Marie White Small Interview

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.

What inspired you to write?
Reading books and listening to song lyrics from a young age inspired me, and like all writers, I write on the backs of every author I have ever read, of every song that tells a story. Part of becoming an author has been taking in stories, styles, points of view that have transformed me, and hopefully that process is translated to the page.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
I began writing as a kid, playing with words and their combinations, writing slice of life vignettes. I grew into fiction when I figured out what I wanted to say and what my passions were—the keys to writing, in my humble opinion. I began crafting short fiction pieces and eventually my novel, Stony Kill, and now with another in the works.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
I am a panster, as in writing just what comes by the seat of my pants—no outline, and in fact, no idea of where I am headed. My stories begin as random paragraphs that somehow come together. I then develop characters and fuss with their names, and then have them do things that define their characters. They tell the story that unfolds.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
Absolutely! My family is always there for me, believing in me even when I feel lost and hardly worthy.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Finishing!

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
Rewriting, editing, and combing out words that serve no purpose, honing this to the elemental, and creating vivid prose that paints a picture.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
Well, it was startling in many ways: It gave me confidence and wobbled my knees simultaneously. It was magical.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Laundry, dishes, cooking . . . oh, and arthritis.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
Let the good, the bad, and the in-between roll off my back . . . don't get too heady, or too down about critique. Believe in myself and my story.

Are you currently working on another book? How do you spend your time now-days?
Yes, I am writing a second novel, titled 'There Were Wolves In Poland'. It is the story of Asa Feith, a young guy from Peaks Island, just off the coast of Portland, Maine, who sets out on a journey to discover his biological family. From Nebraska to Kansas City, and along the way, Asa saves those around him, including a coywolf with whom he maintains an astonishing relationship. In the end, this is a story about moral courage, and how to gain that sort of bravery. One must fail and fall, and eventually rise from the ashes.

I work from home, and have just finished editing a memoir for Dr. Julius Dion Bailey, a philosophy professor at Wittenberg University. I have a few other editing jobs in the works, and I host a critique group that I founded twelve years ago.

I also have an alter identity. My husband and I are Santa and Mrs. Claus in the season - eleven months of the year we are old fat people, but in December, we are rock stars!

Needless to say, I have a busy life here in southern Vermont.

Have you received any accolades for your book?
'Stony Kill' has received many stellar reviews from readers from all over the country. It seems to touch people in a way that stays with them long after the last paragraph. So that is very gratifying. But as far as awards, I really haven't submitted the book for anything.

Do you have any author appearances coming up and/or are you doing any book giveaways or contests?
I send out monthly newsletter with freebies, compelling content, and fund things for readers. I am writing a short prequel to 'Stony Kill' which I will be offering through my newsletter. People can sign up here for my newsletter.

I will be speaking at the Book Club of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, in July, and I have other appearances in the works. I have been recovering all winter from a shoulder replacement, so I've had to lay low, but look for updates on appearances at https://www.mariewhitesmall.com

I am offering my free cook book titled 'Miss Euphrates Pies'. Miss Euphrates is a character in 'Stony Kill' who teaches the protagonist, Joss Rickman, how to bake the pies. The cookbook is available here: http://www.selectbooks.com/t_stonykill.html

I also do pie baking demonstrations.

Tell us more about yourself... What is your favorite childhood memory?
I wrote to John Glenn after he orbited the earth; I was ten-years-old. He wrote back!

Do you have a favorite quote?
“Shut the f*%k up, Donny!” John Goodman in The Big Lebowski . . .

Otherwise, this quote from Justin Torres’s novel, We the Animals . . . “But there were times, quiet moments, when our mother was sleeping, when she hadn’t slept in two days, and any noise, any stair creak, any shut door, any stifled laugh, any voice at all, might wake her—those still, crystal mornings, when we wanted to protect her, this confused goose of a woman, this stumbler, this gusher, with her backaches and headaches and her tired, tired ways, this uprooted Brooklyn creature, this tough talker, always with tears when she tells us she loves us, her mixed-up love, her needy love, her warmth—on those mornings, when sunlight found the cracks in our blinds, and laid itself down in crisp strips on our carpet, those quiet mornings, when we’d fixed ourselves oatmeal, and sprawled on to our stomachs with crayons and paper, with glass marbles that we were careful not to rattle, when our mother was sleeping, when the air did not smell like sweat or breath or mould, when the air was still and light, those mornings, when silence was our secret game and our gift and our sole accomplishment—we wanted less: less weight, less work, less noise, less father, less muscles and skin and hair. We wanted nothing, just this, just this.”

What is your favorite show on TV?
Political commentary of all stripes—you know, mostly so I can yell at the commentators when they get it all wrong. I’m waiting for them to call . . .

Favorite movie?
The Pianist with Adrien Brody

Favorite book?
We the Animals by Justin Torres

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Barack Obama

Is there a talent you wish you had?
Graphic artist specializing in typography—another way to create beautiful words.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I don’t know my right from my left—if you’re in the car with me and I’m driving, just point regarding turns; if you tell me to take the next left, I am completely flummoxed.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Opinionated, compassionate, and Methuselahian.