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29 June 2011

An Interview with Mary Hall

Your hostess for this Clash is Gail Pallotta
Read the excerpts here

Don't forget. you can still enter the drawing for Missing Mable and After Anne by commenting here or on facebook.                                                                                               
Meet Mary Hall
Author of Excerpt B                                        
Mary is the author of
Guard of My Heart
Hi Mary. What’s your favorite time to write?
Early morning, before the bustle of the day begins. I love to step quietly down the stairs, enjoy a sweet time of sunrise fellowship with my Lord, and then prop my feet up on the sofa with my laptop and a tall glass of barley sprout & apple juice while the morning sunlight begins its dance across my living room floor. 
Who is your favorite character that you’ve created and why?
Marchant, the Royal Guardsman, is my favorite. His complex nature intrigues me as a reader and sometimes surprises me as a writer. Tragedy in his past fuels a thirst for revenge and this gets him into frequent trouble. Exploited by ambitious men seeking their own ends, he does not trust easily. And betrayal by a girl during his youth has made him wary of women.
Aggressive by nature, Marchant tends to be domineering. But passion for God and overwhelming gratitude for His grace temper his inborn arrogance. Marchant knows he’s a sinner and detests his weaknesses. But he also knows he can do all things through God who gives him strength. And on this he learns to rely as he seeks above all else to honor the Lord he adores.  
When writing about settings, do you use personal experience, research or both?
Both. I’ve been fortunate to travel a good bit during my life, and memories of lovely places come to mind as I write. Amberly looks a great deal like Colonial Williamsburg to me. My family has spent much time strolling through both the town and the Virginia countryside. The Cryskellan Mountains resemble the Blue Ridge near where I live, and the rocky shore of Weltshire County looks like the coastline of Maine.
I constantly research whatever I’m writing about, and I’m so thankful to have much of the world at my fingertips right on my laptop! I always look up the flora and fauna of areas similar to what I’m depicting, as well as historical fashion and architecture. I’ve determined a particular calendar year that works with event dates in my tale, and I’ve looked up sunrise and sunset times of certain days at particular locations in order to determine the schedule in which events occurred during these days in the story. All the distances in Guard of My Heart are based on how far the king’s powerful horse can ride in eight hours and arrive barely still alive!
Do you use props, such as photos or clippings from magazines? How do they inspire you?
I like to keep Williamsburg brochures and books around me as I write about Amberly, and I have plenty of photos of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Maine.
I use photos especially to help me visualize my characters. It usually takes a long time to find the right face to go with what I envision. After 35 years, I recently found Marchant in a department store ad!
Mary’s question for readers: Whatever happened to the exclamation point? Of course we don’t want to overuse it, but I’m dismayed that it seems to have disappeared as a useful tool from the world of story writing. My daughter said her history book was boring. “The Egyptians are coming. The Egyptians are coming,” it said. Yawn…

Thank you, Mary. Visit Mary's blog here
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Joanne Sher said... Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

Hi, Mary!

Love getting to know you better. That first thing in the morning relaxation sounds WONDERFUL.

And I would LOVE to go to Colonial Williamsburg.

And funny you should talk about exclamation points. I JUST did a post about them on my blog just over a week ago. :D

Lisa Lickel said... Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

Thank you Gail for introducing me to new authors...Mary, I look forward to reading you in the not too distant future.

April Gardner said... Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

Hi Mary! As with so many things, I bet the abuse of exclamation marks lead to their demise. I miss them too, but also think that strong writing shouldn't need too many of them. You said that you finally found Marchant after 35 years. How long as he been around? Congrats on finding the image, by the way! You deserve it after such a long search. :-)

Mary Elizabeth Hall said... Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

Hi, Joanne! I'm enjoying our Clash and getting to know you. You write beautifully, with feeling and artistry. And I love your blog!

Hi, Lisa! Thank you so much for your kind words. The Lord gives me the stories. I love it when others enjoy them too!

Hi, April! Or should I say, Hi, April. Yes, I agree that ! is used too frequently. I just hope we aren't going too far in the opposite direction. I see the exclamation point as a tool of artistic ornamentation, to be used sparingly for powerful effect, but not discarded entirely.

As to your question, Marchant's story has been in my head since I was a child, and the characters have grown up with me. I wonder if other writers have that experience. The romance in this first novel is an introduction to his larger story, about his life and the kingdom in which they live. The story is an alternate history, the way things might have been in our history if certain things had been done differently. The events play out in my mind like a movie, and I hope readers enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy watching them. Thanks for reading. (!)

Michelle Massaro said... Thursday, 30 June, 2011

Mary, I love exclamation points! I get nailed on them by crit partners a lot but I still hold onto a few. =)

Love your story about finding Marchant and how long he's been with you. Great interview, I enjoyed getting to know you. =)

April Gardner said... Thursday, 30 June, 2011

Been thinking a bit more about exclamation points. I'm generally fine with them in dialog. It's when they're in the narrative that I'm pickier, although I don't mind a few.

Mary Elizabeth Hall said... Thursday, 30 June, 2011

Thanks so much, Michelle and April! Everyone seems to have a different opinion about the exclamation points. What I was taught is that it should be used if someone is shouting. That sounds reasonable to me. And if my narrator is shouting a thought in his or her mind (albeit very very rarely), it might merit one too. I've also been told more recently by a writer for whom I have great respect that an author should use no more than three in his or her life. Ugh!! Whoops, there go two of mine. I guess I mean ugh. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.(!)

Joanne Sher said... Thursday, 30 June, 2011

If we can only use three in our lives - I need about 5.2 billion lives ;)

Item Reviewed: An Interview with Mary Hall Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Gail Pallotta