Marny, first of all I’m so impressed you have a background in anthropology and archaeology, two of my favorite subjects. I once considered archaeology as a major because I loved to dig in the dirt. Seriously though, tell us what exactly drew you to these two fields of study? And were you ever on an excavation dig? If so, we’d love to hear what you were looking for?
Who doesn’t like digging in dirt? I remember actually eating dirt as a very small child. (I guess Mom couldn’t watch me every minute.) Plus, my mud pie collection was the envy of the neighborhood.
In the United States, anthropology is typically divided into four fields: cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. My first true love was cultural anthropology. Various customs, religions, mythologies, folklores, social structures, attitudes, and healing practices have always been intriguing to me, and those interests went hand in hand with my devotion to fantasy and science fiction when I was growing up.
As for archaeology, I took a fieldwork class one summer to fulfill degree requirements and really liked it. Once I graduated, I found work in archaeology, and I’ve been on excavations throughout Oregon. Mostly we found stone flakes, which are the byproduct of stone tool manufacture, but we also came across projectile points and other implements. I also worked on historic sites in the region. Finding dates and places of manufacture for old bottles and pieces of pottery is a lot of fun for me.
I’ll just get this out of the way now. I LOVED Quinn, Del, and Kasey, your main characters in Freeblood, the first book in the Quinn Chronicles, an urban fantasy / thriller. Plus, I loved your take on the vampire and the setting of Portland made it all the more compelling. What inspired you to jump into the vampire / paranormal genre?
Thank you! I’m glad to hear that the characters resonated with you. I have always been fascinated by myths and folklore, and the vampire yarn is one of my favorites. I also like the gritty feel of urban fantasies, and the old Portland—the real historic city—was a rough place, particularly on the waterfront. Mainly I jumped in because I felt compelled to write Quinn’s story. The tension surrounding the character pulls at me, and I feel the need to explore it.
How long did it take you to write Freeblood? And was there ever a time you weren’t sure you were going to finish?
It took me about five years. I was determined to finish and didn’t entertain the thought of quitting.
I know you’re writing the follow up book to Freeblood. What do you do when you’re having difficulty with a scene? How do you get past it? Do you talk it out with someone else or step away from the story for a bit?
I tend to put a scene to one side if I’m having difficulty with it. Solutions often come to me out of the blue, so I don’t push to make things happen. If I need an answer, I’ll go for a walk, and I’ll usually get one. If it’s something that can’t be answered because I haven’t figured out another plot point, I put it off until I’ve worked out the other details.
Did you always have the confidence to self-publish, or did it build slowly over time
I view self-publishing as a learning experience. I knew I wouldn’t discover anything useful if I didn’t take the plunge. I was on pins and needles before the first reviews, but in general, people seem to like the book, so that’s added to my comfort level.
I wasn’t hugely confident to start with, but I also didn’t think I had much to lose by giving it a try.
Do family and friends lend a measure of support to your writing efforts and your work?
It’s a mixed bag. Some are very enthusiastic, and others are less interested. Having that dichotomy has made me even more grateful to the people who do show their support.
How do you handle it when people gush over your work?
I love the characters and the book, so I’m happy to talk about them. I don’t know that anyone has actually gushed over my work.
Hopefully we’ll change that gushing part. Who influenced you the most to become a writer? A parent, a teacher?
All the writers whose books I loved are the biggest influence. I was an avid reader as a kid, I devoured stories of all kinds, and my simple adoration of the written word led to my pursuit of writing.
Are you ever tempted to write outside the genre you’re best known for?
I enjoy reading a variety of books, so I could see myself writing science fiction novels, romances, and mysteries, to name a few.
If you could sit down with one author and ask one question, which author would it be and what would you ask?
One of my favorite mystery writers is Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Mertz), who has a PhD in Egyptology. I would ask her for a favorite anecdote about Egypt, either from her research or personal experiences.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t at the laptop writing?
More dirt, I’m afraid. I putter around in the garden when the weather is nice. Aside from that, I like to (in no particular order) explore out-of-the-way places, play around with crafts (knitting, sewing), spend time with my husband, hang out with the cats, watch TV, and read.
This next question was inspired by children’s author Ngaire Elder. Thanks Ngaire!!! You’ve been whisked away by your husband to a tropical island, no phones, no flat screen, nothing to depend on for outside distraction for a month long getaway. What books would you bring with you? What music?
For books, I would take a mix of authors I know I love as well as those I’ve never read, including indies. I’d toss in some classics I’ve been meaning to get to, along with craft and art books.
This might surprise you: I wouldn’t bring any music. While I do enjoy a range of musical styles, I also like the natural sounds of birds, insects, rain, and waves, and I would want to fill my ears with the island’s unique and exotic noises.
You live in Eugene, Oregon.In my opinion it’s one of the best “little” towns in the country. My trip to Eugene yielded me an appreciation for community awareness. I’ve never seen a town rally to buy a property before like your neighbors did when they purchased Madison Meadow and kept it from falling into the hands of developers. A truly inspiring story, in my opinion. What drew you to settle in this awesome town?
The story of Madison Meadow is truly wonderful. People in Eugene like their green spaces and wetlands, and we tend to resist overdevelopment. The area in general is known for its environmental activism, and local organic food is very easy to come by.
With a population of 157,000 and the second-largest city in Oregon, Eugene is a good compromise for my husband and me. I grew up in a community of about 15,000, and spent part of each summer in a remote location where the nearest town was miles away and housed some 200 souls. He, on the other hand, was raised in a metropolitan area of about 1 million. We met at the University of Oregon in Eugene, liked the location, and decided to settle here when we got married. It didn’t occur to us until years later that it was a perfect pick for the both of us.
Eugene offers unique events such as the Oregon Bach Festival, the Sasquatch Brew Fest (featuring craft beers), and the Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival. Our Saturday Market is the oldest weekly open-air market in the nation. Also known as “Track Town,” Eugene will host the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in 2016. We also hosted in 2008 and 2012.
Well, I love Eugene, Oregon! One last question and we’re done. Where can people find your books? Contact you online?
Thanks, Vickie, for asking great questions! They were fun to think about. Some really had me stumped!
Come back anytime, Marny. I enjoyed getting to know you!!