MONTGOMERY MAHAFFEY: I TURN A FABLE INTO A NOVEL
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Montgomery Mahaffey is one of those rare classical storytellers. Few months ago she published her book Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. The author polished herself in the cold Alaska. It’s time for another Q&A with the next interesting writer.
– What is your book Ella Bandita and the Wanderer about?
– I once heard an editor say: “Don’t tell me your story is about love and redemption because all stories are about love and redemption.” She was right and mine is no different. But isn’t it marvelous how many different stories can come from one theme? My particular take on this theme involves a predatory seductress who is mad, bad, and dangerous to know – and the people who helped shape her, and an adventurer frozen in grief who won’t go away because he can’t bring himself to go home.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– It was one of those fortunate happenstance situations when a very painful event immediately transformed into a story that just came to me. Originally, this was written as a fable that I could tell in an hour and a half. I decided to turn it into a novel when other plotlines came up to continue the story arc to a conclusion where the main character accepts the redemption she refuses at the end of this novel. Ella Bandita and the Wanderer is the first in a series of 4 novels.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Honestly, it was converting the fable into a novel. I thought I could do it in 6 months to a year, and it took 4 years.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– Yes and no. Ella Bandita is a macho slut. She owns her sexuality without apology and that gives her a tremendous amount of power, which she uses to get what she wants. But she certainly isn’t a very “nice” character. I love her, but the main criticism I’ve received about Ella Bandita is that she’s not very likable. The persona of her is based on a woman I used to work with in Alaska. She wasn’t very nice either, but she was fascinating.
– How much time you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– Technically, 6 years. And since that’s the simplest answer, I’m going to stick with that. For the record, Free Flying Press is mine – I’m an indie author.
– What about the other works Preacher Man and the Golden Pedestal and Why Roses Have Thorns?
– Those are fables in the classical sense – and they were part of the original collection of stories that Ella Bandita was a part of. But these two are appropriate for children, whereas the other stories are for an adult audience. I need to rename Preacher Man and the Golden Pedestal, but I haven’t figured out what else to call it.
– Who are you?
– This is one of those questions that – although simple – are surprisingly tough to answer. I’ve moved a lot and traveled a lot. I think too much – occupational hazard, I guess. I’ve also done a lot of seeking and that has led to some very unique experiences. Am I the sum total of my experiences? Yes and no. I’m probably more the end result of my choices than I am the things that have happened to me. In a nutshell, I’m the utterly the same and completely different from every other human being in the Western World who is trying to get what I want out of life.
– What are your writing habits?
– Not as consistent as I would like them to be – especially because I’m working on another book. When I’m on a nice roll. I freewrite in the morning – after coffee – and rewrite and edit in the late afternoon and evening.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– Of course, I’m not satisfied with the sales of the book! 😉 Truthfully, I’m just getting started and my infrastructure is still about 85% done. Sales are not pennies from heaven and there’s a long road ahead. I am very happy with how things are progressing and yes, I’m writing the second book in the series.
– What are you doing to promote by the best possible way your book?
– I’m offering Ella Bandita and the Wanderer – the whole novel – only in paperback form. However, I’m putting out the 4 parts of the novel – Birthing Ella Bandita, The Bard Speaks, Challenge, and The Heart of the Lone Wolf – in ebook form every 3-4 months. The idea is to entice people to order the paperback who can’t wait a few months to see the next part. It’s also a way to entice people into the story at any point. With my assistant, we’re getting ready to release The Bard Speaks in the next 2 weeks. Birthing Ella Bandita has provided an interesting learning curve. I don’t know if the way I’ve chosen to present my work is the best possible way, but it’s the way I’m choosing. I think it will work beautifully over time, and if it doesn’t, I can always change my methods. I’m embracing all of this as a learning experience.
– In 2005 you were awarded with Individual Artist Project Award. Tell us more about it?
– The Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska is very generous in supporting Alaskan artists. I was awarded a $5000 grant for the original version of Ella Bandita and other stories. The grant helped with expenses for a DIY book tour/ road trip that I took all over Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. To me, that was the same as getting published. It was awesome!
– Your bio is saying that your parents were storytellers. What were your favorite tales or stories?
– My mother’s side of the family were the storytellers, my Mom and my brothers are really gifted at telling stories from their lives. But Mimi – my grandmother – is who I really think of when I think of the storyteller in the family. She would usually stay with me in my room when she came to visit, and I would fall asleep hearing about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and the sinking of the Titanic. Of course, she talked about the people involved as if she actually knew them – which she didn’t, of course.
– Alaska was always a very wild place to people who never been there. How you will describe this part of the world?
– Alaska is like nothing you have ever seen before until you get there and see it. It would take a novel to adequately describe that part of the world. I became the woman and the writer I always wanted to be during the 11 years I lived there. I know a lot of people who became the individuals they always wanted to be from living there. It’s a powerful place in that it pushed my out of my comfort zone where I found out I could do a lot more than I previously believed about myself.
To see more about Montgomery Mahaffey check out her web page
Take a look at the book
Ella Bandita and the Wanderer