Saturday, October 19, 2013

Interview with Marsha Roberts

EKKO Mysteries has long admired hard working authors, which is why we started the EKKO Mysteries Author Spotlight Series, focusing on emerging authors and their stories.

Check out this awesome interview with Marsha Roberts,
author of
Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant

Was there a moment or specific event that made you commit to writing?

As a matter of fact, there was. I was having dinner with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. During the course of the evening, I shared stories of some of the adventures I'd had - many of them were pretty grand since I had produced a play that had toured all over the world, entertaining American troops at home and overseas. Lots of stories there! My friend said, "You should write a book!" Well, I'd heard that for years and I guess it was just one time too many. I had written some of my stories down, but that's the moment I decided I was going to write a book. I just had no idea how much I was going to love the process! 

It’s great to hear how much you loved the hard work. What is the title of your book?

Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant

Wow. That’s a great title. Where did the idea come from?

As my dad got older he had increased medical problems as is often the case. When there were occasions for gift giving, I wanted to give him something that would have special meaning. So I started writing stories for him, stories of my childhood and the various things he had done that had a lasting impact on me. Some were rather funny, some poignant, but they were all written to let him know how much I appreciated his efforts to be a great dad.

Several years later, I found myself about as lost as I had ever been. We had been hard hit by the economy, like so many other people, and I was feeling pretty beat-up by life. I came across hand-written pages of an experience I had with a tomato plant (of all things!) tucked away in a drawer. When I read it, I cried, smiled at the silliness of life and felt more hopeful. Embedded in it was an old lesson learned that I had forgotten, but at least I had written it down! It was a "parable" of sorts and I realized I had a story to tell that others could relate to. By the way, the second chapter in my book came directly from one of my gift stories to my dad.

What a terrific source of inspiration. What genre does your book fall under?

It falls under two categories: memoir and inspirational. But it is definitely not your typical inspirational book or a standard memoir. Some people say that if there were an official genre for Boomer Lit, that's where it would be. Although I've had terrific response to my book from all ages, it's unquestionably told from the point of view of a Boomer - a mutinous one at that!

For the readers out there, how would you describe the pace of the story?

Interesting question. Each chapter of my book is a vignette, a piece of my life that has a specific point to it, often referred to as a "parable," although there's an overall story arc from beginning to end.
I approached the story-telling as if I was talking directly to a friend. It seems to have worked because numerous reviews have said things like:
"you feel as if you're sitting on the front porch with an old friend."

Even Kirkus Reviews commented on it: "Her voice is conversational, not stilted or academic, with a clear, uncluttered style that makes her memoir an easy, casual read."
I was very pleased with that, it made me feel like I'd done my job well.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That's a tough one, since so much of the story is about me! The story stretches from my mutinous childhood (I got kicked out of kindergarten when I was 5 years old!) to the present time. Casting kids is tough because they change so fast, but if I could go back in movie history, the little girl who played Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird  would be perfect!
If we're talking about the present-day Marsha, I'd go with Jean Smart. She's noticeably tall like I am and she always plays a feisty gal very convincingly!

How would you describe your book in one sentence?

If you've ever wondered what happens when real life collides with real miracles, this book belongs on your nightstand.

Awesome. Self-published, published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. E-book through Kindle and Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and all the other online retailers.
Paperbacks are available to all online retailers through CreateSpace.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The very first draft was only about half as long as the final book, and that took me about five months. I realized that the vignettes didn't connect up as well as they should and the book needed a stronger story arc. The next draft took me another four months or so and doubled the length of the manuscript. Since this was really the first draft of the actual Mutinous Boomer book as it came to be, I'd have to say nine months total.

What other books would you compare this story to?

I know everyone thinks their book is different, just like their kid is the cutest! But, seriously, my book is structured unlike any I've ever seen.
That said, I did read a book by Max Lucado called Mocha With Max which had a subtitle of Friendly Thoughts & Simple Truths from the Writings of Max Lucado.  It did give you the feeling that a friend was having a cup of coffee with you and he shared some personal stories that made you feel as if you knew him.
That's the closest I've read that has any real comparison, but then again, I haven't read them all!

What was your inspiration for this book? 

When we were touring our play, Letters From The Front, to the troops for fifteen years, the most amazing experience was the fact that it touched other people's lives. Audience members, whether active duty, veterans or family members, would come up after the show and tell us how much it meant to them.
Yes, it was an incredible adventure, but the best part was that it moved people, touched their hearts. That was my motivation to write this book.
I felt my story would hit a chord in other's lives and (hopefully!) help. That's what inspired me to write my Mutinous Boomer book.

I’m sure the booklovers are already inrigued, but what else might pique the reader’s interest? 

Well, I think guys are really surprised at how much they like it! The cover and the theme seems to relate more to women, especially boomer women, but I've received extraordinary responses from men. They tell me they appreciate that I didn't pull any punches, that I was honest and straight up about what happened to me and the way I dealt with it.
One reader said she was attracted to my "choose to be happy philosophy." I never quite thought of it like that, but she was absolutely right. I do choose to be happy and I hope it's contagious!

What is your favorite response from a reader?

The reader review that blew my socks off started like this:
 "Can a professed atheist enjoy reading an inspirational memoir? If the book is Marsha Roberts' Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant, the answer is a resounding, yes."
She continued on and then concluded, "Marsha's vibrant personality and sense of humor are ever present, making Mutinous Boomer fun to read. Marsha looks back on her experiences with the wisdom of a present-day Boomer. Her quest for self-understanding is therapeutic for her and exemplary for the reader. This particular reader may not believe in God, but I believe in Marsha Roberts and her entertaining book."

As you can imagine, I was knocked over by this. I received many reader reviews from people who were not "believers" but who found hope and encouragement in my book. Perfect!

Kirkus Reviews called my book "An optimistic look at the magic of life." Who can argue with Kirkus? Not me!

What can we expect in the future from an author like Marsha Roberts?

I've definitely got another one or two Mutinous Boomer books in me! But I'm also working on a book about a project that sprung from our play which generated millions of letters of support to our troops stationed overseas. I'm compiling the best of those letters along with some remarkable stories about the men and women who serve our nation so bravely.
And beyond that? Who can say? I'm a writer now and I'll be very curious to see where it takes me! Cheers!

Thanks for the killer interview. Kudos to Marsha Roberts!

Discover more about
Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant
at the following places:

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely feature on this wonderful author and great book.