Welcome to the four hundred and ninety-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre Maryanne Raphael. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Maryanne. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Maryanne: I am Maryanne Raphael. I live in Carlsbad, California and I got my first rejection slip when I was five years old. I would make up stories and my Grandfather would type them and send them out for me. I have never stopped writing.
Morgen: How lovely. I only started in my late 30s and although a slow start I’ve been fairly prolific since then. You write fiction and non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Maryanne: I never decide to write fiction or non-fiction. I choose a topic and it needs to be written as non-fiction or fiction. I have written several biographies and they are all non-fiction based on research but I use fiction tools to make them move faster. Runaways, America’s Lost Youth (co-author Jenifer Wolf) was non-fiction, as was Mother Teresa, Called to Love and What Mother Teresa Taught Me, The Saints of Molokai, Along Came A Spider, A personal Look at Madness, Anais Nin, The Voyage Within were all non-fiction, as was Garden of Hope.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Maryanne: Runaways was published by Drake Publishers and Sterling Publishers in New York. It was published by Kodansha in Japan and Authors Guild Back-in-Print. Mother Teresa, Called to Love was published by Writers World International with Sky Blue Press. What Mother Teresa Taught Me was published by St. Anthony Messenger Press in Ohio, in Cairo in Arabic and in English in India.
Morgen: Some of your books are self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Maryanne: Authors Guild used IUNIVERSE to publish Runaways. We liked the book and dealing with POD so I published Anais Nin, The Voyage Within, Along Came a Spider, Alexandria, The Man Who Loved Funerals.
Create Space did Saints of Molokai & Dancing On Water. I love getting my books published right away and I have wonderful artists who do my covers and excellent editors who prepare my books. Whenever my agent wants to handle a book I gladly send it to her.
Morgen: It must be great having that support. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Morgen: Many haven’t, although when they do they enjoy the experience but almost everyone I’ve spoken to would never stop reading paper books. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Maryanne: I love the covers of all my books. J.R. Rooenberg did many of them.
Morgen: You have a great selection of covers and they’re not fussy which is important. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Maryanne: Recently finished A Passion for Peace, the story of Dorothy Day. My agent has it now. Today I finished My Father Owns the Sky and sent it to Guideposts.
Morgen: You’re so prolific, do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Maryanne: I do write something every day. Sometimes it’s only a few notes in my journal or a short blog in my ‘The Wall by Maryanne Raphael’. If I am into a book I often write all day and into the night.
If I ever suffer from writer’s block I take a break from that project and write something else. There is always something I can write.
Morgen: It certainly sounds like it, and that’s the right thing to do; give your brain a break if it stalls on something particular. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Maryanne: I do very little editing as I write but I rewrite as many times as necessary.
Morgen: You’ve covered so many topics, do you have to do much research?
Maryanne: I love to do research and I have a hard time focusing on a book when there is more research I can do.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Maryanne: Most of my pieces get used. Sometimes I work a mosaic putting pieces together like a puzzle.
Morgen: I like the sound of that. Do you pitch for submissions and / or are you commissioned to write?
Maryanne: I write about subjects that fascinate me and I have been fortunate enough to get them out.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Maryanne: As I said, my grandfather helped me to collect many rejections before I could read or write. He helped me celebrate them saying they show I am a writer and I am sending my work out. I have made friends with many editors after they rejected my work and asked to see more. So I have a good feeling about rejections.
Morgen: Excellent. I hope that encourages anyone reading this interview. Do you enter any non-fiction competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Maryanne: I won first place in A Reach for the Stars competitions with an essay on How I promoted my Mother Teresa book. And I won first place in a Competition for the Best Review of a book by Nora Roberts.
Morgen: Congratulations. You mentioned earlier that you have an agent, do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Maryanne: I have a wonderful agent. I do not feel an author needs an agent but a good agent is a blessing.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Maryanne: I write a lot on the internet introducing people to my work. I have done many book signing and TV and radio interviews.
