Marian, welcome to Writers on Reading! Your tagline “where the bayou meets the mountains” really describes where readers can expect your books to take them…but it doesn’t describe what I can expect to find you reading! So, as a Romance and Women’s Fiction writer, do you find yourself reading one genre more often than others?
I LOVE Women’s Fiction. It’s my go-to genre when I want to sink my teeth into a story. I love getting engrossed in stories that take me through a women’s journey in whatever adversity, challenge, or new opportunity the author chooses to put her through. I like romances as well. Many times after reading a serious lengthy women’s fiction story, I’ll read a romance novel that takes me away to a happy ending.
I also read the occasional detective/crime drama/suspense novel. I like David Baldacci, Steve Berry, and Lee Child.
Do you like plots as cloyingly warm as the bayou, or as crisp and shivery as the mountains?
I like heart-warming stories with riveting plots. So perhaps a combination of both!
Can you tell us what speaks to you as you pick your next reading experience?
The characters must sound like people I could relate to and pull for. The plot needs to pique my curiosity and be one I could get lost in. The setting must be a place I would like to visit or have visited. I love learning about new places in stories.
That’s special, and your books really do take readers to their settings. What was the most out-of-character book you’ve recently read, and what led to your choice?
I recently read The Restorer by Sharon Hinck. A soccer mom leaves her world to find herself in another world. My first dystopian novel. I enjoyed it. I decided to read it because an author I admire recommended it. So there’s proof of the importance of sharing books we’ve read and liked with our family, friends, and social media contacts. Word of mouth works!
Indeed it does. That’s one of the reasons I love these interviews, I can trust all will be great books to add to my, and my readers, to-read list. As a writer, you should know better, but as a reader, you know we all do it…so, when did you last “judge a book by the cover”? How did it work out?
Because I read eBooks mostly, it’s not as easy to buy a book by its cover. I loved Kristin Hannah’s new book cover, but the storyline didn’t seem like something I’d be interested in.
Your most recent novel, The Vigil, released a few months ago, a nice backlist of titles proceeded it, and now The Moon Has No Light is soon coming out—whew! When you are writing, does it demand your full attention, or do you find time to read too?
I’m always reading something. When I’m writing, I try to read books that are similar to what I write or the author’s voice may be similar so as not to throw me out of my rhythm.
That’s an interesting tidbit. So, what did you read while working on this latest book? If not, did you treat yourself to a book after you typed The End?
I can’t remember exactly what books I read while working on The Vigil and my latest release, The Moon Has No Light, but it would have been a book by any of the following authors: Susan May Warren, Lisa Wingate, Kristin Hannah, Sarah Jio, Francine Rivers, JoJo Moyes, Marianne Evans, Susan Meissner, or Charles Martin.
Very good authors, all. Did a book recently make you laugh/cry/sigh/shiver?
Laugh: A Table by the Window: A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes by Hillary Manton Lodge
Wow that’s a great list. I’ll have to keep it in mind. So…what was the last book you absolutely couldn't put down? Why?
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate. There was enough mystery to keep me wanting to find out what would happen next.
Sounds like a great book. Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading?
I lived at “the end of the world” in a small community on the bayou south of Houma, Louisiana. Reading was my escape so I read voraciously. I read anything I could find. Saved any money I got to buy books from the Weekly Reader flyers we’d get in school. My favorite book as a kid was Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I’m not sure it was my first but it surely has stuck with me all these years.
Sounds like reading was a very special part of your life and there really isn't anyone more qualified to write the bayou books you give us than you! When did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
As a teenager, writing became a dream. I loved books and admired authors who could take me to cool far away places and help me meet interesting characters. I wanted to write so maybe I could do the same for someone else.
A lovely reason to start writing! Has any book stuck with you recently? What created the lasting impressions?
The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes. I loved how the author brought me in back to World War II France and showed how a piece of art connected the generations. I also loved how much meaning the painting held to its owners. Loved the storyline and the characters.
With summer in full bloom, what is on your to-read list?
Heavy Weather: A Carolina Coast Novel by Normandie Fischer
And what is your ideal summer reading experience?
Sitting on my deck under my large umbrella in an Adirondack chair with a large glass of Mint Iced Tea and reading a great book. The breeze is gently blowing and my apricot Labradoodle, Chili, is nestled at my feet. Here’s a picture of my special place:
Is there a book you are looking forward to rereading?
Not really. I don’t usually reread books even though I liked them a lot. I’m usually ready for the next adventure and I like being surprised by the ending. BUT, if I would reread any book(s), it would be The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. Amazing books. They were the catalyst that prompted me to start writing Christian fiction.
I well remember those books! Very good reading.
One last question. If the protagonist in your latest book were to pick a book from today’s shelves, what do you think it would be?
There are two main characters in The Moon Has No Light, Dr. Maggie Langston would probably read the Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Laney Ellerby would read Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner.
Deirdre, thanks so much for hosting me here at Writers on Reading. It’s exciting to share with your readers!
It was a joy having you, Marian. I loved getting to know you as a reader. Folks, Marian will be visiting with us again on Dec 7 to talk about her Christmas reading and writing experiences. For now though, you can continue to connect with her---and find out more about her books!---at the lines below her bio, and don’t miss out on reading the backcover of her latest book: The Moon Has No Light. Looks like a really great plot!
Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. Her tagline, Where the Bayous Meets the Mountains, grew from both loves. She is the author of, Deep Freeze Christmas, A Cajun Christmas Miracle, Southern Fried Christmas, The Vigil and her latest release, The Moon Has No Light.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women's Fiction Writers Association.
This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle.
Buy links to Marian’s Books: http://www.marianmerritt.com/#!/cnec
Backcover copy for The Moon Has No Light
Can the adopted son of one be the abducted son of the other?
Will their search for the truth destroy them both?
For twenty years, Baton Rouge Pediatrician, Maggie Langston has lived not knowing what happened to her abducted two-year-old son. She believes he still lives. Somewhere. Somehow. When she sees the twenty-two-year-old adopted nephew of her colleague, she’s convinced he’s her long-lost son. Maggie’s allegations create upheaval in the Ellerby household and bring past secrets to light—secrets that make Laney Ellerby question her husband and wonder if her adopted son could really be Maggie’s.
Spurred by their desire to find the truth, the women embark on a journey that takes them to New Orleans, Louisiana; Fort Collins, Colorado; and a small town south of Dallas, Texas.
As they search for answers, they forge a friendship that encourages each to face the wounds of past mistakes, fears, and regrets. Before they find the truth about Maggie’s abducted son, a tragic accident threatens to steal the son they both claim. Can Maggie’s fledgling faith withstand the possibility of losing the son she believes she has finally found? Will Laney’s faith support her as she faces the heartbreaking secret from her past and the possibility of losing the son she’s raised as her own for twenty years?