Today, in the forum, I’m pleased to have my friend Marla Blowers. She’s here to talk about her writing journey, the Young and Naïve series, and a little about her upcoming project.
Tim Greaton: It’s great to finally have you here in the forum, Marla. As writers, we’re used to putting characters in difficult circumstances, but you lived through a period that not even our characters have endured. Could you tell us about it?
Marla Blowers: I was raised in the Midwest, Nebraska to be exact. I wasn’t an only child but I came along so late that I am actually closer in age to my nieces and nephews. I will share one very memorable time in my childhood, and one that I am sure most children have not experienced. Thank God! At a very young age I ran onto a highway and was hit by a truck. I spent a month in traction and then wore a body cast. I basically had to learn to walk all over again. I can remember the ride to the hospital and throwing up in the emergency room. I celebrated a birthday in the hospital, one young boy messed with the levers on my bed and my legs dropped down. My sister also snuck a puppy into the hospital as a gift, of course it didn’t get to stay there but I had it to look forward to when I got home.
Tim Greaton: Since you can’t write one hundred percent of the time, what hobbies keep you busy in your off hours?
Marla Blowers: I love to sew! Not mending but actually designing a garment or item. I have sewn since I was in Junior High. I still even have some of those patterns I used way back when and they were only .65 now you can pay $18.00 or more for a pattern. You name it I have probably sewn it. I also have an embroidery machine and if I could I would embroider on anything. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately for some relatives and friends, not everything will fit into the hoop. I have read you can embroider on toilet paper but that just seems like a waste. (She grins)
Tim Greaton: I often get emails asking me when the next book in one or another series is coming out. Apparently, I need to take some lessons from you. It seems like you went from one book to three in now time. Do you have other works stashed away in a closet waiting for release?
Marla Blowers: Funny you should ask. I just pulled 3 manuscripts out of cobwebs just a little over two years ago. I was saddened every time I came across them and a few times almost tossed them out. But finally I decided I needed to do this for me. So in March of 2011, I began working on them, and in August of 2011 my first book was published. Eight months later the 3rd one was on the market. So to answer your question currently nothing but clothes are in my closet.
Tim Greaton: I love how imaginative writers can be, but you’ve taken it to a whole new level. Could you share how your creativity occasionally spills over into the non-writing world?
Marla Blowers: For a few years, whenever my husband or I were supposed to pick up someone at the airport (including each other) we always dressed up in silly costumes. For example, he picked me up at the airport and he was dressed up like a devil with a pitchfork holding a sign that read ‘Whenever you go, everything goes to hell’. And once I dressed up almost like a hooker to pick him up. It really wasn’t that bad but for me it felt pretty daring. The funniest one however was a time before 9-11 when you could go all the way to the gate to meet the arrivals. My husband and I were there to pick up my sister and her husband and we cross dressed. I was dressed like a real nerd in yellow pants and glasses with tape holding them together. My husband wore a bright orange mumu, bright red lipstick, swinging a purse on one elbow. He also had a 5 o’clock shadow. The best part was watching people’s reaction to us. They truly didn’t know if we were for real or not. They kind of looked at us out of the corner of their eyes. My sister however was appalled and tried to pretend she didn’t know us. She didn’t even want to walk out to the car with us.
Tim Greaton: (Takes a minute to stop laughing.) I’m glad I wasn’t in the middle of a drink, Marla. Is there a book or a story that impacted your life?
Marla Blowers: I am not trying to butter you up but, seriously, your novel The Santa Shop really made me look at a few things differently. I especially love the sentence: “You’ve got to finish your Pop-Tarts.”
Tim Greaton: You’re very kind, Marla; one of the perks of interviewing friends. For our readers, more than one hundred thousand people have now read that first book in my Samaritans Conspiracy. In a later scene in the book, Skip Ralstat is about to leap to his death from a very high, windy Vermont bridge. His mind is churning up all sorts of excuses about why he should change his mind and get the hell off that frigid railing. One of his less convincing internal arguments is, “You’ve got to finish your Pop Tarts.”
