Marian Stanley has had two long careers – first in a Fortune 500 company, then in a university. She is delighted with her third incarnation as a mystery novelist. Marian writes in a small town outside Boston where she lives with her husband, Bill, and a Westie named Archie.
The Immaculate is a Boston-based mystery about the murder of an elderly nun and the unholy alliance that did her in. Rosaria O’Reilly, a former student, arrives back in her old neighborhood looking for answers – only to find that nothing about the case is as it seemed.
Judy: Tell us what inspired the story behind The Immaculate.
Marian: About two years ago, an image came to my mind of an elderly nun in full habit striding across a deserted schoolyard in the winter dusk. For whatever reason, I couldn’t shake this picture.
I’ve thought about where this image came from and remembered that I had visited an old factory town about that time. I happened to drive by an abandoned school and noted it as an interesting place. Just a nice drive by, nothing heavy.
But shortly afterward, this persistent image came to my mind. Then, I started to wonder what the nun was doing there. Somehow I knew she was in grave danger – but from what, from whom? Finally, I decided that the only thing to be done was to write a story about what the old nun was doing in that place at that time and what happened to her. I think Sister Mary Aurelius just wanted her story to be told. She’s a pretty aggressive character.
Judy: How long did it take you to write?
Marian: Two years of writing, classes, workshops, manuscript critiques, revisions. Every exercise that I submitted for class critique was related in some way to what would become The Immaculate. I’m getting on in years. I figured that if I was going to get this thing done, I had better focus pretty tightly!
Judy: Tell us about finding a publisher, and how you decided on Barking Rain Press.
Marian: Not every book is for everybody. There was interest, and I had a number of partial or full manuscripts out there. But, not everyone was excited about a story of how an old nun in Boston gets herself bumped off. Or, they wanted her story changed so dramatically that it would have been a different tale. (Could I make it less Catholic? Well, that’s hard as it’s the story of the murder of a nun. Or could I make the protagonist younger? Well, I’m committed to writing a series with an older protagonist.)
Finally, I sent the manuscript to Barking Rain Press during the open submission period, and Sheri Gormley sent a welcome email. She liked the story and wanted to publish it. I said yes. She assigned me a fabulous editor in Melissa Eskue Ousley and we were off to the races.
Judy: Describe your writing process.
Marian: Me scribbling on a long yellow legal pad in the pre-dawn darkness and silence while sitting on the big green chair in the living room – usually with a small white dog sleeping on my lap.
Judy: What’s the best writing advice you have ever read or been given?
Marian: Take yourself and your writing seriously. Treat it like a job. Get your rear end in the chair whether you feel inspired or not.
Judy: Do you have a favorite author and genre?
Marian: Mysteries are my genre and I’ll read anything by Louise Penny or Tana French.
Judy: Do you read your genre when writing? Why or why not?
Marian: I belong to too many book clubs, including a mystery book club, so that I am always reading. Perhaps I am influenced by a Ruth Rendell book when I working on a manuscript – but that can’t be bad, can it?
Judy: What’s next?
Marian: Buried Troubles, my current WIP, is set in Boston and Ireland. Rosaria is once again the protagonist, now caught up in the legacy of old grievances and secrets that cross the Atlantic – leading to murder in Boston.
Thank you, Marian.
The Immaculate is available in print and ebook at all the usual suspects, including Barking Rain Press.
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