DONNA MABRY: I AM A FIRM BELIEVER IN MIRACLES
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Maude by Donna Mabry was one of the most interesting entries in Top 20 Amazon Bestselling list for the last 10 days. The self-publishing novel was sitting next to well known names as Stephen King and John Grisham. Something more, the non-fiction story gathers far better feedback (av. 4,6 stars from 370 plus Amazon reviews) than the stars of modern literature’s latest production.
Do you want to know more about Donna Mabry? Join us for the next interview!
– Maude is one of the best non-fiction books of the year. Would you tell us what kind of story the readers will find inside?
– In Maude, readers will find the story of a woman who knew great love and great tragedy. Orphaned at eight years old, her married sister took her into her home and raised her to the age of fourteen, when she married for the first time. Life to Maude meant being obedient, and that did not change until she was much older and decided to take fate into her own hands. She had five children and had to bury four of them, yet she clung to her faith and went about her life as best she could.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I used to tell my daughter some of the things my grandmother related to me and she suggested that I write the book. Thank heavens.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– When I first told my family I was writing it, my mother became very upset. She and Maude (her mother-in-law) were enemies, and since I wrote it from Maude‘s perspective, a lot of the content was not flattering to my mother. I did say in the foreword that this is not the story my mother would tell, but I intended to be true to my grandmother’s version of events. For those last twenty years, I was witness to what happened, as were some of my friends.
– How tough was to describe the development of the main character year after year?
– It was easy for me to see Maude as she developed from a shy child to a compliant adult, and finally to a strong woman. I had heard her speak of her life over and over and felt I knew her well at each stage of her life.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I first began writing this about ten years ago. I revised it several times over the years because I still go to writing classes and am still learning. I did not think about publishing it until my mother passed away a few years ago because I did not want to upset her. When she died, I gave it a final revision, and my daughter designed the cover for me.
– The Manhattan stories received huge positive feedback. Give us some insight about the series?
– Unlike the Alexandra Merritt Mysteries happening in today’s world, the Manhattan Stories took a good amount of research. I chose to set the Manhattan Stories in Kansas because when my husband was in the Army, he was stationed at Ft. Riley. He found a small, basement apartment for us in Manhattan, the home of Kansas State University. I grew up in Detroit and, at the time, Manhattan was still a relatively small college town. I fell in love with it, with the people who lived there (our apartment was in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Miles Brooks on Vattier St,) and the geography. That part of Kansas is where the three rivers meet and has soft, rolling hills, plenty of trees and streams, and great historical significance. Settled by abolitionists, Manhattan was at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the women’s suffrage movement. The first graduating class of the college was half women, unheard of in that day.
One of my favorite places is Pillsbury Crossing, where Deep Creek cascades over a waterfall about eight feet high. Downstream from the waterfall is a flat shale place where the Conestoga wagons crossed on their journey west over the Oregon trail. At the top of the hill you could still see the tracks of the wagons in the hard clay.
When I decided to write a book about the West, I knew it had to be set in a place I already knew well. The series follows three generations of the Belk family, beginning with the auburn haired scoundrel, Zachary, and his wife, the title character, Jessica. It begins in Manhattan, New York in 1869 and goes to Kansas about a third of the way through the story.
The second book in the series, Pillsbury Crossing, is about Akecheta, Zachary’s illegitimate son, orphaned as a baby and raised by his grandparents and a Kansa-Sioux Indian named Kimimela.
The third book is The Cabin, Akecheta’s son Jacob comes home from WWI wanting nothing to do with civilization. He travels deep into the California/Nevada mountain forest and builds a cabin. He earns his living as a fur trader. Nancy is fleeing from a Mormon father who wants her to marry her much older cousin, Wilbur. He already has three wives, one of them Nancy’s younger sister, Linda.
Nancy gets lost in the woods and comes upon the cabin. Jacob grudgingly allows her to stay, and they slowly begin to have feelings for one another, but Wilbur wants her and will kill anyone who tries to keep him from having her.
– The Alexandra Merritt Mysteries are another high level series. What is the different in those books compared to your other stories?
