Michael: To retire and become a writer was the right decision at the right time. Coming to
North Idahowas determined by other considerations. Here in I have made some great connections with other writers and learned a great deal. Such opportunities were also available in Colorado and in some ways better than here in Idaho. I do not regret the decision to come to Coeur d'Alene. Coeur d’Alene
Michael: I have two more North Idaho Ghost stories. One is being revised and the other edited. Today my attention is on them but other stories are always in my dreams. I had planned on publishing ten books. I have four and soon will have six but that may be the end of my publishing career. I planned everything but allowed for change. My first plan was to write 10 novels in 10 years and then market the best of them. After a few tries at marketing my first novel I turned to self-publishing and that changed everything. I stopped reading Writer’s Digest. Now I was free to write the stories I wanted to write in the style I thought those tales should be told.
All I know about marketing is if the story takes place in Harrison, Idaho, market it there. - Michael Marsden
The journey to be a good writer does not end with the first published book. I must strive to make my next novel better than my last and to do that I know that I need an editor. - Michael Marsden
An interview with Michael Marsden
1. Tell us about SAM D’BEAR, and about your writing. In this novel, Sam d’Bear, a big Newfoundland dog, comes into David Montgomery’s life by accident and makes a home for himself. This is not the story I started to write fifteen years ago. At a writer’s conference in Boise a literary agent told me that if I want to write the story. The dog took over; and by the end of the story I didn’t care if the arsonist was stopped–I just wanted the dog to come out all right. When Gray Dog Press started up in Spokane in 2009, I submitted the story to them and it was published this year. It was clearly a case of having a novel ready when an opportunity presented itself. I also have a series of North Idaho Ghost stories. Two have been self-published and two more are in revision. In a series of ghost stories the common thread is not the protagonist but the location. All four stories take place in small towns in North Idaho. The history of the towns always plays a role in the ghost stories.
2. You draw heavily on your own experiences in your work–from the landscape of the West to having a son in the service. Do you feel that your writing helps you reflect on these experiences and identities? Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” Instead of applying that to the main plot I apply it to individual relationships and scenes within the story. I never write about a place that I have not visited–it is not enough to read about a city, a river or a mountain. As for characters in the novel, I try to have someone in mind when I write. My wife, my sons and my daughter and now one of my dogs have all found their way into my novels. Experiences from my past greatly influence scenes in my novels most often these are well planned but sometimes I am surprised. After reading THE HOUSE IN HARRISON, my older brother told me about a weekend our family spent in an old house in Virginia. He and I explored the house and spied on the rest of the family from behind closet doors and under counters. I was four at the time and I didn’t remember doing this, but I could see the pattern in the story I had written.
Sarah Cypher, editor and principal since 2003, served as a university press editor for three years and as a freelance writer and editor for over ten. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, Phi Beta Kappa, from Carnegie Mellon University and her writing has most recently appeared inCrab Orchard Review and The Oregonian. She is a community workshop facilitator and member of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. Sarah can be reached at http://www.threepennyeditor.com. She offers: