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Author Interview - Mary Deal

Welcome to this week's author interview with award winning, best selling author, Mary Deal.

I hope you enjoy this interview, and I am sure Mary's answer to question 14 will make you a chuckle.

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?

I read Grapes of Wrath when very young. At the time my mother had it in secret because it was a banned book. Since I sneaked and read it, she told me it was an accurate depiction of people during the Great Depression and what her family endured. Mom’s family of 11 (actually 13 but not all present) followed the crops and crop picking across country, living in an old school bus. Mom’s family were all musicians and singers. Besides working in the crops for a few pennies, they also performed which kept them from starving. Mom had to explain things to me about her life and from the book since I read it and asked so many questions.

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

I have always written, since very young, kept journals and diaries. Most are lost now, but I began my first novel while living in the Caribbean in the late 1960s. That mystery/adventure story remains unfinished but is now in queue to be completed.

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

Fyodor Dostoyofsky, John Steinbeck, Joyce Carol Oates – These authors dig into the human psyche as fits their stories.

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

My favorite thing is the creativity I feel that comes alive. It is my fuel. My least favorite thing is thinking I’ve polished my story, only to find errors in the last read-through.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

Almost everywhere. My Egyptian novel, The Ka, came from a vivid dream. I woke thinking I had actually stepped back in time. My thriller, Down to the Needle came from reading about a man who was put to lethal injection though he was not proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, as required by law. Those are examples. But when I hear about or see something happening, in my mind, I ask why. Then I “free-think” the possibilities.

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

I am an oil painter and photographer maintaining two online galleries. I also sew and design clothes and household products, like draperies, etc., but sewing went on hold when I began to write. Now those products can be made in my galleries from my own art.

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

I feel I am inside most books I read, as an observer. In fact, I feel so much a part of what I read that I often times dream the stories, even carry on after the book version ends. From this, I have learned I cannot read horror of any kind. In fact, I have to read something pleasant before going to sleep to help keep me from reliving a story in my dreams.

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

I tend to watch people with an eye for intricacies; like the things people do that they don’t want others to see. I do use a lot of what I see in my stories. Yet, at times, my muse kicks out something for a particular character I would never have consciously thought of.

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 have created incidents in stories and later found something similar happened to someone I knew or met. I keep a list of these occurrences. For example, in my novel Down to the Needle, Joe Arno finds his wealthy former love now ragged and on the streets. After publishing that book, I found a former wealthy classmate that I hadn’t seen for nearly fifty years and she was on the street.

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

I maintain a list of tentative titles. Seems every time I think of a new major scene, I have a tendency to want a different title over all. So I make my list and do not choose the title till the story is finished. In several cases, the story dictated a title not on the list. I find that exciting.

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

Presently, I’m working on updating two nonfiction books for republishing. At the same time, I am writing the third story in my Sara Mason Mysteries (River Bones, Book One and The Howling Cliffs, Book Two.) These stories contain dual plots present in each. Sara solves cold cases while her love interest, Huxley Keane, searches for his brother’s and other MIA’s remains in Vietnam. Home base for the stories is my childhood hometown area of California’s Sacramento River Delta. But the stories also go into the Vietnam jungle and to Hawaii. Future stories will be in other parts of the world.

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

Novel: Down to the Needle – 2017 Global eBook Awards – 8-13-16 – Bronze

Nonfiction: Hypno-Scripts – Global eBook awards – 2016 - Silver

Nonfiction: Hypno-Scripts – 2016 International Book Awards – 5-31-15 – Finalist (No Sticker Provided)

Nonfiction: Hypno-Scripts – National Indie Excellence Books Awards (NIEA) – 5-07-2016 - Finalist

Nonfiction: Write It Right-Tips for Authors-The Big Book – National Indie Excellence Book Awards (NIEA) – 5-20-2014 - Finalist

Novel: The Howling Cliffs – Global eBook Award – Bronze – 9-13-15

Short Story: The Last Big Wave – Long Story Short – Flash Fiction Contest – 2-25-14 - 2nd Place

Novel: River Bones - National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) – 2011 - Finalist

Novel: Down to the Needle – 1st “Book of the Week” on Book Town

Novel: River Bones – 2009 Eric Hoffer Book Awards winner, Honorable Mention

Short Story: The Voodoo Kit – 1st Place - The Writer’s Box - 2-16-09

Short Story: The Last Thing I Do – 2009 Pushcart Prize nomination

Short Story: Chin Face – 2009 Semi-Finalist in Moondance Intl Film Festival Competition

Feature Screenplay: Sea Storm – 2009 Semi-Finalist in Moondance Intl. Film Festival competition

A Little More Personal

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

Finish learning Tai Chi

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

I sent a query letter for my novel River Bones to a prominent New York literary agent. I had made a typo. The agent called me in Hawaii (where I then lived) to tell me I gave her the best laugh of her career. My typo was that Instead of River Bones, I typed River Boners.

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

If you believe in the things I do, nothing is unexplainable.

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

The word superstitious connotes something almost sinister. So no, am not superstitious. However, I do know that when I find money on the street, or white feathers floating out of nowhere, I will make a nice sale from one of my galleries, or with a feather, something great happens or gets confirmed.

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

Octopus, in my childhood meat-eating days.

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

I have lived 22 years in Hawaii; 20 years on the island of Kauai, 2+ years in Waikiki on Oahu. I miss it with all my heart and wish to go back. But I also want to see other parts of this big world. Santorini, Paris, and Rome are on my wish list.

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

I was very quiet and not well-liked in school, as far as I remember. In 2nd Grade, we had an art assignment, to draw on wet paper with pastels and blend. I drew Bashful from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It came out so well, the teacher made a big issue of it. It may be what helped cement my need to create. But no, all the hoopla made me even more unpopular, but I didn’t care.

20. What makes you happy?

Reaching deeper into meditation; which helps in accomplishing my goals.

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

Oil Painting or out walking with my cameras shooting more images for my galleries.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

While living in Puerto Rico, I dated former actor James Franciscus once when he vacationed on the island. His brother was a real estate broker there and an acquaintance of mine.

Mary's Links

Amazon Author Page -

Facebook Author Page -

My Facebook Group 4 & 5 STAR Reviews -

Twitter - or @Mary_Deal


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