Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A
“I write because I can’t not write. It’s in my head going around and must come out on paper.” –Mari Adkins
Mari Adkins is a southern gothic fiction writer from southeastern Kentucky. Mari is now on her way to becoming a published author: her novel Midnighthas been acquired by Apex Publications, and will come out in early 2014!
Nevena: Congratulations on selling your book, Midnight, to Apex. Tell us more about the novel!
Mari: Thank you! This is really exciting! (And scary! LOL.)
Midnight is the first book in an adult southern gothic series. It started as a poem and a short paragraph in 1996. Somewhere around 2000/2001, I decided I had a story and started filling in the blanks just to see what I could do with it. Before long, I had 120,000 words! I decided a couple of years ago I wanted to see the story from the main character’s daughter’s POV, and it just took off.
The book is about an abused, chronically depressed young woman, searching for herself, some stability, an anchor. The people she comes to love and cherish as her friends are vampires. As psychologically ill and damaged as Sami is, those three men—all vampires—continue the abuse in the way they treat her. Though her world is in chaos, once she is able to find what she’s looking for, she has no choice but to face herself and deal with what she finds there. She discovers which of her friends and family she can trust as she battles the transformations that will enable her to find the inner strength to embrace her true nature and the will to awaken the vampire within.
(Let the groaning begin. Yes, I write vampires! I’m “that Hillbilly Vampire lady”.)
Nevena: Haha. On your website, you say that the characters in your stories are “not your usual bloodthirsty Bram Stoker-type vampires.” How so?
Mari: My vampires are more human than vampire; they need only a little blood to maintain their health and to keep them from going insane. The stories revolve around the real-life problems the characters face more than their “vampireness.”
Nevena: So it’s more about the vampiric consciousness. Fascinating. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Mari: It sounds cheesy, but I wrote my first “book” when I was six. Complete with illustrations. In crayon. It’s about a princess and her dog and their adventures in their undersea kingdom.
I write because I can’t not write. It’s in my head going around and must come out on paper. And yes, I write longhand; I’ve always found it difficult to get my thoughts straight at the keyboard as I’m dyslexic and have ADHD. This means I’m prone to leaving important things out—like words, sentences and explanations—when I try to compose or edit at the keyboard.
I didn’t get serious about publication until about ten years ago.
Nevena: So how do you balance writing with “life”?
Mari: I’m fortunate to stay home and work at my kitchen table. Since I learned a few years ago that I’m blessed with ADHD, I’ve started keeping a dayplanner so I can keep up with what I’m supposed to be doing on a given day. As well as writing and homemaking, I also do editing for hire. It helps break up the monotony.
When I have to go somewhere, I always take a backpack. We don’t have a car, so I travel by foot or by bus for the most part. I always carry my e-reader, my mp3 player, a journal, notebooks, and a case with pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, and tape. Writing on the bus isn’t the prettiest or best thing in the world, but if I have a scene gnawing at me, I can at least scribble notes so I don’t lose certain thoughts or descriptions.
Nevena: So what is your favorite genre to write, and why?
Mari: I write paranormal fantasy because that’s where my interests lie. I’ve been a Pagan practitioner since 1988. The metaphysical elements and deities I incorporate into my writing are those that I’m most familiar with. The “gothic” element comes in from the setting, especially in Midnight, where Harlan County is very much its own character within that story.
Nevena: Now that Midnight’s with your editor, what have you been working on most recently?
Mari: I’ve been plugging away on my YA project. I started it out as a series of journal entries. But then I realized the format is stifling the story. Writing a journal is fun and what fifteen-year-old girls do. Not so conducive to storytelling. So for the last month or so I’ve been writing. Whatever comes into my head. It’s been more cohesive than what I had before.
Nevena: I’ll look out for it. Now I have to ask: What’s your Book Country story?
Mari: I was invited to Book Country at the beginning and have stayed because I like the professional atmosphere. The members here are all so polite with each other, yet never hesitate to tell each other straight up when they’re wrong. I like that everyone here—admins and members alike—are so free about sharing information with each other. Other places, you have to pry information out of people or go through the whole, “If you spend $20 and buy my e-book,” routine. In all, Book Country is one of my Internet bright spots.
Nevena: You’re one of our bright spots, too. You link to really great writing resources on the Book Country discussion forums. How do you improve your craft?
Mari: Thank you. Google is my friend. I read a lot of blogs. When you read someone else’s links, you get sucked down the rabbit hole and find all sorts of treasures. I also follow a lot of writers on Facebook. Michael Knost, for example, hosts online writing courses now and then, and they are, in my opinion, worth more than what he charges; he’s high on my recommendation list.
Also, I belong to a wonderful writing group. We’re scattered across the US and Canada and meet online once a week. We all have different talents and skills, and read in different areas. In fact, they get the kudos for helping makeMidnight (and its sequel) the story it is today.
Nevena: What should the Book Country community know about you that they don’t already?
Mari: I got so excited about journaling last year that I created a group about it on Facebook, Journaling Journey. We collect prompts, notebook ideas and layouts, shopping hints and tips (where to and how to), pictures of cool things in art journals, scrapbooks, diaries, etc. One of our members started giving us “challenges” once every two weeks. We have a lot of fun, and the people in the group are loaded with some amazing creativity.
Nevena: We’ll check it out. Thanks for chatting with me, Mari! Good luck with the book!