Thursday, May 20, 2010

And our guest today is...Marie Dees!

CJ: Hello, Marie. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today. We’re excited to have you here today!

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest release. What can you tell us about TO HAVE A WARRIOR?

“To Have a Warrior” is a short story just released as part of Cobblestone Press’s “Wicked” line. Since I prefer to write novel-length work, this is the first short story I’ve written since writing the stories for my graduate degree in creative writing.

Because of that, I jokingly described it to a friend as a literary work that explores our preconceptions about sexuality in other cultures. That or it's a hot gay erotica story about an ethnologist who finds love on another planet.

Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular story Can you tell us about that?

With this story, I wanted to explore the idea of cultural stereotypes and our modern preconceptions. Aki despite his background and knowledge, has considered one alternative to catching a warrior’s attention.

Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

Aki is the point of view character. He’s a traveled from New Earth to New Rangopi to study the culture there and discovered that the job is more difficult than he expected. Raiden is a warrior on New Rangipo and the man who teaches Aki that his preconceptions about the culture might be inaccurate.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from stories. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from To Have a Warrior?

Oh, for this one, perhaps Raiden’s question – “He has no warrior.” Only because Aki completely misunderstands this and keeps believing that Raiden is say “He is no warrior.”

Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

I decided to write my first novel at the age of 8. I won’t tell you what it was about because I don’t remember. But writing was a natural transition from my love of reading. In my teens, I went through a Tolkien phase where I wrote epic fantasies that went on forever and never ended. In an effort to finish something, I switched to mystery novels since they have to have an ending. Writing mystery will teach you a lot about plotting and structure.

Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

Other that trying to make sure I’m as comfortable as I can be. I love pillows and comforters and cups of tea. When the weather cooperates, I love to write in the garden.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

For me, dialogue is the easiest. My first drafts are often bits of great dialogue with action sketched out between them. I often think my characters talk me through their stories and I just listen in.

Which means the hardest part is often working in the description. Which isn’t exactly the same as saying description is hard to write. It’s more that I have to fight the feeling that the description is getting in the way and slowing things down.

Each story I write goes through multiple layers of revision because of this. The first layer is sketching out the action and giving the characters a chance to tell me what’s going on. Then I work back through to build up the plot elements that come into play as I write. Then I always have to go through and build up the description and other elements.

It does become easier if you remind yourself that the goal isn’t to write the perfect story in one sitting.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

I’ve learned about ghost hunting and actually gone on ghost hunts to research stories. And yes, I’ve experienced things that I couldn’t explain while on them. A friend and I stood outside a St. Augustine Cemetery on a muggy Florida night and felt a cold spot that stop right about waist height. That was fascinating. I always encourage writers to do as much direct research as possible or affordable.

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to be Miss Marple and live in a little cottage in a quaint English village. I’d grow roses and have people over for tea. Besides, she never seemed to get bored since people were often conveniently murdered to keep life interesting. Oh, sure, it’s tough on the neighbors, but that’s what happens when you live in a mystery novel.

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

The Tolkien books—the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Besides the usual teenage fascination with his world and elves, I remember being utterly astounded at how he wove elements of the story together so that small details mentioned in The Hobbit appeared again in the trilogy. But Lord of the Rings shaped a great part of my early writing and since I was always writing, my teenage years.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that...” summer I played Peter Pan at Walt Disney World.

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us Marie.

I would invite all our guests to check out TO HAVE A WARRIOR by MARIE DEES on sale now at Cobblestone Press.

Below is an excerpt from Marie’s story, TO HAVE A WARRIOR Please read on!

(Note from the author. While “To Have a Warrior” is an erotic romance, the excerpt is safe for a general audience.)

To Have A Warrior by Marie Dees

Aki placed himself directly in the path of the three approaching warriors. Even if he didn’t look much like a warrior, he was going to force these men to acknowledge his existence. He wasn’t going to join the list of ethnologists who’d failed to get even a single interview from the men. “I am Aki. I am from New Earth.”

The first warrior didn’t bother to walk around him. He simply shouldered Aki out of the way as he passed. Aki stumbled and found his footing, but now stood directly in line with the second warrior. “I am Aki.” The second warrior used his elbow to send him falling to the red dirt of New Rangipo.

“Aki, you must come sit with me.”

Aki glanced to where the old woman sat, leaning against her hide tent, then back to the approaching third warrior. This one stopped to look down at him sprawled on the ground. Aki met the gaze of those blue eyes. “I am Aki. Will you tell me your name?” He was sure he had the right verb and correct conjugation.

The warrior looked away and strode a few meters to where the others stood, apparently studying the empty red desert. Aki pushed to his feet, wondering what they’d do if he went after them. From the reaction he’d just received, he’d probably set back relations with the tribe another decade. He brushed the red dirt from his pants. He hadn’t been attacked, just pushed out of the way.

“Aki, you will come sit by me,” the old woman snapped.

With a shrug, he strode over to her tent, which sat a few meters apart from the rest of the nomadic camp and closest to the research settlement. The science team would move when the camp moved, and Aki had no doubt Grandmother’s tent would again end up between them and the rest of the tribe.

She patted the ground beside her stool, indicating he should sit there. He did, folding his legs to sit cross-legged just within the shade of the tent. ”They are warriors.” She spoke slowly, as if to a child. "You are not a warrior. They may not talk to you.”

He nodded. “Yes, Grandmother,” he said using the respect word for the tribe’s older women. “But I don’t understand why they may not speak with me.”

“Because they are warriors.”

He sighed. No one had ever managed to wring a better answer than that out of the tribes since few of the women bothered to speak with the researchers. The old woman was an exception. Perhaps age put her above social considerations.

“Do not try to force them, Aki. You are not a warrior.”

He huffed. "Well, I know that." He wasn’t even worth fighting. Not that he’d have stood a chance of winning or of proving himself a warrior if they had fought him. The warriors he’d confronted stood over six feet tall with skin burned brown from the harsh sun of this world.

Aki was a head shorter than any of them. If he'd ever thought himself muscular, the sight of these men would have changed his mind. And the warriors wore so little, a strip of cloth covering their genitals and a light robe of the local wool over their shoulders; he could see each and every muscle. They also had long hair, which they wore pulled back into a braid. The spear each one carried showed his warrior status.

Since landing on the planet, all Aki'd done was stare as a succession of desirable men wandered across the landscape and ignored him. Damn the professor for pulling him into this project. He'd called it the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to study the culture of a society that hadn’t been in contact with the outside world since it had been settled. Aki had jumped at the opportunity. The job should have gone to someone with ten times his experience. The professor hadn’t warned him that it could also be the failure of a lifetime.

Aki looked over at the old woman. She was spinning thread from the goat-like animals the tribe raised. He watched as the thread twirled gracefully on her drop spindle. Maybe he could make her understand his need. Her standing with the tribe might be high enough to allow her to help him. "I don't want to be a warrior. I just want to speak with them. Don't they understand?"

"They understand." She picked up some of the wool and put it in his hands. Then she pulled a bit out and showed him how to roll it between his fingers. He did so, anything to help win her approval. She smiled when he managed to make a bit of clumsy thread. "They do not speak to those outside the tribe."

“Maybe you could explain to them what I need?” he asked, still twirling the wool.

“What is it that you think you need, Aki? What is it that a warrior can give to you?”


  1. Great excerpt Marie! Love your description of it too. :) Best of luck with your release!

  2. I love short stories. Great post Marie. Good luck with the sales. See you on CC?