Today we’re excited to start a series of interviews featuring fellow authors and their work. Get ready to find some new favorites!
Please welcome Marilyn Shank as she answers questions from Three Writers of Romance. Take it away, Marilyn!
What genre do you write?
I write sweet romance and romantic comedy. I love reading books with humor in them and include humor in most of my books.
How long have you been writing and how many published works?
I started writing fiction in 1993 and my first book RUNAWAY BRIDE was published by Avalon Books in 1999. That was a very exciting time for me. So far I’ve had six books published. RUNAWAY BRIDE, MAKE-BELIEVE MARRIAGE, WIFE FOR HIRE and THE RELUCTANT GROOM were hardcovers by Avalon. DADDY WITH A DEADLINE and BRIDE BY MISTAKE with Amazon’s Montlake Romance are both paperback and e-book format.
Of the novels you've written, which is your favorite and why?
Ouch! That’s like asking which of your children is your favorite, ha, ha. But I’m going with BRIDE BY MISTAKE. It’s an identical twin mix-up book filled with chaos and humor as two very different sisters switch places. And my second favorite is DADDY WITH A DEADLINE. I like books with cowboys and babies in them.
Do you have a favorite character from your work?
Annie Samuels in DADDY WITH A DEADLINE is my favorite character. Annie’s a widow who is eight months pregnant with twins. Her husband, who was killed in an accident, wasn’t a good husband and he didn’t want the babies. But before he died, Brad Samuels wrote a note to his rancher friend Trent Madison asking Trent to help Annie during the last month of her pregnancy. Trent, who’s been through a bitter divorce and lives a reclusive lifestyle, is thrown into foreign territory. He tries to help Annie shop for baby furniture, paint the nursery ready, and even throw a baby shower, but the fiercely independent woman fights him every step of the way.
Where do you get your story ideas?
The idea for DADDY WITH A DEADLINE came from the headline for an article published in the Kansas City Star several years ago. It was a sad story about a young dad who had cancer. But as I thought about the title, I wondered what kind of a book I could write with that as the title. That’s how this book came into being. Not long after that, I was looking through a listing of very old movies and came across the title BRIDE BY MISTAKE. It intrigued me and I wondered what kind of story I might write with that as the title. The identical twin theme seemed the best way to go. Meg O’Malley, who owns a ballet school for little girls in a small Illinois town, is creative and right-brained, while Liza, an attorney for a high-powered Kansas City law firm, is career obsessed and left brained. While the sisters look exactly alike, they are radically different. It was great fun putting Meg into Liza’s world and having everyone, especially the hero, think she’s Liza.
Is there anyone in particular who has influenced your writing career?
The greatest influence on my writing career came from my critique groups and writers’ organizations. Without Mid-America Romance Authors, I would never have sold a book. The members of MARA taught me how to craft a story. They helped me understand the elements that go into a successful romance: good characterization and dialogue, plus internal and external conflicts and how to use them to build tension. Putting enough conflict into a story is still my greatest weakness since I’m a peace lover at heart. Sally Berneathy, Carla Cassidy, Gayle Kasper, and Judy Rice taught me how to improve my writing skills. I’m an active member of Mid-America Romance Authors, Heartland Romance Authors, and Romance Writers of America.
What do you do when you're not writing?
My husband and I like to travel. We’ve been privileged to take several trips to Europe, a trip to China, and three cruises. I love hanging out in libraries and bookstores and enjoy eating out with my husband and family.
What's one thing about you that most people don't know?
Most people don’t know that I’m a licensed amateur radio operator with a General Class license.
What's next on your writing journey?
I always have several books in the making. I’ve just completed two manuscripts and I’m querying publishers about them right now. I’ve also written BRIDE BY CHANCE which is the attorney-twin’s story. This book is the flip side of BRIDE BY MISTAKE. Liza spends time in a small Illinois town where everyone thinks she’s Meg. I want to write another romantic comedy and I’m tossing around a few ideas right now.
Where can we find your books?
You can find all six of my books at www.marilynshank.com. All my books are for sale on Amazon but since there are several Marilyn Shanks that write, it might be easiest to go through my website. And I am also on Facebook.