Monday, January 20, 2014

Interview with Mary Paddock

Interview with Mary Paddock,
Author of Souvenir,
A Collection of Short Fiction

Interviewed by Author Roy Murry

Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Houston, Texas, but have spent the majority of my life in Ozarks.  I’m the mother of four boys (all teens and young adults) and I’ve been married to my closest friend for nearly twenty-five years.  We live near Table Rock Lake in SW Missouri with a larger than average number of dogs and cats.

In 2010, after twenty-plus years of homeschooling and seeing the last boy off to public high school I decided it was time to finish my own formal education. I’m an English major at Missouri State University. When all is said and done, I want to teach creative writing.

I’m an obsessive gardener, love to read (everything—from sci-fi to literary fiction), camp, collect flea market china, and walk my dogs.    

Do you remember the first story you wrote?
The first story I remember writing as a kid was about an Indian Princess who ran away to join the circus because she wanted to be a lion tamer and she didn’t want to marry the Indian Brave her father had picked out for her.  (Had there been circuses that accepted runaways then, I most assuredly would have run away to one, because I desperately wanted to be a lion tamer or an elephant trainer).

I wrote my first “novel”, when I was about thirteen. It was about a homeless woman who was hitchhiking across the country I was raised in the 70s when one often saw people doing this and knew people who’d done so and lived to tell the tale).  Along the way she met and fell in love with two different men. Though I wrote other stories during those years as well, I wrote and re-wrote that particular one more than once throughout my adolescence, adding to it and editing it as I matured.  

Were you inspired by someone or something?
I’ve been inspired by lots of someone’s and something’s.  While growing up I was surrounded by “outside the box” thinkers and creative people.  When presented with a problem or a need, their go-to-solution was to make it themselves. 

Want a better doll? Make it yourself. Have a better kitchen floor? Learn to cut and lay your own tile. Want to have a better song - Write it (and sing it) yourself. Produce a better painting or carving? You’ve got it—do it yourself.  

So it stands to reason that when I wanted to read a story about a young woman who finds a stray dog with an unusual talent (Fassen Files), that I’d write the story I wanted to read.   

What do you like about writing a story?
I am addicted to two things—I love the high of stumbling into a new idea and piecing together something that works—it’s like meeting new people or starting a new job, only without all the inherent risks. 

And I love the satisfaction of coming to the end of a story. I’ll be honest, finishing a novel is an angst-ridden experience and I’ve been known to put off writing those last pages for months (even years) because I struggle so much worrying about getting it right, but once I’ve typed those final words, whatever they might be, I  know I’ve done something that is—for me—monumental.  This never gets old.

Can you tell us about your book?
My newest book, entitled Souvenir, is a collection of short fiction and poetry largely focused on women who are dealing with ordinary problems in extraordinary ways.  I am proudest of the newest piece in the collection, “FUM” which is a look at what would have happened if the Giant’s wife, in Jack and the Beanstalk, decided to leave him.

What genre best fits for the book?
It is largely literary fiction, but I’ve also included a couple of pieces that are probably best known as magical realism aka fantasy.  For those who’ve read my previous works, they need to know that this one is very different—largely more serious and not quite as much of the fantastic.

Are you working on something new at the moment?
I’ve just finished a novel I’ve entitled Bright about a middle-aged mother of three who had an affair and is attempting to mend her marriage. Her lover doesn’t take the break up well at all and decides that “if he can’t have her nobody can”, but his goals extend beyond killing Hannah. He wants to kill her family as well. However, he does not count on love being more powerful than death.   You can expect it to be a while before this one makes it to market as I plan to follow my own advice in number 4—as stated below.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    Read. Read everything. Take risks and read books you don’t even think you’ll like. Don’t skip the badly written works either—see if you can determine why they’re bad. The same goes for well-written works.  Know what works and why. 
     Write—write a lot. Consider short fiction or poetry first because you stand a better chance of finishing what you start. Think—if you write a short story every week, that’s 52 stories. In all those stories—you’re bound to write a handful of stories worth re-working. Too, it’s also easier to publish short fiction than it is longer works.  Once you’ve had a piece or two published, you’ll never quit. It really is a heady experience.
            I think it was Stephen King who once said that the difference between a writer and someone who wants to be one is that the writer finishes what they start. This is a habit you must get into if you really want to be a writer. As often as possible, make yourself see your work through to the conclusion, even if you’re fairly sure it’s junk. 
     Seek out and embrace no-holds-barred, objective feedback. As a writer you don’t need your ego stroked nearly as much as you need honesty.  Learn how to re-write and re-write again until your work is the best it can be.

Where can people go to read your work?
All of my work can be found on Amazon. Sing and Fassen Files (two previous works) can also be found at a variety of eBook stores, including Barnes and Nobles. Amazon offers free samples. For the time being, if you have a Kindle, you can read Souvenir for free.

I have a website that can point you toward the various sources and is a great place to find updates as well as ways to get in touch with me:

Do you have anything to add?

Yeah. I want to thank those who’ve already bought my previous works as well as those who’ve written reviews. And I’d also like to thank you Roy for extending the generous invitation to come here and talk about my work and writing your own review as well.  It means more than you know.  

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