Mary Elizabeth Fricke has lived her entire life within five miles of the Missouri River. She and her husband of 37 years have lived 34 of those years on a farm that has been consistently owned and operated by his family for five generations. They farm in partnership raising grain and cattle. They have two grown sons married to wonderful women and two beautiful grandchildren.
A graduate of the Writer’s Institute of America and a member of the Heartland Writers Guild, she has published a number of articles in various forums and magazines, as well as her autobiography: Dino, Godzilla and the Pigs, My Life on Our Missouri Hog Farm (published in 1993 by SoHo Press, New York). She is also a prolific ghostwriter.
Her stories, based in rural mid-western areas, concern the unique but quickly vanishing way of life on the family farm as well as other mysterious intricacies that evolve life from generation to generation. Romance is her preferred genre.
What inspires you to write?
I have written all of my life. In fact, I made up stories before I knew how to write them. For me, writing is the same as breathing. It is how I express my thoughts, my passions, my intentions or general outlook on life. In recent years, I became dismayed by the realization that the number of 'family farms' are shrinking. Farming is becoming a larger and larger conglomerate owned by corporations rather than the single-family-generation-to-generation farms my husband and I grew up on. In wishing to preserve some memory of the family-farm-as-it-used-to-be I place most of my stories in small town to rural or farm settings. That, after all, is the way of life I am most familiar with.
Tell us about your writing process.
Most often, it seems, ideas become 'scenes' or mini-mind-movies. I generally stew on an idea and what if's for days, weeks, even months, before I write those scenes down on paper. I generally keep a list of sequences but that's not necessarily an outline. And, over time, especially when writing a series, I list questions or instances I need to remember in order to connect the stories. I rarely write any story in chapter to chapter form in the first draft. Most of the time, I write whatever scene happens to be on my mind at the moment and will put scenes/chapters in order later. Sometimes scenes do follow one after another, not very often. I tend to do my best writing between 9 p.m. and 2-3 a.m. Daylight is reserved for family, farm chores/business, house cleaning and other necessities. Writing, for me, is best after my husband has gone to bed, when the phone won't ring and the t.v. is turned off so the house is silent and all I hear are the voices in my head.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters literally live in my head. Yes, I talk to them…well, I let them talk to each other…sometimes out loud. Those 'conversations' are not supposed to be overheard by anyone-especially my family–but sometimes they are. Explaining them is not easy. So I have to be comfortable with my family assuming 'she's talking to herself again' while they roll their eyes and snigger.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite book of all time is the historical fiction 'Ashes on the Wind' by the late Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. There are few who possess the talent for believable prose such as Mrs. Woodiwiss. I have all of her books and have reread most of them several times. However, my over-all reading preference is eclectic. I collect most of Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts books. I'm also a big fan of Kim Harrison and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Those books compile a list from historical romance, romantic suspense, to paranormal and futuristic/urban fiction. I also like science fiction. John Bowers is a favorite futuristic science fiction writer. But then, I also tend to read many of Newt Gingrich's fiction and non-fiction books. I've read political books by Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Pres. G.W. Bush and V.P Dick Cheney. I deeply appreciated Erma Bombeck's talent for poking fun at herself while also distinguishing the really important things in life. I also read my husband's farm/hunting magazines and the weekly newspaper, not to mention all sorts of e-letters, articles on-line.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I spent years riding the gauntlet of sending work off to various publishers sometimes never seeing it again, or never receiving word if it was read, or enduring the pain of outright rejection. I had better luck with non-fiction, and so, spent many years trying to concentrate on that. My heart doesn't lie in writing non-fiction. I like to dream and pretend what-if and give my characters happy endings–or kill them if I don't like them. Even though I have been published in non-fiction since the early 1990's, AKW e-books published my first fiction book in 2014, Pigeon in a Snare (Birds in Peril #1). AKW also published Birds in Peril #2: Roses for the Sparrow. Then AKW closed its doors. A number of, then, in-house writers (who I had become friendly with) chose to go Independent. I joined them and so far, that has worked out well. I feel like my self-published books are more in my control. I'd had experiences in the past where the published work just wasn't what I wanted or expected. But, because I had leased the publishing rites to the publisher, I couldn't do anything to change the outcome. As an Indie Author, nothing gets published other than the way I want it to be.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe e-books are the future. Coffee table, large photo books and hard-cover will continue to exist. However, I expect ebooks to eventually outnumber paperbacks. The age of electronics is here.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
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.