A Conversation With: Marilyn Meredith
February 12, 2012
When I met Marilyn a few years back, it was instant “like.” And over time I’ve come to admire and respect her on many levels—not just because she’s a super writer, forward thinking promotions guru, and helping friend to fellow authors. So, I’m very pleased to be talking to Marilyn today. (I know I’m gushing, but I’ve followed Marilyn’s lead on so many fronts—I just can’t help it!)
Marilyn, I’ve made a fresh pot of Chai tea, and can’t wait to “grill” you. But first a quickie question, what does “F” stand for in your other writing name, F.M. Meredith?
Oh, that’s better kept secret, but it is my first name, Marilyn is my second.
So the mystery writer will remain a woman of mystery! I know I’m usually asking authors about elements of mystery writing, but I noticed on your website you’ve been the Editor of the California Residential Services Association monthly newsletter for eighteen years! (The Association for Administrators of State-Licensed Residential Care Facilities for Youth, Adults and the Elderly.) How did you get involved with doing the organization’s newsletter, and what’s kept you doing it so long?
I suspect I should change that to 30 years. Hubby and I owned and operated a residential care home for 22 years (we shared our home with six developmentally disabled women), and during that time I served as president for CRSA and did their newsletter among other things—and when I retired I continued doing the newsletter.
Back in the fiction arena, you’ve written over 30 books! Some of which I have read, and a couple I’ve reviewed—mainly your recent books. I am, however, interested in knowing about your early writing days. What was your first book? And when you think back—with the publishing industry and writing conventions changing/evolving so much—have either of those factors, or your own desires and goals changed your writing style and subject matter focus over the span of your books?
Frankly, I really didn’t know what I was doing when I began writing to be published. That was back in the typewriter/carbon paper days. I learned along the way thanks to books, writing conferences and a wonderful critique group. My first book was an historical family saga based on my own family’s genealogy.
Everything has changed—the publishing industry, writing conventions, etc. Right now I’m concentrating on mysteries and writing two series—which means two books a year. My writing has changed hopefully for the best.
As you know, I’ve followed your lead often when it comes to promotions. The latest being our Christmas Mystery We Write Blog Tour organized by Anne K. Albert. However, I’ve yet to jump into “trailer” production—which you have. What is that experience like? And do you think they’re a good tool?
I like book trailers. Someone else did all mine for me—I have so little time I just don’t want to learn how to do something else. Whether they actually sell books, I have no idea. I think they are just something else to use to perhaps pique someone’s interest in what you’ve written.
On a more personal level, you have a great picture of you and Hap[i] on your blog. Some pictures “talk” to me, and it’s one that does. Is there an event or story behind that picture? I’d love to know more…
I love these pictures, and thanks for letting me show them here.
Before you go, wanted to ask you about an organization I know is near-and-dear to your heart—PSWA. I’ve been to three of the PSWA conferences in Vegas, and it is my favorite—it’s a great group! Clearly you (and others!!) are very dedicated to having a successful organization and conference. Everyone can see you put a lot of time, effort, and enthusiasm into PSWA events. My question is, what drives you to give so much to this particular group? Why is PSWA so special to you?
I joined the group when it was called The Police Writers Club. At the time I was the only non-police person or associated with police who was a member. Something unforeseen happened and the club disappeared for awhile. A small group of former members gathered together to resurrect it and it rose from the dead as the Public Safety Writers Association. This same group now serves as the board of directors with one addition.
My main reason for joining in the first place was to gain knowledge about people in law enforcement since I was writing about them. I have a soft spot in my heart for these folks for several reasons, but mainly because I have many relatives who once were in law enforcement or are now. I’ve been the program chairperson since the reorganization. Our first conference had 12 people attending, and we had a great time. Each year the conference has grown and last year we came close to 50 attendees. I hope we’ll do as well this year.
Because the conference is small, everyone has the opportunity to meet everyone else. It’s the perfect place for mystery writers to network with professionals in all the public safety fields from FBI to fire-fighters. Check it out at http://www.policewriter.com/
And for me, attending gives me the same feeling as attending a family reunion.
Wrapping up, Marilyn, what’s on the horizon for you? More books I’m sure.
This will tell you how busy I am. My latest book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series is Bears With Us. I just signed a contract for the next in the series, Raging Waters that should be out sometime in the fall. I am plotting the next one.
The latest book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series No Bells should be out in March. This one focuses on Gordon Butler, a favorite of many of the fans of this series. My big promotion for it is a blog tour I’ve planned for April. I’m reading the next one in line to my critique group, once they’ve given me their fixes, I’ll go over it again carefully to make sure everything is consistent before I send it off to my publisher.
And all the time I continue to promote. I also like to help other writers and I often have guest posts on my blog http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/ and reviews.
Hope I wasn’t too long winded, Madeline. I do appreciate you hosting me today on your blog. Looking forward to seeing you in person soon.
Thank you, Marilyn, can’t wait for Raging Waters and No Bells! As always, you’ve been very generous with your time.
[i] Marilyn’s husband of 60 years. CONGRATULATIONS!