About Mary Rowen:
Mary Rowen loves music and is a Boston area mom to teenagers. All of her novels focus on women of various ages growing up, or at least becoming comfortable with themselves. Her essays have been anthologized and/or published on multiple blogs. Mary grew up in the Massachusetts Merrimack Valley, is a graduate of Providence College, and has worked as a teacher, writer, salesperson, and political canvasser. She firmly believes that all of those jobs provide good preparation for an aspiring writer.
What inspires you to write?
I love to write about realistic, contemporary characters dealing with contemporary issues. Family issues are particularly interesting to me. Some days I wake up and think I don’t have anything to write about, but then I take the dog for a run and ideas start flowing into my head.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a plotter, at least to a point. I’ve tried just sitting down and letting the story tell itself, but I ended up spending several years writing a terrible manuscript. It was part women’s fiction, part mystery, part thriller, all ridiculous. Because I had no idea where the characters were going, I just kept having them do crazier things. Needless to say, that MS will never see the light of day, but I learned a lot from it.
Nowadays, I spend a good deal of time figuring out where the story and characters are going before I start writing. Who are these people? What do they want? How will they interact, and how will they get (or not get) what they want? And most importantly, what obstacles will get in their way, and how will they overcome them (or not)?
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Some of both. I think every character an author writes about has a little of the author in them, so sometimes, the author already knows what the character will say in a certain situation. Other times, the character might surprise the author with the things they come up with.
What advice would you give other writers?
I’d say to read a bunch, especially in your genre. And study the craft. Pay attention to books you love and ask yourself why you like those books so much. What techniques do the great authors use? And, of course, show, don’t tell. You can tell some things, but it’s almost always better when you show.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I wrote Living by Ear and Leaving the Beach during the same ten-year span. I’d finish a draft of one, and then move on to the other. After several drafts of each book (and BTW, despite the similarity if their titles, they are completely different stories), I started querying agents, but when nobody was interested, I’d start a new draft.
Finally, after about ten years, I decided to self publish Living by Ear. Then, I went to a writing conference and met a wonderful literary agent who offered to send Leaving the Beach to Booktrope, a “hybrid” publisher in Seattle. Booktrope ended up accepting Leaving the Beach, and then, a few months later, they agreed to republish Living by Ear. I’m very happy with Booktrope, and am happy to talk more about it if anyone would like more information about it.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it looks bright! People are reading in lots of different ways, and we’re lucky to have lots of different types of publishing options to fit our needs and desires.
What do you use?: Professional Editor
What genres do you write?: women’s contemporary fiction, contemporary fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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