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Author Interview - Mari Collier

Science Fiction Author Mari Collier is this week's Author Interview guest.

In her interview, she shares many interesting facts about her writing and personal life.

Thank you, Mari, for this interesting interview.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you - in what way and what was the name of that book?

The first book that I read was one I found in a box in my older brother’s room. It was one of the Bobbsey Twin books. I was about five and it hit me that I could read a book. That was more than the few words I could read in A Child’s Garden of versus. It also made me despise the See Dick run or See Jane run books they had in the first grade when I started school.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

When my classmates liked a story I had written for English so well they persuaded me to write a romance story for them. I was about eleven at the time. They loved it, I didn’t. I had just read Stocky, Boy of West Texas and decided to write a Western story.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

Will and Ariel Durant and their Story of Civilization (all eleven volumes). Fiction is more difficult. Possibly James Clavell, buy I also love Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, and O’Henry.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

The favorite thing is seeing the story come alive on the pages; the least favorite is editing.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

There is no sane answer for that if you have ever read any of my Twisted Tales or science fiction series. They are just there and I write what they tell me to write.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

At one time (when I had a family and was much younger), I was a fantastic cook. I even made up my own recipes.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

Caesar and Christ by Will Durant. I could watch history unfold.

8. When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

The characters are just there in my mind, but for some reason Lorenz (from the Maca Chronicles who I saw in my mind when I was twelve) looks very much like my husband. Anna, his mother, has a personality like my mother’s in that her temper is explosive and she is clairvoyant.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

I just did above. I did not meet my husband until I was seventeen and in a different state.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

Through sweating a lot. Sometimes the titles are just there. Other times I will have a working title and decide to change it before I submit it.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

The working title is Thalia, The Next Generation. It will be the seventh book in The Chronicles of the Maca. I’m also working on my memoir and it has a working title of Am I Still On Earth. I doubt if it will ever be published, but my one living child, my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would have it.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Earthbound, Book 1, Chronicles of the Maca won an Amazon Best Seller Badge.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

See the pyramids of Egypt, but that will never happen.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

The day I met my husband (a former boyfriend brought him along when he heard I was back in Phoenix), we decided to climb Camelback Mountain. Everything was great until the last handhold to pull oneself to go the top. Lanny (my husband to be) was at the top yodeling his triumph. Scotty went next and then me. Unfortunately, this short person couldn’t reach that last handhold. I made the error of looking down and froze. I couldn’t go up and my body refused to move downward. Scotty extended his hand to pull me up. I considered and yelled at Lanny, “Stop that yodeling and get me out of here.” I knew that face I saw when I was twelve years old was the person to trust, but I was totally embarrassed by the fact that I had been unable to complete the climb on my own.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

I am not clairvoyant like my mother, but in 1974 I had a dream. An airplane struck a high building in New York City, another struck a building in DC in the shape of a pentagon. Another plane was to hit a city in the South on the Eastern seaboard, but something went wrong and it went down. The dream was so disturbing, I wrote it down and filed it away. I pulled it out sometime in the afternoon of 9/11 and a couple of days later showed it to my daughter. No, I no longer have it. No, I haven’t really told anyone else.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

No, I’m not superstitious, nor do I have any rituals.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Anchovies. That was but one time.

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

Oak Creek Canyon or Sedona. Both are in Arizona.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

From my memoirs: All through the year, Mr. Nicely piloted the bus without incident. March in Iowa was like most: Snow, then snow melting, rain, ice, more snow, warmer weather and melting snow. It would be a challenge going to town to buy groceries and everyone made sure they had sufficient gasoline for farming by keeping a gasoline tank in the farm yard. The gas for the farm equipment was purple and delivered by truck. The allotment was quite high, but if any farmer were caught using purple gas in their automobile gas tank it was instant arrest. Like the rest of the populace, farmers had to use ration stamps to purchase gasoline for going to town or church.

