Marilee Brothers whose latest book Moon Spun, the third book in the Unbidden Magic series was released in August.
She told me that she's proud of all her books, but had a particularly good time in writing it. She had the opportunity to create a whole new world for the main character, Allie Emerson, who has been searching for her roots throughout the series. She discovers her maternal grandmother is a forest faery who desperately needs her help, so along with Ryker Matheson, a hot biker boy/red-tailed hawk, she enters the Land of Boundless.
"I had a great time creating all kinds of good and bad faeries," she said.
Marilee shared that when she was young, there were kids' books and adult books, but it was before the publishers started marketing books specifically for the teen audience.
"I soon tired of kids’ books and began digging into my parents’ stash," she said. "Consequently, at a very young age, I was reading mysteries by John D. MacDonald, romances by Katherine Woodiwiss and semi naughty epics by Frank Yerby. Didn’t hurt me a bit!"
Marilee has always been a voracious reader and dabbled in poetry and short stories.
"I was busy teaching, coaching and raising 3 sons," she said. "After the boys were grown and gone and I had more time, I began to take writing classes. My instructor said, 'You need to write a book!' My first reaction was, 'Who me?'"
Marilee is currently working on the next book in the Unbidden Magic series, which is tentatively titled Shadow Moon. Then, book 5 will complete the series and she will be writing one more standalone book for Bell Bridge Books, possibly a time travel or steampunk. She's also started writing a YA urban fantasy with a male protagonist, Gabe Delgado.
"What is your working environment like?" I wondered.
"We converted a bedroom into writing space for me. I love my writing room even though it’s always a mess. Three walls are painted sky blue, the fourth is pale burgundy. I have a corner desk (cluttered), two bookcases and multiple shelving all stuffed with book-related items. Opposite the desk, is a large, overstuffed chair and ottoman (also blue) that converts into a single bed. My desk chair has wheels, and since my dog is usually sleeping behind me, I have to be careful not to roll over her tail. I have a satellite radio and listen to music when I write. My two favorite stations are light classical and outlaw country. I know, pretty weird, huh?"
Marilee didn't start off writing YA fiction. She intended to become a romance writer, so joined RWA, Romance Writers of America. She was trying to sell her adult book, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedla, and received tons of rejections. However, one of those rejections changed her life.
"An editor at Kensington included a personal note along with her rejection. She said, 'This book isn’t for us, but you have a natural voice for young adult. Get busy and write one.' I’d never, ever considered writing for the YA market but followed her advice. It turned out she was right. RWA has many wonderful, supportive programs to help new writers, including contests. When I started writing Moonstone, I decided to enter it in contests that had a YA category in order to get feedback. I had only about 60 pages done at the time. One of those contests, Dual in the Delta, was judged by Debra Dixon of Belle Books. Months later, she hunted me down, said she loved my voice and would I please send her the book because they were starting a new imprint called Bell Bridge. Book wasn’t finished. Oops! Long story short – I finished the book, they bought it and offered me a 5 book contract. Belle Books is a wonderful publishing company. I’m grateful every day for their support."
Marilee shared with me that she has to remind herself every day, when she sits down to write, that she is channeling the voice of Allie, her teenage protagonist.
"As you may have guessed, I’m far from fifteen, yet it’s the easiest thing in the world for me to go back in time and tap into the insecurities and angst of my life at that moment in time," she said. "Certainly, many things have changed, but many things have remained the same. This is just my theory, but I think it’s possible all women have a fifteen year old girl living inside them."
"What is the one book no writer should be without?" I asked.
"It depends on where you are in the process. Beginning writers who need inspiration should get Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. My favorite book is Write On by mystery writer Elizabeth George."
Finally, I asked, "If you could give any advice to your readers, what would it be?"
"Drop an email to your favorite authors and tell them you like their books. I love hearing from readers. It makes my day! I recently received an email from a reader who said, 'I’ve read all of your books at least ten times. It’s because of you I’m writing my own book.' Turns out she’s only fourteen!"
A former teacher and school counselor, Marilee lives in Washington state and writes full time. Her books include The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best award for romantic suspense and Moonstone, Moon Rise and Moon Spun, the first three books in the YA paranormal Unbidden Magic series. Castle Ladyslipper, a medieval romance with paranormal elements will soon be published by Awe-Struck Press. Marilee is a member of RWA, PNWA and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Visit her website at http://www.marileebrothers.com/. and follow her on Twitter.