Interview With Marni Mann

Marni Mann, author of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and the newly released follow-up, Scars from a Memoir.

Marni Mann is a local friend and writer I met last year. I’ve been impressed with her ability to produce two novels while working full-time and maintaining an active social life. Even more impressive, Marni is a kind, generous, and encouraging fellow writer. Her first novel, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction has been well-received, especially by readers who have experienced addiction or watched a loved-one fall into the death spiral of catastrophic addiction. Marni’s new novel, Scars from a Memoir, is a follow-up to that book and it was released this week by Booktrope Editions.

Marni agreed to answer a few questions about the book, and about writing, and has also given me permission to give away an eBook copy of Scars to one lucky reader. Check out the “Book Give Away” section below for more details.

Interview

Scars from a Memoir is not only a second novel, but a sequel. Both second novels and sequels have their share of difficulties for the writer. What did you learn from writing Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales that helped you writing a second book in this same fictional world? What surprised you about writing a sequel?

The sequel was an easier process because my protagonist and I had spent years together. There was no learning curve; I already knew everything about Nicole. What surprised me the most was how attached I was to this character and how difficult it was to say good-bye because I don’t have a third book planned. When you dedicate years to a series and the characters live in your head it almost feels like a break-up when you move on to a new book.

Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales was the kind of book that seemed to have readers calling for a sequel almost immediately. Had you planned to write a continuation of this story all along, or was the response to the first book a deciding factor in diving back into Nicole’s dark world?

I started writing the sequel before Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales was even published. The response has been tremendous and I’m curious if my readers will demand a third book like they did with the sequel.

Paraphrasing Toni Morrison: There is the idea that we write the books we want to read but no one else has written yet. Or, in a similar vein, we write the book that has to be written, and which only we can write. How do your books, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and Scars From a Memoir, fit into this mold of a book that you wanted to read or that hadn’t yet been written? What do you have to say, that other writers either can’t say, or haven’t yet said?

Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales was born because someone really close to me overdosed. A few days after the overdose, my hand reached for a pen and I began writing on a notepad that just happened to be on the table in front of me. The book poured out of me. In a sense, I had to write it, and I couldn’t stop myself. Was Marni Mann the only person who could write this novel? I’m not sure I can say that.

In general, I write what I’m attracted to and that’s dark reality-based fiction. I enjoy stories that ride the line between uncomfortable and inappropriate, that yank out emotions I didn’t know existed. I believe Memoirs and Scars fit that description.

Flannery O’Connor is reported to have said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Was there anything that you wrote during this process that surprised you? Anything that was eye-opening and insightful about yourself?

I was surprised by how easily the darkness flowed out of me. In fact, the happier moments were really a challenge to write. Before Memoirs, I really thought I was supposed to write chick-lit or women’s fiction so having dark literary/mainstream basically choose me was definitely eye-opening.

Marni’s new novel, Scars from a Memoir, was released this week. I’m giving away an eBook copy of the book on Monday.

The writing life is an interesting contradiction: We need solitude and isolation to do our work, but we also require community for support, feedback, and stimulus. How do you maintain a balance between these contradictory needs? Or have you found it easy to be both a lone-wolf and social-butterfly simultaneously?

It took a while to find a balance and maintain it, but now it’s much easier to be a lone-wolf and social-butterfly and meet all my deadlines. I spend a lot of time at Starbucks so I’m not completely alone when I write. Even though I may not be talking to the people around me, their faces, gestures and voices give me inspiration. Friends and family have all my attention once writing time is over (yes, writing time has to have a start and end time or I won’t ever leave my computer) and I force myself to put my phone away and completely unplug. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

What books made you want to write? Or, did any specifically inspire your work? (You can substitute “writer” for “book” if you have someone inspirational to you.)

My writing has always been triggered by personal events, emotions and experiences⎯not a person or a book. I wrote flash fiction as a kid and as I got older my pieces grew in length. When I was seventeen, I spent a summer in Israel and that trip inspired my first novella. I continued to write novellas throughout college and when I graduated I started writing novel-length pieces.

What’s next for you?

This fall I’m going to be releasing YA versions of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and Scars from a Memoir. I think young adults could really benefit from Nicole’s story. I’m also working on my next novel, which is another dark literary piece that follows a young woman and how she copes after a horrific tragedy.

