Sixteen-year-old Carrie Fleming thought she was doing a good deed. When a charming Frenchman claiming to be a prince crashed the wedding she was working, all she wanted to do was make sure he didn’t get into any trouble. And since he seemed infatuated with her older sister, Sara, it just made sense to ask Sara to help.
Sara Fleming just wanted to make it through her senior year and get into a great music school. She didn’t care about friends or boys or any of the other distractions of high school. And she certainly didn’t want anything to do with some guy who claimed to be a prince, sworn to protect the world from evil, no matter how romantic it sounded.
But -He wasn’t an ordinary prince.
He wasn’t fighting an ordinary evil.And Carrie and Sara were about to step into a world they could barely imagine…
Marijon was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me and here's what she had to say...
1) Would you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I live in New Jersey, am happily married with two daughters, cook and garden, and have wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I started reading at an early age and have never stopped. I still have some of the favorite books from my childhood on my shelves – Wind in the Willows, Rascal, and all the ‘Little House’ books
2) Which project are you currently promoting?
This is my first YA novel, Smoke, Wings and Stone
3) Can you tell us what the book is about?
Two sisters, trying to deal with the perils of high school, find themselves involved with an ancient race of gargoyles.
4) How did you come up with the title for this book?
When gargoyles change from their human form to their gargoyle form, three things happen – you smell smoke, they sprout wings, and then they turn to stone.
5) What inspired you to write this book?
I started with the idea of a human woman tricked into a marriage contract with a supernatural creature. Originally, I wanted to write an adult novel, but it seemed more interesting to do this from a teen-aged girl’s POV
6) Did you have the main character’s names already picked out before you began to write?
Yes! Carrie is my daughter’s name, and she was a little pissed at me that I’d written two adult novels, each with teen girl characters, and she wasn’t one of them. So, I had no choice! But the fictional Carrie is not like the real Carrie – the real Carrie is NOT interested in soccer. At all.
7) What can you tell us about your main characters?
Carrie is a jock – loves soccer, is very outgoing, has two best friends, and is very sure of herself. Sara is more of an introvert. She loves playing her flute, and that has been her focus. She has few friends and no interests outside her music. She is aware of her flaws, but would never think to change her behavior to please someone else.
8) Did you have to do any research in order to help you with the writing of this book?
Yes. Sara applies to the Julliard School of Music. My niece, Erin, is a very talented musician, and she gave me some insight as to what the application process would be, but I also had to go online quite a bit. I read other kid’s posts about what their experiences were like. I also had to listen to a lot of classical music to decide what Sara would be playing. As far as the gargoyles – there is very little on-line about the legend of the gargoyles. The Bishop of Rouen legend was all I could find. The rest, I made up!
9) What made you decide to become a writer?
I’d been scribbling stories in a spiral-bond notebook since I was ten years old. When I was in my forties, I was listening to a radio show, Joan Hamburg in New York, and her guest said that women are always re-inventing themselves, and if you were looking for what to do with your life, remember what you were doing when you were a kid, because that was something that you probably loved. Then, try to take that something and make it into a career. That’s when I started writing with an intent to publish.
10) What genre do you generally write?
My previous books have been adult romantic comedy. I have another romcom coming out in October, through Amazon/Montlake.
11) Are you interested in writing other genres?
I never thought I’d be writing in YA, so I guess anything is possible.
12) Do you follow a routine when you begin to write a scene or chapter?
I generally have it in my head from thinking about it the night before. That’s my trick for falling asleep – plot out the next days writing.
13) How long does it usually take for you to write a book?
Three to six months from first draft to edited copy. But I’m getting faster.
14) Do you have a general idea of what direction you want the plot to take ahead of time or does it come to you once you’ve started writing?
My stories tend to write themselves. I think I know how it’s going to end, but then a character will tap me on the shoulder, whisper in my ear, and I’m off in another direction completely.
15) What character out of your most recent work do you admire the most and why?
I really like Maggie in Smoke, Wings and Stone. She’s the girls’ mom, has a career she loves, fights for her daughters, and manages to fall in love. Pretty good for a forty-something single mom.
