Q&A: Mary Manners
In "Light the Fire," Rena Dunigan leaves behind her dream of becoming a Broadway performer and returns to her hometown with a shameful secret. There she meets Cody, who is dealing with a devastating loss of his own, yet his gentleness and patience melt Rena's resolve never to trust again. Love blooms, but Rena fears rejection when Cody learns the truth of her past.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE LIGHT THE FIRE?
I have a teenaged daughter, and I'm also a middle-school teacher. I am surrounded by adolescents who make spur-of-the-moment decisions without thinking through the consequences. I really wanted to address what happens next, and give hope that, despite some bad choices, life can still be good.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
When I was very young, I loved the picture book titled, Sam, Bangs and Moonshine, The little girl's imagination and the sweet relationship she had with her cat and her daddy really intrigued me. In middle school, I discovered The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, and my life changed forever. Oh, how I adored her writing! I felt like someone finally understood me ... the girl who would rather read a good book and write stories than hang out on a Friday night. And S.E. Hinton was young, like me, so knowing she got published really gave me hope that the same could happen to me. I read everything she wrote, and began to write prolifically.
Now, when I struggle to get inside a character's head, I read Nora Roberts. The nuances of her writing are amazing. I love the way she writes like each character has been a lifelong friend. And she has an easy, candid tone that draws her readers in, as well. And the way she weaves families and good friends into a series of stories ... all I can say is, wow!
I also love Max Lucado, and the way he simplifies the struggles of life into something palatable. It really all boils down to the basic, doesn't it? People can understand it, and relate to it. That's so important, and appealing. And I love Beverly Lewis and Karen Kingsbury for the same reason. They share very powerful messages, and enthrall me in such a subtle manner ... it's simply lovely.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
Faith gives hope, and that's really what a reader is looking for. I try my very best to relay a message that says, although we're not perfect by any means, grace and faith give hope to even the gravest situations. So hang on, because good is on the way.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Wow, I have known this for as long as I can remember. I think I was born with a pencil and paper in my hand. My earliest memory is of scribbling across a piece of paper (long before I even knew how to print real words) so I could 'tell' my story. Writing is truly a passion ... as strong as the need to breathe.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I hope my readers will get a hopeful feeling, along with a taste of romance and a glimpse of humor. I hope they'll feel a warm sense of family and love as they enjoy what I put on the page. I hope they'll ponder what they've read, be emotionally touched by it, and long for more when the final page is turned.