Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Military Brat Marilyn Morris talks about her latest book

July really is turning out to be a month of special treats. Today, author and editor Marilyn Celeste Morris joins me to chat about her latest novel The Women of Camp Sobingo, which was released by Mardi Gras Publishing in June .

Welcome to my blog Marilyn. I am thrilled to have you here.

It’s my pleasure. I think all writers love to talk about their work, and especially their latest project.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been writing? Did anyone inspire you to become a writer?

I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. My family was all about reading, and I learned to read before I went to kindergarten. There, it dawned on me that letters made words, and words made sentences, and sentences made stories. I wrote a lot for my own amusement when I was an army brat stationed overseas with my army officer father.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day you are more productive than others?

I try to write something every day. I am more productive during the morning hours; I try to begin at least sitting at my keyboard at 9:00 a.m. but if I don’t make that schedule, I don’t beat myself up. There are plenty of people in the world who would be happy to do that for me!

After reading the synopsis of The Women of Camp Sobingo and an excerpt, I knew this was one book I had to make a part of my reading collection. What inspired you to write this story?

Wow, thanks! I had thought about my days in Korea when I was about 8-9 years old and my mother played bridge – a lot of bridge – with three other women. One of those women chose to end her life there, and although I had very little information about that, I always wondered why she did it. Through my mental health training, I realized her childhood must have had a large part in her decision, so I made up a background for her – and for the other women. From there, it just grew. My characters kind of took over the writing for me.

So, four very different women become friends on the trip to join their Army officer husbands in Korea in 1946. Three women learn to adjust to the situation, but one ends up taking her own life. And when these women reunite twenty-five years later, they discover new things about that time in their lives--including why their friend really decided to kill herself. How did you go about developing these four very different women? Did you use character sketches?

Actually, they are composites of women I have known, or wish I had known, and the main character is definitely one I would have liked to have been in real life! I did a sort of background sketch on each woman, where she came from and what were her strengths, and used those in the writing of the book, so all the plot advances would be consistent to that character. For instance, why did Trudy inherit her father in-law’s publishing empire instead of her husband?

Why will readers care about these women? What is it about these women that will help readers relate to them?

I think they will relate to how these ordinary women faced extraordinary circumstances, and they were strengthened by their backgrounds. Take Nell, for instance. She was a West Texas school girl who hoped she would escape her life of wood-burning stoves, hauling water from a well, etc. and yet she finds herself in a primitive country teaching other women how to cook on a wood-burning stove. Maggie is a rebel from birth and she uses her rebellion to her best advantage as she marries her childhood sweetheart despite her mother’s objections. I believe we all have something in our childhoods that we can draw upon for strength during tough times. Leah, however, had no such strength to lead her through her troubled life and affairs with men other than her hometown husband.

Being a self-proclaimed Military Brat yourself, is it different to reflect upon those memories of your childhood as an adult? Did a new understanding of that time in your life impact how you approached the writing of The Women of Camp Sobingo?

Great question! While I was writing my memoirs of my Military Brat days, Once a Brat, I relived my childhood and the ghost of this woman who ended her life in Korea came up repeatedly and I knew I had to do something about that. I had also watched my mother cope with such a nomadic life, and grew to really admire her and respect her innate strength. I am always finding my childhood traits as a Military Brat that either strengthen me or give me some insight into who I have become because of that life.

Did you rely solely on your past experiences for this novel or did you research certain details?

It’s about half my experiences and half fiction. I could have done some research into Camp Sobingo, but didn’t want the present day Camp to mar my memories of those days right after WWII. As this novel is fiction, I felt I could take some liberties with time and location, and felt that researching the present-day site would take away from the fictional content.

Like I said before, this sounds like a truly amazing story. How can readers get their hands on a copy?

It can be ordered online at the Mardi Gras Publishing site:

What’s up next for you? Is there anything you would like to share with fans and your fellow writers?

I have several more novels in varying states of completion. One is a sequel to my first novel, Sabbath’s Room, which is titled Sabbath’s House, where Joanna and her little family move into a huge old house in the Texas Hill Country that has a sinister secret; a romance novel titled, The Unexplored Heart (my first venture into that genre); a novel about a military jet crashing into a crowded shopping mall during a terrible tornado, titled, Forces of Nature; another murder mystery, The Murders at 5400; and my newest effort will probably be a science fiction story, Fireflies in a Jar. I am having fun playing around with these novels and try to work on them whenever time permits.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’ve always enjoyed writing; however, marketing my work is somewhat new to me. I may have been born without that gene, but fortunately, I have a couple of publicists who are handling that part for me. They are Dorothy Thompson and Jamieson Wolf, and their new business venture is Pump Up Your Book, found at
I recommend them highly.

Thank you for sharing so much about yourself and your novel. Good luck with the rest of your virtual book tour and much success in the future.

And thank you for thinking of me and inviting me to do this interview. Best to you in your writing.

Marilyn and her novel are touring the blogosphere the entire month of July so make sure you check out her tour schedule at to see where you can find out more about this talented author and her amazing book.

No comments: