Monday, October 7, 2013

Author Interview – Mary Maddox

at 3:00 AM

Tell us a bit about your family.

I’m married to film scholar and eco-critic Joseph K. Heumann. Joe and his cowriter, Robin L. Murray, have published three books on ecological themes and issues in film. A fourth book, on eco-disaster films, will be published next year by the University of Nebraska Press.

In December Joe and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. He is the love of my life.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

During the day I overcome self-doubts and fear simply by doing my work, but they’re always lurking, ready to haunt me if I awaken in the middle of the night. Then I have to get up and read.

What scares you the most?

The prospect of losing those I love.

What makes you happiest?

Several things, in this order: my marriage, my writing, my friends, my animals (a horse and a parakeet).

What’s your greatest character strength?

I can transcend failure and defeat.

What’s your weakest character trait?

Before the transcendence, I waste some time feeling sorry for myself. It’s as though I feel compelled to dig a deeper hole before I climb out.

Why do you write?

Writing seems to be necessary to my happiness. I’m unhappy when I don’t write.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

I started writing fiction soon after I learned to read. My brother Steve and I shared an imaginative life where we dwelt on an island and fought constant battles against the monsters across the river. Our characters had secret identities so they could sneak among the monsters and spy. We acted out scenes, taking the parts of various characters, making up dialogue as we went. We fought duels with imaginary swords. When Mom gave me a scrapbook, it seemed perfect for drawing a map of our island. Steve and I argued, as usual, over details – where the river went, how much of the island the forest should cover. We filled the book with a story of our adventures written in pencil and illustrated in crayon.

In fourth grade I wrote a story in which I was kidnapped by aliens from outer space. Apparently I struggled with the ending since the story concludes with the narrator waking up and realizing it was all a dream.

In high school, I won a first place and two second places in a Scholastic Magazine national contest, but I honestly don’t remember whether anything of mine was actually published in the magazine. My first notable publication as an adult was a story called “Etiquette” in Iris, a literary magazine at the University of Virginia.

What are you most proud of in your personal life?

I was able to quit smoking cigarettes. I smoked for less than fourteen years, but my addiction had such a grip that I accepted the prospect of never breaking free. My father also smoked. He refused to quit, arguing that his bad habit hurt nobody but himself. When he died of heart failure I understood wrong he’d been. His smoking had hurt me and everyone else who loved him. That insight led me to quit.

What books did you love growing up?

At eight I loved Tanglewood Tales, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s books that retell classical myths for children. At eleven I loved The Wizard of Oz and at fifteen The Lord of the Rings.

What book genre of books do you adore?

I adore fantasy, thrillers, and horror fiction. But literary fiction nourishes me.

What book should everybody read at least once?

The child in me says The Lord of the Rings. The adult says Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?

Well, I don’t enjoy badly written books with incoherent plots, dull characters, and/or sentences that make me wince. I work hard not to write books like that.

What movie do you love to watch?

I’ve seen The Lord of the Rings films many times.

What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…

I taught writing for many years at Eastern Illinois University. I am now retired.


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Genre – Thriller / Horror

Rating – R

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