Marla Blowers: I just love that, Tim! I have kept The Santa Shop on my Kindle and have read that paragraph to many people. Given that so many of us are just a paycheck away from losing everything, I look at homeless people with different eyes these days.
Tim Greaton: I recently read an article about how the Smith-Corona typewriter company misread the technology tea leaves, which is why they are not Apple or Dell today. You’re smirking, so you know what I’m getting at.
Marla Blowers: Yes, I do. You know me too well. At first, I started writing in a notebook while I sat in a car waiting for kids to be done with whatever activity they were in. I moved up to something similar to an electric typewriter that had memory. I guess it was some sort of word processor. That seems like a lifetime ago. I would write a little story for each of my kids and then with all of us around the table we would push a button and it typed what I had written onto paper. We just thought this was amazing! I now write on a laptop, but I do stop the car every once in a while to jot down on a receipt or anything handy something that just popped into my head.
Tim Greaton: A lot of writers ask friends and family to serve as beta readers, but that hasn’t really worked out for you. Why is that?
Marla Blowers: My first three books had been stored away for so many years that many of my family and friends had read at least the first one. I never really asked for criticism. It was more like, “Look what I wrote.” It’s okay, though. I usually trust what I write as far as the storyline goes, but I am a terrible editor. If I could have talked a family member or friend into reading it with edits in mind, that would have been wonderful. But I had to hire professional editors for all three books, and even then little issues still cropped up. I think a book could be edited ten times and something would still get missed. I have to admit I am always just a little bit tickled when I read someone else’s book and see an error. It helps me feel they are as human as the rest of us.
Tim Greaton: Do you think of yourself as a genre writer?
Marla Blowers: I would definitely say I am an author of women’s books. I do have a couple loyal men who have read all my books and will read anything I write but my target is really for women. I want my books to be as believable as possible and have added many of my own life experiences and some of my relatives. Of course most people will never know which events took place in my life, although I’m sure a few will recognize them.
Tim Greaton: Could you tell us a little about your latest book?
Marla Blowers: Young And Naïve, Wasted Years is about a young girl who lives in the Midwest before moving across country when a relationship goes bad. Even after putting miles between her and her past, she finds herself in another dead end relationship. She finally meets Mr. Right and believes herself to be the luckiest woman alive…until her two little girls are kidnapped!
Tim Greaton: What led you to tell this particular story?
Marla Blowers: I’ve always had an interest in children searching for their biological parents. As I mentioned earlier, I was much younger than my siblings and truly thought I was adopted. In all my writings someone is in search of a family member. It’s also true in my next, fourth book, which is not part of my Young And Naïve series.
Tim Greaton: I read and enjoyed the first book in your Young and Naïve series, Learning To Fall. There are three books out now. Do you intend to continue the series?
Marla Blowers: I have decided to stop there. Your readers might also like to know that any of the three books can be read without any knowledge of the others. My next book is a bit different, mainly in genre. It will be about a man who believes he was reincarnated so it will possibly be a paranormal. I love romance so you can be sure it will also be a romance novel as well. Even though as the series progressed I grew a little braver, I always seem to tame down love scenes before they actually get sent off to the editor. I am probably as curious as anyone else to see what gets sent to the editor next time.
Tim Greaton: If your next birthday party were based on your Young and Naïve series theme, what would it be like?
Marla Blowers: It would be a slumber party, and we would lay on our sleeping bags talking about old times. My friends would obviously have pictures of me with orange and black hair, and they would tell lies about me. Cause that’s what friends do! My kids, who are now grown with children of their own, would not be allowed to come, for fear they would learn which parts of my stories were true. Actually, as adults, they probably have their own stories to tell.
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your novels.
Marla Blowers: https://www.facebook.com/YoungAndNaiveBooks
Hy-Vee Grocery Store
840 E 23rd St.
Tim Greaton: Thanks for taking the time with me today, Marla. It’s been fun hanging out, and I suspect you have a sizable army looking up your books right now.
Marla Blowers: Tim, as you know, I’m a fan as well as a friend. I always look forward to reading your forum and am honored to be here with you today. I also want to thank your readers, who I happen to know now number in the thousands. Everyone, please feel free to contact me on Facebook or right here. I always love answering questions and making new friends.