Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring the Imagination Station series
Brock: Everyone seems to have a "how I got published" story. What is yours?
Marianne: I was a receptionist for FOTF periodicals department for three months before being promoted to an editorial assistant for the FOTF Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. So it was fairly easy to get published in those periodicals because I had an editor/mentor Ray Seldomridge to help me. My first book contract story is so not-the-norm, but I’ll tell you the story because you asked. The children’s editor, Liz Duckworth, at the now-defunct Victor Books called and asked me to submit a children’s book proposal—they wanted some more books for the next year’s line. I sent the proposal in on Good Friday in 1995, and the Monday after Easter Victor Books had accepted it.
Brock: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
Marianne: When I got my first paycheck. I had been a waitress for years and was tired of carrying around 50 pounds of quarters and a log-sized roll of dollar bills.
Brock: Tell me a little about your books.
Marianne: My most recent series is with FOTF and the Adventures in Odyssey team. They are historical fiction/time travel books for kids 7 and up. The main characters are Patrick and Beth, cousins who travel through John Avery Whittaker’s invention The Imagination Station.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Marianne: The newspaper. The Internet. The kids I tutor. My sons.
Brock: How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?
Marianne: Fits and starts, depression, overeating, then a sudden passion where I type out about 50 pages all at once.
Brock: Who are your books aimed at? What are some of the challenges of writing for older teens versus younger kids?
Marianne: Kids 7 and up. I try to keep the interest level high and the excitement and educational value of my books pumped. The hard part is the fact that I can use only 1 or 2 complex sentences per chapter.
Brock: What’s your view on e-books and the new publishing revolution? Any e-book plans in your future?
Marianne: Books in any form are wonderful. Go e-books.
Brock: What was your favorite book as a teen?
Marianne: That rabbit one . . . Watership Down. I so love dystopias.
Brock: What are your hopes for your future as an author?
Marianne: To not go back to waitressing.
Brock: If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
My family, every night.
Brock: What inspired you to write?
Marianne: The need for a paycheck, and it was fun to have characters in my head all the time. I kind of live in a circus all day long.
Brock: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
Marianne: The fact that God has a plan. Nothing is an accident.
Brock: In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing fiction?
Marianne: I am spoiled because my books have eternal value for those who seek to find God in their pages. I don’t think creating a book that is just about history would be as much fun or satisfying.
Brock: Coke or Pepsi?
Brock: Soft shell or hard shell tacos?
Marianne: All of them all the time. I should have been born in Mexico.
Brock: Favorite place to vacation?
Marianne: Anywhere with a beach or a large body of water.
Brock: Favorite season?
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Marianne: If it’s in the fridge, I’ll eat it.
Brock: Favorite color?
Marianne: All of them.
Brock: What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Marianne: It involves mistletoe and it’s none of your business.
Brock: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Brock: Favorite pasta dish?
Merianne: Fettuccini Alfredo with chicken and broccoli.
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
Merianne: Sometimes I listen to mellow instrumental music.