Today we welcome Mary Ann Landers.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Mary Ann Landers: I don’t have one. Seriously, I live in Arkansas and I have a day job. But the less said about that, the better!
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Mary Ann Landers: Most of my published works are a combination of fantasy and offbeat romance. By fantasy I mean the kind in the spirit of myths and legends, not today’s bestsellers.
By offbeat romance I mean I don’t follow the genre rules. Any of them! I write about what I consider romantic, whether or not the big publishers do.
Right now “Alice: The Queen of Hearts Strikes Back” is available in “Fractured Fairytales”, a two-volume collection of fantasy-romance novellas inspired by classic fairytales. You can tell by the title which mythos I used!
Here Alice, age twenty, falls down another rabbit hole and lands back in Wonderland. And into a war against the Queen of Hearts. She falls in love with the one man who can’t return it. But don’t underestimate love. Or Alice!
I chose Lewis Carroll’s mythos in part because of my taste for the bizarre. And my affinity for a world in which nothing goes the way it’s supposed to.
My science-fiction story “One Cockroach Left” is in the time-travel anthology “Shattered Time”. 66 million years ago an alien scientist learns from time-travelers that an asteroid is about to strike Earth and wipe out the dinosaurs. She tries to prevent the disaster. But can history be altered?
I also wrote two fairytale-inspired stories in the anthology “Once Upon a Cursed Time”: “Let Down Thy Hair” (Rapunzel) and “Awakened by a Kiss” (Sleeping Beauty). Currently it’s available only in hard copy.
My works contain no messages. I mean it! I can’t stand fiction that preaches. Or anything or anyone else that preaches. I’m not going to inflict that on my readers.
I write to entertain readers. And, I hope, move them.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Mary Ann Landers: Yes, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017. A high fantasy-adventure-romance. Working title: “The Sword and the Harp”. Twitter-style blurb: His sword could slay his foes. His harp could sway them. But he couldn’t fight his passion for one proud lady. Or the curse on their love.
I started with the idea of a warrior bard and a charismatic take-charge lady. One is devoted to his king, his art, and his ideals. The other is devoted to gaining and using power. Under these conditions the course of true love never can run smooth.
And yes, as a romance it’s very offbeat. It’s not about a couple who are forced together, then fight over who’s the boss and fall in love towards the end. It’s about a couple who come together voluntarily and fall in love early on. Then everything goes wrong! They must overcome tremendous obstacles inside and out.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Mary Ann Landers: “One Cockroach Left”. I dealt with an alien race, an extraordinary situation, advanced science and technology, complex drama between and within the characters, and a catastrophe. And I had to get it all into 8,000 words. But the reviews have been good, so I think I succeeded.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Mary Ann Landers: First stop: Wikipedia. Then I go to other websites and hardcopy for research in detail.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Mary Ann Landers: I read fairly widely. In nonfiction I’m into, well, everything, really. A true info junkie! But I suppose my favorite topics are mythology and folklore, science, history, art, and religion. I also watch documentaries. And I’ve been an old-movie buff for most of my life.
In fiction, to me the main theme and premise matter more than the genre or who wrote it. I read more fantasy and romance than other genre. It’s hard to find my kind of works in these genres, or any others. Which is one reason why I write!
As for inspiration, sometime it’s obvious. At other times even I don’t know.
“The Sword and the Harp” represents the latter. I wasn’t inspired by any particular story or mythos. Where did these characters, situations, and events come from? My imagination.
Please note that I make a distinction between inspiration and influence. Various stories, usually myths or legends, have inspired my works. But there’s only one influence. My actual experience in the real world.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Mary Ann Landers: No. A few have have tried to discourage me. But the real problem lies with those who try to pressure me to write their way. Instead of bullying other writers, they should focus on writing their own works.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Mary Ann Landers: My ability to think and write outside the box. And to deal with disparate themes in one work. Plus the fact that my stories keep moving. I don’t stop for anything!
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Mary Ann Landers: As often as I can. No, with my crazy and ever-changing schedule that’s not possible. Maybe someday. I’m sure I’d get more done!
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Mary Ann Landers: I can’t think that far ahead. Sometimes my characters get tipped off about the future. But I haven’t been!
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Mary Ann Landers: As Sir Phillip Sidney’s muse told him when he was suffering from writer’s block in the sixteenth century, “Look in thy heart and write.”
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Mary Ann Landers: “I enjoyed it.”
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Mary Ann Landers: An excerpt from my fantasy-adventure-romance “Alice: The Queen of Hearts Strikes Back”, in the first volume of the collection “Fractured Fairytales”.
The set-up: The Queen of Hearts claps Alice in chains (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and locks her high in a tower at her castle. Our heroine has a cellmate, a taciturn knight who calls himself Sir Nobody. They escape from the cell. But can they escape from the castle?
Grasping the keyring and the lantern, Sir Nobody led Alice through the door.
He motioned her toward a flight of stairs. Another door loomed ahead; another key opened it.
Sir Nobody led her down a passage. It opened onto the courtyard. It was dark, but Alice could see a few figures moving about.
He guided her to the gate. A sputterting fire burned. Several guards milled about, talking and laughing. They passed around a tankard. All seemed well in their cups.
All, that is, save one. He called out to the two, “Who goes there?”
Sir Nobody whispered, “Lady Alice, let me do the talking.”
She thought, Finally he’s found his tongue!
The guard picked up a lantern and examined the knight’s face, then Alice’s. “Who the hell are you? I don’t recognize either of you!”
Sir Nobody bowed. “Greetings, my fellow man at arms. My name is Tom.”
A pause. “Tom Dicken-Harry. One of the mercenaries the Queen just hired.”
“Nobody told me about that!”
Alice tensed. She thought, We’re going to get caught! We almost escaped. Almost!
Then the guard laughed. “Nobody ever tells me anything! I’m always the last to know. I should be the first. But does Her Majesty see that I’m informed? Do my officers?”
The knight nodded. “My betters are the same way.”
“And when I remind them of that, they threaten to throw me to What Waits Below. They just don’t understand.”
He raised his lantern to look at Alice. “Who are you?”
She was too frightened to speak. Luckily Sir Nobody wasn’t. “This is, uh, another newcomer. A kitchen maid. Her name is Anne Onymous.”
Despite the tension, Alice barely stifled a laugh.
The guard asked, “So, Master Dicken-Harry, why are you two heading out the gate this time of night?”
A pause, then the knight replied, “The palace is full of people. Mistress Anne and I want to go someplace in the countryside where we can be alone all night.” He winked at the guard.
He winked back and chuckled. Alice groaned. And died a little inside.
But the guard said, “Go ahead.”
They passed through the gate.
She glared at the knight and thought, How dare you say such a thing! I’ll never live this down!
But I must. This isn’t England. Nobody knows me, except for the Queen and this bounder of a knight.
And even if they did—well, Alice Liddell, which would you rather lose? Your reputation or your life?
“Alice: The Queen of Hearts Strikes Back” by Genevieve Moultrie. One of eighteen fantasy romances inspired by classic fairytales in the collection “Fractured Fairytales”. Compiled by R. L. Weeks. Caution: some of these works are for adults only. But mine is suitable for all ages.
Book One: hyperurl.co/FracturedFairytales1
Book Two: hyperurl.co/FracturedFairytales2
“One Cockroach Left” in the time-travel anthology “Shattered Time”: https://www.amazon.com/Shattered-Time-anthology-J-Clayton-ebook/dp/B01N4PSI99
Genevieve Moultrie’s author page: