An Interview of Marianne Kasica Sciucco a clean read.
Marianne, how has your family background affected your writing?
According to my mom, when I was in first grade I came home from school one day and announced I was quitting because I’d been going for three weeks and still could not read or write. My parents valued books and reading and we always had books in our house. Our living room had built in bookshelves stuffed with all kinds of books: novels, encyclopedias, and a huge dictionary. My father was a big reader. He always had a book at hand. He used to bring me to the library and we’d check out a huge stack. I liked his company, and reading was a way to share something special with him. Sadly, he died when I was just 15. I miss him a lot. He would love to see that I have published a book. I also have two brothers who are excellent writers.
Great memories. What gave you the nerve to attempt your first novel?
Yes, it takes nerve, doesn’t it? This was a lifelong dream of mine. In the 1980’s, I did some work as a newspaper reporter which taught me my writing skills had value in the marketplace. I made a few efforts at novels and short stories, but nothing of any significance. I couldn’t earn enough of a living as a reporter so I went back to school and became a nurse, putting my writing dreams aside. Then two things happened in 2001 that made me get serious. On July 23rd, I almost drowned in the ocean, and on September 11th terrorists attacked our country. These were scary times, which made me realize I could no longer put off my goals and dreams: the time to write my novel was now, because life is short and unpredictable. I started a project in early 2002, but in September, I met the couple who would become Jack and Sara in Blue Hydrangeas, abandoned the earlier manuscript, and started to write their story. By February 2004, I had a complete manuscript. My earlier newspaper experience had shown me my work was good enough to publish, which gave me confidence to attempt traditional publishing.
Awesome story. Please describe your writing process.
My writing process is unique in that I have a number of repetitive strain injures which dictate when, how often, and how long I can work. I try to write everyday, but this is not always possible. I absolutely cannot write on days when I work at my “real” job, which is twice a week. Many times, I rely on my Dragon dictation software to get the job done. When I can’t write, I try to do something book-related, whether it’s research, or marketing and promotion. When approaching a new project I try to get a grip on the main plotline and characters before I start writing. I need to have a good idea of where I’m going so I don’t waste precious keyboard time. I research only as much as I need to get started, and take note of additional research I’ll need to do after the first draft is finished. I work from page one to the end without any significant editing, other than spellchecking and fixing large errors after that day’s writing session. Then I put the manuscript to rest for a while before tackling the first rewrite. I work on other projects during this time, conduct my research, and investigate ways to market the book once it’s published. I rewrite and revise extensively using a method I learned from editor Bobbie Christmas and her book Write in Style, which is fantastic. I spent ten years working on Blue Hydrangeas. I hope to complete a book a year, now, if my repetitive strain injuries allow.
Brake a leg… You know what I mean. Where do you do your best work?
I am lucky enough to have a home office. It’s a spare bedroom no one ever slept in. I am home alone most days, so I have plenty of time to write in peace and quiet, except for when my cat, Chance, parks himself on my desk in front of my monitor to demand food. I use a desktop computer as I need to be mindful of ergonomics at all times. I have all of my reference books on my desk, as well, easily at hand.
🙂 I too have a very helpful cat. Please give us a brief rundown of the plot of Blue Hydrangeas.
Blue Hydrangeas is the story of an elderly couple’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The setting is Cape Cod, and the story unfolds over the course of four stressful summer days. It’s a simple love story about a long-married couple doing whatever it takes to hang on to the love of a lifetime. A nursing facility is everyone’s solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can’t bear to live without her. He promised he’d never leave her, and vowed they’d stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. But, after nine years of relentless caregiving and a series of accidents, falls, and hospitalizations, Jack realizes he is unable to care for her at home any longer, and arranges admission to an assisted living facility. When they arrive, he has a change of heart, and takes them on a spur-of-the-moment journey to confront their past. In the end, he realizes staying together at any cost is what truly matters.
How sweet. What goal did you originally have for your books and /or writing?
My goal is simple: to write stories people enjoy reading.
How did you decide whether to self-publish or find a mainstream publisher?
Great question. As I said, my book was finished in 2004 and I started making queries to agents and editors at that time with no success. I have a tall stack of rejection letters from a number of people who never read my book. It’s discouraging to say the least. In 2006, I started having difficulties with repetitive strain injuries from an inappropriate computer workstation and put my book aside. When I returned to it a year or so ago, the publishing world had changed. Self-publishing was a viable and respectable option. A friend convinced me to publish on Kindle. I quickly realized I needed to publish a paperback and I did so through Create Space. Now I am working on an audiobook. It keeps snowballing. Self-publishing is a lot of work and responsibility, but the complete control I have over my project and its destiny is worth it.
How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
I know the idea is a good one when pieces start falling into place, details emerge, characters become real, and the story takes off on its own.
Where can we find your book?
I’ve tried to make my books available to readers in many different ways:
My website: http://mariannesciucco.blogspot.com
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?WRD=sciucco
Sony Reader: https://ebookstore.sony.com/search?keyword=sciucco