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- Where are you from?
I'm Michigan born and bred, and a 20+ year resident of suburban Detroit. I love Motown.
• Tell us about your latest release.
Hearts Crossing marks my entrée into the genre of inspirational romance, and Christian fiction is where my heart now firmly resides. Hearts Crossing is a contest winning novella that features one couple's answer to life's most difficult question: "WHY?" Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does a God of love and goodness allow dispair, and pain to infect the lives of His children?
• Have you ever won any contests? Tell us about that experience.
My most recent, and proudest, contest win is with White Rose Publishing. I won the Hearts Crossing contest, and am thrilled that the resulting publication of my novella has helped me reach out to to readers of Christian romance. I've also won third place recognition in the prestegious 'Heart of the Rockies' writing contest for a story that has yet to see publication entitled 'Safe at Home.'
• When and why did you begin writing?
The 'when' is something I remember so vividly! I was in middle school. I loved romance even then. Read every story I could get my hands on. I discovered I had stories of my own I wanted to tell, so I'd put pen to paper (Homework? What's homework!?) and hand out pages for my friends to read. Since they wanted more, and since writing was such a passion for me, I can only say this: I did great in English, but math and science? Not so much. I've always loved putting words together in just the right way to reflect an emotion, or set a scene, or make a reader 'feel' what I feel as I imagine my hero and heroine making their way through the story I write. As to 'why' I can only say I'm that writer who needs to put words down on paper to silence the voices in my head! My characters are relentless. Once they find me, their story must be told. I'm simply the conduit.
• How many books/stories have you had published?
I'm fortunate enough to have seen five stories in print. My first is a Kensington Precious Gem Romance titled Friends & Lovers. My second book, Right Hand Man, followed two months later. A short time after that came my final Precious Gem romance, Hannah's Heart, set on breathtaking Macinac Island in Northern Michigan. My fourth book, Hearts Crossing, is my White Rose Publishing debut, and I have a romance titled With This Kiss, releasing November 10th with The Wild Rose Press. With This Kiss is an ode to my grandmother - an Italian immigrant who owned a neighborhood deli just outside New York City. Talk about story potential! I eagerly await its release, and hope for many more opportunities to work with White Rose Publishing - this publisher features absolutely incredible Christian romances. I'm in awe of the authors here and am so proud to be just a small part of WRP.
• This is your first published story. How long have you been writing, and did you ever feel like giving up along the way?
Hearts Crossing is my fourth publication, and getting the call, the e-mail, the contract, never, ever gets old! It's as much a thrill to me now as the first phone call I received years ago about Friends & Lovers. Did I ever feel like giving up along the way? Trust me, I could go on forever about this topic, and I've actually blogged on my own journey, and frustrations, at www.marianneevans.blogspot.com if you're interested. Suffice to say: Yes, I not only felt like giving up, I even went so far as to tell my agent, just before my first sale, that I was finished trying. I only went to what I determined would be my final Romance Writers of America conference in Dallas, to meet her, and to lend a bit of a 'swan song' to my attempts at publishing. My heart, and confidence, were broken, and here's why: I didn't understand how some folks could see such merit to my writing, yet refuse to quite cross that line of faith and publish my work. My agent, Kelly St. Clair, submitted my work everywhere. I came so close on so many occasions - but never crossed that final hurdle. So, I was ready to call it quits and focus my dreams and goals elsewhere. Mind you, the idea of stepping away from writing devistated me, because I quite simply love to craft stories! It was then that my agent, who continued to work tirelessly on my behalf, and believed in my work, met me in Dallas and introduced me to the legendary Kate Duffy of Kensington Publishing. Without a doubt, God smiled on those efforts, because three weeks after the conference, Kate purchased books 1 and 2 of my Precious Gem romances. Writing became 'game on' for me all over again, and I was blessed enough to keep publishing. However, for my start in the business, I'm deeply in their debt.
