Welcome to the three hundred and sixty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with mystery / suspense novelist and short story author Marjorie Doering. 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, Marjorie. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Marjorie: My husband and I live in beautiful northwestern Wisconsin in a town about the size of a small prairie dog colony, and we love it. Except for my overactive imagination and my penchant for writing murder mysteries, I’m your average, ordinary housewife.
As for how I came to be a writer, either I was born with a “writing” gene, or I can attribute it to my unusual surroundings as a child. (This could turn into a novella, but I’ll keep it very short.) When I was ten months old, my father bought a golf course. Our “house” wasn’t typical. We lived in about 800 sq. feet of living space at the end of the clubhouse. I grew up completely surrounded by people from early morning until late at night, but without much interaction. It turned me into a true “people watcher” and an introverted extrovert. Ha!
Morgen: How wonderful. I don’t play golf but my house overlooks a golf course and I’m sure it would have been fun. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Marjorie: My short stories cover many genres, but my novels are mystery / suspense so far.
Morgen: I love short stories, especially mystery / suspense… I have a dark side. 🙂 What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Marjorie: Five of my short stories have been published in an anthology titled Mosaic, A Collection of Short Stories. I’ve recently published the first novel in my “Ray Schiller” series. The title Dear Crossing is a play on words as the story involves the betrayal of loved ones and, of course, so much more. Both books are available at Amazon.com.
Pseudonyms, I think, are a good idea when a writer makes a dramatic shift in genres, say from Sci-Fi to Romance. I haven’t needed to do that … yet.
Morgen: Unless you’re with an agent and / or publisher I’d say it doesn’t matter so much these days. I’ve not stuck to a genre so it’s easy for me to say. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital for an author?
Marjorie: At one time, I did have an agent. The agency was relatively new and ended up closing its doors. In the meantime, the changes in publishing began to take place. I like the control and freedom authors have over their own work through e-publishing. There are pros and cons to both methods, but for me, e-publishing is the better choice.
Morgen: I enjoyed publishing my eBooks online but I think every author would love to see their work in print, including me, and receiving paperback copies of charity anthology Telling Tales and seeing my story in it was thrilling (as was being asked to sign a copy by fellow author Kevin Broughton :)). Presumably your books available as eBooks, do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Marjorie: Yes, they’re available as eBooks and in print copies. Personally I like books in either form, but eBooks prevent closet shelf clutter.
Morgen: 🙂 My house is past that although I have just had a purge. I realised that even if I sat and read for the rest of my life I’d never get through them all. Having a Kindle (a Touch, I love it) does make me far more selective. 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?
Marjorie: I love all my characters, but Ray Schiller is at the top of the heap. As I wrote Dear Crossing I actually had several actors in mind in various roles, but you’d have to hold a lit match under my feet before I’d divulge who they were. I don’t say that to be difficult, but even with the same descriptions, each reader visualizes characters differently. I think that’s how it should be. For that reason, I wouldn’t want to alter anyone’s mental image of my characters to comply with my own.
Morgen: It can get pretty warm under my interview spotlight sometimes but your feet are safe with me. 🙂 Being self-published we get to choose our titles and covers, how important do you think they are?
Marjorie: I did and it worries me silly. It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover. (Yes, a major cliché, but dead-on here.) The trouble is, that’s exactly what most people do when they choose a book. I worry that my play on words simply makes it look like I don’t know how to spell “deer.” I worry that the bloody axe may give readers the mistaken idea that Dear Crossing is the equivalent of a slasher movie, which it’s definitely not. How important? Very! My choices have me holding my breath.
Morgen: I got it, but then I love clever titles. 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Marjorie: I’m working on further edits to the second and third novels in my “Ray Schiller” series before publishing.
Morgen: Ah a series, good plan. I’m working on the follow-ups to my writer’s block workbook and Story a Day May 2011 collection but the latter is mostly stand alone. That said we’re only a third of the way through the month so I may well bring back some of the characters from 2011. Oh yes, that’ll be fun. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Marjorie: Not every day. If I’m not “feeling” it, I find the results are poor.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Marjorie: Before I write down the first word, I have to know where I’m beginning, where the story will be in the middle, and how it’s going to end. Outlining is something I don’t do unless the timeline of events is so intricate, that I have to manage it with kid gloves.
