Mary Anna Evans interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Feb 8, 2017 1:17:44 AM

Mary Anna Evans interview with David Alan Binder

Bio from her website: Mary Anna Evans has degrees in physics and engineering, but her heart is in the past. Her series character, Faye Longchamp, lives the exciting life of an archaeologist, and Mary Anna envies her a little.

Find her on Facebook and Twitter, where she runs regular contests for her followers, who can win books, swag, or the chance to have a character named after them!

In addition to writing award winning crime fiction, Mary Anna teaches fiction and nonfiction writing at the University of Oklahoma, where she is an assistant professor in the professional writing program. Her newest release, Burials, is set in Oklahoma. For more information on Burials, click here. And for more information on the whole Faye Longchamp series of archaeological mysteries, check them out here.

Mary Anna holds an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Camden, where she studied creative nonfiction and literary fiction. Her short work has appeared or will soon appear in publications including The Atlantic, decomP, Monkeybicycle, Saw Palm, Vine Leaves, EarthLines, Plots with Guns, Mystery Readers Journal, Mystery Muses, A Kudzu Christmas, North Florida Noir, The Florida Five, Florida Heat Wave, and Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment.

Mary Anna's Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries have earned recognition that includes the Mississippi Library Association's Mississippi Author Award, a spot on Voice of Young America's (VOYA) list of "Adult Mysteries with Young Adult Appeal," a writer's residency from The Studios of Key West, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Florida Historical Society's Patrick D. Smith Florida Literature Award, and three Florida Book Awards bronze medals. Faye Longchamp's growing list of adventures include Artifacts, Relics, Effigies, Findings, Floodgates, Strangers, Plunder, Rituals, Isolation, Burials. Published by Poisoned Pen Press, they are available from all major outlets in hardcover, trade paper, eBook, large-print, and audio editions.

Her other fiction includes Wounded Earth, a suspense novel featuring environmental scientist Larabeth McLeod, and Jewel Box, a collection of short fiction and essays. Your Novel, Day by Day: A Fiction Writers Companion is a guide intended to take the aspiring novelist from blank page to finished book and it is, like Wounded Earth and Jewel Box, published by Joyeuse Press. All these works are available in paperback and eBook editions.

For the incurably curious, Mary Anna's first published work, her master's thesis, was entitled A Modeling Study of the NH3-NO-O2 Reaction Under the Operating Conditions of a Fluidized Bed Combustor.

Mary Anna's interests include music, when that collided with writing on a story and an original song for a book/CD anthology called A Merry Band of Murderers. She co-wrote and sang the song "Land of the Flowers" for that project. Click to hear song at this link:

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1. Where are you currently living?


2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

You have to trust the process. Even if you think you don’t know what you’re going to write today, you have to sit down and try. Something always comes.

3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but I’ve always had one foot in popular fiction and one foot in literary fiction. They’re not really separate entities in my mind. Literary novels sometimes become very popular; I, and many others, try to give my crime novels beautiful prose and important topics. After years of treading that boundary on my own, I went back to graduate school and studied writing literary fiction and nonfiction. I enjoyed every minute of my time in graduate school, and I am constantly applying what I learned there to all my work.

4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I’m a hybrid author, so I do both. They have complementary benefits. I control the marketing on my self-published books, but my traditional fiction publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, has a bigger budget and more industry contacts. Because of that, though I make more money on books I publish myself, PPP sells more of my books. All my books, self-published and traditionally published, are out there introducing me to new readers, so it’s all good.

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they? Poisoned Pen Press, Scottsdale, Arizona.

5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

As I said above, they are all ways to reach readers and advance your career. There are people who read me in e-book form or listen to my audiobooks who would never have found my work if it had just been in paper. The same is true for people who read me on paper. They’re all just technologies. My real work is in telling stories.

6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published? Your first work probably isn’t as good as you think it is, but that’s okay. Neither was mine. I advise people not to jump into self-publishing. Write something and start sending it to agents or publishers, then write something else while it’s circulating. You’ll get feedback from professionals, and you will also be taking that time to develop your writer’s eye and ear. With experience will come the ability to be a better judge of your work. At that point, by all means, self-publish. Or maybe even if you get an offer from a traditional publisher, you will decide that self-publishing is the better business decision, but you will have taken that time and gotten that feedback. In any case, before you self-publish, pay a professional editor to edit your work. It’s the editor’s job to help you present your best work. An editor is worth the money.

7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?

Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I sent queries over the transom to find my agent. I know that people are still doing that successfully. If you have the money to attend writing conferences, you can often meet agents that way. It’s best to have a finished manuscript before you begin approaching agents, as they can’t make a decision without seeing what it is they’re going to sell. I also hear of people getting agents by happenstance. For example, agents read literary and trade magazines, looking for new voices. If you’re constantly working and submitting, either long- or short-form, you are vastly increasing your odds of success.

8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Take a class or join a writer’s group to help alleviate the solitude of the job. Read books on writing. I have a shelf full of those. I may have only gotten one fabulous tip from each, but I remember those fabulous tips every time I sit down.

9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I worried too much in the earlier years about where the ideas would come from. I’d be thinking, “Yeah, this book I’m writing seems pretty good, but I’ll never ever have another idea big enough to support a book, so why am I bothering? I’ll never have a career.” I’ve found that ideas are a dime a dozen. What matters is what you do with them. When I stopped worrying, my subconscious routinely dredged up another idea right when I was finishing a book. Trust the process.

10. How many books have you written?

Thirteen and a half—ten traditionally published mysteries, a self-published thriller, a self-published short story collection, and a self-published book on how to write novels. Plus, the half-book, a co-written text on mathematical literacy.

11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

Read. It’s so helpful to see how the masters do it, and it’s also helpful when you notice where they could have done it better.

12. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

It all comes from the characters. If you force them to do something that’s unnatural for them just to provide a twist, it will show. You have to think ahead and create a character who is willing to do what you need him or her to do.

13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

The language--English for the people who are reading this—is the only tool a writer has. Careful use of the language stands out every time.

14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I do personal appearances. I’m active on Facebook and am becoming more active on Twitter. I have a website and I send out a newsletter.

15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I’m pretty happy with how things have gone, actually. It’s been a fun ride and it’s not over.

16. What saying or mantra do you live by?

Writing is mental telepathy. Like any art, it is a way for me to let you know what I’m thinking or feeling, and perhaps to help you feel that way, too. Art builds bridges. It brings people together.

17. Anything else you would like to say?

That’s about it. Thanks for reading!