– Except for a portion of The Last Two Aces in Las Vegas, which relates the coming of age of a young man who grew up working for the mob in Little Italy in New York, (based on my husband’s teen years in Detroit) the Alexandra Merritt Mysteries are set in modern times. They draw from my personal experience and observations while working in the casino. Most of my books, with the exception of The Other Hand (I call that my O.J. book because it’s about a famous athlete who leaves his family for a younger woman and she winds up being slaughtered), The Last Two Aces in Las Vegas and M.I.A. Las Vegas, are told almost entirely from the women’s point of view.
– What about your novel Deadly Ambition?
– Although it isn’t based on them, when I wrote Deadly Ambition, I kept images of Hillary Clinton and Dick Cheney in my mind. It’s the story of an assassination using the method I developed eight years ago, now being featured in the cancelled movie The Interview. It was another book requiring long hours of research on politics, the Secret Service, sniper rifles, deadly poisons, and even the geography of Washington D.C.
– Who are you?
– Who am I? Woman, wife, mother, writer, actor (non-professionally), seamstress, watercolor painter, American, mostly white, Baptist, ambitious, and a firm believer in miracles.
– What are your writing habits?
– I have two cats, so I’m an early riser. Most days, I’m up around five am, I tend to work until ten or so. Sometimes inspiration strikes me and I’ll give another hour or two in the middle of the day. One time, when the days are half-daylight, half-dark I was typing away and the story was going so well, I stayed at it for hours. When I finally quit, I had to find out if it were morning or night.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– I am THRILLED with sales of the book. This is what every writer dreams of but never really expects to happen. The odd thing is, I thought only my family would be interested. Aside from the personal recognition, the best part is hearing so many women tell me how Maude’s story touched them. I cry every time I read one of those reviews.
– What are you doing to promote your novels by the best possible way?
– I promote my books by doing signings at fairs and bookstores, but mostly by using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linked in.
– When we will see your next novel?
– So many people expressed an interest in Kimimela, the Indian girl who raises Akecheta, that I wanted to write her story. I recently finished the first draft and will begin revisions soon. It will be the fourth book in the Manhattan Stories. It goes back in time to 1852, when whites are flooding into Kansas and usurping the land of the Kansa Indians. Again, it required a great deal of research on topics that don’t have a great deal of material and took a lot of time. I am quite enamored of this book and think it will be appreciated by the readers who are enjoying both the other Manhattan Stories and Maude.
– You have been a master of costumes for years. How important is each dress to have its own soul?
– Making costumes is very different from making street clothes. I was taught by Joan Dillon at the Venice Florida Theatre. A costume must instantly tell the audience who and what that character is. In Mame, Auntie is wealthy and flamboyant. Erte might have designed her clothes, and she would wear chartreuse and orange or a vivid pink, trimmed with fur whenever possible. Miss Gooch, on the other hand, is a timid secretary who would wear a washable, loose-fitting cotton dress in a muddy brown. A costume needs to be built thinking of the movements the actor will make, dancing, kneeling, stretching upward. An actor doing a deep knee-bend doesn’t want the back seam of his trousers splitting. The garment should sometimes be, as much as possible, easy-on, easy-off to accommodate quick changes. If the show is a period piece, even historically accurate undergarments help develop the characters. They affect how the actor moves and stands.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be?
– I would ask myself, going forward, what would it take to make you happy? I am, by nature, content. I have relatively good health for my age, a sufficient income, a lovely home, children who make me proud, and work that fulfills me. It might be tempting fate to ask for more.
Learn more about Donna Mabry at her Facebook page
About Ognian GeorgievOgnian Georgiev is a sport journalist, who is working as an editor at the "Bulgaria Today" daily newspaper. He covered the Summer Olympics in Beijing 2008 and in London 2012. The author specializes in sports politics, investigations and coverage of Olympic sports events. Ognian Georgiev works as a TV broadcaster for Eurosport Bulgaria, Nova Broadcasting group, TV+, F+ and TV7. He is a commentator for fight sports events such as boxing/kickboxing and MMA. In May 2014 Ognian Georgiev released the English version of his book The White Prisoner: Galabin Boevski's secret story.
Posted on December 27, 2014, in Author, BESTSELLER, Books, Interview and tagged Amazon, bestseller, book, Donna Mabry, interview, Maude, The Alexandra Merritt Mysteries, The Manhattan Stories. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.