Friday, October 8, 2010

Author Interview with Marlene Bateman

Last spring I did a signing with Marlene Bateman. Her new book Light on Fire Island had just been released. We didn't cross paths again until August. I asked if she would like to do an interview for my blog and she was happy to do it, but she was going out of town and I was about to launch the blog tour for The Stone Traveler. She's back home and the tour is over, so now I give you an interview with Marlene Bateman.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Always. I started writing in elementary school, and in Jr. High, decided I wanted to be a writer. But when I was in college, I got married and had children and put my dream on the sideline. After having four children, I started writing magazine articles and was published in a lot of magazines, including the Ensign and Friend.
Then, I started writing non-fiction and over the years, wrote six non-fiction books. The first two were Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, Volume One and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines Volume Two. These books are compilations of true stories about people in early Church history times who actually risked their life in defense of the gospel. I love all of the stories that went into these books—they are so inspiring and faith promoting.
My next three books are also compilations of true stories in early Church History, and are about angelic experiences. The first book in this series is called, And There Were Angels Among Them. As I started researching for this book, I found thousands of stories about angelic visitations and knew I had to narrow it down. So I selected only those experiences when a person either saw or heard an angel.
The second book is called, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and the third is; By the Ministering of Angels. Researching and writing these books was a marvelous experience. It made me realize how much Heavenly Father truly loves his children and that He is aware of us and our lives. It shows how much Heavenly Father loves us when He sends angels to help in time of need.
My latest non-fiction book, published last year, is called Brigham’s Boys. It tells the story of sixteen men who worked with Brigham Young as he brought the Saints across the plains and colonized the Great Basin area. The men who worked alongside Brigham were amazingly devout and hard working. They were always willing to serve, no matter how difficult the challenge.

Tell us a little bit about your book.
Light on Fire Island was published in March and is my first novel. I’m really happy that people have enjoyed it so much. I was tickled when it was #4 on Seagull Books bestseller list this spring.
I guess it’s the researcher in me that made me decide to have the settings for my novels be totally accurate. To do research on the setting on this book, I went to Fire Island, which is just south of Long Island, in New York. I took lots of pictures, talked with the people at the lighthouse, and took lots of notes and bought books about Fire Island. All of the details about the setting are accurate, from the number of steps in the lighthouse, to street names, to the flora and fauna that exist there.
The story tells about Celena Jackson, who was banished from her home five years ago by her father because of her allegiance to the Church. Her eleven-year old brother, Joshua, is the catalyst for her return when he calls and asks her to come back after their father, the keeper at the Fire Island Lighthouse, suffers a serious accident. Celena puts aside her bitterness toward her father and returns to fulfill a promise she made to her mother before she died.
However, Celena soon discovers that her father’s accident was no accident, but that someone deliberately tried to kill him. As she sets out to discover who tried to kill her father, and why, Celena has to struggle with her tangle of mixed emotions toward her father. But new information surfaces, helping her dissolve the bitterness she has harbored for so long.
As she investigates, Celena becomes worried about an old friend, Ethan. Although he has always been simple minded, Ethan appears to have become unhinged after his wife, Sarina, drowned two years ago. Ethan is convinced his wife was killed by ‘bad men’ and embroils Celena in the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sarina’s death. Could her death be connected to the attempt on her father’s life?
Two men, the charming Clint and handsome Daniel, bring romance into Celena’s life, but there are so many mysterious incidents that Celena doubts she can trust anyone. In addition,
Celena is close to finding out who is responsible for her father’s near-fatal accident and Sarina’s death when an attempt is made on her own life, making it clear that time is running out. She must discover who is trying to stop her—and why—before it’s too late.

Tell us about your other books you’re working on.
I’m working on two books. One is a novel that is set in Oregon and is called Charade. It is a mystery and again, has some romance in it. I recently traveled to Oregon, to Florence and Lake Oswego, the two cities where the novel is set. I took hundreds of pictures and lots of notes so that the background will be accurate.
This book tells the story of Erica Coleman, who works as a private investigator in Utah. She is visiting family in Oregon, when a close relative dies. Then, the discovery is made that this person was poisoned and Erica becomes determined to find out who the perpetrator is.
Soon, another murder occurs, making it more important than ever to find out who is behind these two deaths, which seem to be linked to Sun Coast, the family business.
As Erica tries to unravel the mystery, she ruffles feathers of family members, and watches as a romance blooms between her cousin Shaun and the lively Kristen, who recently began working at Sun Coast.
When Shaun is designated as the CEO of Sun Coast, Erica tries to help him become the leader she knows he can be, despite his insecurities and being sabotaged by his cousin Trent, whose ambition to become the CEO is encouraged by his scheming father, Randy.
Then, Erica is nearly run down by a speeding car. This convinces her that she is on the right track and makes her realize that she must redouble her efforts to discover the culprit before she becomes the third victim
The second book I’m working on is non-fiction, and is called; Gaze Into Heaven. I’m very excited about this book, which is a compilation of true, near-death experiences in early Church history.
There are a lot of books about modern day near-death experiences, but this one focuses solely on those that occurred in the early days of the Church. It has been an incredible, spiritual experience to research and compile these stories. My testimony of the gospel has increased and it is awesome to see how well these experiences agree with LDS church doctrine.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
I never have to try and find motivation to write—it comes as naturally as breathing. I’ve never had a day where I didn’t want to write, even when the writing is difficult, as it often is, I still have this insatiable, inner urge to write.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I admire so many authors. I love Mauve Binchy, as well as Jan Karon. They have such great characters and tell such compelling stories. I also love reading Agatha Christie and also enjoy Anne Tyler.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
I grew up in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. My father was a raised gladiolus for florists and was a small mink rancher, so I guess I’m a bit of a country girl. I love living in Utah, and until I visited Oregon, didn’t think I would ever see another place that matched it. If I couldn’t live in Utah, I’d head for Oregon.

 Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
In our house, our “formal dining room” is my “computer room.” I have a large, L-shaped computer station. My desk is about eight feet from a large bay window and two side windows so as I work, I can look outside at our beautiful lawn, trees, and flowers. I love it!
I have two computer monitors, which my son talked me into and now I can’t live without them. When I’m working on novels, I have two large 2’x3’ artist boards that I tape my plotting outline to. One board is propped up on my right and the other is on my left, so if I have a question about what chapter I mentioned that Randy is in London, I can look at my outline and find it.
I also work on my laptop and when the weather is good, I go outside in our little gazebo to write out there. Ah, this is heaven—to write while being outdoors!
I have two little doggies; Biscuit, (a Westie) and Snickers, (a black and tan mini-dachshund) who are my constant companions. If I’m working inside, one settles down by my feet and sleeps while the other one takes a spot nearby to snooze. When I go outside to work, Biscuit and Snickers are ever alert and if they hear the smallest sound, they’ll run like crazy to the dog on the east, neighbor on the south, or chickens on the west, to bark like crazy and then look back at me to see if I am watching them and admiring what grand watchdogs they are.
Beside my computer is one essential; my candy dish. If I start getting tired, or hit a difficult spot, I pick up something to eat to stay awake or take my mind off the difficulties of writing. I’m careful, however, not to have high calories treats in my dish. Instead, I opt for smarties, jolly rancher candy, gummy bears, lemon drops, gum, etc. My husband likes to dehydrate fruit from the trees in our yard, so I usually have dried apples, peaches, apricots, or plums to chew on.
As for the hours I spend writing; I try to start working at 10 in the morning, after doing housework and yard work, then work until 12:30. After an hour and a half break to eat lunch, read, and if possible, take a 15 min. snooze, I return to my work, knocking off about 6:30. But there are a lot of things that take writing time, such as dentist or dr. appts., visiting teaching, cub scouts, etc., but I just try to go with the flow.

 Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I love watching movies, but because I have a hearing loss, I only watch them on TV, or DVD’s, so I can have closed captioning. I love sit coms, especially the golden oldies like “I Love Lucy,” “Andy Griffith,” and “Mash”. I recently started watching Monk, a mystery-comedy series, which I find hilarious. I love it!!! He’s so quirky and strange and yet a sheer genius at solving mysteries. Unfortunately, the series just ended, but I was so in love with the show I bought the series on the internet. I don’t think they inspire my writing, although watching them brings out the critique in me when I see circumstances or situations that couldn’t possible happen, or deductions made out of the blue.

How has being published changed your life?
It really didn’t change my life much. I used to hope that it gave me a little more credibility with my children, but that was too much to hope for! As my children were growing up, they always felt Mom spent far too much time on the computer. I believe they thought that if I spent less time at my silly writing, and more on housework, that they wouldn’t have to do a job every day. Silly them! With seven children, I had to have each of them help, with or without writing!

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
On Oct. 9th, I’ll be at the Seagull Book in Logan, Utah from noon to 1:30. I don’t have a blog, I’m technically challenged that way but am going to try and get in gear and get one started.
My website is My son put it together for me and didn’t like the background I choose, felt it was too fussy and feminine. But I’m a real flower lover, having been a florist for many years and I love it. I also love those cute little butterflies that flit and fly among the flowers!


  1. Great interview. I love the cover - so striking. Best of luck to Marlene!

  2. I love author interviews. It's so interesting to get a glimpse into an autor's life.

    Thanks :-)

  3. Great interview ladies! I am going to check out some of those books, they sound so interesting to me. =)

  4. Talli:
    Her book does have a very striking cover. Just right for a suspense.

    I like to get a peek into other authors lives as well. :]


    Marlene has quite the list of books. They all sound quite fascinating.

    Thanks to all of you for dropping by. :]



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