Since one of Avalon’s February releases is Mary Hagen’s ECHO OF LOVE, I thought everyone would enjoy learning more about Mary and her book.
QUESTION: What prompted you to become a writer?
When I was in seventh grade I became a reporter for the school paper and I really liked writing stories for it. Then in ninth grade my English teacher had a short story contest and I won second place. Wow! I was off and running, but then after I graduated from college and went to work, married, had a family, writing took a definite back seat. Somewhere along the line I began again and wrote for a local newspaper, two magazines and did freelance writing and wrote four nonfiction books and some children’s fiction. Since I like to read romance stories because they are positive, upbeat and have happy endings, I joined RWA and CRW and learned what I could about writing romances. My first book did not sell even though it is still my favorite. My second book did not please me, but the story I sold to Avalon was to my liking.
What part of writing do you find most satisfying?
This is a hard question to answer. I’m always excited about coming up with a new idea for a book and writing the first several chapters. Then I get to the middle and bog down and have to force myself to keep going as all the negative thoughts about "this isn’t good. Why am I writing?" All those bad thoughts. I force myself to keep writing and my enthusiasm returns during the last third of the book. Doing research is always fun.
What part do you find most difficult?
Editing the finished manuscript and writing a synopsis and cover letter.
What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting?
The story idea always comes first. I’m an adventure driven writer so I need to work on my characters next to fit the idea and the setting. My settings are in the intermountain west since it is the area I know and love.
Tell us about your upcoming Avalon release.
ECHO OF LOVE is a story about a man who is afraid to love because of fear of losing those he loves and a woman who must learn to trust before she can love again. The setting is in Colorado on a horse farm. The book is to be released in February. It was a story I thoroughly enjoyed writing because of my interest in animals. I grew up on a ranch and I still live on a hay and fish farm and like to be around horses.
What other projects are in the works?
Currently, I’m working on a western historical set in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming and a contemporary romantic suspense set in Utah canyon country that involves a young archaeologist on a Freemont dig site.
What other authors do you especially admire?
I like Anne Perry, Nevada Barr and Tony Hillerman mysteries. There are many romance authors I enjoy, including Susan Crandall, Amanda Cabot, Joanne Sundell, Amelia Grey, Anne Gabriel, Jane Austen (I can read her books over and over), the Bronte sisters, etc. There are so many excellent romance writers I could go on and on.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
In my spare time I cross-country and downhill ski, snowshoe, hike and backpack. Since I love to read, I do that every chance I get. I’ve been a volunteer with the Cameron Pass Ski Patrol but my husband’s current bad health has prevented that. Meeting with my critique groups and CRW stimulates me. I always learn something new.
Do you have a schedule for writing or do you squeeze it in when you can?
I don’t really have a schedule for writing but I do try to get in two or three hours late in the afternoon. This is strange since I consider myself a morning person. Some days I actually can sit down and write for several hours.
What refreshes you creatively?
Attending CRW meetings and workshops. After spending time with fellow writers I can’t wait to get home and start writing. Sitting down to read the RWA monthly magazine, CRW’s newsletter and PAL also inspires me and I like to get email news from other Avalon writers.
Thanks, Mary. It sounds like you’re active in a lot of different pursuits. Best of luck with ECHO OF LOVE.