Marla White Author Bio:
Marla White started her illustrious career as a storyteller at the age of four by drawing on the TV screen to help Winky Dink get out of mortal danger, earning her a firm spanking. Deterred by the negative feedback, she studied to be a park ranger instead until she realized it was really a TV show about park rangers she liked, not the actual outdoors. She enjoys a career developing television series and movies as well as teaching story workshops at UCLA Extension.
Appropriately, she found out on April Fool’s Day she’d sold her first book, “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” to Wild Rose Press.
What inspires you to write?
Coffee or wine, it depends on the time of day.
I'm kidding. Everything inspires me to create stories, I've always kind of had a butterfly brain like that. Real-life experiences, big and small, can spark a character or idea in my head. In the case of two of my books, I visited places that I fell in love with so much I wanted to share them with the world. The hope that I can entertain people by sharing universal struggles like baking the perfect cookie in a humorous way keeps me coming back to the computer every day.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am definitely an outliner but in a super low-tech way. I write using Word and begin with bullet points that grow into paragraphs. I have to be a bit disciplined and not get carried away and write too much until the outline is done so I can easily see if all the pieces fit together. Is there enough of one character or another? Sometimes I'll even color code the outline, giving each character their own color so I can track in a glance if it all balances out.
I usually wait and do character sketches after I've done the outline and come back to them to make sure only certain characters use a particular expression or to keep the color of their eyes, for instance, consistent. That's especially important since I tend to write book series instead of stand-alone books. Some characters are quite clear right from the start whereas others are a little shy and don't come out until later in the process.
However, I also keep a level of flexibility to my outlines. Sometimes in the course of writing the book, I'll discover things about the characters I didn't know when I started.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Once I get started, I can't get my characters to shut up! Their voices — the words they use in dialogue, do they use profanity, do they have an accent — tend to get clearer the farther in the book I am. That sometimes means going back and making adjustments in my second, third, and fourth drafts of the book. In some cases, the characters demanded to be heard so loudly their roles grew significantly from the outline to the finished book.
Who are your favorite authors?
My current favorite author is Louise Penny. A friend turned me on to her books and now whenever I finish one I simply text her "Jean-Guy!!" and she immediately knows what I'm talking about.
I have a life-long passion for mysteries including Robert Parker's Spenser books, everything Dick Francis ever wrote, and Leslie Charteris' Simon Templar changed my life.
But I also can't get enough of Jim Butcher's wizard Harry Dresden and his amazing series. The same friend who turned me on to those books recently introduced me to Patricia Briggs' wonderful world of vampires and werewolves as well as Seanan McGuire's October Daye series.
And of course CJ Bahr and her Fire Chronicles, whose journey as an author inspires me every day.
What genres do you write?
Mystery, Cozy mystery, Grounded fantasy
How did you choose the genre(s) you write?
The mystery was a natural extension of having pored through every mystery book I could get my hands on starting with Nancy Drew. I suspect it stems from the fact it's easier to kill someone on paper and get away with it than it is in real life.
The fantasy was inspired by a location I visited and thought, "wouldn't it be cool if an angel lived here?" and then just kind of spun out of control. In "The Angel by the Tower," Gabriel scoffed at the idea that the Big Bad he had to defeat was a dragon so naturally, I had to go there.
What three things are on your writing desk at any given moment?
I don't really have a desk, I tend to write outside on the patio, so a glass of water, plants, and whatever book I'm reading.
What hobbies do you have when you need a break from writing?
Gardening, quilting, baking, and cross-stitching.
What formats are your books in?
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All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.