I had the distinct privilege to connect with this author through several of my author friends. She is a strong and passionate writer who makes up half of the writing duo known as The Elizabeths. I was so happy that she took the time to answer my questions.
Lindsey: Your upcoming novel, Innocents, is written with your writing partner, Sarah Elizabeth. What was your biggest challenge writing with another person?
I would never have guessed this, but actually writing Dusty was the easy part; it’s the rest I struggled with.
There’s a lot that goes into designing, marketing, and publishing a book. Every day it seems like there is one more thing that I didn’t know needed to be done … such as ISBN numbers. No joke, those silly little numbers gave me stress hives on my legs, but ISBN numbers are important and can’t be overlooked.
The blurb is something that kept me up at night. And my author bio. Those things are trivial, but they mean everything in the end. Any writer working by themselves can probably confirm that. Now, include a second person into the equation who has equal say on everything, and imagine the stress. More so because we had to create an actual business and get ourselves licensed and write up a contract.
Of course, the sleepless nights are worth it. Dusty is worth it. But it’s hard.
Lindsey: What is your writing space like? What do you need around you to get the words flowing?
Mary: I can write almost anywhere. As a mother of four, it’s never quiet in my house. My Pitbull, Dusty, sits at my feet, and my Chihuahua, Bella, insists sitting on my lap, Jason, my husband, likes to stay up with me while I write, and he chews ice and slurps bowls of cereal. It drives me insane, but I’ve become accustomed to the crazy that is my life.
Right now, I’m writing this at the salon where I work, between clients, on my iPhone.
The times I get to sit at my computer desk—in the corner of my room, in front of the window facing my backyard—are rare. And I find myself easily distracted if I’m alone in a quiet room while writing. I usually turn the TV on to the ID channel or something. Music, I can listen to before I open a document, but I can’t as I’m typing.
A bottle of water is a must. And more times than not, I’m writing up a chapter or working on edits on the couch, so I have a cushion-top thing to set my laptop on. It’s actually my daughter’s, and it’s fuzzy pink. But it works.
Lindsey: I haven't had the pleasure of reading Innocents yet, but all the chatter I hear is that everybody loves Dusty. Tell me what makes Dusty tick?
Mary: In my honest opinion, I don’t think it has a single thing to do with my co-writer and me. LOL.
Dusty has turned into this … force. We gave him a voice, but the love the readers have for him is out of my hands and bigger than me. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve been lucky enough to witness. My mind still hasn’t wrapped around the fact that I’ve created this monster that brings people to tears, you know?
And is it really any one thing? From the countless conversations I’ve had with the readers, they love everything about the book—even the heartbreak.
I know I wrote it from a raw, true place. It’s not easy to expose your soul, but that’s exactly what I did.
From what I can see, it’s appreciated. By most.
Lindsey: Innocents has a bit of controversy surrounding it because of an issue of another writer plagiarizing the online version. What made you and Sarah Elizabeth decide to go ahead and publish this story? What have you learned from going through the experience?
Mary: What happened is unfortunate. Not only did the unnamed author allegedly plagiarize Dusty, but she also plagiarized scenes from my fan fiction Pickup Truck. To see your words claimed by someone else is not a good feeling, but it happens so often, what can really be done? For me, it says more about the thieving writer than it does anything else. Our readers totally rallied up and came to our rescue. Anyone right minded, and I don’t say that lightly, knows Dusty does not belong to the person who stole it.
But on the flip side, a lot of good came from it too. It’s common knowledge that my co-writer and I were in a difficult spot personally when the controversy around the alleged plagiarism surfaced, and at that point, Dusty wasn’t going to be published at all. It had been almost a year since the online version had completed, so I was mostly at peace with that decision. When Dusty was plagiarized, it brought Sarah and me together, and now Dusty is a month and a half away from its release date.
There’s no way to name every single person who came to our defense or every person I’ve created genuine friendships with, but a lot of them are people I didn’t know before this. Readers who had never read a word of fan fiction read Dusty the fic and loved it enough to tell their friends. And I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with my editor, Max Dobson, and my cover artist, Ari from Cover it! Designs.
I feel sorry for the author who plagiarized Dusty. I hope she finds peace, and I truly hope she eventually forgives herself, because even though I’m upset, I forgive her.
Lindsey: Give me the lowdown. Who is Mary Elizabeth?
I like to think I’m doing my best. Maybe I don’t know who I am yet. I think I’m still figuring it out.
Favorite Food? Tim-Tams!
Favorite Color? Pink. Just pink.
Celebrity Crush? Deborah Anastasia. The way she describes the way she smells is sexy. LOL!
Dream Vacation? I’ve always wanted to go to Bora Bora.
Twitter or Facebook? Lately, Facebook.
Iron Man or Thor? Optimus Prime.
Favorite Season? True Blood. Season One.
Best Alcoholic Beverage? Lime margaritas. Blended. No salt.
Mary Elizabeth is an up and coming author who finds words in chaos, writing stories about the skeletons hanging in your closets. Known as The Realist, she is one half of The Elizabeths—a duo brave enough to never hide the truth. Her anticipated debut novel Innocents (Dusty #1), co-written with The Poet, Sarah Elizabeth, will be released July 14, 2014. Inspired by the broken lyrics of a single song and the idea that monsters have softer sides, “Dusty” was originally posted for free and had been read over a million and a half times. Working day and night, the authors hope that the published edition will be just as loved.
Mary was born and raised in Southern California. She is a wife, mother of four beautiful children, and dog tamer to one enthusiastic Pit Bull and a prissy Chihuahua. She’s a hairstylist by day but contemporary fiction, new adult author by night. Mary can often be found finger twirling her hair and chewing on a stick of licorice while writing and rewriting a sentence over and over until it’s perfect. She discovered her talent for tale-telling accidentally, but literature is in her chokehold. And she’s not letting go until every story is told.
Find Mary Elizabeth
Thanks again to Mary Elizabeth for granting me this interview. I'm really looking forward to reading Innocents and learning what Dusty is all about.