Book Give Away

If you would like a chance to win a FREE eBook copy of Scars from a Memoir all you have to do is leave a comment below. (It would be great if you could share this blog post to your Twitter or Facebook feed, as well. The more the merrier!)

Marni has given me a copy of the book that I will email to one winner, selected at random, probably by my beagle, Joy. (Yes. I’m serious. Beagles are good at picking winners.)

I will select a winner on MONDAY morning, and announce it here on the blog. While you wait for the results, be sure to check out the information about Marni, listed below, and pick up a copy (physical or digital) of the first book, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales, below.

More Info

Bio

A New Englander at heart, Marni Mann, now a Floridian is inspired by the sandy beaches and hot pink sunsets of Sarasota. A writer of literary fiction, she taps a mainstream appeal and shakes worldwide taboos, taking her readers on a dark, harrowing, and gritty journey. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop, she’s scouring for chocolate, traveling, reading, or walking her four-legged children. Scars from a Memoir is her second book, a sequel to the highly regarded Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction.

Website: http://marnismann.com

Twitter: @MarniMann

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mcbmann

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5400988.Marni_Mann

Links: Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Arent-Fairytales-Addiction-ebook/dp/B006OO7L58/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1343311533&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/memoirs-arent-fairytales-marni-mann/1108043373?ean=2940013856202&itm=1&usri=marni+mann

Links: Scars from a Memoir

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scars-from-a-Memoir-ebook/dp/B008RDGGNM/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343828600&sr=1-3&keywords=marni+mann

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/scars-from-a-memoir-marni-mann/1112297819?ean=2940015027068

Back Cover Copy: Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales

“I could feel my chin falling towards my chest, my back hunching forward. My body was acting on its own, and my mind was empty, like all my memories had been erased. There was scenery behind my lids. Aqua colored water and powdery sand that extended for miles. I was never going back to coke. I wanted more heroin. And I wanted it now.”

Leaving behind a nightmare from college, nineteen-year-old Nicole and her best friend Eric escape their home of Bangor, Maine. Starting a life in Boston, Nicole desperately seeks a new beginning to help erase her past. But there is something besides freedom waiting for her in the shadows—a drug that will take her independence away.

Heroin.

With one taste, the love that once flowed in Nicole’s veins turns into cravings. Tracks mark the passing of time, and heroin’s voice grows louder. It holds her hand through death and prostitution, but it’s her addiction that keeps her in the darkness. When her family tries to strike a match to help light her way, Nicole must choose between a life she can hardly remember, or a love for heroin she’ll never forget. 

Back Cover Copy: Scars from a Memoir

“I could make up a story to cover the last eight years, but the scars on my arms told the truth. So did my ankles, the skin between my toes, even the veins that had burst on my breasts. Did my battle wounds really prove I was a survivor? Or was I too damaged to be glued back together?”

Nicole had only one skyline to remind her of the freedom she’d lost—a tattoo of inked buildings dotting the skies of Boston, crisscrossed by scars. Heroin had owned her, replaced everyone and everything she’d once loved. The past was supposed to be behind her. It wasn’t, but that was the price of addiction.

Two men love her; one fills a void, and the other gives her hope of a future. Will love find a way to help her sing a lullaby to addiction, or will her scars be her final good-bye?

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24 thoughts on “Interview With Marni Mann

  1. I love that Marni says the dark/literary chose her and that it was an eye-opener as she thought she was “supposed” to write chick lit or women’s fiction. I can relate in a way. Most of my stories tend to be funny and though there’s truth in comedy, I’m always shocked when I start writing and something dark emerges or as I shape a character he or she turns somewhat grotesque. Sometimes I can’t look at that story for a long time. I have to get used to the fact that it came out of me and I have to accept that it lived in me. Then I realize it needed to be told. At the last open mic reading I did, people expected a funny excerpt, but I read a rather sad, dark flash story. The reaction was odd. People didn’t know what to say. Some avoided my eye. Others looked at me, almost with pity, as if I needed serious therapy! It was an experience! Congrats to Marni on her books and especially for staying true to her muse.

