Saturday, August 16, 2014
When the Shoe Fits...An Interview with Author Mary Wagner
Linda: I'm pleased to sit down with Author Mary Wagner, a former newspaper and magazine journalist who changed careers at forty by going to law school and becoming a criminal prosecutor then plunging back into writing with her blog turned book "Running with Stilettos." Welcome, Mary. Thanks for stopping by to visit with us.
Mary: Hi Linda, and thanks so much for having me over!
Linda: As a woman whose philosophy is “Buy the shoes, the outfit will come” I love the titles of your books, especially your most recent When the Shoe Fits. How did you come up with the titles?
Mary: By serendipity, which is how just about everything good in my life happens. I never even bought my first pair of spike heels until I was…let’s just say on the far side of forty. I had been a newspaper journalist and then took up freelance writing when I was a soccer mom. After my fourth child was born, I survived a terrible accident, and then I changed directions completely and went to law school. I thought that my writing days were behind me…but then a friend I worked with and her husband who was a stay-home dad and a blogger convinced me to start writing a blog. My first choice of names was something like “Living Full Throttle,” but someone had bought the domain. So we started brainstorming, and all of a sudden, "Running with Stilettos" was at the top of the list! The shoe theme flowed from that…but by the time I assembled the third essay collection, "Fabulous in Flats," I didn’t want to be in a style rut so I chose gold ballet flats with an outrageous bow for the cover. I actually bought the shoes without trying them on, simply because I thought they’d make a good cover, and was surprised at just how comfortable they turned out to be!
Linda: I'm a very private person, so the idea of letting the public into my personal life makes me quake. How did you feel when you decided to publish your essays knowing your friends, family and strangers would get an up close and personal look at your life? How do your friends and family feel about being under the microscope?
Mary: Well…I had written to please various “masters” for so much of my life that finally writing about what was in my head and heart was very liberating. And while I certainly appreciate the skill and honesty of those memoirists who lay bare every single horrible toxic thing or person they’ve ever endured, I tend to write more about the good things. You’ll find loss in my essays, and heartaches, and disappointments. But I like to think that those things are far overshadowed by the positives—love, and hope, and warmth, and optimism. I also write everything knowing that MY KIDS WILL PROBABLY READ IT AT SOME POINT! So there’s a natural PG-13 filter that kicks in. My children have been across-the-board great and encouraging about this whole writing adventure.
Linda: Which essay is your favorite? Why?
Mary: Ohhhhh…. I go back and forth on that. Right now I’m leaning toward one that’s in the new book called “The Devil on Horseback.” It’s all about how I came across a regency romance novel at a flea market when I was vacationing with my daughters. I used to read these when I was a young girl and they totally formed my romantic ideals. But when I went back to this kind of story a few decades of growing up later, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous!!
Linda: You are one busy woman! I would imagine your writing success is a mixed blessing, meaning you're busier than ever. What's the biggest challenge to balancing your writing time with other areas of your life?
Mary: I could use 48 hours in a day. Housework comes in dead last, after things like work, pets, friends, photography, and pulling weeds out of the flower beds. I manage to fit in writing in whatever spot I find myself with a little peace and quiet. I wrote most of Interview with the Meatball on the “notepad” of my smart phone one evening after walking in the woods with the critters, because I just couldn’t tear myself away from a nice seat on the patio in the fresh air. And I scribbled most of Shore Lines on the back of a used manila envelope as I sat in the car by the beach, looking out at Lake Michigan. I just didn’t want the words to evaporate with the fog.
Linda: Your website indicates your “blog turned into one book, then another, then yet another.” Makes it sound like the journey to publication was easy. Would you agree with that? How did it happen?
Mary: Well it has certainly been an adventure and a learning experience! When I set out to round up a collection of essays into the first book, “Running with Stilettos,” I shopped it around for a little while to agents and publishers. The rejection letters were always nice and encouraging but…at the end of them they still said “no.” So I took stock of my expected shelf life wearing spike heels, the lead time it would take to get a finished book in my hands if I DID snag a “traditional” publisher, and the fact that life can turn on a dime and I wanted something I could hand off to my children. So I took the plunge into self-publishing and picked a company a fellow author had researched and used. Then a few years later, I discovered that I could do this quicker, easier and cheaper by publishing through Amazon’s self-publishing arm and so I yanked my original contracts and now go the Amazon route. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart…but don’t ignore the fun you can have too!
Linda: Your website lists several fiction projects in the works. What can readers expect from you next?
Mary: I suspect I may have to adopt a pen name for some of these projects but…I have three YA novels backed up in my head, with three entirely different themes. All I’ll say at this point is that you will not find a single vampire, witch, werewolf, mermaid or wizard in any of them! Then there’s a series of children’s books in the vein of “Bunnicula.” I just LOVED the sly humor in that classic! And of course, there’s the suspense novel that I put on hold several years ago that keeps calling my name.
Linda: Thank you for stopping by today; it was fun getting to know you. Congratulations on your new book “When the Shoe Fits...Essays of Love, Life and Second Chances” available on Amazon.com as an e-book or paperback. To learn more about Mary and her books visit her website www.marytwagner.com.
A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Matchett also writes historical fiction. She is currently seeking a publisher for her series about war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.lindashentonmatchett.com.