Today I welcome Mary Ellen Bramwell who’s recently published her first novel The Apple of My Eye. It could be classified as “chick lit,” but since I believe that doesn’t fully cover the genre of most books, I asked Mary Ellen to elaborate on the genre. She said, “It’s actually a mix of mystery, romance, suspense and family drama.”
Help me welcome Mary Ellen today to discuss her new release and her current projects. Mary Ellen, let’s discuss your beginnings as a writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and I have old notebooks filled with complete and unfinished stories and articles. But it wasn’t real to me until I sold my first article to a magazine. Even then I suppose I didn’t give myself much credit. However, when I was working with the editor to prepare the piece for publication, she commented, “You’re a good writer.” That really struck me, and in many ways gave me the confidence years later to pick up my writing and treat it as a viable profession.
That’s a great moment when that happens, isn’t it? I’m glad it stuck with you. Do you have particular messages or themes that run throughout all your writing?
I love the image of light versus dark. So often, even in dark times, we can choose to focus on the light, the good. That sense of hope is what I want to convey to my readers; I want them to feel that there is always some way to find light.
What are you working on these days?
I write a newsletter about math and science for parents of third to fifth graders. It’s fun, but it also puts me in the right mindset for my next novel. It is called I Am Seven and is the story of one family as seen through the eyes of their insightful seven-year-old son.
That’s great when other parts of your life come together for your fiction. The new story sounds intriguing. Do you have a favorite character that you created?
I wrote a short story called Grandpa that is on my website. Even though it’s brief, the title character has a lot of depth and became very real to me as I wrote it. When the story was finished, he stayed with me in my head for a long time.
That’s when you know you’ve created something special. Now let’s talk about The Apple of My Eye. What’s the best thing said about your new release by a reviewer?
Prior to publication of The Apple of My Eye, I gave it to an English professor to read and review. He actually sent back a long review with one criticism, which I fixed, and a great deal of positive comments. Two things he said surprised and pleased me. He said, “I like the art of this text,” and later commented, “This book has something important to say.” I felt like I had succeeded right then and there.
I can understand why you’d feel that way, and from an English professor, no less. How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?
The phrase “the apple of my eye” was one of the first ideas I had for the entire story. I wanted a metaphor – in this case, an apple – that could be woven through the entire book.
People always want to know about the production of novels. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published product?
The book took me a year to write. I immediately started sending it out to publishers, and I had a book contract three months later. The finished book was published four months after that.
What type of research went into writing The Apple of My Eye?
I spent a long time thinking through a key element in the book. (It would be a spoiler alert to identify that element.) Of necessity, that involved a lot of online research and speaking with experts to make sure what I was presenting was realistic and plausible, although for the sake of public safety, not actually possible. How’s that for a teaser?
Great! I’m reading the book now and it’s still a teaser for me to finish. What do you do during your down time?
I read books, but that’s not really down time – it’s more like continual learning. So, if I really need to relax, I do a jigsaw puzzle.
It’s hard to read something these days without a critical eye for our own writing. I’m so glad you stopped by today, Mary Ellen. I wish you great success with The Apple of My Eye and with your next novel.
About Mary Ellen: Mary Ellen Bramwell has been writing stories since she was ten years old. After working in other fields and raising five children as a stay-at-home mom, Mary Ellen has returned to her first love, writing, working for magazines while completing her debut novel, The Apple of My Eye. She resides in Northeast Ohio with her husband, Allen, and her two youngest children. You can visit her website at www.maryellenbramwell.com.
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