Exclusive Interview with
Marilyn L Davis
Let’s start with your Career as a writer!
When did you start writing?
I started writing at age nine in a diary. My pediatrician suggested this to my mother as I was bullied in school, and he thought that getting my feelings on paper would help. It did, but I also discovered that I liked to write stories - where I was always the heroine.
What makes writing your passion?
Passion for any topic or activity is what drives most of us. As Editor-in-Chief at my two blogs, From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink, I am still amazed at the power of words to heal, inform, entertain, and enchant. Editing and writing other writers is something that I thoroughly enjoy. Writing my memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, was a cathartic experience. From that, I wrote Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook to share how finding the right mindsets and learning the mechanics of a memoir would help them create a memorable memoir.
How long have you been writing?
I have written for over 64 years, if I count the diary/journal writing. However, I've only written publicly for nine years and published two books this year. That's a long history, or it took me a long time to get comfortable with my words out for public scrutiny - not sure which—she smiles.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I felt an enormous amount of relief and anxiety when I finished my memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate. I'd been encouraged for years to write about my addiction and recovery and opening North House, a residential facility for addicted women. But putting it to paper was after I closed the house after 21 years. My anxiety was due, in part, because I wanted to be authentic and not blame others for my actions in my addiction. But, judging by reviews and comments on Amazon and Goodreads, I accomplished what I set out to do with it.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I rarely write fiction. However, I do have an ongoing character, Nana Jane. She represents all the things I wish I could have been in my addiction concerning my daughters. She writes letters to her grandchildren and encourages them to be themselves, find their passions, and make a difference in the world. She gets positive comments on Two Drops of Ink when I write a Nana Jane post.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
I'm annoyed that so many excellent writers languish in obscurity. So I've made it my mission to promote new and seasoned writers at both of my blogs. The reality is that when we share other writers, it gives readers an idea of who we are, too, so it's beneficial to both writers.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
As a substance abuse counselor, I don't have the luxury of saying I'm blocked today, so I shy away from using writer's block when I'm struggling with a post, edit, or next chapter. However, sometimes it's the writer's glut, not block, that keeps people stuck—too many ideas, topics, or interests. Each writer finds their way; mine is to stop, take a deep breath, close my eyes, get centered and ask myself if I'm stuck or too full. The answer comes, and then I write.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I always tell new writers not to label themselves as a newbie, wanna-be, or aspiring. If you're writing, you're a writer. Write, revise, edit, and proof - then send it for publication - somewhere, in fact, anywhere that takes guest posts. There's something magical when you see your first writing online. It's encouraging. Next, hone your craft. Read all you can about excellent writing and improve - and keep submitting.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
This, too, shall pass. You're going to be an adult for a lot longer than you are a teenager, and you'll be judged differently in the real world. So go for it, girl. Follow those dreams, and don't get sidetracked.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I read my reviews. So far, they have all been favorable. However, I've been corrected on posts on both blogs. If it's constructive, I take note and make changes where appropriate. But, in the end, their opinions are just personal observations, and I try to learn from them.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
A good review means that the reader was engaged, found value in the writing, or could relate. If so, then I've done my job as a writer, and I'm pleased.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I haven't written a novel, but a memoir, which included years of personal experiences.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
Skip - if I write a novel, I'm sure there will be aspects of myself in that character.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
My book covers were both done by my sister, who is an artist. Each captures the essence of the books. I think people should spend more time or money in getting it just right. We're all visual and judging from comments, people were attracted to the cover as much as the content when deciding to buy both of my books.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I prefer to interact via comments on my blogs. I think it's essential to engage in dialogue when someone takes the time to comment - whether it's a compliment or critique.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I am relieved, amazed, and excited that I've touched someone enough that they are willing to comment or promote my books and blogs.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Too many to list. Some are for pleasure - they are the storytellers; others are skilled in the craft of writing, so those authors are teachers.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I want to be a writer who touched people, made them think, helped them overcome their addiction, and made them smile. Which famous author is that?
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
A memoir has to end. So now, is there a sequel after Finding North? Possibly, and I've been encouraged to do so, so who knows?
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I'd tell a troll to get a life and move on. Or, ignore them. But I wouldn't engage in a debate - it's pointless, just as it's pointless to let an awful review ruin your day if it doesn't have merit.
What would you say to your readers?
Thank you for sharing! Let’s talk about your Personal Life!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I have 32 years in recovery. I have two adult daughters and four grandchildren who all encourage my writing. Yet, on any given day, my writing is monitored by a Russian Blue rescue named Jackson, who decides I've written enough and lays on the keyboard to tell me it's time to do something else - like get him a treat.
I'm governed by a Russian Blue rescue named Jackson.
What is your day job if you have one?
I retired as a Program Director for a men's recovery home in September 2020 and now write full-time. However, I still do one group at a women's facility to stay in touch with the struggling newcomers. It helps me as much as it helps them.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I read in my free time - for pleasure and to learn how to improve my writing. I also have about 20 plants that need tender love and care, so they occupy some of my free time, too.
Did you have a happy childhood?
No. Without belaboring it, bullying, an emotionally absent mother and a father who traveled, sibling rivalries, and starting to use drugs at age nine says it all. But, I got help in 1988, and I hope that I've used those life experiences to help others.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
At nine, we moved from Indiana to Tennessee. The teacher referred to me as the Yankee child. The kids said, "I'd rather be dead on the head than a redhead," or "Don't those spots wash off your face" - a reference to my hair color and freckles. I was miserable. As I said in another question, my pediatrician suggested I start a diary. It saved my life and taught me the power of words and that writing heals the heart.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
Yes, I'm working on a compilation with recovering people worldwide - exciting, and I hope it brings awareness of the commonalities and differences in process, substance, and activity addictions and recovery. Stay tuned...
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
I'm removed from this now as a parent, but I'm pleased with what the grandkids are learning. We talk about school in all of our conversations and visits. They are in college, high school, and middle school and are exposed to so much more than I was at their ages.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
More time. Or use what I have more constructively.
More time. To laugh, love, be kind.
More time. To learn, share, and grow.
What is your favorite music?
Too many types. I studied piano - Moonlight Sonata is still a favorite. Layla - any Eric Clapton, really - old Cream, 60's, Native American flute and drum, good background writing music - realize it's not a type, but you know what I mean. Anything that gets me moving.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I'll share mine when you share yours.