Interview With Author Marla White
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I got a late start in the author business, not publishing my first book until I was 58 back in 2021. Don't get me wrong, I've been writing since I was a kid, but I kept my stories safely tucked away. Thanks to an author friend's support I finally submitted a book. I got the email from The Wild Rose Press on April Fools Day that they wanted to contract for my novella to be part of their Cookie Book series, so I was a little afraid it was a prank! Between my self-published books and the ones at Wild Rose Press by the end of the year, I'll have two novellas and three full-length books to my name.
I worked in television development for a number of years and continue to coach screenwriting clients as well as teach story analysis at UCLA.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My book coming out in October is "Cause for Elimination." It's a murder mystery set in the world of equestrian eventing. I'd written it several years ago and with the encouragement of my Wild Rose Press editor dusted it off, tightening the story up in ways I never thought of.
A huge fan of Dick Francis growing up, I loved his mysteries set in the horse world. I used to be an eventer – a very, very low-level one, mind you – so it occurred to me that would be a fun place to set a story.
The title was inspired by the one and only time I actually read the US Eventing Associations' rule book rather than just relying on my more organized friends. At that time, every infraction of a rule was said to be a "cause for elimination".
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I was fortunate enough to be a part of a business meeting with the great Janet Evanovich, who said she got up at 5 am to write. Considering the woman is a huge bestseller, "successful authors get up at 5 am" became my mantra when I didn't want to get out of bed.
I typically prefer writing in the morning and re-writing in the afternoon. I'm strictly a 'write on a computer' kind of gal. I can barely read my own handwriting, so the idea of pen an papaer makes me shudder.
I still just write using Word, but one of these days I want to try some of the programs like Scrivener and find out what all the fuss is about.
Finally, I'm definitely a plotter. Godspeed to all your pantsers out there, but unlike real life where I never look at a map, I need to know where my story is going.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Like I said, Dick Francis was a huge influence as well as Janet Evanovich. Robert Parker was a master and I love his voice. Louise Penny is a more recent discovery – my God her writing is beautiful!
But I also write very grounded urban fantasies so Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, the brilliant writing team that is Ilona Andrews, and the legendary Neil Gaiman have inspired me.
However, the writer who really got me thinking about story and character was the one and only Leslie Charteris. His "Saint" books remain a prized possession and a joy to read.
What are you working on now?
So many things!
The follow-up to the series that started with "The Starlight Mint Murder Mystery" novella is at the top of the list. It's going to be a fun, cozy series involving a female ex-cop and the quirky folks of a small mountain So Cal town, Pine Cove.
I'm also working on a textbook of all things to use to teach my story analysis class. I can't find a good one that's in print anymore!
I'm a heartbeat away from getting back into editing the third Keeper Chronicle book that, as a beta reader put it, is "dark AF" but in a good way.
And I have the bare bones of a first-person mystery book that is the prequel really to the Cookie Book coming out this November.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
This is all new territory for me, to be honest. This week, with "The Angel at The Gate" having been published this summer and "Cause For Elimination" coming out, it finally struck me how important marketing really is. I just assumed nobody made any money at this until I started researching FaceBook ads vs. Amazon vs. on and on and on. It has been a terrifying learning curve of all the work that goes into promoting it, but also scary in a fun way. I look forward to meeting more people in the process of getting the word out!
And yes, I do feel a little like Wile E. Coyote when the anvil lands on his head. Duh!!! What the heck was I thinking!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write what you love. You're going to be spending the rest of your life either editing, re-writing, promoting, or talking about your books so they better be filled with characters you love and love to hate.
I'm not sure this is the best advice, but my two cents on the whole keyword thing; yes, it's important to do that research, God knows I wish I had before I committed to writing 3 books and counting in a genre that's hard to define. But then I wouldn't have written them and the thought of a world without Gabriel, Evie, Abby, and Ryan in it makes me sad. So maybe don't let the number crunching of it all play too big a role in your writing.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I'm not sure it's really advice, but someone once told me about life in general that some people are just going to expect you to fail, so don't waste one moment trying to prove them wrong. Worst case scenario is you do fail, but "they" always knew you would anyway and you go down swinging.
What are you reading now?
"Help My Launch Plan Sucks" by Mal and Jill Cooper (see the previous paragraph about "you mean you have to market it? writing the book isn't the finish line?)
I'm also really into listening to books at the moment so Nalini Singh and her Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter books are loaded up at the moment.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I would love the next step to be to at least break even as a writer.
As far as the next book I have in mind, Gabriel's brothers Lucifer and Michael have been whispering in the back of my head that they'd like their own books, please. 😀
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?
The Leslie Charteris Omnibus because it has 4 or 5 books in it and would only count as 1 LOL! Definitely the latest Louise Penny Inspector Gamache book, something funny that would make me laugh, and without a doubt a book on how to build a boat out of coconuts.
Author Websites and Profiles
Marla White’s Social Media Links