Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Each Tuesday, I have the great pleasure of chatting with authors across genres about books and writing, and marketing and publishing.
Today I am very pleased to welcome Marsha Casper Cook, a talented screenwriter, novelist, editor, and writer of children’s books. Marsha, who hails from Chicago, is a radio show personality on Blog Talk Radio, which is how we met a few years back. Her World of Ink Network partner for the last five years is V.S.Grenier, an author, editor, and radio show host, who lives in Utah. Marsha’s group discussions always feature interesting and talented writers and center around writing, publishing, screenplays, and books. I love her show, and always come away with pages of writing tips.
In this interview, Marsha graciously offers readers a glimpse into the business of turning books into audio books, and I’m excited to begin.
What is your newest book’s genre?
Please describe what Grand Central Station: Some Relationships Are Just Meant to Be is about.
A famous child psychologist, who has authored several bestselling books on raising children, discovers he doesn’t know as much as he thought he did when he meets a pediatrician and mother of three. Neither of them imagined how their lives would change when they shared a flight headed for Las Vegas for a medical convention.
For Jack Winston and Victoria Feingold, whatever happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. It follows them back to Chicago.
Jack doesn’t want to fail, but he’s not sure he’s emotionally prepared to live with Victoria’s three children. Not to mention her mother, sister, dog, and needy ex-husband.
Grand Central Station is a fast-paced ride and a lot of fun!
Congratulations on Grand Central Station, Marsha! How did you come up with the title?
There was so much going on in the story, and it seemed as if Grand Central Station would be the perfect fit. A busy house with so many characters coming and going.
What inspired you to write this romantic comedy?
It’s taken from one of the screenplays that I had written several years ago and loved. It had been optioned, but never produced.
How exciting that the screenplay was optioned, Marsha. In my mind’s eye, I can see this romantic comedy on the silver screen. Best of luck!
Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?
Actually, there really were no similarities to any of the characters in my book, but I felt the family quarrels were most likely a part of any family, including my own.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Not coming up with another story while I’m working on one. I usually think any idea that pops in my head might be better than what I’m writing, but usually the feeling passes.
That’s a familiar scenario when I’m writing, as well. What is your favorite part of writing?
I enjoy the fun of not knowing exactly how my story will end. I always feel if I don’t know the ending, the reader will be just as surprised as I was when I wrote it.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?
I have been lucky to meet wonderful people all through my life that have guided me in my writing by telling me their stories, and in turn, I listened with open ears and learned how to write good characters with real problems.
Marsha, many of your books are now audio books. Could you tell us about that process? I know I’m more than interested.
One of my favorite passed times is listening to audio books. When I hear an audio book, it’s becomes a special event and very entertaining. The story comes to life, and it’s so enjoyable I sometimes wish the story could go on forever; however I do agree with the common complaint about the narration. If you like the voice behind the words, it’s such fun to imagine the setting and the story, but if you don’t, the feeling is not the same, and sometimes it’s enough to make you go on to something else. It doesn’t hold your interest.
I never thought my books would become audio books, but because of Audibles and the sharing method between the producer of the audio and the author of the book, it became possible.
The children’s books that I have on audio were a great learning experience for me. I got to hear every word and realized that after reading a book and listening to the audio, the experience is far greater than just the read, especially for children.
I urge authors and readers to give audio books a chance.
For authors go to www.acx.com
Thanks so much for sharing, Marsha. I love audio books, and would love to go down that path with my first book.
Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?
I love writing in coffee shops or restaurants when I’m by myself. That’s when I truly feel I’m completely in my characters world.
Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I’m very organized, however as a teenager I wasn’t and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I usually try to tell parents not to judge their children so harshly because life has a way of working itself out and growing up isn’t easy. Every child needs their space as do adults.
True words and great advice for parents. As a kid, my interests were varied and appeared to have no rhyme or reason to many adults. Looking back, the common denominator was creativity and a healthy imagination.
Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?
Over the years, I have learned so much from writing and doing my radio shows, which in turn gave me the best education ever on how to independently publish, and not worry that a publisher may have rejected my work. If the story is good, readers will enjoy your work regardless of who published the book. Enjoy writing and try to remember that if your book makes you laugh or cry, that is always a good thing because your readers will probably do the same.
I also feel that because things have changed over the years in publishing, authors have an open field for fulfilling their dreams. They just have to be persistent.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
It’s always good to hear your reader understood what you were trying to convey in your story, and as authors that is the best feeling imaginable.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?
I used my own judgement. Listening to too many people can end up causing a writer to feel insecure and not finish their story. Finishing the story works!
I agree wholeheartedly–finish writing the book! What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?
Usually by the time my story is written, I’m hopeful that everything worked during the journey because if I felt uncomfortable on any level, I would try to re- work my story until I got it right.
Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
My suggestion would be if you are having trouble getting an agent or publisher, find an Independent service and publish your own book, but don’t skimp on three very important aspects of successful publishing: editing, formatting, and getting the best artwork you can for your cover.
Website and social media links?
Radio Show Blog – http://worldofinknetwork.blogspot.com/
Author Blog – http://whatsnewwithmarsha.blogspot.com/
Marsha’s Website- http://marshacaspercook.com
Radio Show Website – http://worldofinknetwork.com
Where can we find your books?
A list of Marsha’s books:
Novels: Grand Central Station – romantic comedy & audio book; Guilty Pleasures series – erotica
Children’s books: The Busy Bus; No Clues No Shoes – also audio; The Magical Leaping Lizard – also audio; Snack Attack -also audio; I Wish I Was A Brownie- also audio
Screenplay (book): It’s Never Too Late
What’s next for you?
I have several projects in my head. One is to write another romantic comedy, and the other is to add to my Guilty Pleasures series.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Marsha. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know more about you and your books. I wish you the very best with your many books and audio books!
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.