Saturday, September 17, 2011
Interview with Mary A Berger author of A Trip to the Water's Edge
Take a couple of fun-loving gals who witness a murder, add to that a food poisoning problem, throw in some fun with an aerobics class and a laughable attempt to "cook from a real recipe," and you have the makings for another hilarious adventure with Mattie Mitchell in A Trip to the Water's Edge, the sequel to the equally comical novel, The Trouble with Mattie, the first in the Mattie Mitchell Mystery Series.
About the author:
A native of Michigan, where she earned her arts degree, Mary A. Berger is an author whose writing has appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, Lady's Circle, and Today's Family, as well as in various small press publications and her local newspaper, the Times News.
She currently occupies her time with the Friends of Henderson County Public Library, The Michigan Club, her homeowners association, her pottery, and her church. Married 52 years, Mary has two daughters, four grandchildren, and two "greats."
Book available for purchase through Amazon.com.
Interview Q & A:
When did you first feel the urge to write?
I probably knew writing would be a part of my future, when I’d dash off six- or seven-page letters to my cousins. The problem was, I rarely heard back from them. They may have thought that if they didn’t respond, I might stop sending such long-winded letters. In grade school, I once “wrote” a book for a class assignment. My teacher praised my efforts. She might have influenced me greatly, when she told me—in front of the whole class—that I should become a writer. That’s pretty heady stuff for a fourth-grader to hear.
What finally got you started in actually writing a book?
The gift (to myself) of a laptop computer was a stepping stone on my road to writing, or I should say rewriting, a book. Actually, I had composed The Trouble with Mattie some time ago but was unable to find a publisher. So my Mattie book sat in a box in my closet for years. After retyping and updating the entire book manuscript on my new computer, I felt in my heart that I had something important to say, not earthshaking, but important to me. So I entered the world of electronic self-publishing, and here I am.
What do you bring from your life that adds to your writing?
Being a “people watcher” has always been a habit of mine, and it’s possible that’s had some influence in describing my characters. Years ago, my husband and I would visit the airport, the mall, or other places where folks gathered. We’d pick up ice cream cones and sit back watching people come and go, while we’d work on our ice cream. Little did I realize how much of that experience got tucked into my memory bank.
On another note, my family consisted of twenty aunts and uncles, plus 26 cousins, and an English grandfather. “Grampy” would prop my sister and me on his lap and astound us with his stories of working in Australia and Africa, and of the people and their songs. Again, watching and observing my own family members became a learning experience in itself. It’s amazing—and fortunate, in my case—how much of our childhood gets locked into our brain, especially on the creative side.
Do you use external supports in writing? such as a writing program or an ongoing editor?
For my books, I have ongoing editors who help make “repairs” on some of the things I’ve botched up. Not only are they supportive, they’re encouraging as well. Editing newsletters has helped my writing experience, too. In addition, I have participated in creative writing groups in Ohio, Michigan, and here in North Carolina. Currently, I’m a member of The Read on Western North Carolina and the North Carolina Writers’ Network.
Is there a theme that runs through your writing?
Humor appears in nearly everything I write. My one attempt at writing serious fiction turned out sounding like the world’s worst soap opera. So I decided to stick to humorous writing. I try to use a humorous approach to “doing the right thing.” In my Mattie’s Mysteries books, I try to put my main character, Mattie, in places where she gets into all kinds of comical situations, and trouble, in her effort to do the right thing.
One of the offshoots of writing funny is that we can sometimes make ourselves laugh at our own humor. And that’s a positive.
What writers have influenced you?
Garrison Keillor is one of my favorite writers of humor. I can pick up Lake Wobegon Days and be in stitches in two minutes. Janet Evanovich’s books are another favorite, not so much for content but for style. I also admire subtle humor, such as that found in John Grisham’s The Testament.
How has your writing evolved over time?
I’d like to think my writing has gotten funnier. But I would imagine that’s what most humor writers (and probably comedians) hope for themselves. I do feel that my writing has gotten more crisp, more tight. When people tell me they laughed out loud while reading my books, well, that says a lot. `
How do you promote your books?
My blog site, mattiesmysteries.blogspot.com, is my main contact with the writing world. I also make myself available for readings/discussions at our library and its branches, book clubs, private organizations, etc. This year, I participated in our area’s BookFest, where I sold books and made a couple of contacts not only with editors but with other authors, as well. Of course, my business cards and bookmarks are always with me to distribute wherever I can. Word of mouth is another important way to spread the word about my books. It also helps to have 26 cousins who are willing to help!
How do you promote your web site?
I use a blog site, which is promoted by my editors through other book blogs and internet book search sites.