Author Interview: Marion Husband

In 1998 Teesside small press Mudfog published Marion Husband’s first collection of short stories, entitled Three Little Deaths. This was followed by a run of short story and poetic publishing successes.

In 2005 Accent Press published her first novel The Boy I Love. (Reviewed on this site HERE) Its sequel Paper Moon was published in 2006. Two more followed: Say you Love Me and The Good Father in 2007. She is currently working on her fifth novel.

She holds an MA in Creative writing and is a recipient of the Northern Writers’ Andrea Badenoch Award.


SiN: Hi Marion, Thanks for agreeing to be quizzed!

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create characters that capture the imagination?

MH: I’ve always written but stopped when I was about 18 only to start again when my children were about 3 & 4.  My inspirations come from lots of sources but mainly I wanted to write about sexy men in difficult situations….

SiN: What is the most memorable and most forgettable moment you’ve encountered on the writing path?

MH: Most memorable is being rang by my present publisher to say that she was going to publish my first novel The Boy I Love – most forgettable?  I forget…

SiN: *Laughs* Are you a full-time writer?  What other jobs did you have before becoming a writer?

MH: Really I am part time, because I also teach creative writing for the Open University and various colleges and universities.  I used to be a bank clerk, I’ve also been a receptionist and data processor and one of those women who answers the phone when you have a query on your mortgage

SiN: What was your first published story? What was it about?

MH: My first published story was called The Lilac Tree about a man remembering his First World War experiences and his love for a fellow officer. This story was a spin off from the Boy I Love which I was writing at the time in its first incarnation.  The Lilac Tree can be read on my web site:

SiN: Which of your story characters do you love best and why?

MH: Paul Harris from The Boy I Love – because he’s stoical, brave and loyal and very gorgeous…

SiN: Do you have a writing routine that you follow?

MH: Yes, I write as often as I can, work, family and housework permitting – I try for 1000 words a day minimum, more when I’m racing towards a deadline as I am now.

SiN: The Boy I Love was based in the North, are all of your books based in your part of the world?

MH: Yes, they are all based in Teesside (Thorp is a mix of Stockton and Thornaby which are towns near to Middlesbrough where I was born and have always lived).  My characters often escape to live in London although they mostly come back to Thorp

SiN: Out of all your books, do you have a favourite? If not, then which one is closest to your heart?

MH: My favourite book is always the one I am writing at the time of asking…

SiN: When I was writing a 1960’s novel, I found the research every bit as hard as researching the 17th Century. Did you find the 40’s and 50’s difficult to research?  What kind of research tools do you rely on?

MH: I didn’t find the 1950s more difficult – I was born in 1961 and the early 60s were a hang-over of the 50s, I think, so I have a feel for the time.  I research mainly by reading lots and lots of books, history, biography, poetry, fiction, plays, memoirs.  Also I look up facts on the web – even in the middle of writing a sentence – yesterday for instance I looked up Herring Gull on Wikapedia…very useful it was too.  I also draw on stories my parents told me, particularly my father who fought in the Second World War and whose own father was killed in the First World War.

SiN: When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

MH: I was always up for being published – it was the main reason I went to creative writing classes in the mid 1990s so that I would (I hoped) meet people who might have a bit of influence with local publishers or a least point me in the right direction.  I was very lucky to be taught creative writing by a poet called Bob Beagrie who encouraged me to submit The Lilac Tree and two other stories to the Teesside publisher Mudfog.  I have had other teachers, especially those who taught me at Northumbria University on the MA course, who really liked my writing and encouraged me to send The Boy I Love to their agents…I have been very lucky in the teachers I’ve met…

SiN: Tell us a little about your success in getting published in the UK, most of the British authors who read Speak Its Name have had to flee to America in order to get published.

MH:It was very difficult to get The Boy I Love published because of its very strong gay theme. I sent it out to lots of agents and independent publishers and got lots of rejections, some of which were very encouraging and even flattering but all said that the gay angle was a no go especially since I was a untried writer (and probably because I was an uncool middle-aged women living in the north east).   But Accent Press, my present publisher, was quite new and innovative and liked the book for its writing style and weren’t put off by the controversial theme.  Also, they didn’t have lots of too cautious marketing people to worry them into turning The Boy down.  The Boy I Love is about to be published in the USA in February 2009, but I’ve always felt that the US market is even more conservative so I don’t hold our great hopes that it will be a best seller over there.

SiN: What did you spend your first advance on?

MH: Can’t remember – it just went into the great bottomless pit of house and kids

SiN: What do you feel is the most important aspect a new author should remember when writing/creating their own stories? Any advice for aspiring authors?

MH: Write and write and write – as much as you can as often as you can – really stretch yourself, really think hard and carefully to make your writing true to how you see the world but also to how the world actually is.  Write strong, grammatical sentences, polish your syntax so that every sentence is as elegant and clear as you can make it.  Edit and then edit again.  Then edit some more.  Remember that you should be entertaining your reader, giving hints at what is to come to draw the reader in.  Avoid all clichés, and think hard and deeply about every description, every adjective/adverb – make every word count…I could go on, but really, writers need to write a lot, and it’s hard, hard work to write something half decent.

SiN: What I particularly like about The Boy I love is the small-town ordinariness of it – despite it’s not ordinary at all. What made you take this tack? So many authors write about extraordinary events rather than such realism.

MH: I can’t really answer that – it wasn’t a conscious decision.  I write as I write, just as I look as I look, I can only hope to improve on what ever talent I have with practice

SiN: Have you ever been nervous over reader reaction when a new book comes out? How much does reader response mean to you over your books? What do you hope readers get from your books after they read them?

MH: I don’t get terribly nervous – although I was a little over Say You Love Me because I panicked that I has shown Teesside in a less than fabulous light…I love feedback (as long as it’s good…)  I hope readers are entertained by my books but most of all that they have been so entertained that they go out and buy another one of my novels.

SiN: How long does it take to write a book for you?

MH: No more than a year and usually much less – probably on average nine months, including many days when I don’t write at all

SiN: The editing process: Heaven or Hell?

MH: Both – it’s satisfying when I’m editing a finished novel for the last time before its printed, but very disheartening when I’m editing what I laughingly call a ‘finished novel’ for the first time – I end up with a m/s defaced by crossings out and scrawled, exasperated notes to myself which usually say More here!!!  (I know that it means…)

SiN: Can you tell us what you are working on now?  What are you plans for the future?

MH: I am working on my fifth novel – which is a ghost story set between 1922 and 2002.  Plans are to write more novels, I suppose, and hopefully to make a living as a novelist without having to teach (a very tall order, a big wish…)  I have always said that I would like a shelf in Waterstones full of my books by the time I am fifty, which is probably too tall an order…

SiN: Thank you so much, Marion – I hope that some of the readers here try out your work, particularly The Boy I Love, which I really really adored.

Marion’s website, with links and news can be found here.

Next time we have Mark R Probst, author of The Filly.

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