Monday, March 12, 2007

Make-Believe Monday with Darlene Marshall

Today on Make-Believe Mondays I'm pleased to introduce my friend from RWAonline, Darlene Marshall. Darlene is just back from Epicon where Pirate's Price and Captain Sinister's Lady both won Eppie awards in the historical romance category.

Darlene, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Darlene: In my WIP, Captain Jack Burrell has a good life--loving parents, loyal friends, a fine ship with which to harass the British during the War of 1812. In fact the only really terrible thing that’s ever happened to him was the fault of Miss Sophia Deford, who robbed him, stripped him naked, and left him at the mercy of a Royal Navy press gang.

And now she’s back in his life. She has a pirate treasure map and a letter from Jack’s late mentor calling in a debt of honor. And to discharge this obligation, all Jack has to do is team up with Sophia and help her find the treasure. Without wringing her neck.

It’s a “road book”, set in 1817 Florida and I promise it will have excitement, passion, danger and laughter.

Debra: It sounds exciting! When pirate treasure is involved anything can happen!

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Darlene: Yes, but I never know when that will occur. I’m a “seat of the pants” writer, or to use a more elegant term, “an organic writer”, and it usually starts with a scene in my head, the hero and heroine interacting in some fashion. But I don’t always know who these people are, or what makes them tick. I have to start writing about them to find out the answer for myself, and for my readers.

Oftentimes though a character will appear to me in a scene. For instance, the first time I “saw” Morgan Roberts, the hero of Captain Sinister’s Lady, he was looking into a mirror in his cabin and wondering when he got so much gray in his hair and beard. He covers the white with red paint to give him a ferocious, bloody appearance before going abovedecks to attack a ship.

Even though this scene didn’t make it into the novel, it gave me clues about Morgan right from the start–there were issues about aging, he was a pirate captain, he liked to use tricks to get his way. That was the start of how I began writing about Morgan and his desire to settle down and raise a family.

Debra: The aging pirate, how fascinating!

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Darlene: I loved Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Mara, Daughter of the Nile. I first read it in the 6th grade and it had everything! Danger, spies, romance, a plucky heroine, a mysterious hero, a cool historical setting and historical accuracy to make it all come alive. A heroine overcoming the odds through her own wit and courage has always appealed to me, and in Mara I found a story I could enjoy over and over again. Even today I still re-read because it’s so well written.

I hear people ask all the time, “how do you write?” and the only answer I can offer is, “If you have a story in you, just sit down and start writing it. And then write some more, and write some more. When you’re not writing, read. That’s the only ‘writing secret’ I know.”

If readers would like to see excerpts of my work, stop by my website, and to keep up with my writing and what’s happening in my life, visit “Darlene’s Digest” at Blogspot,

Darlene, thank you for visiting Make-Believe Mondays to share a bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

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