• How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on what's going on in my life. If I have solid 'blocks' of time to dedicate to my writing, and if the words flow once I sit down to write, my books can form quite quickly. However, my life is seldom that patterned, so, I'd say anywhere from three to six months - depending on the complexity of the plot, and how much of the story is already alive in my mind as I begin writing.
• What is your writing schedule like?
My biggest chunks of writing time tend to come on the weekend, because I have a full-time job as a Department Administrator for a commercial real estate firm in Detroit. However, thanks to the absolutely fantastic man I'm married to, I can also get away with writing for a few hours when I get home at night, because if the muse is at work, and the computer keys are flying, he'll cook dinner and see to a bit of 'home life' after I get in from a day on the job.
• What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Probably that I write in the first person, then, in rewrites, convert it to third person. Blame Stephenie Meyer for that trait. I read her Twilight series and came away thoroughly impressed with how effectively and completely she pulled me into the story using first person narrative. I began to think: Could that work for my story writing? So I began to write chapter by chapter, trying to alternate between the hero and heroine - and I tell the story through their eyes. It not only puts me right in the middle of their struggles and goals, it makes for what I hope is more intimate story telling, plus it keeps me in the hero or heroine's solid point of view from chapter to chapter.
• How did you come up with the title?
In truth, it's simply spontaneous. It 'comes' to me. I write, and as I write either a title will come to me, or a title will already have worked its way to life before I actually sit down to write the story I've imagined.
• Tell us about your hero and heroine. What makes them likeable?
Hmmm. Daveny and Collin. I just adore them. Why? Let's start with Daveny. Daveny, I feel, is relatable. She's honest and straightforward, and is centered on what's good in life: God and being of help to others. But, like most of us, she finds herself in a bit of a rut - wanting something to spark up her faith walk once more. Into that circumstance comes our troubled but wonderful hero, Collin Edwards. Collin has witnessed horror and pain at its deepest levels, yet remains a decent, caring individual. His relationship with God, however, needs a lot of work. When the two of them combine, God gets busy, and the result is a love story that tugs the heartstrings.
• Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! The tag line of my blurb says it best: When you turn your back and God (and in life's deepest trials and tribulations, that's so easy to do!) just remember, God never, ever turns his back on you!
• How much of the book is realistic?
Whether I've personally lived a situation I've written about or not, my deepest hope is that the reader comes away feeling touched and affected by the story. So, I guess my answer is that I hope all of my works seem realistic!
• What makes this book special to you?
Okay, can I please beg forgiveness and be a bit 'me' centered rather than 'story' centered right now? Obviously winning the Hearts Crossing contest is a thrill, and obviously being blessed with the chance to join the multitude of fantastic Christian authors out there is a thrill as well. I love sharing God's love, and the truth of his power and grace through my writing....but the most special moment, to me, about Hearts Crossing, was the way I found out this novella was going to be published by White Rose. It was just three days before Christmas, and my entire family was home for the holiday. All of us just happened to be gathered around the computer, looking up a Christmas item on line, and I happened to see the e-mail from my editor, with the subject line Hearts Crossing. When I found out I had won, with my whole family gathered around me, quite a celebration ensued! It's a memory I'll cherish forever.
• Are plots based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not particularly, however I do tend to draw on Michigan locations, and if I find a topic that intrigues me as a writer (missionary work, being childless) I'll incorporate elements of that research into my writing.
• What books have most influenced your life most?
Oh my goodness! I could pass along a list, but it would take pages. Stephenie Meyers' Twilight saga brought my writing muse out of hiding, so I thank her for that - I absolutely love the way Nora Roberts tells a story and so beautifully captures relationships and dialogue. I also feel the same way about Kristin Hannah. Evocative, emotion-rich writing never fails to draw me in.
• What makes this book a "must read" and why?
Characters!! I have to love the characters, and relate to them, or the book won't hold my interest for long.
• Do you have a person you consider a mentor?
Yes! Ruth Ryan Langan. She's a Detroit based romance writing legend. Her ability to write both contemporary and historical romance, to bring me into the world and circumstnaces of her characters, is fantastic. Added bonus? She is class personified - truly my benchmark for being an author, and a person.
