Her superpower is NOT keeping a desk tidy. Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
It is hard to say where my writing life began. I remember writing as a kid, but I was usually accompanying drawings, which were more important to me (though I was never a good artist). There came a point in my late teens when I could have applied to the National Musical Theater Conservatory or become a professional writer. I decided writing was a more stable career choice, and I was right. As far as early efforts, I have some boxes of very, very bad poetry I wrote in my teens, but I don’t think anything exists before that.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
I used to be an extrovert in the extreme, but the older I get, the more that has changed. I can certainly hold my own in a conversation, even with strangers, but at this point in my life, I would rather stay home than meet new people. (Who am I kidding? I’d rather gouge out my eyeball with a fork than go to a party.)
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
My primary partners in crime are my characters, and they have whatever powers I assign them. In the real world, though, I am part of the Bluestocking Belles , a group of Regency romance authors who support each other’s writing and marketing efforts. As a group project, we support the Malala Fund , and I think we would all agree that Malala Yousafzai is the one with the superpowers. We just write novels. She makes sure children around the world have the chance to be literate.
Where do you get your superpowers from?
For the most part, I learned them in school. Talent is easy. Craft takes work.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
The basement of a house in Denver, Colorado. My office has the prettiest yellow walls, and aside from kitten toys strewn everywhere and about ten different “cat spots” for India and Burton, it is quite neat—except my desk. Keeping a tidy desk would be a cool superpower to have. Maybe if I were electrocuted with a vacuum cleaner…
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world-saving form? How do you ensure they are used only for good?
Depends on which superpowers are under discussion. Any powers I have in the world of writing are kept in tip-top shape by listening to critique partners, especially when I don’t want to, and taking classes whenever I can, especially if I think I don’t need them.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
If I were a superhero, I would be invisible and walk around with no clothes on at all. Since I am currently only a part-time hero, sweatpants are my armor. (Of course, as a romance writer, I obviously wear pink chiffon dresses that float in the breeze. ;-))
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Setting and description are most difficult for me, but not writing when I’m uninspired gets me in more trouble in the long run. If I don’t write at least a little bit every day, it becomes too easy to let projects languish.
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
My supervillains are named India and Burton, two feral kittens I adopted in June, when they were about a month old. They have grown into extremely adorable, demanding, fuzzy, yowling, sweet, trying little buggers, who have no respect at all for deadlines. The thing is, they don’t look villainous at all…
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
Every time I write a new book, I learn new things, not only about writing, but about myself and my existential place in the world. The most important thing I have picked up is the ability to both ride the current and buck it in equal measure. I am not that great at determining when each is most appropriate.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
The most memorable experience of my life as a fiction writer was realizing that my first short story (turned long story) was going to turn itself into a novel (eventually two novels) whether I liked it or not. A very close second was when I finally identified the feeling I get when a new book is about to start.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I would never change embracing change. I hope to never remain so stuck in any mindset that I can’t see alternatives. This is extremely true in my writing life.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
If you are afraid of something, do it.
Royal Regard is a Regency romance about a shy girl turned ambassador’s wife, who returns to London after fifteen years travelling the globe. Given her husband’s influence and sizable fortune, she is subject to many, many pressures she would very much prefer to avoid, including the attentions of two importunate suitors.
Obviously, I want people to buy my book, but it isn’t a “drop-everything” proposition. I hope readers who enjoy romance novels will pick it up because it has an interesting plot, authentic characters, a well-researched historical setting, and great reviews. That said, there are plenty of folks out there telling the world to drop everything and buy their books. I have yet to buy one because someone told me I had to. So, if it sounds interesting, pick it up next time you are browsing your favorite online bookstore.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I have a new full-length novel that will come out in June, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, another Regency, about the illegitimate daughter of an Indian courtesan and a British peer, and I am also working on a series of prequel novellas about various characters in Royal Regard. Eventually, I have a Regency family series planned, and I have three mainstream historicals I have yet to finalize for publication.
You can find Mari at: