This Week’s Feature Author Interview with
Hi Marjorie Reynolds, welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website. Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what do you enjoy doing, hobbies and interests.
I am an author, speaker, writing teacher and former movie-advertising executive. I grew up in Mishawka, Indiana (hot and humid in summer, frigid and snowy in winter). After graduating from Indiana University in journalism, I wanted so much to be warm that I didn’t stay for commencement ceremonies. I hopped into my 1961 Plymouth Valiant and drove west. I was aiming for Southern California but I got only as far as Council Bluffs, Iowa. I became a reporter for The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, the city’s daily newspaper. I remember walking down the street one day, so cold that I felt like my belly button was touching my backbone. This was not California.
I got a job offer from The San Bernardino Sun-Telegram in California to be their “youth reporter.” That was when baby boomers were young and thought they owned the world. I married an Air Force sergeant (I still maintain he married me to get off the base) and after the appropriate amount of time we had two sons. We moved to Seattle and I stayed home with my boys for seven years, except for a short time at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I took over Frank Herbert’s position as education reporter. Frank had to quit his newspaper job because he was making much more money as the author of the book, Dune.
My husband told me it didn’t rain much in Seattle, and I actually believed him. What he didn’t tell me was for every sunny day in Phoenix there’s a cloudy day in Seattle. Fortunately, that was the last of his big lies — that I know of.
For the next seventeen years, I worked at an advertising agency that dealt with movie studios (free movie tickets, great fun). Within a few months after I became regional advertising director for Cineplex Odeon, the theater circuit closed our office. I decided to write a novel because I thought it would be easier than looking for a job. I was amazingly naive.
Over the years, I’ve published four novels (The Starlite Drive-in, The Civil Wars of Jonah Moran, Murder at Cape Foulweather and in July 2017, For the Love of Ethan. I also published a book on the writing craft, Take Your Novel to the Next Level, in March 2017.
I seem to be busy all the time, but my favorite volunteer job is rocking babies at an Early Childhood Learning Center in Palm Desert, CA where we spend our winters. These babies are little angels, and when I hold them I feel I’m in touch with Heaven.
I’m still married to the same guy and we spend our winters in Edmonds, WA near Seattle.
When did you start writing and why?
I wrote Nancy Drew-style mysteries in grade school and then at 16 went to work as an obituary writer and general news reporter for my hometown daily, The Mishawaka Times. One summer, I worked the police beat. The cops thought I looked like someone who had just stepped out of a convent so they enjoyed showing me gruesome photos. The one I remember most was a woman eaten by rats.
Which is your favorite book you have written and what gave you the idea for it?
The Starlite Drive-in, although I really like For the Love of Ethan, too.
The idea for Starlite came easily to me because I had great memories of my parents taking my brother and me to our local outdoor theater. I set the novel in the steamy summer of 1956 in Indiana where my memories reside.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Strangely, I didn’t choose the obvious. I originally titled it “The Drifter.” When I changed it to “The Starlite Drive-in,” my agent sold it quickly to William Morrow.
Who helped you with the cover? Or did your design it yourself? What was your inspiration for your cover design?
I was very fortunate because William Morrow came up with a perfect cover for the hardback showing a drive-in theater at night with 1950s cars. Berkeley did a good job with the paperback cover in two separate editions, and HarperCollins republished Starlite in 2011 with another new cover.
What are some of the themes of your story?
The main theme is entrapment. The mother, an agoraphobic, has trapped herself inside her house for five years. Her abusive husband wants to move to California where he can operate an outdoor theater all year around, but he can’t leave because of his wife’s self-entrapment. The drifter, who comes to work at the theater and falls in love with the wife, is terrified of being trapped. As a child, he was locked inside a closet and tried to claw his way out.
Starlite, narrated by a 12-year-old girl, is also a coming-of-age story. It did very well for me. It sold to seven countries, was optioned for film, won an American Library Association award for young adult novels, became a Literary Guild book
What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book? What is your process and do you have a system?
I’m a moody writer. I tell myself I’ll write for seven hours a day. When I get down to promising fifteen minutes a day and failing that, I take to my bed. Eventually, I go back to writing seven hours a day and manage to produce a novel in a year or so. It’s not a pleasant process, and I feel guilty when I’m not writing or teaching writing. That doesn’t mean I write a lot. It just means I feel guilty a lot.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Mostly the old ones: Hemingway, Faulkner, Harper Lee. Also, more recently, Pat Conroy.
Have you got anything you’re working on now?
For the Love of Ethan is in the publication process. It’s about a mother whose ordinary life runs smoothly — until Ethan, her ten-year-old son, becomes ill. He needs an organ transplant but he’s low on the United Network for Organ Sharing’s list. Delainie and her husband, Joel, must not only deal with the challenges of Ethan’s uncertain future but also make decisions that test their family bonds. Will they find a living donor? Will Delainie’s friend break into the UNOS list to move Ethan to the top? How far will a mother go to save her son? Delainie faces that agonizing choice.
If you could have any super powers what would they be?
Other than to cure cancer, I’d like to be a more prolific writer because it’s the only thing I’m good at. Even more importantly, I would like to bring back family and friends who have passed away.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do an author interview. Take a minute and check Marjorie Reynolds out on the links below. Marjorie Reynolds’ book, Take Your Novel to the Next Level, is available now on Amazon!
Marjorie Reynolds Goodreads Author Page
Marjorie Reynolds Facebook Page
Marjorie Reynolds Twitter
Marjorie Reynolds Amazon Author Page
A special sample of ‘For the Love of Ethan’ available now on Amazon for preorder!
I am an ordinary woman.
I have never rescued anyone from a burning building. I have never painted a picture, written a poem, or composed a piece of music that would live beyond me. I can recognize an eighteenth-century sampler in a box of old linens, but otherwise I possess no uncommon talents or skills. Giving birth to my son Ethan is the only truly important thing I have ever done.
If you had asked me a year ago if life was good, I would have said it was — at least it seemed that way the last time I’d looked at it. I had a devoted husband, a sweetheart of a son, and a charming vintage home with two mortgages that would be paid off in a hundred years. We’d had our problems, but through them all I’d careened along, taking little time for self-examination or introspection. It never occurred to me to feel dissatisfied with my limitations.
Should I have made better choices? Probably. Did I do everything possible to avoid what happened? No mother could ever answer that she did.