Port Town Publishing: Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, your occupation, your family etc.
Mary Ann: I live in East Tennessee surrounded by some of the most beautiful country you'd ever want to see. I retired from office work in 2002 and for the first time in my life I'm doing what I want to do. My mantra is: "If it ain't fun--don't do it." Most of my friends are writers and my days are filled with book club meetings, writer's groups, book signings, readings--anything to do with writing. I have one son who is (as I say in the dedication of "Surrey Square") the world's coolest dude. My oldest son was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1998. It was a time of tragedy but the world didn't stop turning, so I hauled myself out of bed, showered and dressed and went back to work. I have three lovely and gracious granddaughters.
Port Town: How did you go about becoming published and how long did it take?
Mary Ann: I started my first book "Remember Me With Love" in the early 80's. I worked on it off and on for five years and thought it was finished. It was--the first draft. After several more years of rewriting, polishing, tightening, all the things you do to rough text, I sent it out and got a truckload of rejections. Finally Southwest Publishing of Arizona and Barbara Sue DeBolt accepted it. I loved working with a small press. In 1995 the novel won the publisher's Golden Book Award for suspense (which seems to be my favorite thing to write) and I went to Mesa, Arizona to the awards dinner, met the publisher and several of her authors. Then the book was out of print for more than ten years. Jean Hackensmith at Port Town Publishing had just published "Surrey Square" to good reviews so I asked if she would consider re-issuing "Remember Me With Love." She agreed and it has just been released. Jean has been a joy to work with. Everything zips back and forth in emails. Quite remarkable, this Internet voodoo business. Not like when Barbara Sue and I were doing "Remember Me..." Back then everything went by snail mail and I wonder now how we ever got anything done. God bless small presses!
Port Town: How did you come up with the idea for "Remember Me With Love" and "Surrey Square"?
Mary Ann: "Remember Me With Love" streaked across my brain in a flash. Jonathan Ames was sort of pattered after a rather weird man who used to come into my office. I was always afraid he would ask me out on a date and I probably would've gone just to break the monotony of my life. I woke up on a Saturday morning and lay there thinking about him: what if he asked me out and I ended up marrying him (he had tons of money) and then he got killed and I was charged with his murder? So, there it was. I had the beginning and the end of a novel, and all I had to do was cobble together 60,000 or so words to tie the whole thing together. And this time, when I started typing, my characters moved and spoke and misbehaved and I had a hard time keeping up with them. As for "Surrey Square" (which won a 2007 IPPY award) I haven't the faintest idea how it came about. I think it's probably the best thing I've done and I put everything I knew about writing fiction into that book. Isn't it strange that I can't remember now where the idea came from?
Port Town: What audience do you anticipate for your books?
Mary Ann: Mature readers. Readers who can read unsavory things and not be offended.
Port Town: Anything coming up the future that we should know about?
Mary Ann: Well, I have six chapters of "Rooney Boone" which is the story of a young girl, (probably 12-13) who runs away from reform school. She's a good kid but sort of a smart-mouth. We'll see...
Port Town: Any comments to your readers?
Mary Ann: Only that I hope they like my work. I love getting emails from readers who have just finished one of my books and they tell me they couldn't put it down. What writer doesn't like to hear that? And I hope they'll check out my website: www.maryannartrip.com