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Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives behaviors help mold our own? In Unexpected Gifts, that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.
TR: Sarah! Good morning, and welcome. I’m thrilled to have you on 🙂
SM: Good morning, Thomas, and thanks so much. It’s great to be here.
TR: So, what do you say we get this train rolling, shall we? How old were you when you wrote your first piece?
SM: Other than writing little stories and papers in school growing up, with no mind for publication, I wrote my first real short story at age 45.
TR: A late bloomer, eh? Outstanding! What was it, and in what genre?
SM: It’s called Sewing Can Be Dangerous, and it’s part of my collection of short stories, (Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads) due out later this year. It’s about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that took place in New York City, in 1911.
TR: Fascinating. How in the world did you come up with that for a subject?
SM: I have always loved history, particularly U. S. history, and I remember my father telling me what a big deal this fire was, and how it changed labor/fire codes forever. When I started reading about it, I was not only fascinated, I could immediately see my various characters and a plot come to life.
TR: When you say it like that, it makes perfect sense. So, what have you written since then?
SM: I added ten more long short stories to that collection, most of which involve a ‘thread’ of sewing or crafts (but DON’T think this is a cutesy little quilting book! (See http://www.srmallery.com/#!__sewing-can-be-dangerous). Next, I started to write some flash fiction, which very quickly got published in various literary magazines: descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.
TR: Sounds great – and like the theme-based pattern you used for your collection. Very catchy 🙂 Tell us, what was the inspiration for your current book, “Unexpected Gifts?”
SM: Many years ago, when my daughter was just out of toddlerdom, I was visiting my parents and she was sleeping in the guest bed with me. I was reading a short story my mother had had published years before and as I lay there, looking down at my sleeping daughter, I suddenly thought, ‘Wow! There are three generations in this bed tonight!’ That thought excited me, and along with always enjoying going through my family’s photo albums of old pictures of relatives from past eras, I guess that idea stuck with me.
TR: If your daughter turns out to be an author, that would be even better, eh? So, tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.
SM: Basically, here’s the synopsis:
Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives’ behaviors help mold our own? In “Unexpected Gifts,” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.
You can find it on:
The book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8boWh1y5MtM
TR: Thanks so much – Now, is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?
SM: I get my ideas in so many places! Listening to music in my car (particularly when the music fits my time period I’m working on); watching movies on my treadmill—seeing what happens to a character or happens in a plot and then having an A-ha! moment about how that could fit into my book; doing a mundane task, like doing laundry or dishes and suddenly thinking about a plot device (I’m in good company––apparently Agatha Christie got many of her ideas from washing the dishes!)
Sometimes it even happens when I’m at a traffic stop light and see a person/persons walking across the street or doing something on the sidewalk that strikes me….in other words, anywhere!
TR: That’s a very lucky skill you have. I’m jealous! So, I understand you’re published traditionally. What made you choose that path?
SM: I am from a long line of writers, and because of that, I assumed that was the only way to go to be ‘legitimate’. I am fast learning that that is no longer the case! A possible direction for me in the future, who knows?
TR: Ah…perhaps some decisions down the road. Okay, now if you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?
SM: Hmmmm……I’ve been reading various articles/blurbs/blog articles about platforms, and my gut instinct is to just be True to Oneself. In other words, don’t try to write what is not in your heart. Sometimes I wish I was into more trendy subjects, because a lot of them are certainly selling well (and good for those authors!) but I have decided I’m going to stick to what I love writing and try to market that.
TR: Very good. So, what mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?
SM: To be honest, I’m still learning so much about this promotional business, I can’t really answer your question fully. I am beginning to truly understand that one can promote, promote, and promote, but if it’s not to the proper audience, it can be a waste of your time, time that might be better served in writing your next book.
Ask me this question a year from now, and perhaps I’ll have a more complete answer for you!
TR: You know, I might just take you up on that :). Do you have an idea for your next book?
SM: Besides Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads, (I am currently working on some edits for it), I have an idea for a Civil War mystery. Am doing research for it, have characters mapped out, and a very, very vague outline for it.
Of course that could all change in the blink of an eye…
TR: Of course it can…particularly if you wash a lot of dishes 🙂
Sarah, it was certainly a pleasure having you. The very best of luck with “Unexpected Gifts”, and your future writing.
SM: Thanks, Thomas, it was fun 🙂
That’s a wrap, folks. “Unexpected Gifts” sounds great…why not swing by and pick up a copy?
And thanks so much for stopping by…