Q&A with Marie Ferrarella
CARRYING HIS SECRET
- How does it feel to be releasing your 250th book?
It feels unreal, like any second, I will wake up surrounded by all the rejection slips I received (and held onto) before my first sale. When I really have time to think about it, I get very excited. It’s that walking-on-air feeling.
- After so many novels, how do you continue to come up with original and exciting plots and characters?
It just happens. I always refer to my going to write as sitting down and making magic because writing is a magical process. I hear something, see something and suddenly, it becomes a whole book. Case in point, when my kids were little and I picked them up from school, they were fighting in the back seat. Trying to quiet them down, I didn’t come to a full stop at a stop sign. Two seconds later, I was being pulled over. The patrolman took one look in my back seat, said I had enough to deal with and let me off with a warning. He became the hero of Borrowed Baby. You just never know where the next book is coming from.
3. What are the three ingredients that make up a perfect romance story?
A strong hero (with a soft center he might not want to own up to), a strong, snappy heroine and my first requirement—natural sounding, quick dialogue. When I am particularly lucky, the characters talk in my head and I just try to keep up (case in point, It Happened One Night).
4. If you could choose one literary hunk to come alive and jump off the pages, who would you choose?
I am married to a hunk, so the need for that has never been great. However, if I had the power to have a hero come to life, it would be Rhett Butler. He really deserved someone so much better than Scarlett. He was strong, kind, thoughtful and he grew as the story unfolded.
5. Do you have any writing rituals or quirks?
I have a schedule, but not a ritual. I like to break up a chapter into very rough draft, then going over it to double the length (from 10 pages to 20 if possible). I do a chapter a day until it’s done, then go back to the start and take about 3-4 days to go straight through tightening, fixing, etc. I do love buying pens and unique looking pads (in school supplies, the ones with the cute covers). To me, a new pen and pad represent endless possibilities for storytelling. I am also fortunate in that I can write any place, any time and have done chapters in 10-20 minute increments. Better to write something than nothing.
6. What is the first book you remember reading by yourself as a child?
In second grade, when I first discovered the library (it was a class field trip), I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We each received a temporary library card and I took out a biography. There was a line of books that illustrated their books with shadows or silhouettes (now there’s a coincidence) and I don’t remember what they were really called but I always referred to them as “shadow books.” The first one I read was: Jessica Fremont, Girl of Capitol Hill. I was so taken with the name (I’d never heard it before) that I “held” onto it until I had my daughter. Sadly, when Jessi was born, that had become the name for girls. She had 3 other “Jessicas” in her kindergarten class and there was even a Jessica F besides her. Loved biographies, especially about women (this was pre-Women’s Lib Movement).
7. What are three things about you that might surprise your readers?
English is not my first language. I spoke Polish and German until I was four. I learned English watching John Wayne westerns on channel 13 (in New York) and twanged when I spoke for the first couple of years. I was determined to speak well and by 6th grade, the teacher thought I came from England because I enunciated so clearly.
My husband is my first boyfriend, my first love, my first everything. I met him when I was 14 (he sauntered into my 2nd period English class, dressed all in black—Fonzee before there was a Fonzee). We started dating when I was 18 and have been married forever.
I didn’t want to be a writer at first. I wanted to be an actress. Since there were no good parts for women in those days, I started coming up with stories with strong heroines I hoped to someday play.
8. What are you working on for your next book?
Currently working on three books (in different stages) at once. I love the Cavanaughs, so I’m making notes for their next book, plus I have a couple due before that one so I’m doing an outline for another Forever cowboy series as well as working on a continuity book I was tapped for. I am busier than God—and loving it.
9. What’s on your reading list right now?
I hardly get time to read any more. I have a current Mary Higgins Clark book and a James Patterson book (his Michael Bennett series) on my nightstand as well as a book about the Secret Service. I love mysteries.