Exclusive Interview with
Mary Elizabeth Fricke
When did you start writing?
I was making up stories before I knew how to write them down. In school, I always excelled in classes where I could write assignments on paper. It's not that I began writing at any certain time. It's that writing is a vital part of me.
What makes writing your passion?
Writing is how I express myself, whether it be through a list, a memoir or journal, or a letter. Writing is how I communicate. I'm firmly convinced that if I cease to write, I will cease to breathe.
How long have you been writing?
all of my life
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Absolute Euphoria. My autobiography, Dino, Godzilla and the Pigs, published in 1993 during the 500-year flood, still stands on a pedestal all its own.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
My characters are eclectic. The only connection between any of them is that I keep my stories family and rural oriented.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Fight it. Don't give up. I've just come out of something like a seven-year slump. Serious physical problems and medical issues made keeping a clear mind and the ability to concentrate extremely difficult.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
Just do it. No one else can take those words, that fantastic story out of your head or write them on paper the way you will. So just sit yourself down and do it. Doesn't matter if you write in long-hand, short-hand, computer, tablet, or Greek. You can edit the whole thing later after you have it all out of your head and on paper or computer screen.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Slow down a bit. Don't expect so much so fast. Writing is easy but publishing is a long, winding road with a lot of ditches and drawbacks. Take the criticism with a grain of salt and keep improving as you learn.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I read them. I've been lucky that most of my reviews are good. I take the bad ones like I do anything else someone says that's negative toward me. Sometimes I wonder if that person read the book or if they understood what I wrote.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Pleased. Sometimes really flattered and humble
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I write about the rural area I grew up and have lived my life in. When I was a child family farms were everywhere. Sadly, that life has begun to diminish. As the farms have grown larger, the family presence has grown smaller. I'd like to try to preserve some of the innocence, nostalgia that was basic in the rural world I grew up in.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
none apply to this
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The book cover is very important. I have chosen not to read books with covers I didn't like. So, I try to have covers that are a direct reflection of the story in the book. In every story in the Birds in Peril Series, the primary character is compared to the bird in the title. In Pigeon in a Snare, Lex nicknamed Lisa 'Pigeon'. Robin Unaware has a gazebo where there is a robin's nest in a conspicuous questionable place. I really love the red shadowing of the cover of Robin because it creates a kind of mysterious, even dangerous aura for the little robin hopping around on the ground, a scenario reflected in the story. In the Sweet Pea Trilogy, the primary character has a double glider where she weighs her thoughts and her life. Thus, the double glider on the front cover of each story.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
Either way works well for me.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Shy. Flattered. Sometimes shocked and flustered
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I have several favorites. I follow Sandra Brown and Kim Harrison. I collected all of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's novels. Her Ashes in the Wind is my favorite historical novel. John Bowers writes the best futuristic science fiction ever. And, I hold deep admiration for Erma Bombeck's ability to poke fun at herself while carrying profound messages about the important things in life. But they are only the top of a very long and very eclectic list of favorites.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I have rewritten a couple of them. Shattered Image was created in the 1980s. When I rewrote and published it, I left the 80's theme. I cannot tell you how many times I rewrote Sweet Pea over a 20-year period. Sometimes now, I think I could write it again with the basic 60's, 70's 80's setting, but take the characters in another, completely different direction.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
None. I'm not interested in writing any other kind of anything.
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 know it happens but I've never experienced it. I would probably be angry considering that I know how difficult it is to write a book and publish it. It's wrong to deliberately trash someone else's hard work just because you can.
What would you say to your readers?
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I grew up next door to a dairy farm. My husband is a five-generation farmer who asked me if I would farm with him after we married. I said yes, and I have...for forty years. Dino, Godzilla and the Pigs is about my learning to work on the farm while raising two active sons and trying to break into the published author world. On our first date, my husband gave me lessons driving his John Deere tractor. We were married about five years before I tackled the combine. But, I tell you honestly, some of the most peaceful, most productive hours of my life have been spent driving a tractor pulling a disc, or a planter. We're not going to talk about moving hogs from the farrow to the fattening house or sorting cattle...nope...not thinking about those numerous fiascos. I was also a 4H Leader and frequent room mother while my boys were growing up. And, I am a certified catechist having taught the Catholic religion for nearly twenty years. I also coordinated my parish PSR program for fifteen years. And, I edited the monthly newsletter for the Heartland Writers Guild from 2003 to 2015.
What is your day job if you have one?
I think I'm semi-retired. I'm no longer physically able to help my husband farm as I used to. Sometimes I miss that, but it gives me more time to write.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love crafts and have done all sorts of them over the years. I used to crochet but had to stop when arthritis affected my hands. I still embroider, sew, and paint sometimes. I've always been an avid reader. These days, moments of boredom find me doing jigsaw puzzles on my computer, tablet, or phone.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
The first book I wrote remains unpublished. It's a historical novel but I have no desire to try to correct its numerous mistakes. I also have one story written in the '90s that I've never finished. It's a contemporary romantic suspense that I have never been able to choose a suitable ending for it....maybe someday.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Kids need to learn the basics. Math, Writing Skills, American English, and History. They need basic living courses such as the 'Shop' and 'Home Economics' classes we had when I was in school. I've seen too many young people in stores who cannot count simple change from a five-dollar bill. They need to learn skills away from computers. Basic math and comprehensive thinking skills without the luxury of spell-check, auto-correct, and google.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
1. Good Health for myself and my family
2. Financial stability
3. World peace as in religious, racial, and political acceptance between different peoples/countries and the ability to communicate
What is your favorite music?
There's another kind of music than Country????
Share a secret with us 🙂
I don't have any secrets. I'm just me. What you see is what you get.