Through my journey on AbsoluteWrite, I had the pleasure of meeting Marilee Brothers. She is a true gem in the literary world, and if you haven’t read her yet, you’re missing out! After reading Moonstone, I immediately emailed my Media Specialist and several others in my county and said, “We gotta get this book!” Luckily, they agreed.
So, I had a moment to sit down with Marilee and talk with her about the release of Moon Rise, the sequel to Moonstone.
(1). When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? How has the journey been for you?
I’ve always been a mad, crazy reader. In fact, if I finish one book and don’t have another on deck, I go into withdrawal, complete with shivering fits. When I was working full time, teaching, coaching, going to summer school and raising kids, I dabbled in short stories and poetry. As the years passed and I had more time, I got serious about writing. I joined RWA and started entering contests. My area of Washington state is not heavily populated, so it took some time find other writers. I’m now in a wonderful critique group with people I trust. I value their opinions immensely since, as writers, we simply cannot be objective about our own writing. It’s been a long, hard journey to publication, but I learned a great deal along the way.
(2). There is an interesting story of how you became published by the lovely ladies at BelleBooks. Could you tell us about that?
I started writing Moonstone, but wasn’t too enthusiastic about it, because I was trying to sell The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam. At that time, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write YA. I had forty pages done when I entered three RWA contests in order to get feedback. Two of the contests slapped me down big time, basically saying, “Hey, this isn’t a romance!” But, I did make the finals in the third contest, The Dual on the Delta. One judge was lukewarm, one hated it and one loved it. I found out six months later, the judge who loved it was Debra Dixon of Belle Books. She found my website and contacted me. Of course, I hadn’t finished the book! Bottom line: I wrote the rest of it quickly and they offered me a contract.
(3). How did the story of Moonstone come to you?
I know a young woman who grew up in circumstances similar to Allie’s. Her family lived in a small travel trailer next to a cow pasture. Each week, they hitched the trailer to their pickup, and drove to the sewer dump. Her mother had health issues. Money was scarce. School clothes came from yard sales and thrift shops. Despite her hardships, the girl managed to graduate from high school. Her experience lingered in my mind and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if she’d had paranormal powers? What would happen? How would her life change? Would it make her life better or worse? With that premise, I was off and running.
(4). I have to say that Allie’s voice is dead-on for a teenager in Moonstone. How did you channel your inner-teen?
Do you remember what it was like to be fifteen? I’ve asked a lot of women the same question and they all say, “Oh, yeah, like it was yesterday.”
Why is the age fifteen so significant for women? I don’t know. It just is. But, one thing I know for sure. Allie speaks to me and I tell her story.
(5). I also have to say I had several “laugh out loud” moments while reading…leading me to get a few strange looks at the beach. Do you feel it’s important to weave humor into your books?
Whoa, you read my book at the beach? You don’t know how excited that makes me! I’ve always told my husband, “If I ever see somebody reading one of my books at the beach, I’ll consider myself a success.” True, I didn’t actually see you, but I have a very active imagination, so let’s take a moment. I’m visualizing Krista at the beach, cool drink at hand, the sound of waves lapping against the shore, a brisk ocean breeze tossing her luxuriant, golden tresses as she reads MY BOOK, Moonstone. (Picture me pumping a fist and shouting, “Yes!”)
*Wow, that’s eerie! That’s pretty much dead on to me in Hilton Head this summer!! Er, back to the interview now….
On the humor issue, I discovered I can’t write any other way. My first book was a medieval romance and the first chapter had a very tragic scene in which the heroine’s younger brother falls from a castle window onto the bailey and bashes his tiny brains out. Very grim. Each day, I had to force myself to write. Finally, I realized I was fighting my nature. I wanted to write “funny.” I changed the whole thing to a paranormal, complete with ghost and magic crystal and, in the process, found my voice.
(6). The sequel to Moonstone, Moon Rise, was just released. Can you give us fans of Allie a little taste of what we will see in the novel? And please tell me Junior is coming back….lol
Allie has lost her powers. Junior is in Mexico. Don’t worry, he has a major role in Book Three. The old Bradford place is now home to Melissa Bradford and her seventeen-year-old twins, Beck and Nicole, who aren’t…well, exactly human. Beck is definitely swoon-worthy. Quite by accident, Allie finds out Beck is her healer, the one who can restore her powers. Needless to say, there are still lots of bad guys after the moonstone.
(7). Often we base characters by people we know in real life. Is there a little Marilee in Allie?
Yes. I confess I have a bit of a smart mouth. Also, I’ve given Allie qualities I wish I’d had at age fifteen. She’s more confident and much braver than I was. That’s the great thing about writing fiction. You can put some of yourself in your characters and change history.
(8). You are contracted for two more books in the series. How’s the writing coming on Book Three?
Actually, I’m contracted for four more books. I’ve just completed Chapter Nine of Allie’s third adventure and I’m having so much fun with it. Think faeries!
(9). I have to say that I love the title of your adult book, The Rock N Roll Queen of Bedlam. Can you tell us a little about that?
Allegra Thome, the protagonist, teaches behavior-disordered teens, hence the bedlam. Recently divorced, Allegra lives with her grandmother and aunt in Grandma Sybil’s big Victorian house. In their spare time, the three sing karaoke (60’s and 70’s rock) at retirement homes, hence the rock and roll. As the book opens, Sara, one of Allegra’s students, goes missing. Since Sara’s a foster kid, nobody seems to care that she’s gone except Allegra and her nephew, Nick. There’s also a sub plot featuring a romance with DEA agent, Sloan. The book has some fairly dark stuff in it, but, as per question 5, it’s sprinkled with humor. Since I spent a number of years as a teacher and counselor, this is the book of my heart.
(10).What can you not live without when it comes to writing?
Starbucks Verona Bold and my laptop.
*Wanna get into Allie’s world? We’re giving away Moon Rise starting tomorrow! Be sure to check back and register to win!!! (Please note that this contest has closed)
Originally published on Old People Writing for Teens. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.