Morgen: Marketing can be so time-consuming but it sounds as if you enjoy it. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Maryanne: I love the act of writing. I feel most alive when my writing is coming along smoothly. Although I enjoy interviews and book signings, preparing for them in the least favorite part of my writing.
Morgen: Again, I would imagine very time-consuming. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Maryanne: Write every day. Enjoy Life. Read and write poetry. For me writing poetry is learning how to write and how to love and enjoy life.
Morgen: How interesting, I write very little poetry (and read even less) although I know those who do, value what they glean from it. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Maryanne: I would invite Joan of Arc, Mary Queen of Scots and Michael Jackson.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Morgen: That’s sad, but lovely. I mentioned earlier that you also write fiction, do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Morgen: He’s a fantastic actor. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Maryanne: My characters plot their own stories.
Morgen: I love it when that happens. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Maryanne: Once I have the beginning idea I look at the people I know, my favorite books and movies, people in the news. I got my names the same way. I like to look at books with names for babies and books with the meanings of various names.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Maryanne: I like third person limited. I have never tried second person. I have used first person.
Morgen: Second person is my favourite although it doesn’t suit anyone. I’d recommend trying it for short pieces. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Maryanne: I keep a journal and one year I wrote a poem every day – I was able to publish quite a few of them.
Morgen: I write a short story a day for my 5pm fiction slot and plan to eBook them. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Maryanne: I love to take walks, to visit friends and to travel, to do yoga and study languages. I used to dance professionally at the Service Clubs in Europe. And I loved acting.
Morgen: When I first moved to the area I’m in now I went to evening classes to brush up on my languages (French and German) but used little French so have forgotten most of it, although the last time I went to France I had an argument with a hotel manager who was trying to overcharge me… my French came from somewhere. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Maryanne: I go to goodreads, linkedin, NUW books, Facebook and Twitter.
Morgen: How valuable do you find the networking sites?
Maryanne: They are not too valuable for me because I waste writing time when I play with them.
Morgen: Oh, so do I. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Maryanne: I think Life will always be rich and exciting for a writer who writes regularly.
Morgen: Absolutely. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Maryanne: My website is www.authorsden.com/maryanneraphael and I have ten books for sale on Amazon.com.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Maryanne: No, but I want to thank you for taking time with me.
Morgen: You’re so welcome, thank you for taking part.
I then invited Maryanne to include an extract of her writing…
I had been living in Haiti for six months and my friend, Big Bad John was looking after my New York apartment. I returned home unexpected and found a beautiful woman sleeping alone in my bed. The next morning she introduced herself as Ginny. She explained that she was a good friend of John’s and he offered her the use of the place while I was out of town, She had a luxurious apartment of her own but she used it for work and John suggested she could relax better in my apartment. She shared some of her beauty tips with me and I wrote a book Beauty Tips of a Successful Call Girl. I have many samples of my work at authorsden.com/maryanneraphael.
and a synopsis…
A Passion for Peace, The Story of Dorothy Day a young attractive journalist who lived in Greenwich Village in the Jazz Age. She loved to dance, drink, smoke and discuss life and literature. Her friends were political activists, poets, authors, and other unconventional creative artists. She went to jail for women’s right to vote but she never voted because she did not trust politicians. She was attracted to the Communist party because they promised to help the poor. Discouraged by them she had a life-changing Conversion, became a Catholic and left the father of her child when he refused to marry her. She stayed celibate the rest of her life. She devoted all her time to caring for her daughter and serving the poor. started the Catholic Worker newspaper, soup kitchens and homes for the homeless. After she died, she was nominated for Sainthood by the Vatican.
Maryanne is the oldest of ten children and grew up in the small town of Waverly not far from the Ohio river. She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked as a Recreation Director and Dancer at the Air Force Service Clubs in France and Germany. She taught French and Spanish at Parker School on the Big Island of Hawaii. She has one son Raphael, is married to Ginger Carlson and they have two grandchildren Zeal and Anjali. Raphael has a PHD in Film and teaches at the American International school in Kazakhstan. Maryanne has always wanted to write full time and publish everything she writes. She does it now and is really happy.
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