Marla Madison is a retired mediator and when she’s not writing, works as an arbitrator in the Midwest. Living in Wisconsin on Prairie Lake, Marla is the author of the suspense novels, She’s Not There and Relative Malice, both available on Amazon.com. A third is in the works and will be available in early 2014.
When not writing, Marla is an avid reader of suspense novels, plays duplicate bridge, golf, and enjoys long walks with her dog, Skygge. Skygge and her cat companion, Poncho, were both rescued from a local shelter and are now pampered pets!
Keep up with Marla’s weekly blogs for writers and readers at
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What inspires you to write?
I love reading suspense novels and have always had a secret desire to write one of my own. I’m an armchair detective and lawyer, and watch all the crime and legal dramas on TV and at the movies.
My biggest inspiration are other suspense authors, like Tami Hoag, Jeffrey Deaver, Tess Gerritsen and Jonathan Kellerman, to name a few favorites. Reading their works keep me striving to achieve better stories with each novel I write.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m definitely a seat-of-the-pants type of writer. I don’t outline. Oddly, I really believe writers who use some kind of system to organize their writing have a super advantage over us pantsers. I’ve tried a number of the popular methods, but always drift away from them. The only time I make any attempt to pull things into some semblance of an outline is developing an ending. Endings are tough. And since, for me, a good ending is paramount to my enjoyment of a suspense book, I spend a lot of time on them.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Neither. I tend to daydream dialogue. I choreograph the scene in my head and develop dialogue that way. So, in a way, I suppose I do both!
What advice would you give other writers?
1. READ! Never stop reading books in the genre you write in. Pay particular attention to authors whose writing styles are most like yours.
2. JOIN a critique group. Without being in a critique group, I wouldn’t have two novels published today. For me, their input is vital to developing a polished novel. If you can’t find one, start one. The one I’ve been in for years now, began when Donna White Glaser ran an ad in the local paper and in the library, looking for other writers to join.
3. PROOF, proof and proof. Unlike editing, there is no such thing as too much proofing. The worst thing you can do for your writing career, is publish before it’s perfect. I learned this lesson the hard way. It’s a painful one.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
A friend, Donna, the one I referred to above, got accepted by an agent who loved her first book so much that she read it in one weekend and was sending it out to publishing houses the very next week. Sadly, she wasn’t successful and Donna ended up self publishing. After living her experience with trying to get traditionally published, I decided it wasn’t for me if even a good agent who loved the book, couldn’t get it published. Life’s too short to wait 10-30 years for a break.
Also, todays publishers expect their authors to do their own marketing. I hate marketing. So if I have to do it, it may as well be for my own gain, not a publishers or an agent’s.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m definitely optimistic! Recent studies show that with the advent of digital readers and the ability to
read on one’s phone, people are reading more than ever.
Self-publishing is here to stay, but I think we’ve reached a peak. Many will drop out of the market as
getting your work noticed becomes more difficult.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print