Today, please welcome author Markie Madden. She had several books published in 2014 but today we are talking about Once Upon a Western Way.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello there! I’m Marguerite Madden, but my friends and family call me Markie. I’ve been married for 20 years and have 2 teenage daughters. I also have 3 rescue dogs that live in the house, and my horse, who is a Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred crossbreed (and she wishes she lived in the house!)
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born August 19, 1975 in Midland, Texas (birthplace of President Bush), but now my family lives in the small country town of Fisk, Missouri, population 326. No really, that’s what the sign says! But we’re only 17 miles from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, which is a larger town of 19,000 something.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I first remember writing at a young age, something like 4th or 5th grade. The teacher gave everyone a spiral notebook, and every day she would draw some kind of squiggle on a new page. The assignment was to finish the doodle into a picture and write a short story about it. My novel, Once Upon a Western Way was actually written when I was in high school, and I’ve been working on it ever since.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I first considered myself a writer in high school in Flushing, Michigan. All my friends and classmates knew that I wrote stories, and every day they would come in asking if I had any more pages. We ended up passing sheets of notebook paper all over the class, so they could read what was in store for the characters next. I also attended a young writers’ conference at the urging of one of my English teachers, who, I’m sad to say, has passed away recently.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
Once Upon a Western Way is based on a game that my best friend and I used to play when we were children, so the two main characters of Susan and Joseph were based on us. A lot of Susan’s emotions and dreams in the book were actually mine, but of course hers all came true (my best friend was my first love, but he didn’t reciprocate).
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I have three ongoing projects at the moment, and I know that sounds like a lot. My three current books are in production for audiobook format, and I’m just waiting for the files to approve. So that pretty much runs by itself. I’m also working on a crime novel called Triple Heist. Here’s the book blurb for it:
Allison McGwire is the head of security for the Federal Reserve Bank in Baltimore, Maryland. She’s one tough cookie who heads her team with an iron fist. Behind the scenes, she and on-again-off-again lover Josh Campbell have a plan to rob the bank of millions. But they can’t do it alone. Can Allison convince Charles O’Donnell, her newest employee, to join the heist? Or is there another reason Charles charms his way into her bed, and her heart?
I’m also working on a crime series called The Undead Unit Series, book One is called Fang and Claw, and here is the blurbs for those:
It’s a world where supernatural creatures (Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, and more) live and work among humans. Of course, the government has forced them to take the Undead Oath to gain citizenship; they must not prey on humans for food. They’re given tasks in jobs suited for their species, but just as among humans, there is a criminal element.
Fang and Claw: Lacey Anderson is a detective for the Dallas Police Department. She’s also a Vampire with a great distrust of Werewolves since the destruction of her coven by a Wolf pack hundreds of years ago. Lacey’s just been put in command of an elite squad dedicated to solving crimes involving species of Undead. Colton Scarber, her unwilling partner, is a Werewolf with anger management issues. His ancestors were the ones who killed all of Lacey’s covenmates, but she doesn’t know that yet. Will they figure out how to trust one another and work together, or will the Undead Unit be doomed to failure from the very start?
Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Since I battled cancer last year, I’ve been forcibly removed from the “traditional” workforce, so I basically write full time. Well, I’m writing and marketing, since I’m self-published and don’t have the might of a big publishing house behind me for support. I’ve founded Metamorph Publishing as a platform for publishing my books, and I’m working with two other indie authors and an illustrator as well. I’m trying really hard to divide my day into two sections: morning and afternoon for marketing and social media, and evening and night for writing (I’m a natural night owl, and suffering from fibromyalgia and cancer leftovers doesn’t help my insomnia any!), and I’ve found I’m more productive with writing this way. My house is usually quieter late at night!
What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)
The best advice I’ve ever been given (and one I pass on to all aspiring authors) is to NOT GIVE UP. Even if you can’t manage to publish right this minute, never give up working toward that goal! And I’m really not sure I’ve ever been given bad writing advice from anyone.
What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
What I love most about being a writer is watching or knowing that others are enjoying my stories. I’ve recently received a review on My Butterfly Cancer where the reviewer said, “I cried in sadness and in joy.” And it’s those kinds of things that make me feel good as a writer, to have evoked such strong emotions in a reader. For me, the worst part of being a writer is the public appearances, signings and so on. I’ve always been uncomfortable being the center of attention, and I’m not comfortable embellishing myself to others. I write a horrible resume ha, ha!
How do you conceive your plot ideas?
The ideas for my last 3 books, in the Undead Unit Series, were conceived just as I was falling asleep. In fact, the third one happened just last night. As I said before, I don’t sleep well, so I like to use recorded MP3 meditations on my phone to help me relax and sleep. Just as I was nearly asleep, the idea popped into my head, and I grabbed for PostIt notes I always keep on the night table. I used my phone screen glow to jot down the ideas (so I wouldn’t wake my husband with the light) because I knew if I didn’t, I’d forget.
How did you come up with the title for Once Upon a Western Way?
The title stems from the Western Empire, which was the name of the empire of kingdoms in the story. I wanted to use “Once Upon a Time” in some manner, so I combined the two for a title.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
My favorite character is Susan, the unwilling princess. She narrates the story and she was based on myself: my dreams, desires, and so on. She’s been placed into an arranged marriage by her parents, without ever having met the prince she’s destined to marry.
Maybe the only character I dislike it the ruler of the kingdom of Meaniastoute, but I can’t say much more without revealing a spoiler!
Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?
The most tense scene in the story is when Princess Susan is willingly “kidnapped” by the ruler of Meaniastoute, as a means of getting under his guard and destroying him, freeing her people. But she must go alone, and leave behind her lord and love, and doesn’t know if she’ll survive to see him again.
What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?
Endings are always the hardest part to write, for me. I want the story to just go on and on and on, but most readers like a definitive ending, so it’s difficult for me to write that part.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
I usually write in bed, with the laptop. It’s quieter and more comfortable for me, though I know it’s probably not “good for” me to type a long time in such a position.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
If I could meet two authors, I’d love to meet Kay Hooper and Patricia Cornwell. Both these ladies write exceptional crime stories with major attention to detail.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
A random fact people might never guess about me: I can change my own oil. And spark plugs, batteries, alternators, and a bunch of other car parts!
Young Susan finds herself moved far away from her childhood home, and betrothed to the prince of a neighboring kingdom. She vows to hate her new husband, but when a destructive force destroys their home and family when they are young adults, he is the only one she can turn to.
Joseph fell madly in love with her the moment their eyes first met. But her prickly attitude told him that he would have to work hard to win her over. And when circumstances threw them together, he would give his own blood to keep her safe.
Together, are they strong enough to defeat the most unlikely of foes, and free their people from slavery? Or will they simply vanish into the hourglass of time, two small grains of sand lost forever to history?
You can purchase Once Upon a Western Way on Amazon.
You can find out more about Markie on her website.