Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Mary McPhee has been writing for a long time. She first began with journal keeping but used the third-person voice. Then she wrote humorous pieces about her family, many of which were published in newspapers and magazines. She turned this autobiographical material into novels, giving her imagination free rein, embellishing her characters and plots. However, several of her novels, like “The Woman Who Lived to Be 150,” are definitely made up. Her latest book on Kindle is a suspense novel about a young interior decorator. She has several more novels ready to go on Kindle. Her writing style is kind of literary but very accessible, humorous more often than not. She spends most of her days writing, and probably will have to have the pencil pried from her hand.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Mary’s latest book is “Flowers in a Window.” It’s about a young interior decorator whose great talent is visualization, the ability to see the “after” of a “before” scene. A horrific happening in her life sends her in search of a refuge that at first exists solely in her imagination. She makes it come true and finds peace until a stranger comes to disrupt that peace. This book was inspired by an inexplicable flash of the imagination of the author. In other words, nothing in real life.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Mary always wrote by hand in pencil on notebook paper. She felt that using the hand in this way stimulated the brain. But of course it all had to be typed. She vowed to train herself to write directly on her computer, and what a difference that has made in her production. She used to get up at 5 a.m. to write, with black coffee beside her. Now it’s a little later and she uses a splash of cream.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
The great Russian writers have influenced Mary, especially Tolstoy. She likes Irish and English authors, especially their mysteries. Grisham is great, so is Alice Walker with “The Color Purple.” Other influences: Ann Patchett, Harper Lee, Hemingway, Fitzgerald. Eudora Welty.
What are you working on now?
A funny book called “The Algonquin Book Club.” It’s a literary fantasy set in the famed Rose Room (formerly called Oak Room) of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. Women characters from classic fiction meet to hold a book club.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
This is a difficult question to answer because book promotion is very hard, almost the last thing a writer wants to do. This present site is wonderful, very writer-friendly, and well-run. More study is needed by this author on this important subject.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Have confidence in your ability and keep writing constantly to improve it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Just get the story down at first, all the way to the end, then go back to edit. But don’t stop on the way, it’s risky to do.
What are you reading now?
“The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson
What’s next for you as a writer?
Enjoying the fruits of my hard work.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
“War and Peace” (it will fill up the time), “The Great Gatsby” (wonderfully structured), and something inspirational and life-affirming like “The Lives of the Saints.”