**Author Peek** Interview with Mari Collier
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a fulltime writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share.
I was born on a farm in Lincoln Township, Audubon County, Iowa. The doctor didn’t make in time for my arrival. I was always delighted to go to Council Bluffs or Omaha where they had real bathrooms with water dispensing from taps. Of course, other people on the farms had electricity and some had bathrooms. The towns people enjoyed all those things. Papa just wouldn’t pay for the installation. My allergies became so severe, Mother took me West. In Phoenix I could eat, breathe, and sleep again. I met my husband in high school. It sounds impossible, but we were married the day after he graduated from high school and remained wedded until death parted us forty-five years later. We lived in Arizona, Washington, and then retired to California. Like others, we bought homes, planted trees and roses, raised two beautiful children, and enjoyed our dates with each other. He had a small finish carpenter company in Washington. I did the books, sometimes the labor portion. Later I went to work for Nintendo of America. They paid me to read, write, and talk. You could say some of the letters I sent to our fans were a mixture of fantasy and down-to-earth advice about gaming. I’m supposedly retired, but my days are so filled that I don’t have the time for reading and writing that I want to devote to them. I keep threatening to retire again. The Old Schoolhouse Museum in Twentynine Palms has become my home away from home.
1. How did you get started writing?
I’ve always made up stories in my head. Before I started kindergarten I would make up stories and use my younger brother to help act them out. Poor child. He would run around saying, “Who you? Who I?” Then we had to write essays in the one room country schoolhouse I attended. The essays were for history and geography. When I was eleven, I had to write a story for English. The rest of the class enjoyed it and asked that I write more. I did and they loved them. Heady stuff for a person just turning twelve. I started a Western story that would be my first novel. Almost every character died in the first chapter. One of my older brothers roared when he read it. I was devastated and put it aside. Then when I was thirteen, I began writing the township column for the Audubon Advocate. The pay was a huge sum of $.03 a line and $.04 a line if it went on their Society page. I used to pray for someone to have a birthday celebration, anniversary party, shower, or wedding as they all qualified for the extra penny per line.
2. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
My novels are all science fiction. Two of the published ones have American history within the story. Two more will follow the same theme as this is also a family saga. My short stories are anything from contemporary to science fiction set on other worlds. They all have a skewed take on reality. Some of them are really twisted. For a cookbook recipe with story, I had Dragon Stew. One story highlights a dead man trying to get his daughter’s attention. In the one about to be published, a stone lizard comes to life. Those short stories are in the Desert Writers anthologies. I also write Snapshots in Time for the Old Schoolhouse Journal published by the Twentynine Palms Historical Society.
3. What is your favorite part of writing?
Writing and bringing my characters to life, and being totally gone from this world.
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
That’s easy. It is editing. It is my bane. Just today I discovered (on my sixth time through Earthbound) that most people don’t recognize the old time term for mumps and what they can do to a man. That prompted yet another rewrite.
5. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
They are just there in my head. I see the people. I hear them speak and the tone of their voice, the clothes they are wearing, the smells around them. There is no explanation for this. One of my friends firmly believes I’m channeling. I reject that theory, but she’s happy with it.
6. What is it that makes your writing different from all the others in your genre?
The science fiction stories set in history are actual alternate history. Mine are not. The history is the history of Earth and this country. My mutant characters are trying to survive in this world without drawing attention to themselves and the fact that they are so different. The telling of their lives often involves areas that many writers won’t touch. I’ve had authors tell me I can’t write about real women’s problems with menses, menopause, and childbirth. As one author put it, “It just isn’t done.” I find that view unrealistic. I’ve also been told that when I do my fight scenes, I write like a man. A woman isn’t supposed to do that. Huh? How else do you make it real?
7. Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is history and then science fiction, but most of the science fiction today leaves me cold and unfulfilled. The characters are all out of the same mold and somehow not real. Yes, one of my main characters is from another planet, but he has emotions, needs, and intellect. He is not a killing machine bent on taking over Earth. Stories should be more than a desolate world and everyone fighting for the remnants of civilization. I do enjoy a horror story, a murder mystery, or a thriller occasionally, but rarely enjoy Romance of any kind. I’ve read a few and then wondered why I bothered. Of course, Gone With the Wind is in a class by itself.
8. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
The next one is Earthbound. It features a stranded mutant (Thalian-Justine) on the planet Earth. The violence of this Earth has killed the Justine that was to abandon him here. He has the spaceship, but not the knowledge to pilot it. It’s 1840 and he’s trapped here and must find a way to live and learn to pilot the ship. Then he meets Anna and his whole life changes. By the end of the novel, he realizes that through her, he may gain the means to return through the stars to Thalia and complete the revenge against the Justines.
Links to Mari Collier’s website, blog, books, etc.
The commercial links are for the book review of BEFORE WE LEAVE
Gather the Children is my first novel and is a soft back. Gather the Children is the story I started when I was twelve and my brother found so hilarious. Everyone I killed in the first chapter remained dead except Anna. She wanted her children back. and she wanted her story told. Gather the Children may be purchased at:
Authors Page on Face Book is Twisted Tales From A Skewed Mind: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Twisted-Tales-From-A-Skewed-Mind/124947397618599
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read an excerpt from Mari’s novel, BEFORE WE LEAVE , on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench!