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.
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.
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.
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.
Links: Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales
Links: Scars from a Memoir
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.
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?