Morgen: 🙂 But it’ll probably still go on its own way some of the time. Do you have to do much research?
Marjorie: Sometimes. It depends on the subject matter. Too much is always better than too little.
Morgen: Absolutely, unless you put it all in and the reader thinks you’re showing off. 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Marjorie: Third person is my personal preference. Second person sounds forced to me, but I admire people who can do it well.
Morgen: I love it so I write a lot of it but only in short stints. It is hard to maintain for too long. Even I’ve struggled to get through (not done yet) Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Marjorie: Oh, yes. Rejections are just a part of the writing process. You have to have faith in yourself and your work and keep moving forward.
Morgen: A successful writer is one who didn’t give up. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Marjorie: Yes. “Silence is the friend of the fool.” I wish I knew who to credit with that line, but I don’t.
Morgen: Sir Francis Bacon apparently (http://quoteworld.org/quotes/827). Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Marjorie: I’m a hopeless technophobe, but I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and Author Central.
Morgen: It’s just practice. I’ve built this blog up over the past year and a bit but I know there are a lot of authors out there (or at least I’m hoping) that would love to have a blog but don’t and don’t know where to start so I’ve set up a blog design service and kept it cheap (£50 / €50 / US&AS$75) as I know we don’t have money to throw around. It’s only 10 days old but I have two bookings already. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Marjorie: I’d like to thank you for letting me be a participant on your writing blog, Morgen. I’ve genuinely enjoyed it.
Morgen: You’re so welcome. Me too. Thank you for taking part. 🙂
I then invited Marjorie to include an extract of her writing…
Ray rinsed, dried, put on his briefs and a pair of sweatpants before pouring two fingers of scotch. Glass in hand, he turned on his TV and located a news channel. An exotic, dark-haired female led off the broadcast with the story about Valerie Davis’s brutal death in Widmer, Minnesota. Woody, Neil, Chuck, and other members of the force, including himself, showed up briefly in the film clips against the backdrop of the Davises’ lakeside summer house. Other familiar faces popped in and out of view—Mr. Weidemeyer of Weidemeyer’s Bakery, the high school football coach, Laurie’s third grade teacher. They and dozens of others were all there getting an eyeful.
The ‘butcher,’ the ‘baker,’ the ‘candlestick maker.’ Nosy bastards. Ray spotted Mark Haney and tossed back half of his drink. At least Gail wasn’t with him.
The film switched, showing Valerie Davis being taken away in a body bag. The news teams had done their usual thorough job, sensationalizing the manner of her death while spouting platitudes about the loss to Minneapolis and her adopted Widmer community.
Woody’s face appeared on the screen as he fielded a few questions from the jostling reporters. A little frazzled, but not bad for a debut performance.
With typical disregard for the grieving family’s privacy, the station’s unrelenting news crew—one of many—had taped brief statements given by Paul Davis and Chet Stockton in Minneapolis. Ray couldn’t pinpoint the exact location, but the scene was all too familiar. It made his stomach turn.
Davis, looking strained but in control, asked in vain for the media’s understanding and restraint. Accustomed to the attention of the press, seventy-one-year-old Chet Stockton stood at Davis’s side, his shoulders squared as the throng of reporters thrust microphones in his face. He pled for the public’s help in finding his daughter’s killer. His chin trembled and tears flooded his eyes as he concluded his brief comments. Stockton’s shoulders slumped as Davis wrapped an arm around his father-in-law and led him away.
Marjorie Swift Doering enjoys writing in various genres. Currently, her focus is on the upcoming completion of the third in her series of murder mysteries featuring Detective Ray Schiller. In 2005, her first one-act play was produced and performed by Darknight Theatrical Productions in Chicago, Illinois. Omega Publications, in 2009, published a number of her short stories in an anthology titled Mosaic, A Collection of Short Stories. In 2010, another of her short stories was published in Red Cedar, The University of Wisconsin Barron County’s journal of arts and literature.
She and her husband Denny live in the northwestern area of Wisconsin with their Springer spaniel, Casey, and their three crazy but lovable cats, Freddy, JoJo and Dickens. She is on Twitter, the ‘Mosaic’ anthology is available from Smashwords and Amazon.com, and her novel Dear Crossing is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
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