Q & A with Marlene Bateman
How did you get started on the writing path and how long did it take you to write your first novel? How long until that novel was published?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer—ever since I was in elementary school. When I got married and had children, I stopped writing until the children got older. Then I began carving out time to write articles and stories for magazine. Next, I wrote a number of non-fiction books. Then I decided I wanted to write a novel. So I developed a plot and started writing Light on Fire Island, which is a mystery romance. Taking care of children really slowed me down and it took me three years to finish. With the kids growing up, I’ve gotten a little faster. Now, if I work hard, I can do a non-fiction book in 6-9 months and a mystery in 9 months. After my novel was accepted, it took 2 1/2 years until it was published. That was frustrating, but it’s part of the process, so I just go with the flow. Since then, I’ve written three other novels and I’m almost done with another!
What is your favorite part about writing? Least favorite?
The greatest thing is simply being able to sit down and have time to write. When my children were small, I felt very guilty about taking the time to write—as though it was some nefarious indulgence. But now I no longer feel guilty taking time to do what I enjoy. There is a joy in having characters come to life and in getting the story just right. It’s often difficult, sometimes is a chore, but I love it. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and pleasure to write, polish and revise and get the words just right.
The least favorite thing for me is usually the first draft. I’m not sure why, but it’s difficult for me to get the rough draft down. I enjoy coming up with ideas and plotting out the story line, but actually writing the first draft is torture. It seems that everything I write is garbage. The only thing that gives me hope is knowing that I can revise. And I know I have to get something down before I can revise, so I grind my way through that awful rough draft. After that, I truly enjoy the revising process, and go through the manuscript over and over and over until I’m satisfied.
Can you give some advice to aspiring writers?
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.” I believe that. I tell aspiring authors that if they want to write and be published bad enough, they will work hard at learning the craft of writing. And if they work hard and study and practice, their writing will improve. And as their writing improves, they WILL be published.
You write LDS non-fiction as well. Tell us about a couple of those books, please.
My most recent non-fiction books are; Heroes of Faith, which is a collection of true stories about people who stood firm in the faith despite mobs, bullets and overwhelming trials. Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, is a collection of true, carefully documented near-death experiences, which occurred to people in the early days of the LDS church.
My first non-fiction book was Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, which is a compilation of true stories about people in early LDS Church history who risked their life in defense of the gospel. My next three books are also compilations of true stories in early Church History, and are about angelic experiences. The first book is; And There Were Angels Among Them. The second book 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 aware of us and our lives.
*Thank you so much for stopping by Marlene! I admire you for developing your talents and keeping up with your dreams over the years. As a mom of young children right now, it's encouraging and validating to meet other writers who put family first and are still able to accomplish personal goals!
Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan. Her hobbies include gardening, camping, reading, and enjoying her four cats and three dogs.
Marlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder—the first in a mystery series that features Erica Coleman, a quirky private eye with OCD. The next book in that line, (they do not have to be read in order) is A Death in the Family.
Marlene has also written a number of LDS non-fiction books under the name Marlene Bateman Sullivan. Those books include: Gaze Into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, which is a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early latter-day Saints, Heroes of Faith, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines. Marlene also wrote three books about documented accounts in early LDS church history when a person either saw or heard an angel; Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, And There Were Angels Among Them, and By the Ministering of Angels.