Marta Perry interview

» Posted on Nov 1, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Marta Perry interview

Don’t forget to email me at if you want to be entered in the drawing for A Christmas to Die For.

1. What made you start writing? I’ve been making up stories in my head for as long as I can remember. When I first discovered the Nancy Drew books, I was entranced. Unlike most little girls, who want to be Nancy, I wanted to be the author! That’s the first time I can remember realizing that a real person sat down and wrote those stories that I loved, and that seemed to me to be the most wonderful, magical job in the world. It was a long time before I actually started writing stories with the aim of publication, and longer still until I held one of my books in my hands, but that’s always what drove me.

2. How long have you been writing? Goodness, more years than I care to count. I started working seriously toward publication when my children were young, and I sold my first short story to a children’s Sunday school paper in the late seventies, I think. When did you sell your first book? My first book was a now long-out-of-print juvenile novel called MYSTERY AT WINTER LODGE, which came out in 1981.

3. How do you handle rejections? Because I wrote magazine stories for a number of years, I could literally paper my office with my rejection slips. Not that I’d want to! That was good training for handling book rejection. I always started something new immediately, so that I was already in love with a new project by the time a rejection came along. Certainly I had my share of painful rejections when I started trying to break into writing adult fiction. My advice is to give yourself twenty-four hours to mope, moan, and cry, eat some chocolate, and go back to work.

4. Why do you write? I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I’m sure God wouldn’t have given me whatever gift I have unless I was intended to use it to His glory.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing? That’s a question which doesn’t compute for me. I’m always writing, even if it’s just storing up experiences and images to use in a later project. I suspect most writers write twenty-four/seven, even if only in the subconscious!

6. What are you working on right now? I’m writing a single title book, tentatively titled LEAH’S CHOICE, about an Amish woman faced with a life-changing decision when her first love, now a medical researcher, comes back into her life. Writing a bigger, longer book than my usual Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense is a different sort of challenge, and I’m enjoying it very much.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters? I suspect there’s a piece of me in every character I write, even the villains! The book I’m currently writing is always playing away in the back of my mind, even when I’m doing something else, so I can’t help but put myself into the story. And the theme is always something I care about, because otherwise, I couldn’t be passionate about the book.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now. A CHRISTMAS TO DIE FOR is a Love Inspired Suspense, and the second book in the Three Sisters Inn series. In it, Rachel Hampton, the middle sister of the three, is still recovering after nearly being killed in a hit-and-run accident when a stranger comes to stay at her family bed-and-breakfast in Pennsylvania Dutch country. She’s sympathetic to Tyler Dunn’s search for the truth about a decades-old crime, until she finds a shocking link to her own past. This book wasn’t originally intended to be a Christmas book, but my editor asked for that, and it was really a pleasure to be able to include a lot of the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish food, decorations, and customs in the story. Incidentally, I created a recipe brochure to go along with this series, featuring favorite Pennsylvania Dutch recipes from my family and friends, and if you’d like one, just e-mail me at

9. Do you have any advice for other writers? I don’t suppose my advice would be any different from that of most published writers. Read a great deal in the genre in which you plan to write. Write, write, write. I have a theory that as writers, we all have a certain amount of dreck in our systems that we have to get out. Write enough so that you get to the good stuff! Don’t settle for the first, easy idea–dig deeper and see what you can find. And give yourself time to learn your craft, to polish, to study, to find out what you have to say. There are very few overnight successes in this business! Above all, keep at it. I’ve known too many talented writers who gave up after the first rejection, or the fifth, or the tenth. You’ll never know what you could have achieved unless you keep at it.

10. How important is faith in your books? Some aspect of spiritual growth is always the central theme in each book, and a major part of my planning goes to finding ways to develop that faith aspect. I look for scriptures that explore it and insights that can come from all kinds of places. It seems that, once I start looking at a particular faith issue that I feel led to explore in a book, all sorts of examples of that begin popping up in my life. And probably they’ll all spiritual issues that I’ve struggled with myself. Or still do.

11. What themes do you like to write about? I suspect if you looked closely at the thirty or so books I’ve written, you’d find that most of them deal in some way with aspects of finding the place God has prepared for you–through family, belonging, forgiveness, repentence, duty.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why? To be honest, my favorite is always the book I’m going to write next. It exists there in my mind in such a perfect shape, but the moment I start writing it down, I start closing off options and trying to express the vision in my very imperfect prose. Maybe that’s what keeps me writing!

13. You are developing a three-book series for Steeple Hill’s Women’s Fiction line. Tell us about it and why you decided to do it. I’ve terrifically excited about the chance to write the Pleasant Valley books, about an Amish community in central Pennsylvania. Each book is one woman’s story–LEAH’S CHOICE, which focuses on belonging; RACHEL’S PRAYER, on forgiveness; and ANNA’S RETURN, on restoration. I’ve lived all my life in Pennsylvania (except for the winters, when I escape to the South Carolina coast!) and so the various Plain sects have always been a part of my environment. In fact, they were so much so that I didn’t realize how interesting and unique other people found them until I wrote about a midwife with an Amish clientele in RESTLESS HEARTS. The response to that book showed me that I had a wonderful treasure to explore in my own backyard, one that other people would like to know more about. So I incorporated the Amish setting in the Three Sisters Inn series, and then the opportunity came to write the women’s fiction novels. It’s important to me to represent the Amish characters as honestly and faithfully as I can. Although I am not from a Plain background, my heritage on my mother’s side also comes from German and Swiss immigrants who came to Pennsylvania in the 1700s in search of religious freedom, just as the Amish and Mennonites did.

14. What is your writing schedule like? Well, first I check e-mail! Seriously, I write every day during the week, with the goal of finishing my page allotment before noon. That doesn’t usually happen, and I’ll go back to the wip for an hour or so in the afternoon, but I can generally count on producing 12-15 pages a day. Then I take the rest of the afternoon to answer fan mail, do interviews, work on promotional materials, do edits, and all the other things that fill up an author’s day in addition to composing. Often I also put in several hours on Saturday, especially if I didn’t finish my page goal for the week. When I receive a new contract offer, I sit down with the calendar and block off the coming months, figuring in time for trips to see my beautiful grandkids as well as holidays, conferences, etc. Once I’ve committed myself to a deadline, I’ll do anything I have to do to meet it. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to write fulltime now, but there was a time when I had to fit the writing in around the day job, kids’ schedules, etc. Women learn to be good jugglers!

15. For Love Inspired you write for both the regular line and the suspense line. Which one do you like to do the most and why? I really love the opportunity to switch off in the types of books I do. That sounds like I’m waffling, but I’m not. When I was writing only Love Inspired, I felt that I was in danger of becoming stale, so I welcomed the chance to write suspense as well. But after I’ve written three suspense novels in a row, which is my current routine, I’ll feel as if I need a break from that. So while this wouldn’t be right for everyone, it seems to suit me very well.