Today I'm happy to feature author Marlene Bateman--she has an impressive lineup of books available and came by my blog for an interview!
Q&A with Marlene Bateman
How did you learn to write?
Learning how to write is an ongoing process. I started in elementary school, did more writing in college, and worked on it after I was married. I’ve spent countless hours on manuscripts that were never published, but I don’t count that as a loss, since it helped me improve my writing. I have a bookshelf full of books on writing and every weekday morning, I try to read 2-4 pages. I underline important parts, then type them up, which hopefully, sets the ideas in my brain. When I’m done with the book, I print out my notes and save them in a master binder so I can look them over now and then.
Another thing that helps me learn how to be a better writer is to pay attention when I read. If I don’t like something, I try to figure out why I don’t and try not to do that in my own writing! And when I read something I like, I try to think about why I liked it, and why it worked so I can use that same technique in my own writing. I also attend a yearly writer’s conference and the wonderful workshops help me learn more about the craft of writing. Anyone can write—as long as they are willing to practice and study.
R: I agree! That is a fantastic process.
What is the funnest thing about being an author? The most frustrating thing?
The greatest thing is simply being able to sit down and take time to write. When my children were small, I felt very guilty taking time to write, as though it was some nefarious indulgence. Now that I’ve published nine books, I no longer feel guilty taking time to do what I enjoy. Sometimes writing is difficult, but I love it. I’ve always felt driven to write. I have such a deep inner desire to put words down that I sometimes wonder if I’m an addict! It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and pleasure to write, polish and revise and get the words just right.
The most frustrating thing for me is usually the first draft. I’m not sure why, but it’s very difficult for me to get the rough draft down. I enjoy coming up with an idea and plotting out the story line, but the first draft is torture. It seems that whatever I write is garbage. I take heart only in knowing that you have to get something down before you can revise, and that revising is the essence of good writing. I liken revising to taking a nondescript stone and polishing it until it sparkles. So, I grind my way through the rough draft, and then enjoy the revising process, going through the manuscript 6-10 times until I’m satisfied.
What made you always want to be a writer, and what was the plot of the first story you ever wrote?
I think a large part of wanting to be a writer came from reading so much. As a child, I was a voracious reader. For three years in a row in elementary school, I won the award for reading the most books. And the prize was: A book! I was delighted, of course.
Sometimes I wonder if writers are born, because I’ve certainly always wanted to write. I think one of my earliest stories was about my brother’s blue car, which he parked in the back yard when he went on his mission. I was about ten, and wrote about how sad the car was to be alone, and how birds came and sat on it, and so on. My mother thought it was so “precious” that she shared it with other people, which embarrassed me to death.
R: LOL! That is precious. I used to write books in my head all the time and might have talked to myself/my characters a lot when I was young. :)
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
Since I write mysteries, I have to know how the book is going to end before I can start the first chapter. I write a rough draft of the last chapter, then the first chapter, and go on from there. I have to plot very carefully to make sure that all the clues are in place at the right time, and to keep up the suspense. Plotting can be hard, but its very important and actually saves time in the end, since you don’t have to rewrite as much, putting in important information that should have been there in the first place. Once you get your storyline laid out, you have a structure to follow. A contractor would never begin building a house without plans, and to my way of thinking, a mystery writer would never write without having a basic plot down on paper.
What else have you written?
My first book was non-fiction; Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines. This book is a compilation of true stories about people in early Church history who risked their life in defense of the gospel.
My next three books are about angelic experiences and are also compilations of true stories in early Church History. The first book is; And There Were Angels Among Them. The second book in this series is, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and the third is; By the Ministering of Angels. Researching and writing these books made me realize how much Heavenly Father loves his children and that He is completely aware of us and our lives.
I then wrote another non-fiction book; Brigham’s Boys, which tells the life stories of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young as he brought the Saints across the plains and colonized the Great Basin area.
My first novel, Light on Fire Island came next and I was so happy that it became a bestseller. I then returned to non-fiction and wrote Gaze into Heaven, which contains 50 carefully documented, near-death experiences of people in early church history. It’s comforting as well as fascinating.
What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Never. Give. Up.
People don’t fail because they can’t write, they fail because they stop trying. I have a yellowed newspaper clipping by my computer that says; “For most of us, it isn’t that we don’t have the ability to write, it’s that we don’t devote the time. You have to put in the effort.” Another way of saying that is if you want to write and be published bad enough, you’ll work for it. And if you put in the work, your writing will improve and you WILL be published.
R: Excellent thoughts! I agree--if you work hard, you can DO anything. Thanks for sharing your love of writing with us!
Now here's an excerpt from Motive for Murder:
Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.
Erica imagined that her trip to Florida would be a slice of heaven—a chance to get away from it all and catch up with her best friend, Wendy. But one day into her vacation, all hope of fun in the sun is dashed when she stumbles, literally, over a dead man on Wendy’s driveway. With police closing in on her friend as their main suspect, Erica must find the real killer before Wendy ends up behind bars.
With Erica’s skill, solving the mystery should be a piece of cake but then a second homicide-attempt hits close to home and generates a whole new list of suspects. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, a murderer is on the prowl, and no one is above suspicion.
As the plot thickens, it appears Erica may have bitten off more than she can chew, but she forges on, sifting through mounting evidence until she hones in on the killer who has a surprising motive for murder. With a dash of romance and some surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
Seagull Book: http://www.seagullbook.com/
Marlene's website is: www.marlenebateman.info