16),Have you ever had second doubts about a story you’ve written? If so, have you wanted to rewrite some parts of it?
I have no doubts about the major plot points, but rewrites go on forever in my head. That’s the one question I try to ask other successful writers – how can you tell when you’re DONE?
17) Are there any authors you admire?
Many. Huge Susan Isaacs fan. Love Neil Gaiman and Martha Grimes. I have every book by Mary Stewart. Love Elle Casey and Daylla Moon, two great Indies. I tend to read lots of different things.
18) What are your favorite titles from this or other authors?
Right now I’m reading Neverwhere by Gaiman. I’ve probably read that three or four times.
19) Have you written any series? If not, are you planning to write any in the future?
I’m hoping Smoke, Wings and Stone will be the first in a series. There are a lot of interesting characters here, with all sorts of backstories to explore.
20) What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m finishing the final edits for my romcom coming out in the fall, and starting the second Smoke, Wings and Stone book.
21) When you begin a new MS, does it start with an idea, concept, or both?
I can start with an idea. Sometimes, it comes to nothing. I have a lot of false starts sitting on my hard drive.
22) Once you begin to work on a new MS, do you have the ending already mapped out or do you envision it as the story progresses?
I’m a seat-of-my-pants writer. I make it up as I go along.
23) Are there any writing styles you prefer?
I prefer lots of dialog and action. I read 0 and write - for plot and character more than for literary style.
24) Did you self-publish? If not, is that something you will be willing to consider in the future?
I self-pubbed my first two books, which led to a trad-pub contract. But the YAs will be self-pubbed.
25) What is your least favorite part about getting published?
I hate editing – I pay other people to do that now! The hardest part is getting reviewers. That’s why it’s so great to be able to do a tour like this!
26) Was the road to publication a long one for you?
Yes. I got an agent almost eight years ago. She tried – very hard – to sell my two adult books. When I decided to self-publish in 2010, she gave me her blessing.
27) Do you use a pen name? If so, why?
Marijon Braden is a pen name. I wouldn’t want fans of my adult books, which are about middle aged women and their problems, downloading Smoke, Wings and Stone, and then realizing – hey, teenagers? Gargoyles?? I also wouldn’t want teens picking up my adult books. There’s one that is NOT for teens at all!
28) Where do you see yourself in five years?
In a beach house. Oh, you mean career-wise? Writing more about Carrie and Sara. I think their stories could last that long. Definitely more romcoms.
29) What is the best advice you can give to a new author?
Have realistic expectations. This is a tough business to be successful in. Write first because you love to do it. Don’t think about becoming rich and famous.
30) Where can the readers find more information about you?
I have a pretty cool website, www.MarijonBraden.com, or readers can email me directly at email@example.com
Marijon was born and raised in New Jersey, which may help to explain her attitude towards charlatans and idiots. She started writing stories at an early age, her first literary influences being Walter Farley, author of the ‘Black Stallion’ series, and Carolyn Keene, of ‘Nancy Drew’ fame. That’s probably why her earliest efforts involved a young girl detective who solved crime on horseback.
She had a very happy childhood, did well in school, and was a fairly obedient daughter until she went away to college. The original plan was to major in journalism. She wrote for the college paper until she realized that wasn’t the kind of writing she wanted to do when she grew up. So she switched to education. That was not, perhaps, the smartest move.
Then, life happened. Jobs, rent, husband, baby, another husband, another baby, until she found herself a stay-at-home mom, about to chew her foot off if she had to watch one more episode of ‘Barney.’ So, she started to write again.
She still lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, two cats and a very spoiled cocker spaniel. Her older daughter is off in Oregon, fighting the good fight for the homeless. She loves to cook – and eat – and plays RPG games on her Xbox when she needs to decompress (Skyrim alone cost her months of her life). During the past few years, she has lost, and tragically found again, the same twenty pounds. Life is all about trying, failing, and trying harder.
She writes in her downstairs office, surrounded by her growing collection of gargoyles. Smoke, Wings and Stone in her first YA novel.
Marijon Braden is the pen name for Dee Ernst, who writes adult romantic comedy, and has lived an almost identical life.