This week, Writing Wicket interviews Marie McGaha.
Marie is an ordained minister, addictions counselor, author, and editor. In real life, she’s a wife, mother, and Nana who loves being in the mountains. She and her husband, Nathan, are members of The Patriot Guard Riders and supporters of Neptune Warriors.
I asked Marie:
Q: Do you try more to be original or deliver to readers what they want?
I’m not what you would call trendy. Most of what I write is Christian-oriented, and I write what I feel God puts on my heart to help others.
Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
(I seriously don’t know how to answer that.)
Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Most of what I have written over the past several years has been about my own life experiences related to the 30+ years I have in ministry. As far as writing fiction, my characters aren’t necessarily based on real people, but are a conglomeration of people I’ve known.
Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Making authors pay to be published.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
Other people’s books! The life of an editor means I spend more time getting other people’s work ready to be published than I do my own. But I do have books coming out next year. First, the sequel to Shine His Light Lessons In Life, titled Shine His Light 2 Directions In Life, and Christy Diachenko is currently working on the voice over for Shine His Light Lessons In Life, which will be out on Audible next spring.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be?
A teacher. I actually went to college with the idea of being an English major, so I could teach high school English.
Q: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
For me it is. Much of what I write is based on my ministerial practice and experience, and biblically based.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
Trying to give them a personality that is likable, yet flawed and real without them seeming too arrogant. I have the greatest husband and I use a lot of him in my male characters, and I also use my sons’ attributes and flaws to round out the characters. None of the male characters are just one man in my life, but a mix of the good men I love.
Q: What do you like least about writing?
The rewrites. I want to do it perfectly the first time so I don’t have to go through a long editing process, but so far, I haven’t hit perfection!
Q: What’s your favourite part of writing?
When I finally hold that book in my hand and know I’ve actually completed something I started.
Q: How many hours a day do you write?
That would be another thing I dislike about writing—there’s never enough hours to write as much as I want. Life keeps interfering and I have to tend to things like cleaning house, cooking, letting dogs in and out and in and out… plus, I have to edit other people’s manuscripts, plus all of the promotions I do, as well as the time required for my ministry, and then there’s grandkids…. I need more hours in the day!
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
When I first decided to be a published author it was because I wanted to be remembered for something, but as I’ve gotten older, that’s been tempered with the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. There are so many hurting people out there, and if any of my life experiences can help, then I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.
Q: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
I was sexually abused by two uncles from the age of 3 until I was about 11, and that of course, has had a lifelong affect on who I am and how I’ve lived. Coming to terms with that type of abuse isn’t easy, and learning to forgive an abuser is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. So, that period of life and the after effects play a huge role in what I write.
Q: What’s the most you’ve ever edited out of a book? Did it bother you to do so?
Out of someone else’s book or my own? I’ve edited chapters out of other people’s books, but I’ve tossed entire manuscripts of my own. I’ve read them and thought, wow, that’s crap and started over from scratch. I always put my work away for at least a month before re-reading it. It gives me distance and the ability to read it without my mind seeing what should be there and really isn’t. That way I am more objective and can see my errors.
Q: What motivates you (in writing or otherwise)?
Other people. Through the years of counseling, working with probation and parole, and being a minister, I’ve met countless people in every walk of life and I’ve found that there is much more that binds us together than what separates us. One of the things I’ve remained involved with is prison ministry, although it’s gotten much easier with the internet. The federal prison system has an email service for inmates, and I correspond with prisoners all over the country. I send them daily devotionals, and we have a weekly group called Free To Live that covers subjects like addiction and anger management.
Q: Are you ever upset when you’ve finished a story, that your characters have said all they’re going to say?
Yes. My favorite story by me is Cross The Line. It’s set just after the Civil War and involves a former Southern belle with a former slave. I love the story, the dynamics between the characters, and their relationship. I was so sad when their story ended.
Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Not really. Fiction is like our dreams, anything can happen and it makes perfect sense.
Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I would have to say a bear… I own Dancing With Bear Publishing that is named in honor of my late husband, J. Bear Marler. So, if there is such a thing, my spirit animal is the bear.
Q: What books have you published?
Cross The Line
One Good Man
Comfort & Joy book one: forgiveness
When God Talks, It’s Time To Listen
The Root, The Shoot, The Fruit
Shine His Light Lessons In Life
Freedom Worth Dying For
For more information on Marie:
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].