Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Marilyn Gardiner: Mistletoe and Holly

Marilyn Gardiner, author of Mistletoe and Holly, is here to discuss her writing. Good morning, Marilyn. Please tell us what inspired Mistletoe and Holly.

Hello, Susan. I’d contracted with Wings for a three-book series, but when the third was published my publisher wanted a fourth to round out the four friends featured in the series. I’d always wanted to write a Christmas book anyway, and I agreed. Since books in a series need to come out every six months in order to keep them fresh in the reader’s mind, I had to write four books in two years. Usually it takes me a whole year to write one book, so this was a stretch. A friend’s daughter had just gone through a messy divorce where the children’s unreliable father, often on drugs, kept pressing for more visitation rights and privileges with the children, and the trauma she went through was uppermost in my mind. I decided to combine my favorite holiday with a painfully difficult issue – and wow! did I strike a nerve. I’ve heard from readers all over the states about their similar experiences. Series titles include: Dancing Ladies, Window on Windemere, Banjo Eyes and Mistletoe and Holly. I am extremely fortunate that all of them have won terrific reviews and several awards.

Congratulations! Could you give us a brief synopsis of Mistletoe and Holly?

I wanted, Bree, my heroine to struggle with a frightening issue and, at the same time, try to make a lovely Christmas memory for Becca, her small daughter. The traditional trappings of the holiday are thrown in to jeopardy when Bree is made the target of a stalker. She is terrified the culprit is her ex and that he wants even more than just their daughter. Ty, a childhood friend, is determined to convince Bree of his love and dependability, but due to her previous experience she’s wary of another relationship. When Becca goes missing on Christmas Eve, this precious holiday becomes a nightmare.

What other novels have you written?

Ten of my books are published by Wings e-Press. They all fall under the umbrella of romance, but they are each different. I have a paranormal, a contemporary, an historical, several suspense novels, an adventure, and an Inspirational. I’ve submitted three of them to Romantic Times and all three have been awarded four stars, which puts me next to Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz, and above Janet Dailey. A truly rarified atmosphere. My historical, Like A River, My Love, is about Verity’s trip down the Ohio River in 1778 with George Rogers Clark’s small army to capture Ft. Kaskaskia in the Illinois country. It was awarded one of those four stars I mentioned, and to date it remains my best seller.

I write every day except Sunday, but sometimes then too, if I have a deadline. A professional writer once said to me that nothing succeeds like the application of the seat of the pants to the chair. He (Paul Darcy Boles) said, “Write. Write. Write. In the teeth of the storm, by God, write.” And I do.

Where can we get these books and in what format?

All my books are detailed on my website: available in both download and POD. I also write daily devotions for Advent and Lent, which are very popular. My books can be found on my website (see above), on Wings website:, Amazon, and Fictionwise. Or, if you prefer, contact me at

I have two more books finished, but not yet sold. Thine Is The Kingdom is the story of one woman’s struggle to hold the family together when a mine waste dam breaks in W.VA and floods an entire valley. Families are torn apart, homes lost and lives will never be the same. Comanche Moon is the saga of the journey westward along the Oregon Trail. Jenny’s husband dies in a freak accident and she is left to cope alone with the hardships, illnesses, Indians and Eldon Hagemeyer who threatens the success of the entire train. When her small daughter is kidnapped by Indians, Jenny goes after her, along with the train’s guide, into Indian territory.

Your Grave Robber’s Coffee Mix, in Killer Recipes, is a favorite of mine. Thank you for submitting several recipes and for being part of the cookbook project to benefit cancer research. Do you have personal experience that prompted you to help?

Given the massive numbers of those who daily battle cancer, I’m not alone in having lost someone dear to the disease. Recently a very good friend—a writer friend—gave up the fight with cancer after several years of valiantly coping with a husband, children, illness, fear, treatment and trying to live a normal life. At my last mammogram (and I get them regularly), I asked the technician if it was my imagination, or the fact that with communication being so wide-spread today we hear about it more, but cancer seemed to be on the rise. She answered that indeed there were more cases every day, and the worst part was that no one knows why. Research seems to be the only way we’ll ever come to grips with this dreaded disease, and I am doing everything I can to hasten that day.

(All of Marilyn's recipes and those of dozens of other writers are in Killer Recipes, a perfect Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Proceeds from the book are donated to The American Cancer Society for research, and of course, the recipes are wonderful. Available at in print, ebook, and Kindle formats just in time for Christmas giving.)

Where can we learn more about you?

There is a bit more information on my website, but I can tell you now that my first office was my bed. I wrote under the covers, at night, by flashlight, and didn’t think anyone knew I harbored a consuming desire to write books. I’d walk the aisles of the tiny library in the small town where we lived, and put my finger between the books on the shelf where I was sure mine would one day live. I visited that library not long ago, and found that, sure enough, my books were exactly where I one day dreamed they’d be. What a good feeling! Where can you learn more about me? Write to me. I answer all my fan mail, and I’d love to hear from you.

From time to time I do a lot of public speaking. I go to libraries, civic meetings, both men and women’s groups, churches, anywhere they ask me, and I love to talk about my books and writing. A few weeks ago I spoke at a library in Mt. Zion, Illinois, and in a few days I’ll be speaking at yet another library—this one in Pana, Illinois. (And I sell books at all of them.) At this time of year I’m featuring Mistletoe and Holly as a possible stocking stuffer. The president of the local Rotary Club once said I was the best speaker he ever remembered listening to. And—here is a bonus. Recently, my minister-husband visited a parishioner in the hospital. Her roommate had, on her bedside table, one of my novels which she said the librarian had recommended as one she would like. These are the tidbits that make long hours at the computer, the neck and back aches, and late dinners all worth while.

Sometimes I think I write for my grandmother. In spite of only a 5th grade education, she was an avid reader. When I was about ten years old she told the entire family around the Sunday dinner table that one day I would write all the books she never could. Well, I have a twenty-four-year-old grandson who just sold his first poem. I can’t help thinking that one day he might write all the books I never could.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk to all of you. And, “write, write, write….”

Marilyn, thanks for taking the time to drop by. Now back to writing...and have a wonderful Christmas!

1 comment:

Maryann Miller said...

What a terrific interview. I could relate to what you said about your grandmother. My mother only went to the third grade in school, but I remember her being an avid reader and she also loved movies. I think she introduced me to the magic of story.