Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Mary Pax

Since I’m an avowed SpaceCadet, I’m real happy Mary could stop by for an interview.  Let’s get it rolling :-)


Where are you from, