Friday, November 26, 2010

Mary Ann Webber, Author Interview

Mary Ann Webber
Like many authors, Mary Ann Webber began writing fiction in elementary school. Writing took a backseat as life became her biggest challenge. She wanted it all—marriage, home, children, grandchildren, teaching career in Virginia and Arkansas. Her early life experiences now add depth to her current characters. During the years her writing was on hold, she collected history books related to periods she found fascinating. As a result, she often spends more time researching than writing. After early retirement, she moved to Dallas to be near her children and grandchild and immersed herself in writing.

NO DECORUM, in the anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, is Mary Ann’s first novella for The Wild Rose Press.

Caroline: Mary Ann, how did you come up with the idea for NO DECORUM?

Mary Ann: I’ve spent time in Camden, Arkansas, and I’ve visited the grounds of the Chidester House, where the yearly Civil War reenactments take place, so I have a real feel for the area.

McCollum-Chidester House,
now a museum
A few years ago, I was surprised to learn the Union forces under General Steele occupied Camden for only eleven days. While the bloody Red River Campaign of 1864 raged through Arkansas and Louisiana, the Confederate and Union forces jockeyed in and out of position in Camden.

What can happen in the span of eleven days? I decided to pack as much life into this time as I could, and the story wrote itself while I continued my research.

This is unlike anything I’ve ever put on paper. The heroine is an innocent - but headstrong - teenage girl. Unlike my usual heroines, she seems to call the shots with everyone around her. Only a heroine like Juliet could make so much happen in such a short time.

2011 EPIC Finalist
2009 Preditors and Editors Top Ten
at Number 6

Caroline:  Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you write full time?

Mary Ann: My stories pop into my conscious mind as full blown movies, in living color, complete with soaring music, sound effects, and the highest paid actors. I have no idea how it happens. The characters arrive and do their jobs. I scramble to find the right words and put it all down on paper. This never happens on any sort of schedule.

I write full time in the sense that I have no longer have an outside job, such as the twenty-two years I spent teaching in public schools.

Some writers switch on their writing muse when they turn on their computers, but I have a muse who thinks she’s a prima donna. “Dahling, must we do this every morning?” she groans. Then I remind her how many camera crews and actors are waiting for us and how we need some royalty checks. She usually sighs and crawls out of bed.

Caroline: LOL Love your attitude, Mary Ann. Your muse's sister must be my muse.  Is there a reason you’re drawn to the Civil War era?

Mary Ann: My ancestors fought on both sides in the War Between the States, but probably the real reason is because my sister and I spent years sitting in dark movie houses watching GONE WITH THE WIND. It left us permanently warped. My sister says her husband has no idea how much he owes to his resemblance to Rhett Butler.

Caroline: Perhaps it's best he doesn't know. :-) What else do you have in the works for us?

Mary Ann: I’m working again on my “epic” novel, A MAN AT THE DOOR.

Also, I’m plugging away on five novellas. They’re all historical – except for one, DAKOTA WINDOW. It features time travel inside a Manhattan apartment.

Caroline: Five novellas? Wow! I remember reading part of A MAN AT THE DOOR and loved it! I hope you finish and submit it soon so I can read the rest of the story. Now, though, how about sharing a blurb for NO DECORUM for readers?

Photo of The City of Camden 
paddlewheeler with cotton bales 
headed for New Orleans
Mary Ann: Here’s the blurb:

What can happen in eleven days? In the Civil War, towns could be occupied and reoccupied by opposing armies. And just as quickly, young enemies Juliet and Randolph could fall in love, marry, and be torn apart. This fast moving tale carries a story of sudden infatuation and unending love. It happens when decorum is cast aside.

Caroline: How about an excerpt?

Mary Ann: I have two, one long and one short. Let’s start with the short one:

Ouachita Court House
Confederate Women's
Juliet’s voice betrayed her alarm. “What’s wrong? What are you seeing?”

He slowly circled her. “Turn so your back is to the lamp. That’s it. Now I see what it is. Stand very still and lift your arms straight over your head. Right. Now look up at your fingertips.”

In a twinkling, Randolph grabbed the nightgown and whisked it over her head. Juliet stood naked in the middle of the room and Randolph swallowed at the vision. “Now, everything is just as it should be.”

Here’s a longer excerpt:

Randolph lifted the curtain and gazed out the bedroom window. “It’s almost dark. Let’s go have some fun.”

“I thought we were having fun.” Juliet rolled over and looked at him.

He grabbed her hands and pulled her to her feet. “Take off that dress and put on the one you wore to church.” He grinned at her. “Don’t wear anything under it.”

“I don’t think it’ll fit without a corset. What do you have in mind?”

Randolph emerged from the wardrobe with the church dress and tossed it to her. He also threw her a blue shawl. “Here, you’ll need this, too. It’s cool outside.”

“Where do you think we’re going?”

He held a forefinger to his lips. “It’s a secret. We’re going to the church. Wear old shoes. The grass will be wet.”

Juliet was intrigued. She never imagined marriage would be such fun. When Randolph came up with new games or funny roles to assume, she knew his Dolphie side was ready to play. She slipped into the dress and her husband fastened the bodice.

Leaving by the front door so they wouldn’t be seen, they held hands and ran to the unlighted church. Once inside, Randolph whispered, “We don’t know each other’s names.”

Juliet was breathless with excitement. “Yes, Sergeant.” She crept to the back of the church as Randolph moved across the front, bumping into pews.

Reaching the aisle, she moved slowly and deliberately toward the front. If her eyes hadn’t adjusted, she would still have found Randolph, seated as before in the aisle seat of the first pew.

She dropped onto his lap.

He moaned deeper than she’d ever heard him. Recovering, he whispered into her hair, “Young lady, this seat is taken.”

Caroline: LOL I remember that scene. Precious! Mary Ann, thank you so much for visiting with us today.

NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES is available from The Wild Rose Press in both print and e-download and is also available from Amazon and other online stores. Please return on Sunday to learn about Susan Macatee.


Joanna St. James said...

oh Nice excerpt thanx for sharing will definitely have to check it out.

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Mary Ann! No Decorum is such a cool story! Nothing like that would have ever happened in Gone With the Wind. LOL.

Like Caroline, I'm also looking forward to the publication of A Man At the Door. It looks to be a great story!!

Sherry Gloag said...

The idea of your stories arriving as full blown movies blows me away, and your muse... how many sisters does she have? LOL
Enjoyed both your excerpts.