Our interview today is with Mary Androsian Twomey. Thank you Mary for being here today and for agreeing to do this interview.
Question: Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
Answer: I’m a stay-at-home mom with two young kids and one on the way. My husband gives me Sundays off (Sabbaths for moms are kind of tricky), so I can get out of the house and get some much-needed writing and resting done. We go to Paradox Church, which I am very happy with. My husband, Matt, edits the books and helps me work through plot issues. He’s my biggest cheerleader, and I know I’d never be able to write as much as I do without his support.
Fun facts about Mary…Let’s see…I’m a vegetarian. I also founded and run a small 501(c)(3) that bakes and donates birthday cakes to at-risk teens and battered and homeless youths. We’re called “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, and we have a lot of fun making kids smile.
Oh! I can also turn my tongue upside-down and in a complete circle. Bet you didn’t know that, did ya! Have fun practicing that in the mirror.
Question: Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?
Answer: I am a member of a writer’s group that is fantastic. There are only seven of us, and we meet twice a month. Without their honest critiques, my stories would not be what they are. I’ve learned so much from them.
I’ve also been fortunate to be able to surround myself with other indie authors who I greatly respect. We get together once every other month and share war stories, do writing exercises, and discuss new marketing ideas.
My husband edits my books. I used to be a proofreader for a publishing company, so between my husband and I, we do alright. An author friend of mine is my beta reader, since she is usually in the demographic I’m writing for. I hire a graphic artist online who has done all my covers so far.
Question: Since you have several books out, tell us what you think works for promotion. What are your thoughts on ebooks versus print books and different ways to let people know about you and your books?
Answer: I have an oddball marketing campaign I launched last year for my comedy “Jack and Yani Love Harry Potter”, which is about people who go nuts for young adult fiction. Robert Pattinson is mentioned in the book briefly, since he is in both the Harry Potter and Twilight movies. So I took 20 copies of the book and sent them out to blogs and friends, telling them they had two weeks to read the book and pass it on to someone who either would love the story, or someone who could get it to the real Robert Pattinson. You can look on my website www.maryetwomey.com and check out the map on the “Yani Loves Rob” page to see the different parts of the world the books have ventured to. It’s been a great way to get strangers to read my books, and spread girlish giggles all over the world.
Question: Have you done anything writing-related, besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?
Answer: I write the announcements for our church. They are done on video, so it’s fun to watch my friends try to act out the various antics I concoct for them to say.
Question: Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.
Answer: “The Way” is book one of three, all of which are available for purchase online. It’s dystopia fantasy fiction, geared toward Hunger Games fans. The premise is that the world is not divided by race, creed or color, but by blood type. The lesser bloods are corralled into work camps called The Way.
This is my favorite series because the characters are so real to me. The brother-sister duo is the central relationship. They are of the lesser blood, and they have to rely on each other to survive in the real world, out amongst the ruling class. It’s a lot of action, a lot of heart, and was a labor of love to write. Now that it’s over, I’m kind of sad I can’t play in that world anymore.
Question: What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
Answer: Though I don’t set out to do so, my theme is usually light versus dark. Which part of that controls you more? They are both in you, but which one defines you more? I play around with the bad in the hero and the good intentions of the villain. “The Way” trilogy is a story of redemption, but it takes the entire trilogy to get to that point.
Question: What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?
Answer: Ugh. Plots are hard when you have short man’s disease, as I do. I start out wanting to write a relatively simple story, but by the time it’s finished, it’s about world domination. So many layers are brought to the surface that it takes three or four books just to bring it all to fruition. Saga of the Spheres was like that for me. “The Silence of Lir” (book one) was my first novel, and editing all those loose ends to make sure everything made sense to the laws of the new universe was…taxing. I needed a break from world domination after that, so I wrote a stand-alone comedy, which turned out to be very therapeutic for me.
Question: How many books do you have out?
Answer: I have eight novels published. “The Silence of Lir” starts the superhero-esque quadrilogy. “Jack and Yani Love Harry Potter” is my goofy comedy about people who get crazy into Harry Potter, Twilight, and things of that nature. “The Way” is book one in a dystopia fiction trilogy.
Question: Are their characters/stories/scenes/etc based on anything in real life?
Answer: Yes. In “Jack and Yani Love Harry Potter”, there is a scene where Yani tries to give a high-five and ends up smacking the guy in the face instead, due to her notoriously bad aim. She then spends a fair amount of time practicing high-fives, most of which end in accidental physical brutality. This is based on me and my terrible aim. High fives tend to stress me out, because I’m always afraid I’ll miss completely or hit someone in the face. That scene is based on the night my husband made me practice on him, and the silliness that ensued because of my clumsy tendencies. He’s a good sport.
Question: What is your writing style?
Answer: With “The Way”, I tended to focus on my villains more. I wanted to see how far I could stretch my bad guy so that he would be unforgivable, but be cheered for in the end. That seems to be the consensus thus far. Baird is the brother of the main character, and he goes down a very dark path to protect his sister’s secret. Everyone who finishes the trilogy has said that he is their favorite character, but they hated him the most throughout the series. Success!
That being said, no matter the genre or topic, I have a hard time not including a bit of humor scattered about here and there. I love a good comic relief, and sometimes need one to break the tension, no matter how dark the novel is overall.