Featured Interview With MaryLynn
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Northern Illinois, and still live 35 miles from where my childhood home. I spent many, many hours tramping around a forest with my friends, or wading through creeks, or climbing trees and developing a very active imagination. I also spent three years living in Central Florida as a child which taught me how to survive in the “wilderness”. When I lived in Florida, the area I lived in wasn’t as settled as it is now. We had wild boars, a variety of poisonous snakes, very big banana spiders, a Florida panther and a very large Brangus bull who would wander away from his owner all the time all around us. I was used to Illinois so needless to say, living in the country in Florida was a whole other world. When we moved back to Illinois, I was overjoyed that I could once again explore the forest without having to worry about snakes, boars, panthers or large spiders, though I missed the long Florida summers.
I currently live in the city, but venture into the forest now and again at a large conservation park nearby. I have four pets. Two cats, brothers who go by the names of Bailey Reginald and Chester Obadiah. I have two parakeets, Georg and Liesl.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I think I’ve always been fascinated with books and writing. Even before I could really “write”, I would scribble “writing” on a piece of paper and beg my mom to tell me what it said. Of course, she would tell me it didn’t say anything, but I would insist that it did. The first book I remember reading was The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. My parents didn’t believe I had read it, so I read it again, out loud to them, a chapter every night. But what was so amazing was, I wasn’t merely reciting the words on the page, I understood everything I was reading because they would ask me about it after I finished reading for the night. I was six. Yes, six. Also at that time, my reading level had been noticed by my teacher and even though I was a second grader, during reading time, I would go to the fifth grade room and have reading time with them and would help fifth graders who were struggling with their reading. Of course, this led to bullying by the other second graders who were jealous, but I didn’t care. I was too happy to be able to read. Not long after that, I began to imagine great stories, but didn’t actually start writing until I was around eight or nine. I started my first manuscript then and finished it when I was fourteen. It’s about three girls who own a Arabian horse farm and their prize stallion and his first colt are stolen by their rival. I still have it and occasionally pull it out to look at it, cringe and stick it back in the drawer. One day, I’ll place it on my desk and begin the tedious process of editing it. Until then, Lightning remains hidden away.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I have many favorites, but if I had to pin it down to just one, I would have to say it would be a tie between Charles Dickens and Leon Uris. I have read every single book they have written, most of them more than once or twice. My favorite book by Dickens is Tale of Two Cities and my favorite book by Uris is Exodus. Both of these books have had a huge impact on my story telling. I love how Dickens created rich characters who you absolutely fell in love with and I love how Uris, though hated and reviled by critics, wrote about an important time in history and portrayed it in such a poignant and dramatic story. He had tremendous courage which paid off in unbelievable sales. His book woke American Jewry up the the horrors of the Holocaust at a time when they were uninterested. I think of all the books I’ve read, this single book impacted me the most. Yes, Uris missed the boat on some facts and could have seriously used a good editor, but the fact still remains, the man could weave a powerful story. He wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial subjects and turn them into epic stories.
I have had many other writers who I have loved, too. Margaret Mitchell, R.D. Blackmore, Amy Bloom, Thomas E. Kennedy, Irene Nemirovsky, Stephen King, Ken Follet and Tatiana de Rosnay.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Delia is a departure from my usual writing in historical fiction. Inspired by a writing prompt in a monthly writing group I am a part of, Delia soon turned into a powerful story I could not put down.
Delia traded her boring life in Savannah, Georgia for the bright lights and big city excitement of New York before the ink is barely dry on her high school diploma and she has no intention of ever looking back, that is, until Oliver calls. Your mother has passed, Delia. Your father needs you. She hung up the phone and cried over a mother she barely knew. Now, it’s up to her to care for a father she loathes in a place she vowed never to return to. Little does she know she will soon face the truth of her mother’s past, a truth with the potential to destroy everything she thought she knew about life as the daughter of Greyson James Reddick IV and his cold, distant wife, Charlotte Ann.
As Delia confronts her mother’s past, she learns the horrible truth of an imaginable event which shaped not only Charlotte’s life, but Delia and Greyson’s as well. Each character is conflicted, rich and complex. Charlotte’s anguish affects everyone who knows her, yet, she is a multi-dimensional woman with hopes and dreams she keeps hidden. One thing that’s clear is just how much Greyson loved her despite the difficulties of their marriage. Deiia, too. I’m reminded of the scripture, a cord of three is not easily broken. Though this family is tormented and on the surface it would appear there is no love, the ties of family are stronger than they realize because deep down inside, they actually do harbor a great love for each other.
This story surprised me because as I was writing it, I wasn’t completely certain what the inciting event would be until I wrote it. Because Delia is a departure from Historical Fiction, I wasn’t as focused on portraying a specific historical event accurately so I was free to be creative, explore the characters more as well as the storyline. I finished in four months, a rarity for me. Originally, I wrote Delia for a contest, but realized quickly that though it didn’t win, this story could not sit on the shelf.
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