Good morning! This next bit is going to be like one of those old choose-your-own-adventure books; pick the one that best applies to you!
Gerroff, it’s too early!
Today we have a wonderful interview with Arlene Lomazoff-Marron, author of If We Had Known. Arlene retired from health care in 2019 and began working on her bucket list; her first novel was released in August 2020 to critical acclaim. And now she’s spending some time with us; aren’t we the lucky people?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As an adolescent, I wanted to write, and I actually started a few pages of a book. I took some writing courses in high school and was considering going to college to study writing. Ultimately, I went to nursing school instead.
In December 2019, about a week before my retirement from a healthcare career of over 40 years, a coworker said I should start working on my bucket list. I immediately replied that I would write a novel. My response surprised me, because over the years, I hadn’t thought much about writing. I decided I would spend 2020 trying to write.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I write fiction, but I have incorporated some of my feelings and experiences into my writing. When I wrote “Beneath A Blanket Of Snow” I drew on some of my emotions from a period of adversity in my own life. One of the characters considered drowning her sorrows in alcohol. I considered that too. Luckily for me, I decided not to open the bottle—and my character’s reaction echoed mine.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I move around in the manuscript if I get stuck in a scene or in a chapter. I may write something out of order, then organize it later. Sometimes I walk away from writing, and an hour or two later, when I’m doing something else, an idea for the scene comes to me.
When I wrote “Beneath A Blanket Of Snow” I finished the initial draft and still had no title. I went to practice yoga, and a half hour later, with my body and mind clear, the title came to me. I knew it was perfect. I stood from the floor, went to my computer, and added the title.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote the initial draft of “Beneath A Blanket Of Snow” from March through May 2020. I was 63 years old.
How do your books get published?
I decided to self-publish, primarily because of my age. Being 63 when I finished the first one, I was concerned about potentially spending years trying to find an agent or publisher. I didn’t want to waste that time. If I had been younger, I might have tried the traditional publishing route.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to read, do crossword and jigsaw puzzles, play piano, practice yoga, ride my bicycle, and play Mah Jongg. I try more new things as I get older. I’ve started to dabble in drawing.
What does your family think of your writing?
My writing journey came as a surprise to me, and to my family, but they have been very supportive, and I think, proud.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned that my mind doesn’t always have control over the trajectory of the story. In “Beneath A Blanket Of Snow” the characters have secrets that their friends and spouses don’t know. But one of my characters actually knew of another’s secret—although I did not know this myself! When the character revealed the secret, my fingers typed the words, “I’ve known for five years.” The disclosure set the stage for other scenes in the book. It was totally unplanned!
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I followed “Beneath A Blanket Of Snow” with “If We Had Known” in April 2021. I am proud of both books, but I suppose “Beneath A Blanket Of Snow” is my favorite because it was my first, and allowed me to call myself a writer and an author.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I think it’s important to read a lot, and to pay attention to how sentences and dialogue are structured. I have spoken with many authors who were misinformed as to the capitalization and punctuation of dialogue. Paying attention to dialogue in other books would have given them a good foundation for some of the rules.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I love when my readers contact me to say how much they love my writing. One described my book as “easy to read but hard to put down.” It was the wonderful reviews of my first book that convinced me to write a second.
What do authors need to know about the publishing industry?
Authors should familiarize themselves with the different publishing avenues, and the advantages and disadvantages. It’s also important to become educated on marketing options.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I am energized when I write. My mind is charged and I am thinking of passages and chapters even when I’m not at the computer.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what is in my mind and in my heart. I realize that other genres may be more popular now: fantasy or romance or young adult; but my heart isn’t into writing those at this time. I’d rather write a good book than write a book that sells more copies but isn’t as good.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I write standalones, although they are in the genre of family fiction. I suppose that’s because I’ve always gravitated towards reading books in this genre.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
The response to my debut novel actually boosted my self-esteem and confirmed I could write well, despite not pursuing a college degree in a writing field.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I’m still working on that answer. Social media is very important. I’ve been featured in a magazine in my township, and in a blurb in a major newspaper. Podcasts have helped get my name to the public as well.
Thank you so much for your time today! If you want to get her books, or connect with Arlene, check out the buttons. And don’t forget to download her sample of Chapter 1 from her debut novel, Beneath A Blanket Of Snow!