Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been a writer forever. I’m one of those people who can’t not write. However, I decided long ago I wanted to keep writing as the fun and passionate vocation that it is, so I have always had a day job to pay the bills; allowing me to write whatever, whenever I want without pressure. Currently I work for the National Observatory and I’m on a team that is building a large telescope in the Chilean Andes. I live in Arizona with my husband and an Airedale terrier, and I’m also a certified hypnotherapist. Nothing like a little variety!
That’s an impressive job. I agree that is a variety of credits to your name. With so much going on, what inspired you to write? What type of genre do you write?
I write in multiple genres; whatever story gets stuck in my head and needs to bleed out through my fingers onto the paper. I’ve got 10 novels and they range from action/adventure to romance to fantasy to spiritual to satire. I’ve also written one non-fiction, the biography of my aunt who was an Army nurse and prisoner-of-war during WWII. Like I said; variety. But I found early on that traditional publishers did not see this sort of versatility as an asset. After my first two books (historical romance) were published by a NY house, I thought I had an “in” in the business, but when I switched to a different genre, I was thrown to the back of the line like a newbie. Luckily, with the huge changes in the industry and self-publishing, we authors no longer have to grovel at the feet of the gate-keepers and hope and pray they like our work.
You would think they would look at versatility as an asset for a writer. I think it’s great that you didn’t let that setback deter you from what you love to do.
Now as I understand it, you have a new book out. Tell us about it.
My new book, Stone’s Ghost, is a modern ghost story about love and loss and friendship, mistakes and consequences and redemption.
Sounds intriguing. Tell us about the main character, what makes them unique and what makes them tick.
Matthew Stone is the main (living) character. He’s a very successful small business owner with a gorgeous girlfriend and a bright future, but he has a distinct moody side to him. If you’ve ever heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s version of the Christmas song, What Child is This, there is a refrain that clearly describes Matt: Holding on, holding off, holding out, holding in. That’s my guy. When he encounters a female ghost and they become friends, he finds all his stoic defenses crumbling and he is forced to re-examine his beliefs, his relationships and the real value of life.
Sounds like a great read. What inspired you to write this book?
I got the idea one evening when I was watching Arizona Highways on TV. They did a story on the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and how it’s said that some ghosts came with the bridge when it was brought, stone by stone, from England and rebuilt over the Colorado River. I actually envisioned the story being more about the ghost’s disorientation at finding herself in the desert southwest, but I wasn’t very far into it before Matt’s barely-contained paradoxes became the main story. I love it when stories insist on writing themselves, even when it’s not exactly what I had in mind when I started.
That’s happened to me too. I wrote a book with one intention and it took on a life of its own. I think that’s when a book really take on a life of its own and becomes more than just a story.
Now tell us a bit about your other books. Were they self-published or traditionally published?
My first five books were traditionally-published, the first two by the NY house and the next three by small presses. By that time, my first two books had gone out of print and the rights reverted back to me, so I began to investigate self-publishing options just to keep them viable. I published them with my original titles through iUniverse, then discovered Create Space, Amazon’s self-publishing company, and have used them ever since. Self-publishing is a lot of work, as all aspects of the process fall to the author or a paid contractor—editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, etc.—but I find having total control to be hugely satisfying. Never again do I have to wonder what the title of my book will be, or how it will be marketed. Now when I publish a book, it is exactly as I have imagined it.
I have used both self-publishing options in the past and agree the self-publishing route is better for the author to have complete control, but have a serious drawback of having all of the editing, marketing, etc. fall on them as well.
So tell us about the other books or blogs have you written?
How much time do you have? I’ve got 2 historical (western) romances, The Rare Breed and Superstition Gold. These were my first two books and were originally published by the NY house, albeit under different titles (Love’s Savage Destiny and Love’s Savage Embrace). I always swore I would write another one and call it Love’s Savage Armpit. I’ve got 2 contemporary romances, Remember Me and Lightning Strikes. My fantasy, similar to Lord of the Rings, is The Blue Crystal. I’ve got 2 action/adventure novels, The Appaloosa Connection and Queen’s Gold. I’ve got a spiritual novel called Goddess Rising, and a satire on romance novels called The Pits of Passion, which I never thought anyone would publish. It lampoons every cliché of the genre in outlandish fashion, so I always warn people this is not your mother’s romance novel. The biography of my aunt, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan, was my last before Stone’s Ghost. My blog is at http://mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com .
Wow, that’s a lot to have written and quite impressive. You really do like variety.
Let’s change pace a little bit. Who is your greatest writing inspiration?
I had an English teacher in high school, Miss Okimoto, who was the first to encourage and support my writing. My classmates probably hated me because she would usually read my papers aloud as examples of well-written work, but she was the first to actually recognize my ability. Beyond that, I find exceptional authors to be hugely inspiring. If I’m in a funk and having trouble writing, all I have to do is read John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany or Rita Mae Brown’s Six of One and I am all fired up again. Inspired writing begets inspired writing.
I couldn’t agree more. There are certain writers or books out there that give you that spark that reignites the creative fire.
That's all the time we have for today. Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of our interview with Melissa Bowersock. Make sure to pickup your copy of Stone's Ghost; now available on Amazon.com