Today I welcome literary writer Maggie Elizabeth Marshall to Romance Spinners. I met Maggie in the My 500 Words writing group. Maggie writes literary short stories and non-fiction articles. We look forward to more inspiring works from her in the future.
HWK: I was interested in your use of patterns in your short story L-A-C-E-Y. What fascinated you so much about Mr Greyson's obsession with the number four?
MEM: Psychology is a relatively new fascination of mine. I love the mind and all it can do and am fascinated in how things go “wrong”. The idea of obsessions is particularly interesting – how the mind can latch onto something so useless. It’s funny, because I was actually diagnosed with OCD a year after I wrote L-A-C-E-Y. I’ve learned a lot about OCD since. While that piece is highly accurate to the OCD experience, my own experience differs very much. While Mr. Greyson ruminates on the number four and is highly concerned about germs, I ruminate on imperfect social situations and whether or not I’ve hurt people. Because of this, Mr. Greyson has become a particularly special character to me. And, as for his obsession with the number four, that was an accident, actually. I picked a random number and it ended up fitting perfectly with the theme of the story – the difference between love and obsession and whether or not they’re even separable. His compulsion – counting – is actually a way to relieve his stress caused by the obsessions. The thing about OCD is that the compulsions themselves become sources of stress when their calming effect wears off, usually almost immediately after the compulsion is acted upon. It’s as painful if not more painful than L-A-C-E-Y makes it out to be.
HWK: I see you have a love of the literary genre. What draws you to this genre?
MEM:I love the idea of writing about realistic situations. I, of course, dabbled in fantasy and historical fiction, but I never felt fully comfortable until I entered the literary genre. I think there is something so fantastic about creating an outrageous situation out of something that could be real. Granted, not all literary fiction is realistic fiction. So, perhaps it is better for me to explain it this way: I love when a story does more than entertain. I love when it makes you think. When it causes you to question things you thought were set in stone. When the language itself has beauty and is crafted just as well as the story. For me, writing in a way that focuses on every tiny aspect of the craft is more thrilling than writing just to entertain.
HWK: You've got quite a few non-fiction article credits to your name. Do you have a preference of fiction or non-fiction? What is your ultimate love?
MEM:My ultimate love is fiction. I have a few half-written fiction novels I hope to publish. I love writing short stories. I write articles for fun and really enjoy it, but it’s not what drives me. Most of my creative non-fiction is driven by my circumstances in life. In fact, almost all of the short, creative nonfiction pieces I’ve had published were written during a very difficult time in my life. I can work at creating fiction, while nonfiction comes when it comes. And though I enjoy writing articles and running a blog, it is a job to me – something I must do to get by until I can publish my fiction and make that my job. But I’m lucky enough to enjoy the journey to get there!
HWK: What do you consider the greatest benefit of reading is to Humanity?
MEM:Wow, this is a heavy questions for me! I think reading provides so many things, but most of all it provides knowledge about humanity. As a fiction writer, I truly believe that fiction can portray truth in a way even nonfiction cannot. Fiction has a way of creating a story that highlights the truths of humanity, or even the existential questions of humanity. Fiction creates a story that forces readers to acknowledge these truths and questions and deal with them, when so often we are unable to see them in real life. Like L-A-C-E-Y – I hope readers question the connection between love and obsession, as well as see that Mr. Greyson may live a different truth than we do. These connections and viewpoints are almost invisible when we walk around in our own heads. We can’t read our neighbor’s mind, but we can read the mind of a character if the author allows it.
HWK: You have grown deathly allergic to dogs. What other animal do you choose to guard your property?
MEM:I think I would like a vicious peacock or a crazy flock of hummingbirds.
HWK: Preach it! If you could convince the world of any one thing, what would it be?
MEM:I would love to convince the world of the importance of kindness and awareness. We are so stuck in our own heads. We are all guilty of being selfish, of ignoring others, of thinking our issues are more important. I am guilty of this too! But kindness and awareness go such a long way. Realizing the people around us are not just props in our own play – they are real people with real minds who hurt and cry and suffer just as much, if not more than we do. If we all lived in constant awareness of others, not only would we help others, but we would be helped by others. I see it all too often: someone is hurting and their friends are more concerned about the burden the friend is upon them, rather than the pain that friend is dealing with. If we could reverse that, the world would be a much better place. The only way to relieve the burden off yourself is to also relieve the burden off the other.
We wish Maggie Elizabeth well as she embarks on her adventures at graduate school in creative writing.
Visit her webpage, chock full of really good posts, at http://www.maggieelizabethwrites.com/