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Press Packet

Press Release

Qualities of Light: Reading Guide

Qualities of Light: Reviews

Your Book Starts Here: Reviews

How to Master Change: Reviews

Curriculum Vitae

For interviews, contact:
mary (at)
(dot) com








Frequently Asked Questions—continued

How do you get ideas for your stories?

Usually the idea for a book or story first comes via an image. 

I was sitting on the dock at my family's lakeside cabin in the Adirondacks one mid-July afternoon.  It was very hot and the air shimmered. Across the lake was a waterskier, creating a white plume of wake against the deep blue water.  The effect was ethereal, almost as if the girl was walking on water.  I remember it as such a richly sensory moment, the sun and smell of the lake, the sound of summer birds, the vision of this girl in the distance across the blue. I began to mull over this moment, and the image came of a girl watching another girl waterskiing.  That started the story that became Qualities of Light. 

My mother, who was a pilot in World War II, often talked about her flying adventures.  One of her favorite stories was when she got lost in airspace over New York City and was "escorted" to LaGuadia airport by a group of flyers from West Point.  I thought about a small plane pilot who might go astray--even crash--and what might become of her.  That grew into Outlaws, my second novel.

I wrote both novels first as short pieces, but the characters didn't leave me alone, so they became books.

How much research do you do for your books?

Research is important.  I spent a lot of time investigating the challenges of coma for Qualities of Light and everything about small planes and plane crashes for Outlaws.  But I also know research can derail the writing process, so I do just enough to keep things accurate but also keep myself writing.  I've gotten lots of help from colleagues who are experts in their field.

How do you divide your time between writing and painting?

I'm a avid gardener we have a 4000 square foot organic vegetable, flower, and fruit garden. When it's nice outside, I often paint in the garden. In summers, I paint at my family's cabin in the Adirondack mountains of New York state. Summers are prime time for painting, writing is a natural for the colder months, unless I'm deep into a book or two.

For me, the two arts play back and forth all through the year quite harmoniously. When a writing project stalls out, I turn to the easel until the words flow freely again.

What are you working on now?

I'm sketching out characters and plot for a third novel, writing blog posts each week, and thinking about another book on writing as a follow-up to Your Book Starts Here.

What was the very first piece of writing you published?

That article about French cooking in a magazine called Sedona Life, back in 1977. From it came years of food writing—both books and a syndicated column—before I ventured into other genres. My two memoirs were published in the late nineties, my first novel in 2009.

Where is your art shown?

You can click on the ART page link at the top of this page, then scroll down to Galleries to see the art show on Flickr. My paintings are also in private, corporate, and university collections around the U.S. and Europe.

Where do you teach?

I teach in-person and online for the Loft Literary Center, Madeline Island School of the Arts, and Grub Street writing school near Boston. Click on my CLASSES page to see the listings.

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