I also come from a large family of creative people, so given that background, I think writing was pretty much inevitable for me.

How Has Writing Changed Your Life?

Writing full time, as opposed to working a regular nine-to-five job and writing on the side, has had a profound effect on my life. Working from home can be tricky because it requires a lot of self-discipline to manage the time. It’s incredibly easy to have a very busy day and get absolutely no writing done. I have, however, appreciated the freedom to go be with family during times of crisis without having the added stress of leaving other people in a lurch at work or feeling like I’m not pulling my weight. It’s not true that I can write anywhere, but I can do other related work, like marketing, anywhere I can sit down with my laptop, which is a big advantage. My husband is a fire fighter. He doesn’t keep traditional hours either, so we have a lot of time together, which is really nice. I feel very lucky.

What Is Your Favourite Book, Ever?

That’s a tough question, but I think I’d have to go with Tove Jansson’s Tales from Moominvalley. It’s a brilliant book. Everyone you will ever meet is within its pages. It’s so much more than a children’s book and such a wonderful collection of short stories. I reread it every few years.

What Is The Best Piece Of Writing Advice You Could Give, And Why?

Get a good editor. Every writer needs one. Find out as much about the publishing industry as you possibly can and learn to manage your expectations. Publishing is an industry in transition, and as such, it’s particularly risk averse right now. You need to be realistic about where your work fits into the publishing spectrum and whether or not you’re better off working within the traditional system or going on your own. Either way, you should expect to do your own marketing unless you’re already a bestselling author, which means you should also learn as much as you can about marketing your book. Start now. It’s not something you pick up overnight and it’s every bit as important as honing your skills as a writer. This is not an occupation in which very many people make a lot of money. If you’re writing to become rich and famous, you’re probably going to be disappointed. If you’re writing to be read, you can probably make that happen on some scale.

If You Were A Dragon, What Kind Of Dragon Would You Be?

I’d like to be like Paarthurnax in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. He’s got this incredibly ruthless backstory, but because he’s thousands of years old in the game, he’s reigned in his ambitions and serves as an instructor to mankind through the Greybeards. While I’d like to think I could be Paarthurnax, I’m more likely to be like the dragons in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. I’m not really cut out to live on a mountaintop by myself like Paarthurnax does. I’m better suited to form a lifelong connection to someone. I’ve been married for over twenty years, so I should probably stick with my strengths even as a dragon.

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