Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mary Manners

I am working on a Christmas story (that’s right…Christmas)! Quinn Sanders is a single mom down on her luck, waitressing at an all-night diner when youth pastor Jason Graves comes in looking for a hot cup of coffee and some peace and quiet. You can imagine, with Quinn involved…what he finds is anything but peace and quiet. Also, Wisdom Tree, the love story of Pastor Jake Samuels and teacher Carin O’Malley is coming in the fall, 2012. Trust me…you won’t want to miss that one!

*Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a pantser by nature. I get an idea—sometimes only a feeling—and I just run with it. I actually dreamed the entire Sweet Treats Bakery Series, and when I woke up I had to hurry and write everything down. It was the coolest thing. My husband has given up on trying to figure out how my brain works.

*If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
 I’d recommend Tender Mercies. . Tender Mercies is a favorite because it’s about a football player, Cooper Jackson. My husband loves football and you could say I’m…um…less than thrilled with it. But one day when I was sitting on the couch, my eyes blurring over from watching the hundred-millionth play that looked the same as all the others that came before it, I wondered what it would be like to write a book about a former University of Tennessee quarterback who goes on to win an NFL Super Bowl for the Jacksonville Jaguars (yeah…it’s a fantasy). He’s kind of a jerk at the beginning and breaks high-school sweetheart Lexi Taylor’s heart, but he’s redeemed and ends up a pretty nice guy. It’s very cool, and who doesn’t love a quarterback?

*How long have you been a writer? 
I have felt like a writer since I was old enough to scribble a pencil across paper. I think I was born with a pencil in my hand! But, I guess I knew I was ‘different’ when all my friends wanted to go out on Friday night and I preferred to stay in and write. I finished my first full-length novel in the sixth grade (it’s morphed somewhat over the years, but will be published this fall by White Rose Publishing under the title Wisdom Tree) and I have never looked back. I am so thankful to the wonderful teachers I had through middle and high school who encouraged my writing. In fact, Wisdom Tree is dedicated to them.

*What books or authors have most influenced your life?
 Definitely Nora Roberts. I love writing family stories, and she’s got the best friend/family thing going on. I also like Beverly Lewis. She embodies the sensual…building romance with intrigue and the slightest nod or skim of a gloved finger. It’s amazing and beautiful. And I read The Outsiders when I was in the seventh grade. One of my sister’s friends gave me her copy because she just couldn’t ‘get into it’. Oh, man, that book was like gold to me. I absolutely fell in love with the characters!

*If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything on your road to publication?
I would change absolutely nothing. God knew what was best for me, and I truly believe He had a hand in my whole journey to publication. His timing has been perfect, and I could not have asked for a better editor (Nicola Martinez) or publishing company (Pelican Book Group) to work with. They are absolutely, positively amazing and wonderful!

*Where are you from?
I grew up in Chicago, but I have lived in Seymour, TN for almost thirty years. I love the diversity of the two places, and several of my stories incorporate both Knoxville and Chicago in some way. It’s great to have knowledge of both a big city and a smaller town. I love the mountains and rivers of East Tennessee, but enjoy the faster pace of Chicago from time to time.

*What sound drives you crazy?
 Nails on a chalkboard. And, believe me, after 26 years of teaching middle school kids, I’ve heard my fair share of that…arghhh!

*If you were a tool, what would people use you for?
I am the square peg that can fir into a round hole!

*If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Constant Supervision Required.

*What’s for dinner tonight?
I love canned asparagus. I could live on the stuff! My mom gave me Beverly Lewis’s Amish cookbook for Christmas and my daughter and I have had so much fun trying out the recipes. Beverly really knows good food! Chicken casserole, meatloaf, elegant chicken, apple crisp and quiche…yum! My least favorite food is shrimp. Yuck and double yuck. It would NOT be on the menu. My husband thinks I’m nuts, because he loves them. But there’s just something about eating beady-eyed wormy things with little legs that really grosses me out.

*Who’s more fun, bad boys or perfect gentlemen and why?
Of course, bad boys! But, I have to say my husband is a perfect blend of both. He’s a bad boy who’s been redeemed…but a strong sense of adventure still lurks behind his baby blues.

*What is your favorite candy bar?
Forget the candy bars…just give me a bag of dark chocolate-covered raisins and I’m good for the duration!

Facebook: marymanners,author

Twitter: @marymanners1

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