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Interview with Erika Marks about her new novel The Guest House

The Guest House  

Overview
For generations, the natives of Harrisport have watched wealthy summer families descend on their Cape Cod town, inhabiting the massive cottages along the town’s best stretches of beachfront. But when rich Southerner Tucker Moss breaks the heart of local girl Edie Wright in the summer of 1966, an enduring war starts between the two families that lasts for generations.... 

Early Praise for The Guest House:
From Kirkus Reviews: “Marks’ third novel is a textured story about the interwoven relationships of two families on Cape Cod in three different time periods. With its smoothly written, languid style, the book explores young love, social strata and releasing the bonds of the past. A satisfying read that evokes the leisurely warmth of long summer days and true connection.”

“An intoxicating blend of love, lost and found, and confronting the ghosts that lurk in our pasts. I highly recommend this beautiful story.” — New York Times Bestselling Author Karen White

“A deftly woven tapestry of love, loss, and family loyalties. Erika Marks’s modern day Romeo and Juliet is pitch-perfect.” –Wendy Wax, Author of While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

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Erika, hi welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Tell us about your new novel The Guest House.

Hello! Thank you so much for having me here! My new novel is a love letter to a wonderful summer I spent on the seaside property of a rambling, shingle-style cottage, just like the one in the book.  The Guest House is deeply romantic story about two very different families on Cape Cod—one a local family of builders, the other a wealthy summer family from North Carolina—whose lives and hearts become entangled through several generations. Set on the coast at the height of summer, it makes for a perfect beach read!

 

This is your third novel.
Does writing fiction get easier the more books you write?

In some ways, it does. In terms of the craft and structure, I feel like I’ve become a more efficient writer, better able to trouble-shoot issues that may arise in a draft earlier than I might have in previous manuscripts. But that said, some parts of writing take what they take, such as fleshing out a particularly elusive character. One of the things I love about writing is the feeling that I am constantly growing and (hopefully!) becoming a stronger writer who is better able to convey the story in my head to the page in the most compelling way possible.

 

I love how you met your husband.
Can you share that with us please?

Thank you for saying so. I am, of course, pretty partial to the story too! I was living in New Orleans with my beloved pup Olive. There is a section of the levee known as the dog park where people let their pups run along the Mississippi and I had seen my husband there with his dog and had a bit of a crush on him from afar. Then, one rainy day, we were the only ones there walking our dogs and when we met on the path, we started talking. I’m still swooning.

 

You have an eclectic career background.
Do you think this helps you be a better writer?

I absolutely do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve drawn from my professional experiences when I’m building a story, whether it’s a characterization or a plot point.

 

Speaking of your career.
When did you begin writing?
Was it a lifelong ambition?

I grew up reading comic books, and I really believe they were the start of my love for story. I remember wanting to be a writer from the time I was very young. I was fascinated to find Alexandra Sheedy’s SHE WAS NICE TO MICE in our library when I was ten and learning that she was just 12 when she wrote/published it. (Of course, I was a bit older than 12 when I got my first book contract!)

What would be the ultimate compliment a reader could give you?

There is nothing more powerful for a writer than just to know your writing has touched someone in some way—made them smile, made them feel hope, just made them feel. I treasure those responses. They mean the world.

 

You mention on your bio your cooking successes.
When you’re in your “writing cave” and under deadline do you find tending to the ordinary everyday things a challenge?
Or has time and experience made that easier too.

The beauty of never being a strong housekeeper is that when deadlines roll around and life goes sideways, a pile of laundry never looks unusually high! I wish I could say I was one of those writers who keeps it all together (they are out there—I’ve seen the evidence on Facebook!) but I invariably let chores slide when push comes to shove.  So long as I get to sit down to meals with my family, to read bedtime books and sing bedtime songs to my girls, to carve out time with my husband at night, I’m good. The dust bunnies get a free pass for a few extra weeks!

If one of your children said they wanted to be a novelist.
What advice would you give them?

To be patient, to be prepared for lots and lots and lots of rejection, but to never give up. To know when it’s time to shelve a manuscript and start on something new.  To read widely, be a consummate professional, and never burn bridges.

 

When you write do you have a set place, a set time, a set word count/day?

I always write at my desk—that’s the one constant for me. Everything else really depends. During the school year, I can be a lot more structured in terms of my time and writing schedule—but now that summer is here, it changes. I may write more at night or at odd hours. I am a firm believer in writing when you can, in scooping up those free moments and never waiting for the stars to align for that “perfect” writing period.

 

What entails novel research for you?

For my first novel, I had to do very little research actually, but for my second, The Mermaid Collector, I did a lot of research on lighthouses and period details of the late 1880s for the novel’s back story of a lighthouse keeper who eventually leaves his wife for a mermaid. For The Guest House, a friend helped me with my questions on photography. The book I’m writing now is involving research on surfing, which has always been a huge interest of mine so it’s great fun for me!

 

Erika will you be attending any events for the release of The Guest House?

Yes! The next event I’m attending will be the High Country Festival of the Book in Boone, NC, June 22nd and I’m really looking forward to it! I’m always adding dates so I hope everyone will check in with my events page on my website and hopefully I’ll be visiting a place near you! http://www.erikamarksauthor.com/?page_id=378

 

Erika, thank you for setting us straight about a few things, good luck with your new novel!

Thank you for hosting me here—your questions are wonderful and it’s been a pleasure visiting. Happy summer, everyone!