Some people are born to write. Their words magically flow off the screen or page and you instantly feel like you are sitting across the table from a dear friend at Starbucks as they tell you about their latest adventure. Mary T. Wagner is one of those writers. Her resume is impressive. She is a mother of 4, former journalist turned prosecuting attorney, blogger and author of 3 award winning books. She has a way of capturing ordinary moments from life that are both effortlessly thought-provoking and funny.
Don’t just take my word for it. This weekend, January 26 and 27th, Mary Wagner is offering a FREE download of the Kindle version of her first book:
Remember, you don’t have to have an actual Kindle to take advantage of this offer. Amazon offers many free app downloads to read Kindle books on your PC or other device.
I recently had the chance to ask the delightful Mary Wagner a few questions.
Let’s start this interview by cutting straight to the chase. Have you ever actually run in stilettos?
Mary Wagner – Only for the elevator and the bus.
Sticking with the shoe theme for a moment longer, I read that you started wearing stilettos at, let’s say, a more mature age than the average. How did you ever get used to them?
Mary Wagner – Positive reinforcement went a long way! As I mention in the Foreword to “Running with Stilettos,” I bought that first pair on a whim as a reward for getting through some uncertain and challenging times. And when I wore them to work the next day, they drew some favorable comments… and stares. And of course, anything that makes me look taller and thinner… well, that’s worth putting up with the challenge.
How do you find the time to prosecute the bad guys, have a busy personal life complete with adult children and pets, learn how to operate a chainsaw, and still manage to find the time to be the author of 3 award winning books?
Mary Wagner – Chocolate addiction figures heavily into the equation. I almost never cook, and my house could be a national shrine to clutter. Plus, I don’t find nearly enough time to exercise… which is why I’m carrying around a few more pounds than I’d like. And I freely admit to falling short on keeping in touch with old friends. I still haven’t sent out my 2012 Christmas cards. I hope to get them out before Valentine’s Day.
Much of your writing is about your life. Do you ever struggle with how much to tell and how much to keep personal? Do your family members ever object to something you have written?
Mary Wagner – I tend to stay positive and keep the most searing stuff private. I greatly admire Michael Perry’s writing (Population 485; Truck: A Love Story) because he wields an absolute scalpel when he’s writing about life and the people who surround him, warts and all. But I’d rather draw a screen on some things. For instance, you’ll find me writing about how much I love my children and the inspiration I derive from them, but not the occasional kitchen showdown from the past when they were teenagers where I may or may not have shouted the words “What the f— did you think you were doing?” at the top of my lungs. Really, my kids have been very encouraging and supportive about the writing I’ve done. My late godmother, on the other hand, thought that my writing was entirely “too confessional” and that I should write something else. You just can’t please everybody!
What is the most challenging part of writing?
Mary Wagner – It’s always been finding the time to do it. When I get home from the office, my brain is pretty well melted and useless in terms of creative thinking. Even on my days off, the laundry doesn’t do itself, nor have the cats figured out how to change the litter box.
Do you have a favorite Essay in Running With Stilettos, and can you tell me a bit about it?
Mary Wagner – Oh, I’ve got several that are dear to my heart… but today I think I’ll stick with the one called “The Devil on Horseback.” It’s about how I took a weekend trip with my two adult daughters, and while we were wandering around a flea market, I bought a copy of a romance novel by Victoria Holt for a dollar that was the kind of book I absolutely absorbed as a young girl and then as a teenager. I thought I’d enjoy reading it when I got home, but discovered that I no longer had any patience or understanding for silly governesses who were overcome with emotion for rich jerks who then rescued them and magically turned into nicer men. It really brought home just how far I’d come since then in terms of independence, confidence, and the ability to both wear spike heels and use a chain saw. Here’s a link to the essay that first appeared on my blog: The Devil on Horseback
Your first 3 books are a collection of essays, but I see on Amazon that you have ventured into fiction with 2 short stories. Can we expect to see more of that from you?
Mary Wagner – Absolutely! Right now I’m working on re-publishing my three e-book essay collections as paperbacks through Amazon’s CreateSpace. That is a HUGE time-consuming formatting headache for me, I’m not tech-savvy at all. But after that project is finished in a few weeks, I’ve got two streams of fiction I want to follow. One is to get back to work on the suspense novel I started a few years ago but put on hold while I was dealing with serial family emergencies. And the other is to write a “young adult” novel…or two…or three, since that’s such an incredibly blossoming publishing market. I figure I can channel adolescent angst and feelings of alienation and “perpetual outsider” status with the best of them, since parts of my teenage years were hell. But I don’t think I’m going to include any vampires or werewolves!
What are the challenges of self publishing? The rewards?
Mary Wagner – There are a LOT of challenges involved with self-publishing, from having to beat your own drum for publicity all the time, to dealing with the fact that most major publications won’t review self-published books, to just figuring out how to format your book so that it doesn’t scream “self-published” from the cover page. It is a very steep learning curve, and I’ve learned a lot the hard way. But, OH, the incredible FUN I’ve had as a result!!! I’ve made friends around the country, spoken at writing conferences, won awards, tested my limits, enjoyed sitting on the Georgia coast at sunset and sunrise, ridden horseback on the beach, conquered fears, celebrated life. Here’s a link to an essay I did a while back about all the intangible rewards that came with that first headstrong impulse to self-publish “Running with Stilettos” instead of spending another year or two waiting for validation from a “traditional” publisher. Adventures in Self Publishing
Are you currently working on any new books?
Mary Wagner – Oh, yes! One is a suspense novel featuring a gearhead female prosecutor with a juvenile delinquent past (she promises to be SO much more interesting than me!). And the other is a young adult novel whose story line is still percolating. But the main character’s backstory is already anchored in my head, and I really like her.
What is one thing you really want to accomplish this year?
Mary Wagner – Finish one novel and start another. Though in my fondest dreams, this is also the year that some producer options “Running with Stilettos” for a film and gets Patricia Arquette to play a younger, prettier version of me.
If you could go back in time and talk to your 20 year old self, what would you tell her?
Mary Wagner – Oh, that question actually brought tears to my eyes! I would tell her that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. That it’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers and to ask for help. And that sometimes, if other people seem on occasion to see better things in you than you see in yourself… believe them.
You can follow Mary Wagner on twitter: @runswstilettos
Visit her blog
And check out her books and short stories on Amazon