Erika Marks, author of Little Gale Gumbo, The Mermaid Collector, and her newest novel- The Guest House, found time in her busy writing and book touring schedule to answer a few questions for me at Traveling With T.
I’ve had such a “fan girl” feeling about Erika since I read Little Gale Gumbo around 2 years ago. Then last October, my IRL book club picked Little Gale Gumbo for their read- and I was able to talk to Erika on the phone- I don’t think I quit grinning about that for some time!
So, my readers, knowing that backstory- you can understand exactly why I’m so excited to have Erika here for an interview!
Interview with Erika Marks:
What was the inspiration for THE GUEST HOUSE?
Tamara, let me first say thank you so much for hosting me and all these wonderful questions! Most of my novels come out of an idea for a character or a relationship, but in the case of THE GUEST HOUSE the inspiration was place. At eighteen, I was fortunate to spend a summer on the property of a massive shingle-style cottage like the one in the book and the experience never left me. It was a deeply romantic place and I always imagined fantastic stories in its walls, all the summers it had been filled with guests and parties and, of course, all the drama that must have gone on.
The characters in each of your books (LITTLE GALE GUMBO, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, and THE GUEST HOUSE) are beautifully written, yet flawed and very human. How long does it to take you to create the characters?
Thank you for saying so! It really depends. Some characters come to me fully-realized right away. Camille Bergeron and Ben Haskell from LITTLE GALE GUMBO were like that. Writing them was like recalling friends I had known for a long, long time. Others, such as Tess from THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, eluded me for a while as I wrote, hiding themselves from me. I think I know how I want them to be, but often their personalities evolve through contact with other characters—and they surprise me.
Each of the past books have been set in the New England area- does that area’s rich history enable a better creative experience for you as a writer? Do you have plans to change your setting one day?
New England is where I grew up and certainly a setting I feel so comfortable writing about and one that is so much a part of me. That said, now that I live in North Carolina and am getting to experience and fall in love with the Carolina coast, I look forward to setting future stories along these beaches.
As a writer, do you ever hope that any of your books will be made into a movie? And if so, do you have any idea about actors and actresses you would like to see play the characters in your books?
Oh, of course! I am such a movie buff and frankly, I usually “cast” my novels as I am writing them—I can’t help it! I think of all my novels, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR seems the most naturally suited to be made into a movie, but I would certainly be thrilled to have any of my novels made into a film!
How long does it take to complete a novel from beginning to end?
That depends. Usually I write a first draft in a few months, and then the revisions go pretty quickly after that. With my debut, LITTLE GALE GUMBO, the revision period was longer simply because my agent and I weren’t really under a deadline—but then once it sold, my editor and I worked on revisions within a time frame, of course, to meet established deadlines. I like to believe, too, that the more I write, the more efficient my writing gets—that I can troubleshoot issues along the way, see area that will need work, plotting concerns, etc. As writers, I think we are all working to strengthen our craft with every book, always. There is always a way to make my writing stronger, and I value that tremendously.
Erika, do you have a writing routine? Or a writing space?
While my children are in school, I keep to a fixed writing work day. Mornings start with checking in with social media and then I get right to it. But of course, when deadlines get fast and furious—and summer schedules change our routines—I may write at odd hours, and much more at night. When my girls were little, I would soak up any available moments to write so I’m very much a believer in being flexible too. If you have ten minutes free, write for ten minutes. Don’t wait for “the perfect” block. It rarely comes—and I also think it sets up an expectation for performance that can be daunting and ultimately unproductive. That said, I can’t write in a coffee shop or any kind of public place, and I have to have music on—but always instrumental.
Are there plans for a 4th novel?
Yes, I’m writing it now—and I’m really excited about it. Not to give too much away—since I’m terribly superstitious—but it’s set in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and centers around a woman who revisits her past as a champion surfer—and the life and loves she left behind when heartbreak caused her to give it all up.
Liked the interview? Want to know more about Erika Marks? Check back Thursday at Traveling With T for an Author Spotlight with Erika Marks- find out her favorite books, #literayconfessions and #literarycrush. Plus- a GIVEAWAY- one lucky commenter on Thursday’s Author Spotlight will win a copy of The Guest House! Want to read a review of The Guest House? Here is my review of The Guest House by Erika Marks.
To find out more about Erika Marks– her past books, book events, and more- please visit Erika’s website. It’s filled with tons of good information! Also, The Guest House, Erika’s latest book made not 1, but 2 Summer Reading Lists this year- so yay for Erika! Here’s the links for She Reads The Books of Summer and Deep South Magazine’s Summer Reading List.
** Special thanks to Erika Marks for taking time to answer questions. Thank you, thank you, thank you.