Interview With Mary Deal

When did you first become interested in writing?

All my life I have written notes and journal entries, even started a novel decades ago. However, I took a real interest in getting published in 1990 and haven’t stopped writing since.

What style of writing do you use most?

My novels are suspense and thriller, told in 3rd Person.

Has your style changed from when you first began as an author?

Definitely. My stories are more complete in detail, more explicit in emotion and, well, I believe I’ve polished my use of adverbs. The right one here or there can make or break a story.

“The perp torched himself,” a fireman said, shouting to be heard over the clamor.

“How soon can we get in there?” the officer asked.

“You aren’t going to ID this one right away,” the fireman said. “He melted like wax.”

From my latest thriller, “Down to the Needle:”

In what way do you usually put down your ideas first?

I must go directly to my computer.

What made you choose that medium?

My hands cannot write the words as fast as my brain produces them. The computer doesn’t either but it’s much faster. When I’m not near a computer, like when I travel, I suffer longhand because I refuse to let any good ideas escape.

Do your ideas come from life or imagination?

Both, and my Egyptian novel, “The Ka,” came out of a dream.

How do you choose your characters, if fact, how do you choose the subject?

It’s my experience that characters are what we writers make them; we create them to suit your story and we make them plausible, real. As far as subject, that comes with the inspiration that triggers a story. My latest thriller, “Down to the Needle,” came from reading a newspaper article about a man being put to death when the evidence didn’t prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

From “River Bones,” my award winning thriller:

Blood red letters filler the top of the news page on the monitor screen: Serial Killer Victim Identified.

Reading the updates always set Sara’s nerves on edge. She thought she had heard someone walking around her property late at night but could never find a trace of anyone being there.

Who is your favourite author?

Dostoevsky, because he really got into his characters’ minds, showed inner turmoil, conscience or lack of it, all inner qualities behind motivations.

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?

That’s a tough choice. I can see improvement in each of my books as I write and practice the craft. In fact, I’m contemplating on going back and republishing my first novel, “The Tropics,” to bring it up to the standard of writing I now produce. Nothing is actually wrong with it; it’s still selling today.

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

The first drafts of my novels usually take two and one half to three months; up to another year to edit and polish. Then I put it aside for many weeks or months and start a new story. Later I go back and spend another few months editing and polishing to final form. It’s amazing what a writer learns in a year’s time that can be used to improve each piece of work. However, I spent four years researching 3500 years of Egyptian dynasties searching for the proper place to weaves my threads of fantasy, during which I wrote one of my mysteries to first draft, plus many short stories and poetry.

How well do you take criticism?

Give it to me. All I ask is be truthful. I’m also an editor. If I can’t take criticism, I shouldn’t be giving it to others.

From “The Ka,” a paranormal Egyptian suspense:

“Witch!” Randy Osborne said as he strode around the room wearing a contemptible smirk. “You’re an out ‘n out witch!”

“Your choice of labels defines your ignorance,” Chione said, not backing down from his stare. Witch was his mother’s terminology. If pressed he always quoted her.

What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

Never had one, but I understand what writers go through and so I write articles to help them understand what causes it and how to overcome it.

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

Each of my novels, and short stories as well, contains a reason for being that I wish to convey. They don’t start out that way, but when I feel the plot has come full circle to resolution, I look for the best place to let go. And it must end in a way that will stay with the reader.

Have you had been published?

My book publisher is iUniverse. As far as magazines, anthologies and websites, I have a list longer than your leg of publications that accepted my work. I’m also Associate and Contributing Editor of Mississippi Crow magazine. Presently, my articles appear on several blogs regularly. I am also a columnist for Kauai’s local newspaper, The Garden Island. My column is, of course, about writing. It’s my intention to take the reader from a story idea, to getting the story written, and then polished and ready to submit. I publish an article a month, but from reader comments, that’s too slow and the paper may begin to publish my articles with more frequency.

From “The Tropics,” a trilogy of adventure/suspense novellas:

“People die at Ke`e Beach, Lillian,” Glen said. “Why do you keep going back there?”

“Careless people,” she said, enunciating. “Careless people die at all beaches.” But then she remembered how many people had been having accidents and floating up dead at that particular beach.

Have you any publications planned for the future?

I have several ebooks planned pertaining to writing, perhaps an accumulation of all my articles. I also have two ebooks relative to my previous career as a therapist. As far as novels, since my thriller, “River Bones,’ won a huge award, and since readers love the characters, I am now in the process of writing two sequels, serializing the life of the main character. The first sequel is set in the Vietnam jungle and on Kauai. The second sequel takes place mostly in Borneo. I maintain a list of plots that I wish to write, in either book form or short story. I’m not at a loss for material and may never get to all of it in this lifetime, especially since the ideas for new plots just keep popping up.

What are your plans for the future?

Write, paint, photograph, swim, snorkel, dance, keep up my yoga, finish learning Tai Chi, and most importantly, work out a way to see my son more often. He lives about five thousand miles away.

What advice would you give new authors?

Slap a liberal coating of glue to your chair. When you realize you can’t leave, either study writing or write. There is no other way. Oh yes, turn off the TV or stereo. Let your mind work freely on creativity only.

Have you done any courses to help you?

No courses, but I have maintained a major library of nearly every book written about writing, screenwriting, editing, publishing and on and on. Many of these I’m now passing on to other serious writers.

From my Flash Fiction piece, “Grandpappy’s Cows,” written when my Muse was at her humorous best.

Grammy and Grandpappy had fifteen youngins of their own so I had me a mess ‘o cousins. Most of the boys looked the same, with straggly blond hair and mean squinty eyes. We girls was better. We looked different from one another by our hair color and sizes of our bosoms.

What do you do to market your work?

My main source of promotion is my own mega-website where I offer writing advice for free for any writers willing to read and study the examples that are analyzed. I promote my book and other writers there and my art as well. I strive to keep solid information available for both creative and business writing in order to keep my high rating with Google. I am on roughly fifty websites and blogs, and social sites. In the past, I’ve scheduled my own book tours, but what that’s proven is that you build readership, but book tours don’t necessarily sell books unless you have mega-dollars to announce your pending arrival. I also send my books out for reviews and enter contests. Too, I have an entire collection of unpublished stories and articles that I keep submitting till they get published somewhere. When they are published, links to my books and sites are freely allowed.

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

Use my name to find me anywhere; FaceBook, Tagged, Twitter, and My Space. I promote on many other social sites for writers but too numerous to mention. A word of caution to writers: Do not spend a lot of time where writers congregate to promote their work. You’re all promoting to one another when you should be reaching higher up the proverbial ladder in the chain of people who make things happen.

Are you interested in collaborating with artists?

I’d need more clarification here. I don’t work well with others when it comes to writing because I’m moving too fast. Often times I’ve got three of four Windows open and working on that many stories or articles at a time simultaneously. However, I have thought of having my next book cover designed by someone else, and I have thought about offering contests on my website using picture prompts. Your idea sounds intriguing but I’d need more information.

Have you got hobbies?

My oil painting and photography started as hobbies but have graduated to being paying hobbies. I also love to sew, having made every drapery, curtain and cushion in my home. I also tailor a lot of my clothing.

Where are you based?

My home is in Kapa`a on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. We are the northern-most island in the Hawaiian chain and also the most remote land mass on earth.

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