Welcome Wednesday guests for September:
9/03 Beach-Read novelist, Mary Hogan (Two Sisters);
9/10 Fast-track Guppy Annette Dashofy (Lost Legacy);
9/17 Florida Coast author, Terrie Farley Moran (Well Read, Then Dead);
9/24 Cozy Confection author, Kathy Aarons (Death Is Like A Box Of Chocolates).

Gloria Alden's latest publication is nonfiction. Boys Will Be Boys: The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys. Edited by Cher'ley Grogg was recently released and available on Amazon. Gloria wrote three essays and two poems in her chapter included in the book.

Don't miss next month's release of Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays on October 7th, in which WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances") have short stories.

KM Rockwood's short stories will appear in two anthologies released in October. They are: "The Lure of the Owl" in Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Stories, to be released as a ebook, and "Aunt Olga and the Werewolf" will be included in the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity anthology release by Intrigue Publishing. at their conference in October.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mary Hogan Interview

Because I’m a beach person, Coastal Living Magazine has become a fixture in my home. It contained an article on great beach reads, which I read, jotting down titles. Mary Hogan’s Two Sisters was among those books recommended. I picked up a copy and couldn’t put it down. Although the title conveys that the plot focuses on the relationship between two sisters, the entire dysfunctional family becomes Mary’s fodder.

After reading, I went to Mary's website, took one look at her background picture, and knew she was a “must interview.” (No, I’m not going to tell you—go and see for yourselves!) Please welcome Mary to WWK.                        E. B. Davis

Thanks, E.B. Great to meet you. I’ve always wanted to be a beach person. In fact, I grew up near Malibu and my three brothers were surfers. I sprayed Sun-In in my hair to lighten it and slathered myself in baby oil. But sun doesn’t like me. It turns me into a lobster-colored grump. Not pretty.

Would you give our readers a condensed synopsis of the plot?

Though the title is TWO SISTERS, this novel is really about a family…a family with a lot of secrets. These secrets unravel the relationships. Muriel, the main character, is stuck in the muck of it all. She knows a lot, but can never tell…

After writing many successful YA novels, why an adult novel?
Curiously, I never thought I was writing YA when I first started. THE SERIOUS KISS is about a family, too. Only the story is told through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl, Libby. The first line of this novel is, “My father drinks too much and my mother eats too much which pretty much explains why I am the way I am.”

The only way I discovered I had written a “YA” novel was when I was rejected by agents. I would read rejection letters which stated, “I don’t handle YA.” I thought, “What is YAH?” Seriously, I was clueless. Once I discovered the genre, I studied it and loved it. There are a lot of great YA books out there! I wanted to be part of that crowd.

After 7 YA novels, though, I figured I had humiliated my parents enough. Time to move on to other family members. haha

Your story in Two Sisters shows the inequities parents create between siblings. Do you think this is a common family problem?

I come from a family of five kids. Each one of us would say that our parents loved one of our siblings more. haha

Growing up, I was always aware that some familial connections felt more natural than others. Like, they were on the same wave length. I don’t have children myself, but I imagine it must be easier to raise a child who is like you in thought and disposition.

I never believed my parents when they said they loved us all equally. More likely, I think my parents loved the parts of us they could relate to, and were baffled by the rest.

Was there a catalyst for the plot or main character of this novel? How did it come about?

Actually, the horrible truth of it is that I began TWO SISTERS two weeks after my only sister died unexpectedly. She’d had cancer, but I was never worried about her because she always told me she was fine. She didn’t want anyone to know how bad it was. Secrets. It’s in my family’s DNA.

Writing TWO SISTERS was, in part, a grieving process for me. I needed to understand what had gone wrong between my sister and me. I needed to forgive myself for not noticing how sick she was and insisting she talk to me. 

In many instances, you show how religion plays a negative role in the family. I agree with you, but many people would disagree. Have you received negative feedback due to this portrayal?

I was nervous about that, but honestly, most of my readers have been open to the religious message I was trying to convey: Love, forgiveness, acceptance…these are the true qualities of “godliness”. In the world, I’ve seen too many people hide behind “GOD” as a way to act abominably. For me, being kind to one another trumps showing up at church every Sunday.

Is there a positive aspect of religion that contributes to child development?

Absolutely. In my opinion, organized religion has lost its way a bit. It’s become too much about “us v. them”. If the focus was more on love in the truest sense of the word—a profound concern for the wellbeing of others—even the playground would be a happier place.

I was raised to view “God” as a punitive figure always watching, waiting for you to slip-up. To sin. If I had children, I would want them to view the world as a place where we are expected to act in a loving manner towards others. To treat others as we would have them treat us. Hey! Isn’t that in the Bible?

I find myself simultaneously being angry and sympathetic to the father in this story. Did you anticipate this reaction to him?

Ah yes, Owen. I hear you, sister. I, too, feel anger and compassion for him. Like some of the other characters, Owen is trapped by the choices he made. And, certainly, Muriel suffers for her father’s choice to put his head down and get through life.

My own dad was a bit like that. Within our family of seven, he lived alone. I understand well the limitations of parents. Not everyone is equipped to handle such a tough job. Owen was in over his head from the start. His happiness turned out to be grasping a tiny bit of family for himself: his son, Logan.

You wrote in third person multiple POV. How did you find this to be the best voice?

Sometimes, voice just happens. In this instance, I wanted to get inside Pia’s head and heart. Particularly in Chapter Twenty-Two which really lays her bare. Muriel was the outsider in her family, so her POV of her sister’s struggles would be inadequate, at best. Pia had to tell her own story…if only to herself. And, of course, the reader gets to peek in, too.

Even though every child wants her parents’ love, I found myself wanting Muriel to seek retribution for herself, to be harder on her mother. But you didn’t. Why?

By far, this is the most frequent comment I get. In fact, a lot of readers are angry that Muriel “forgives” her mother at the end. I never saw it that way. For me, Muriel is finally able to become herself. To shed the past. She doesn’t forgive Lidia as much as she decides to stop letting her mother have power over her. She decides to like herself, instead of hate her mother. Muriel is in control of the relationship now…as little or as much of one as she desires.

While growing up, Pia treats Muriel badly following her mother’s example. Why did Pia never question her mother’s values and stick up for her little sister?

First, eight years separate Pia and Muriel. So, as Pia says, “Muriel was little more than a barnacle on her life.” As the favored child, Pia grew up with a sense of entitlement from the getgo. My vision of her is floating through life while Muriel galumphs after her.

Second, Pia loved her treasured position in the family. Why rock the boat? Or, in her case, the luxury liner. haha

Bonus: Where is your website background, and why the beach and ocean?

I chose the beach background (from the selection in the website builder!) because of the seminal beach scene early in TWO SISTERS. Teaser: That really did happen to me. My sister really did that…though I was a little older, a willing participant, and we all thought it was funny until it really wasn’t.  

Some of Mary’s YA cover art accompanies this post. A few of her YA books seem to follow a “perfect” theme, while the “Susanna” books are a series. I hope Mary continues writing adult novels. She admitted to me that she longed to write mysteries . Let’s hope Mary becomes a SinC member. Thanks for the interview, Mary!

What a joy to answer your thoughtful, intelligent questions, E.B.! The pleasure was all mine. My dream is to become a Sister in Crime. I’m in awe of mystery writers. One day, maybe….