By the end of March there were but a few lumps of snow left in isolated spots. The ground was spongy from melting snow and the plentiful spring rains. It was warm enough that mother let me wear knee highs instead of the hated long cotton socks.

As Mr. Nicely turned the corner and started down the dirt road without gravel, the bus slid into the ditch. No amount of gunning and trying to move forward or back made it budge. Of course, my brother and I stayed to watch. Mother appeared wondering why we hadn’t returned to the house immediately.

“Tell Mr. Nicely I’ve gone for my husband,” was her command.

Papa appeared shortly as he drove down the lane and onto the graveled road with the iron monster that was our tractor. This thing had metal wheel and metal lugs on the wheels. Once hooked to the front of the bus, Papa put it into gear and tried to move forward. Nothing happened.

Mr. Nicely requested to use the telephone. We did not have one. He was directed to go over to the neighbor’s house a few yards down the road and use theirs.

“I’ll go hitch up the team while you’re doing that.”

Mr. Nicely shook his head and headed for the neighbors. Few believed that horses could do what a machine could not.

Mr. Nicely returned hanging on to the seat of the neighbor’s John Deere with rubber tires. Mr. Fredrickson had purchased it in 1941 prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. They looked at Papa coming with our team as if he were a madman and hitched the John Deere to the bus. The results were the same as with the iron monster. The bus remained mired in the red clay and Iowa mud.

“Guess I’ll have to call the school, but thanks anyway. I thought sure it would move it,” was Mr. Nicely’s comment.

Papa brought our team over and proceeded to hitch them to the bus. Mr. Fredrickson and Mr. Nicely were shaking their heads at such folly.

A more mismatched team would have been difficult to find. Molly was older and slower, part Clydesdale and just as large as one. Betty was younger, but still less than middle-aged for a farm horse. Her background was part Morgan and part quarter horse. That meant she was at least two hands smaller than Molly. Her chest was a Morgan’s wide chest, but she had slimmer legs. If things went too slow in the fields, she would move the wagon before Papa had finished with the hay or corn. His powerful voice would be clearly audible for incredible distances as he yelled obscenities at her in both German and English.

Once they were hitched to the bus, Papa slapped the reins over their backs and shouted, “Yo up, Betty, Molly, up.”

The two horses leaned forward pushing their chests into the harness and felt the weight behind them and the resistance of the muck around their hooves. I watched their haunches descend in unison and the muscles tightened in their back haunches. Then their necks stretched out and it was as if I were watching the stored strength in their muscles ripple forward. Their steps were perfectly matched as they moved slowly, inch by inch as the bus began to move. Even to my eyes it was strange. I’d never seen them pull so evenly together.

This time Papa kept his voice lower and guided them and the bus up onto the road. Both Betty and Molly were covered with foam and their muscles were quivering while they waited to be unhitched.

The “thank you” and the “I didn’t believe it could be done” were profuse. Papa nodded and grinned and took Molly and Betty back to the barn for a rub down and probably an extra ear of corn or some other treat.

20. What makes you happy?

Sunshine, my family, singing hymns at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Reading, volunteering at the local museum (I docent and am also the Accessions Curator because no one else wants that job).

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Not to my knowledge. I did rush past Orson Welles once when boarding a plane, but didn’t realize it was him until I was seated and heard the others talking about seeing him.


Mari Collier was born on a farm in Iowa, and has lived in Arizona, Washington, and Southern California. She and her husband, Lanny, met in high school and were married for forty-five years. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, and still Docents and is the Accessions Curator. She has worked as a loan collector, bookkeeper, receptionist, and Advanced Super Agent for Nintendo of America. Several of her short stories have appeared in print and electronically, plus four anthologies. Twisted Tales From The Desert, Twisted Tales From The Northwest, Twisted Tales From The Universe, and Twisted Tales From A Skewed Mind. Earthbound is the first of the six Chronicles of the Maca series and Man, True Man is the first of the three Tonath Chronicles. She is working on another anthology and a novel temporarily called Thalia, The Next Generation.

Mari's Contact Links


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