Award-winning Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, her latest titled No Bells. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She's also featured in the just-released book, The Mystery Writers.
Marilyn, why you write?
Writing is part of my life like breathing. I enjoy creating a story and seeing where it’s going to go. I love connecting with my readers either by way of the Internet or in person at promotion events.
When did you start writing and why?
I began creating stories before I could write by drawing pictures in what some might call a story board today. As soon as I began reading real stories I began writing my own. I’ve been writing ever since in one form or another.
How did your Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series come about as well as the Rocky Bluff PD?
I first became interested in law enforcement when my police officer son-in-law would come to my house after work, have a cup of coffee and tell me what he’d done on his shift. I went on a ride-along with him and with other officers–including a woman who was a single mom. She poured her heart out to me about how tough it was being the only woman in her department.
I interviewed a female resident deputy who lived in the mountain area where I live and about the same time met a Native American woman who’d grown up on the reservation nearby. I sort of combined these women into Deputy Tempe Crabtree.
When we lived in Oxnard, California, which is a beach community, we had several police officers and their families as neighbors. We were all good friends and I observed how the job affected their families and what was going on with the families affected their job. From there came the birth of the Rocky Bluff P.D. located in a small beach community.
Do you feel that ebooks are the wave of the future?
I’ve been electronically published for over ten years. Most e-publishers today publish electronically and in trade-paperback. There have been e-readers around for years, and now with the Sony E-Reader and Amazon’s Kindle, ebooks have really come into their own. Even some of my older books are now on Kindle.
What’s your writing schedule like and how long does it take to write one of your novels?
My goal is to write every morning at least three or four hours. It doesn’t always work out that way because when I have things I need I know have to be done, that weighs heavy on my mind. My writing will work better if I clear my desk–or computer, as the case may be.
I don’t have too many other projects going, I can finish a book in three months. Of course that doesn’t count the rewriting. Most books I usually read to my critique group too, a chapter at a time.
Are you a seat-of-the-pants novelist or do you outline your books? And do you know the ending before you start?
I don’t outline in the true sense of the word, but I start collecting ideas first. Then I decide on characters–who will be the murder victim, if there is one, in the book I’m writing now, I don’t think anyone’s going to die, who the murder could be, usually several folks that had a motive and the opportunity. Then I write something about each of those characters so I can get to know them.
Have you had any strange or humorous events happen while you were researching a book, and do you visit the locations to get a feeling for your settings?
In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, I’m relying on my memories of living near the beach for twenty years. In my book, No Sanctuary, the two churches are similar to ones I’ve gone to in the past–but the ministers are totally made-up. I’ve lived a long time so I can reach back into my experiences for a lot that I write about.
For my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, I’ve done a lot of research about Native American culture and visited the reservation and the casino. My most exciting research happened when I discovered that the Tule River Indians (who I write about but call them a different name) believe in a Big Foot like creature called the Hairy Man and that there are pictographs of him and his family on the reservation. I’ve talked a couple of times to the anthropology class and when I talked to the professor about the pictographs he invited me on a college field trip to see the pictographs. What a wonderful experience! The pictographs are hidden away. To get to them you have to climb down huge slippery boulders. Fortunately, the college kids helped me get down there–and back up. The Tule River Indian who guided us told us some wonderful legends and stories of sightings of the Hairy Man. The Hairy Man is in the Tempe book that was released during the fall of 2009, called Dispel the Mist.
Who most influenced your work?
Once I joined a critique group, about 30 years ago, I met a wonderful author named Willma Gore who helped me more with my writing than any other person. Willma wrote and still writes for all sorts of publications and has had several books published, fiction and non-fiction. She taught me more than any writing class or conference I ever attended.
Favorite author and why?
I have far too many favorites to even list them. Jan Burke has always been one of my favorites. I started with her Irene Kelly series and just kept on reading. I've met her several times, and she's a sweet person as well as a good writer.
Betty Webb is another. She's tackled a social issue that has plagued Arizona and now she's changed gears a bit and started a new, lighter series. I admire her courage--and she's also a nice person.
Some men that I really like to read are William Kent Krueger and James Lee Burke, and I love the way both of them describe settings.
Advice to fledgling writers?
Read what you want to write. Learn the basics of writing. Write every single day. When you are done have someone who knows what to look for edit your book. Join a critique group. And when you have begun the submitting process, start writing another book. Do not let rejections stop you. Over the years I’ve met several gifted writers who got discouraged after one or two rejections. My first book received nearly 30 rejections before it was accepted. Over the years, most of my books have been rejected at least once, some several times. Rewrite when necessary.
Marilyn's website: http://fictionforyou.com
Her Blogs: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Stiletto Gang blog: http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com (every Tuesday)
Make Mine Mystery: http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com (1st & 3rd Tuesdays)