    • Some folks think that if we write something, it has to be US that we are writing about, which isn’t always true. At least, not for me. Those darker issues may, in fact, be reflective of some darker issue in my own experience, but it could just as easily be my effort to grapple with the darkness surrounding a friend, a loved one, someone I just met. We are, after all, writing FICTION, right? 😉
      I think song-writers often have the same experience you did at the open mic…not every song (story, poem) written is ONLY about the person who wrote it. The blessing of art is that we can explore the human condition without having to experience every bit of it ourselves…it can transport us into some other reality, however briefly, and help us relate, empathize, understand…
      Great comment, Darlene.

    • Unveiling a dark character or storyline is never easy, so I can only imagine how you felt after your reading at the open mic night. Kudos to you for being so honest with that crowd, giving them a different taste of your writing, and exploring the darker side. 🙂

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  3. A nice interview. Thanks for sharing this. I’m sure I’ll have something more interesting to say after I get some sleep

    Also, I’m wondering how a beagle can pick a winner unless you scent mark the choices. My lab/beagle/mystery mix only is interested in things that smell. While he looks like a mini-lab, he is terrified of water and doesn’t even get the concept of “fetch.”

    • if you write the names (or whatever) on note cards and then toss them out while the dog is watching, onto the floor, they will go investigate. the first one they go to, wins. 😉

      • huh. My dog would go to the one that landed closest to him.

        I would be more inclined to assign them numbers (like, the order of the comments) and then create a random number generator to pick. But then again, I have a degree in statistics… I am SUCH a nerd.

    • Hi Shannon! Thanks so much! 🙂

      Eric, my dog would skip the sniffing and go straight to eating. In a way, I would consider that a compliment to the winner. 😉

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    • Kirsten, did you read the first novel, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales? I do think that anyone who has had a loved one (or, an entire family) destroyed by addiction will find these books compelling. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    • Hi Kirsten, it’s so nice to meet you. Addiction nearly tore mine apart as well. I understand your pain and exactly what you went through. I wrote Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales shortly after losing someone (someone really, really close to me) to an overdose. Memoirs really shows the disease of addiction, and Scars from a Memoir is a bit lighter because it covers recovery. 🙂

  5. I love how Marni says that she spends a lot of her time at Starbucks to get her writing done. I usually have to do the same thing. Going home after a long day of work is what I do to relax, so the last thing my brain wants to do is continue to work. So, I usually have to pack up and head out to the Starbucks at my local Barnes and Nobles to get any work done.

    I hadn’t heard of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales, but I’m going to have to look for it now! Considering my own history with both fairy tales AND addiction, it sounds like it will be a great read for me!

    • Jennie, I find the same thing, sometimes…I write at home, mostly, but sometimes you just have to shake up the routine. You’re right though, about home becoming the place you want to relax, not do more work. That can be very true.

    • Thank you so much! Ah, yes, Starbucks = a writer’s home away from home. 🙂 Thanks for your wonderful comment, jpgirl27.

  6. It’s late here, and my brain is fried, but I have to say that Marni’s quote of, “I was surprised by how easily the darkness flowed out of me” spoke directly to my heart is that is what I am currently experiencing; never would have expected it.

    Also, don’t tell anybody else, but I am the Beagle-Whisperer. I miss my Ridley-dog, that best Beagle (and best dog) that ever four-footed the Earth.

    • I struggled with the darkness at first. “What will my grandmother think?”–constantly ran through my mind. As soon as I found peace with my thoughts and words, my writing became more genuine. Best of luck with your writing, korbijoe. 🙂

  7. Marni,

    I often say I’ll never write memoir again, so it’s interesting that you’ve chosen to write fiction – or fictionalized what could’ve been a memoir – and then you pay tribute to the genre (memoir) in the title. What was the thought behind this? Also, the process of writing the book was obviously still difficult, which goes to show no matter how a writer approaches a story, the painful association with either the subject matter or character(s) will rise to the surface to guide the writing.

    It all sounds fascinating – your books and your process. I wish you well with your future endeavors.

    Belinda.

    • Hi Belinda! Thanks for your comment. I’ve fictionalized what could have been a memoir, but the novel is also written very much like a memoir. “My memoir is no damn fairytale…”–appears in the novel. As soon as I wrote that line, I knew it had to be part of the title/the title. Another reason is I believe fairytales have happy endings. Since the novel is written in first person and the line is spoken by the protagonist, she’s making a statement. And in context, it’s quite powerful. (I’m trying not to give away too many details 🙂 )

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