Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review and Interview with Marsha Ward

Marsha Ward's new book Trail of Storms has recently been released and it is a page turner. I never read western novels, but boy, was I missing out. This one was full of adventure, romance and suspense. The story takes place after the civil war, when the south was occupied by Yankee soldiers.

On the back cover it says, "After her sister suffers a brutal attack, Jessie Bingham and her family flee post-Civil War Virginia and undertake a perilous trek to New Mexico Territory. When she learns her former sweetheart, James Owen, took a wife, Jessie accepts Ned Heizer's marriage proposal, on the condition they wait until journey's end to wed. But then Jessie encounters James again...and he isn't married now!"

Marsha does an excellent job with her characters making them true to life. I actually felt like I was in the old west. She is also an expert at creating suspenseful situations. All in all, I loved Trail of Storms! I can't wait to read Marsha's other books based on the same family.

I recently had a chance to interview Marsha about her book:

Marsha, what made you start writing?

The fascination I’ve always had with words and story. It’s just been a part of me as far back as I can remember.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I’ve written ever since I could hold a pencil in my fist. My sister tells of a time when I’d admonish my siblings not to “step on my novel.” I imagine it was spread across the floor with me belly-down on the hardwood, scribbling away.

I self-published my first novel in January 2003 when I had a health crisis that didn’t look like it would turn out well. I’d been carrying around the novel that I’d begin in the late sixties, then really worked on from the eighties on. I was getting good editorial comments, but no acceptances, and I did not want to die and leave my work unpublished.

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

I usually start with characters, a situation, and a desired ending, and go ahead from there. I’m very much a seat-of-the-pantser. When I outline too much, it takes the starch out of the story.

How do you choose your characters' names?

When I was in high school, I made a list of children’s names, both male and female, for nearly all the letters of the alphabet. I think X might have been a challenge, so I don’t recall if I got those listed. I’ve never had trouble coming up with character names: phone books, news items, journals, baby books, historical accounts, all have been good resources.

What type of writing schedule do you have?

(Laughs) I try to write in blocks of four hours, but assigning days to those blocks is difficult. Because getting going on a novel is the hardest part for me, I have to force myself to begin, even if it’s just 100 words a day. If I took my own advice, I’d write several books a year, but alas, life happens frequently.

How do you handle life interruptions?

With a sigh. I’m not very patient when interrupted, because of the intense effort that it takes to get started. However, I don’t snap at people, if that’s what folks might think.

What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?

My tenth novel.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

I love the rush of pure adrenalin that gets me through the scene when the work is going well. I don’t like the fact that I have to work so hard to get into the groove of writing.

What is your next project?

I’m working on a non-Owen family novel called Slim and the Schoolmarm.

What is your advice for other writers?

“Just write the dang book.” That a quote from my friend Joan Sowards. She said it to Kerry Blair, who passed it on to me.

Tell us about your book, Trail of Storms.

This novel goes back to Virginia to pick up a minor character from The Man from Shenandoah, Jessie Bingham, the girl James Owen left behind. It details the lives and adventures of members of the Bingham family and a couple of men who love the unmarried girls in the family. When the family is forced to leave Virginia, they are pursued by some not very nice characters, and even after they fight off that onslaught, poverty, bad weather, and Jessie’s sister Hannah's frightful secret plague their journey. Nursing her battered heart when she learns James Owen took a wife, Jessie accepts her old friend Ned's offer of marriage. But a stop on the trail holds surprises that launch Jessie into a bewildering tangle of values, emotions, and high adventure.

What other work of yours has been published?

The Man from Shenandoah came first, in January 2003, followed by Ride to Raton at the end of the same year. I published them through the services of iUniverse due to a desire to get them in fixed form before a looming health issue took me away. Fortunately, the health thing turned out better than expected.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I’m so very grateful to you, Kersten, for this interview and review, and for other reviewers’ kind words. I’m also getting tremendously encouraging feedback from readers. I hope some of them will be inspired to nominate Trail of Storms for a Whitney Award (http://whitneyawards.com).

I’ve started a new blog where my characters can pop in and chat with me. It’s at http://charactersinmarshashead.blogspot.com. My website is at http://marshaward.com and my regular blog, “Writer in the Pines,” is at http://marshaward.blogspot.com. I hope your readers will come visit me!

Thanks for a wonderful read Marsha! Trail of Storms is available through Amazon.com.

No comments: