I’m very excited to say I had the opportunity this week to ask author Mary T Bradford a few questions about her writing journey and career. In this interview, Mary offers us an insight into the publishing process through sharing her own experiences with us, and gifts an interesting and unique piece of flash fiction at the end. I’ll say in advance, I was impressed and surprised at her take on the prompt. I expected the typical ‘kidnapping’ approach, but Mary shows us that the imagination of an author cannot be predicted!
You can find Mary’s website here. Want an interview like this one? Leave a comment!
Where did your writing journey start?
I guess it started way back when I was five years old and joined my local library. I love reading and although I have read all my life I never thought about writing a story until I was in my twenties. It began with my first born, I wrote down all the antics he got up to as a toddler. I suppose it documented his early years and when family read those pieces they encouraged me to consider writing stories. I enrolled on a creative writing correspondence course with a Dublin college and graduated with a diploma with distinction. Most young people would probably ask what a correspondence course is. Well it’s like an online course nowadays but you posted your assignments to your tutor and received your work by post too, so it involved a lot of trips to the Post Office. So after that I continued to write short stories and submitted them to national magazines and newspapers. Thankfully I have been successful in publication.
Is writing something you find energising or draining? Tell me a little about the process. What you like, what you don’t?
It really depends on what the project is. If it’s something new, I am energised and all set to go, but if it’s a story that I’ve been working on for some time, well then I might drag my feet a bit to finish it. There is so much to a writing life, there’s more than just the stories to produce. There are interviews to reply to, website posts to write and newsletters to write up plus the promotion and marketing of your work. It isn’t easy and it is definitely non-stop. A writer is always working on something, even if not physically on a laptop or with pen and paper, but in their mind. Thinking is a large part of a writing life. Working out characters, plots, twists, trying to tie stuff together, it’s always on your mind, always. I enjoy the creating side of writing, it’s the marketing I dislike.
What are your favourite few books? Do you have any that stand out among the others, perhaps have shaped your own writing somewhat?
I loved, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, an Irish author. I enjoy his style and his storytelling. I’ve only ever cried my eyes out, really sobbing, with one book that was titled The Last Snows of Spring, by who I can’t recall. I read it when I was nineteen, it broke my heart. Also, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, an American writer, I so enjoyed. When the film came out much later, it was awful, they ruined a beautiful story. I don’t think any, one or few books have influenced my writing as I read lots of different genres except fantasy and sci-fi. My work has been compared to Maeve Binchy, Claudia Carroll, and others who write about family and relationships.
Give us a rundown of your first published book and how did you find the process? What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time and do it again?
My first novel, My Husband’s Sin published by Tirgearr Publishing was like a jump in to the deepest ocean and not knowing how to swim. The story came to me while at a funeral and looking around me, the secrets that so many must take to their graves with them. It started with a character, Lacey Taylor who was raised with her father, Joe and upon her mother Lillian’s death there is a revelation that upturns Lacey’s whole life. Her father had died before Lillian, taking a secret with him which she, Lillian feels obliged to reveal to Lacey and her siblings.
Regarding the manner of writing it, I wrote it in longhand, as it was my first book, I enjoyed the process of the story revealing it myself through the characters and even when it came to editing it, about seven drafts later, I still wasn’t deterred, just a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Next came the whole dealings of synopsis and query letters to publishing houses, now that’s a nightmare. Advice to myself now that I know what it takes I would say, during times of doubt remember many start writing a book but few finish, keep at it, it’s a wonderful feeling.
Finally, tell us about your new release, could you compare it to other books?
My second novel, Don’t Call Me Mum, published in March of 2018 by Tirgearr Publishing came about because readers requested to continue the Lacey Taylor story from my first novel. This second novel flowed easier for me as I knew the Taylor family intimately at this stage and so the writing process was shorter timewise. Having readers ask for a sequel in the reviews of my first novel, was encouraging and reassuring for me as a writer. Knowing people out there enjoy my stories makes the time spent working on them worthwhile. I have since been asked to write the third book in the Taylor’s lives and I am writing it at present along with another novel which is a stand-alone book.
Comparing my books to others I would say they are family orientated, about relationships, everyday life like Carmel Harrington, Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult to name a few.
You’re trapped inside a sealed room. It’s pitch black. All you can hear from outside is some kind of heavy machinery. Write a quick story in under 200 words based on this prompt, to give the readers an idea of your style and imagination.
Not turning up should set off alarm bells for his co-workers. But, Charlie often missed a morning due to this and that. He knew the boss was itching to fire him but couldn’t afford to.
Charlie was an expert in demolition, knowing exactly what strength explosive or whether the wrecking ball would be more effective.
Today it was the wrecking ball and judging by the noise outside, it would be swinging through a wall shortly at him.
This job had stirred his curiosity when he heard it housed a panic room. So after work yesterday, he had gone exploring and now was locked inside the very room that intrigued him.
Trying to remember which direction the ball would hit from, might help get him out alive.
Listening to the drone of machinery, getting ready to knock it, he sat in a corner.
His eyes had adjusted to the pitch darkness and like an old cine-frame his life rolled by.
Snooping often caused him grief. His mother forever telling him, ‘One day, Charlie, it’ll land you in real danger.’
“Well, Mom, this could be the day.” Sighing, his heart pounded.
Charlie picked the wrong corner to sit in.
Many thanks to Mary for her honest and insightful answers! If you’d be interested in an interview like this one posted on the site, let me know in the comments. I aim to interview a different writer and blogger each week!