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WesternSFA
A Chat with Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell
January 11, 2013
by Catherine Book
Marcy was one of the participants at a local convention, DarkCon2014, and I was pleased that she agreed to an interview.  I asked her what she had been doing when she published her first story.  Her very first story was published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy magazine and she was in college at the time, back in 1994.  She later became a civil engineer but was able to quit her day job when she moved to Arizona.  Arizona being a cheaper place to live than southern California meant they could survive on her husband’s paycheck allowing Marcy the opportunity to be a full-time mother and writer.

She was contracted by a major publisher early last year to write three books in a new series based on a comic book property.  The first book is due on the shelves in the next month or so but Marcy is still unable to tell any details.  I can tell it’s killing her not to be able to talk about it and the most she’d tell me was that it was from a “big name in the field.”  She also shared that another writer is also contracted for three books, and that two books a year are planned, one from each of them. Her book is up first with a scheduled publication date of Feb 2014 although Marcy is hesitant to guarantee that.  And she’s hard at work on her second book in that series.

Marcy also writes with Jeff Mariotte and they are working on a novel with additional stories in the same universe planned for different types of media.  So they hope to finish that up this year and Marcy would be pleased if it turned out to be something big.  She and Jeff have a fantasy novella titled “A Soul in the Hand” that should publish in March in the Kickstarter-funded anthology Neverland’s Library.  They are planning a novel about those characters.  Another short horror story will appear in a different anthology, no other information available on that so keep an eye on her website.

I asked her how she actually does her writing.  She noted that since she still has two young children at home, she has to be able to write just about anywhere and with the TV blaring and kids yelling.  But she waits for her ‘primetime’ period to do some of her work – about 10pm to 2am.  She generally has about nine months to write a book and spends a good portion of that time just immersing herself in whatever genre/time period/person she’ll need for the story and then giving it time to stew in her backbrain.  ‘Course she admits it doesn’t help that she’s such a procrastinator.  This immersion approach is particularly critical when she writes in someone else’s universe/property.  When she was writing a D&D story, she had all the rule books spread out, and spent a lot of time reading other stories set in the D&D world.  She’s written three novels that tie-in to D&D, a couple short stores that tie-in to online properties, and then the new comic book novels coming out.

What’s most important to her work:  setting, characters, plot?  Almost always the characters, she answered quickly.  It’s important to her to have a character she likes and one whose head she can get into.  It needs to be a character she cares about; otherwise, as she told me, why would the reader care?  What about world-building, I wondered?  If it’s fantasy, she needs it to be consistent and logical within the structure of the story.  As an engineer, since the real world follows rules and there are reasons why things work as they do – even if we don’t understand exactly how (think zippers) – she feels that magic needs to behave in the same way.  There has to be a logical set of rules to follow – no genies and wishes.  She doesn’t see a need to use pages in exposition to  explain the rules; but, she needs to know them herself so that the story follows them.  Readers have an unerring eye for catching inconsistencies.

Can she write on more than one project at a time?  No, that doesn’t really work for her; especially when she spends so much time immersing herself into a story and character.  There are times when it happens, such as with rewrites and she knows she needs to get better at it as her career progresses.  Life doesn’t always happen as one might wish and it’s hard for a writer to be prolific unless they can and do shift tracks when necessary.

Does she have a favorite story or character?  Her favorite is Sabira from The Shard Axe and Skein of Shadows.  Sabira is a deeply flawed character with lots of bad things happening to her.  Marcy made sure that while Sabira is fighting to overcome these bad things, she does so in a way that is consistent with her character.  She also enjoys writing about a female who can kick ass – who wouldn’t want to identify with a kick-ass female? 

And of what is she most proud?  Probably the Sabira stories but also a short story titled “The Short Bus” which deals with a little boy with Down’s Syndrome.  She didn’t feel that it was the hardest or even best story she’d ever written, but it’s one that garners the most compliments from readers.  It’s been published several times but the easiest place to find it is within Marcy’s collection Bridges of Longing. (You can find it on Amazon.) She owns that since it was written several years ago, her writing wasn’t as good as today’s, and it’s not as dark as the other stuff she’s currently writing.

What else is in her future?  Well, of course she has two more books for that comic book property to finish.  And, she notes, it’s hard to turn down the tie-in work, it’s good money; but it keeps her from doing original work closer to her heart.  She has a paranormal FBI profiler series that has great potential to be unique.  Elements of this story have been circulating in her brain for years, mixing with other stuff including another story idea she had.  Once she put the two ideas together, she and her agent felt she had a formula that hadn’t been done before.  She feels pretty excited about this series.  Fans should definitely keep an eye out for this.  I’m pretty intrigued myself; what could be new and unique these days?  Well…Marcy Rockwell, for one.

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