Interview with Marion L. Cornett
Today I'm joined by author Marion L. Cornett.
What genre do you write and why?
At the moment, I am loving historical fiction because of research I did for local information ranging from 1874 until 1972 for a couple history books, The Fowlerville Chronicles and Through the Eyes of a Country Editor. I found myself lingering over the decades in the early 1900s when the Volstead Act created the Prohibition Era and then the greed of many causing the market to crash in 1929. The resolve of those suffering during that time piqued my interest.
Tell us about your latest book.
Juniper and Anise is a story of a woman, Hulda Pearl Rose, coming to the United States from Poland, changing her persona to fit into a small village, and finding a way to survive by making and selling bathtub gin during the Prohibition Era. She deals with rumrunners, an unwanted baby, a young gal that needs her help yet ultimately becomes family to her, a local deputy sheriff, and brushes with the Detroit Purple Gang. She soon becomes obsessed with the glamorous life of big city speakeasies, even if it could jeopardize everything that she’s created.
This novel has been categorized as both historical fiction and action/adventure due to the era covered and because of numerous tense and exciting moments throughout the story. In other words, Hulda’s life is never calm and easy—there’s always some kind of upheavel!
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
My own website at www.marioncornett.com is definitely a work in progress. I’m also spending all sorts of time developing a Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/marioncornettauthor), a twitter account (@marionatpath), Goodreads, and delightfully discovering all sorts of other facebook pages (such as yours). Currently, Juniper and Anise is in ebook format, on sites such as Whiskey Creek Press (my publisher), Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Bookstrand. Once paperbacks are available, I will be doing a giveaway on Goodreads and possibly numerous other sites.
Some days I feel totally overwhelmed by social media and, other times, I learn more than I ever thought possible.
Who are your favourite authors?
Elizabeth Berg, Ann Tyler, and Alice Hoffman have been my most favourite authors, especially early on, but now I find myself open to new and upcoming authors. I try to read about a book a week so I’m always expanding my radar of interest. My latest reads include books by Amy Greene, Jodi Picoult, Mardi Jo Link, Liane Moriarity, also biographies for/by Joss Whedon and Neil Patrick Harris, and even a graphic novel once in a while.
What advice do you have for other writers?
I have always believed, and have told anyone that would listen, the worst you are going to get is a “no” answer. Everything else is up from that. I aggressively pursued getting Juniper and Anise published by a traditional publishing company (since I had self-published the local history books) and was totally delighted and excited that Whiskey Creek Press (now owned by Start Publishing in New York) picked up my novel. They have been wonderful to work with.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
The best part? Letting my imagination live a life of its own. Once, long ago, I read “if you are wondering why I’m staring into space, I’m writing my next scene.” So many of my characters become real to me and I love spending time figuring out bigger and better situations for them and, most definitely, unexpected moves.
I also have a dream journal and, come to find out, it isn’t just for dreams but it is a place to write down my daydreams, my illusions, and that wild side of my personality. Too often to be considered a coincidence, my thoughts in the middle of the night become some of the best scenarios for my writing.
What it comes down to, the best part of being a writer is the joy of getting lost in a world I create.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
Hulda Pearl Rose is the main character, but as I wrote the part of what I thought would be a minor character, I so fell in love with her, the part was expanded. Izzy Bouchard is a young gal that shows up on the back stoop of Hulda’s old farmhouse. Izzy has been beaten by someone she will not discuss, her face is so swollen she cannot see out of one eye and she can barely speak, and her legs are so weak Hulda has to nearly carry her into the house. That was how they met—what happened in the years to follow made Izzy an invaluable friend to Hulda and the young gal never forgot how she’d been saved. Izzy became the “port in the storm” and even sometimes a bit of comic relief when everything seemed at its most dire.
While working on my current novel, I’m finding the same thing happening with my main character’s best friend.
How long did it take you to write your book?
The first time someone asked me that question once Juniper and Anise was published, I answered nine months. But then I started thinking about that. Yes, the mechanics of sitting down, writing the first draft, editing and then editing some more, having the story read and reviewed elsewhere, editing some more—yes, nine months. But, the truth is the whole parts of being creative and learning this craft have been a nearly 40-year run of exercising my imagination.
Years earlier, I channeled my creativity into designing handiwork, such as knitting and crocheting, for national magazines. During that run, I had over 350 designs published over fifteen years. I moved onto commercial embroidery about twenty years ago, where I actually found time to stretch my imagination into other venues. I began writing magazine articles and being quite successful. That led to finding out how much I enjoyed doing research and concentrated my efforts locally, eventually self-publishing the two local history books. That led to me finding an article about inept rumrunners that sparked an entire plotline and I was off and running as fast as I could type.
Yes, it took about nine months to write the book, another year to get it to market through Whiskey Creek Press, but nearly 40 years to hone my craft.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
Tilly Loves Johnny—isn’t that a great title? That is what I’m currently working on. This story is a companion novel to Juniper and Anise. I call it a “companion” story because it is set in the same era and in the same small village, but there are all new characters and a completely different situation during the 1920s. Part of the story is a study of the marriage between Tilly and Johnny, two people that knew each other from the moment Tilly was born when Johnny was four years old. While being newlyweds, they are put right in the middle of a turbulent time between those that still wanted access to alcohol and others that took the letter of the law to heart, some even circumventing the sheriff’s wishes.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
Since I have been successful in both, I can’t really say one is better than the other. Both self-publishing and traditional publishing have pros and cons.
For reasons of a small audience, I chose to self-publish the two local history books. I found a press willing to work with me on such items as set-up, ISBN, and printing, while I took care of the responsibilities for marketing, promotion, and sales. I also had to front all of the expenses and then hope that I could recoup them—which I was able to. The entire process proved to be both interesting and a steep learning curve which eventually helped while working with a traditional publisher.
Whiskey Creek Press (aka Start Publishing) has made the whole traditional publishing experience a very good one. Through the entire process of their help with additional editing, proofing, suggestions for marketing, and getting the ebook format on numerous sites, I cannot say enough good things about working with them. WCP does ask that we, as authors, take care of the social media end of the whole process and that I have found to also be quite satisfying. I am not one to sit back and let someone else do all of the work so we have become a good fit that way.
Both for WCP and myself, now I just hope the novel is successful in sales.