Welcome my guest, Marlene Banks. Marlene has three historical romances in bookstores right now. We will concentrate on two of them today entitled Son of a Preacher Man and Greenwood and Archer. While these stories are fictitious in nature, they teach us about a long ago era and the lessons learned. A tender love story unfolds and is intertwined against the back drop of the 1921 Tulsa race riot.
If you loved The Help, by Katherine Stockett, you will enjoy Marlene’s books. She opens a window on social issues long overlooked.
Marlene wants to give away a set of her three published books to one of you. After a drawing, our winner is Janee Campbell. Congratulations!
Ann: Marlene, I understand you have had a career in nursing. I recently interviewed another author who followed that same career path. When did you know you wanted to write books? Was the story-teller inside you begging to be revealed? Did working in nursing help you with your writing?
Marlene: I loved writing from a very young child. Although I didn’t pursue it professionally until much later in life, the love of written storytelling burned in me always. My job didn’t help me hone the craft of writing, but the human interaction with patients, who are at their most vulnerable and often extremely emotional, gave me a wealth of experience with human nature and behaviors.
Ann: Tell us about your publishing journey.You and I share the same agent, Diana Flegal. How did you meet Diana, and what made you know she was the one to champion your books? What was it like working with Moody?
Marlene: Diana Flegal is literally a Godsend to me, an answered prayer. At a time when my life was unraveling and I was ready to throw in the professional writing towel, the Lord sent Diana to be my literary agent. I won’t go into all the details of this definite move of God, but I will say the timing was perfect.
I’ll shorten a lengthy story by telling you I was ready to give up. I thought I was mistaken God wanted me to write for Him. Only because I promised a friend I’d send the manuscript out, did I even bother. I had just finished a contemporary chick-lit type manuscript and had no intentions of doing anything with it. I was whipped, defeated in both my writing journey and in my personal life. I cried out in prayer to God that if He really wanted me to write for Him, then He would have to show me in some undeniable way because I was done and I meant it. I felt I was not good enough and had made a mistake to think I could write professionally. Could I have heard his voice? I doubted.
So on promise to my friend, I went back to Hartline for the third time, and yeah, threeseems to be the charm. The Holy Spirit prompted me to choose Diana out of a list of agents. I sent the proposal to her and in three days heard back from her. I was amazed at how quickly she responded, but God knew I was on emotional life support. That month I was contracted with Diana. God showed me I was to write for Him, and that nothing with Him is impossible. He is faithful to do what He says He will do in your life; lesson learned.
After that, it was over two and half years before my first book contract transpired with Moody Publishers, but I held on because I knew what God had told me. Diana is high energy and had faith in my work. Add those qualities with her strong faith, and you have a great agent, encourager, and dear friend.Together we have learned to rely more steadfastly on the divine orchestrations of God.
Lift Every Voice/Moody Publishers has been a launch pad for my work in amazing ways. I was a hard fit in the Christian literary industry because my writing does not fit neatly into the benign antiseptic Christian fiction box. I write with a dignified raw edge, which usually gets edited. My style, often gritty, was controversial. Lift Every Voice/Moody was willing to step out of the box and give my writing a chance. For that, I am grateful. Fortunately, it has been a good thing for both me and them.
Working with the editors and staff at Moody has been a great learning experience in varied ways. Being new in the game,I had and still have much to learn. The publishing industry as a whole is changing; Christian literature is changing. Moody Publishing is changing. And, what readers demand is changing. It’s a great time to enter the arena, and I am blessed.
Ann: This historical period in Oklahoma was one marked by pain and suffering, upheaval and change. What made you choose this backdrop for your stories?
Marlene: I only learned about the riot about eight to ten years ago and was shocked such a significant event was unknown by most people. As I learned more about the prosperous Greenwood District and the devastation that took place there, I knew it was a story which needed to be told.
Ann: Are your characters strictly born of your imagination or are they pieces of people you’ve known or cared about?
Marlene: Both. They are born of my imagination and from the cache of people I have experiencedin life. Fiction writers tend to write pieces of themselves or others they know. I am no different. I take a bit of something familiar or characteristic and expand on it in my imaginary zone.
Ann: Was there a time when you felt God was directing you to write these stories? How did God inspire and encourage you through the process?
Marlene: Each manuscript I’ve written was inspired by God, and I am certain the Holy Spirit has guided me through creating them. The Holy Spirit gives me the ideas then pours the story into me bit by bit.
Ann: What is a typical day like for you? Do you write early in the morning? Late into the evening? Do you have a home office or a favorite place to be creative?
Marlene: All of the above.I am an early riser most of the time, andI’ve written as early as four in the morning. I have also been known to write late into the night. My writing time hinges on my schedule, my drive, and my energy level. To be creative, I need quiet. And, I need my guide, the Holy Spirit.
Ann: As we see your main characters grow throughout the two books, I find that this is more than a love story but a story of redemption. What lasting message do you want Benjamina and Billy Ray to portray in the minds of your readers?
Marlene: In all things, at all times, good or bad, trust God. Make Him central in your life, and in all areas of your life, including the romantic, the financial, and the social. Allow Him to shape your relationships.
Ann: I will feature an overview of your books, but tell readers how they can find you and your books.
Marlene: They can access my website at marlenebanks.com and find Author Marlene Banks on Facebook.
Ann: Thank you so much. I pray for your great success as you continue to write and publish, Marlene. God Bless.
Leave a comment for a chance to win Marlene’s three books!