• What book are you reading now?
I'm on book 3 of Nora Roberts' Bride series, and I just finished Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Awesome reads, both!
• What is your next project?
::Grin!:: Well - since you ask...I've been told by several folks that I should make Hearts Crossing into a series. I hope to do just that! After all, the Edward's clan is a large one, that features all kinds of interesting folks, and I also grew quite fond of a couple of the secondary characters from Hearts Crossing. So, I'm at work on what I hope will become "The Woodland Series." Book two will feature Daveny's best friend, Kiara, a gorgeous modernista, as she develops her faith walk, and finds love with Ken Lucerne, the Pastor of Woodland Church of Christ. Book 3 will focus on Jeremy (JB) Edwards, Collin's brother, and the relationship he develops with Monica Kittelski, the owner of a day care center who battles infertility. Book 4 will feature two of the teenage mission workers you meet in book 2 - Amy and Tyler, now all grown up, and facing life's challenges: Amy, the high-school success story has fallen on tough times in her life while Tyler, the once shy musician, has been blessed with a mega-successful career in contemporary Christian music. They reunite at a concert event at Woodland Church, and sparks come alive.
• If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Honestly? Not one single thing. Hearts Crossing has been a joy from stem to stern, and my hope right now is to continue a wonderful relationship with White Rose. Writing the story felt incredible, and it obviosly started me on a journey of writing a series for the first time in my career, which is a very exciting venture to embrace! I hope it comes to fruition!
• What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I scour antique stores around the area where I live for salt cellars. Salt cellars are antique salt holders, used in the era before pourable salt, and you placed these bowl-like containers on your dining table and chipped off salt using a small spoon, which you could then pour over your food. My sister-in-law got me hooked on them, and they're quite beautiful!! My favorite acquistion to date is a pale blue, art glass salt cellar crafted by Tiffany & Co.
• What does your family think of your writing?
They are incredibly supportive. My husband is my favorite cheerleader and my mom and dad, and my two kids, are my biggest fans. As they grew up, I always told my kids that they should never give up on their dreams. I'm grateful they were given the chance to see me live out that philosophy, and not just preach it.
• Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes - finding enough time to dedicate to it! I wish I had about three our four more hours in a day so I could just focus on my writing, because once I get involved in a scene, and the words flow, I just hate to leave it behind and focus on the mundane day-to-day stuff! Writing transports me, and I love the process!
• Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I'd have to go back to Nora Roberts, for the reasons I stated earlier. I'm consistently amazed by her plots, her story-telling talent, and the way she structures such realistic dialogue, and such evocative senses of emotion and setting. She's amazing.
• What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Believe it or not, the hardest part is writing those two fateful words: THE END. Why? Because it's exciting and it means you've finished your story, yes, but it also means the story has been told - it's an ending. With as much as we invest in our characters, that can most definitely be a bittersweet moment.
• Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I like to think that each story I write teaches me something - either about the art of relationships, overcoming adversity and finding happiness despite obsticals. Writing is a great way of experiencing circumstnaces you may never come upon in reality, via characters you come to love. I guess, at the end of the day, that's the biggest lesson I've learned from writing.
• Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don't ever give up. At the bleakest point in my career, I still had people looking out for me, and pushing for me to succeed. As far as I'm concerned, that's a God thing! May you be equally blessed. The truth is, you never know what will happen, and how your work will affect someone who reads it. Keep pushing, and keep trying!
• Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I apprciate your support more than words can ever say. After struggling to become published, the idea that my books are out there in the world, is both humbling and thrilling. I want to connect with you and know more about you as well!
• Is there anything else you'd like to add?
That I thank God for the opportunities He has given me, and I pray always to spread his word, and love, through the written word.
• How can readers contact you? Do you have a website?
Please feel free to stopy by my website! I love to connect with readers! I can be found at : www.marianneevans.com or via facebook and I also have a blog which can be found at: www.marianneevans.blogspot.com