JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Mari Walker, author of Not Quite What It Seems
(St. Martin’s Griffin)
Not Quite What It Seems is the story of a young girl, Jadyn Collins, who is haunted by the abuse she’s suffered at a young age. The abuse stems from a combination of her mother’s wrong choices and her stepfather’s pathology that was never addressed.
It is also the story of a young girl’s longing for a father’s love and the events that drive her to seek him out, though she’s never really known him. Not Quite What It Seems explores the true meaning of forgiveness and how not understanding true forgiveness and letting it work on our behalf can color life choices.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write Not Quite What It Seems?
Mari Walker: Not Quite What It Seems, though it is not a sequel, is a sort of continuation of a story line that began in my first novel, Never As Good As The First Time.
I knew even as I was writing Never As Good As The First Time, that I wanted to explore how the abuse Jadyn suffered in her young life would impact the decisions, goals, and life choices as an adult.
I wondered if she would be able to confront the abuse head-on or if she would bury it deep within her psyche and internalize the hurt she felt. Would the abuse cause her to destroy herself or would she be able to overcome it and lead a successful life.
JP: What sets Not Quite What It Seems apart from other books in the same genre?
MW: I think because I try to stay away from formulaic storytelling as much as possible. I don’t like my stories to come off as predictable. I try to make them reflect real life as much as possible, while still providing that “suspension of reality” feeling a lot of readers like to feel when reading.
You know that feeling when you become so engrossed in a story you’re reading that you forget about whatever struggles you may be having in real life? Like taking a mini-vacation from your problems by escaping inside the covers of a book. That’s what I strive for. Hopefully, I pull it off.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to Not Quite What It Seems getting out to the public?
MW: There are many ways to get your book out to the public. Epublishing makes it easier than ever to put your book on public display. BUT, if you’re asking me how I got a traditional deal with MacMillan, for me the keys were trusting the voice that was inside me, writing the best story that I could, and finding and landing a great agent who was excited about my story and my writing.
Finding an agent who was passionate about my work, and who also knew the business well, was probably one of the best things I did in helping me get a traditional book deal.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish Not Quite What It Seems?
MW: I don’t know that I have a “writing process” per se. There is no magic formula for me. No ritual that works. Like I don’t have to sit in the same room, wearing the same “lucky” clothing each time or anything.
I just sit down and think about the characters first. Who are they? What do they want out of life? Where do they live? What is their family like? I continue that line of thinking.
Usually my stories will spring from there. One character will speak more than others. Most of the time, they are the ones who will tell the story. Not Quite What It Seems took about eight months from start to finish.
JP: What’s next for Mari Walker?
MW: Ah…glad you asked. I’m epublishing two teen novels, the like of which I have not read before. Hopefully, the first, Just Take Me As I AM will be out in late spring of this year. And then the sequel, It’s All or Nothing At All will release late fall or early winter 2011.
And I’m also working on my next adult novel Tired of Being Nice, also to be released sometime in 2011 or early 2012. Pretty ambitious, hunh?
Thank you, Joey, for such thoughtful questions and for a wonderful interview. I always look forward to reading your interviews with other authors.
You do such a great job at giving us a little peek into what makes an author tick, as well as insight straight from the author about the message they intend to convey in their books, so it’s especially exciting for me to be a part of one!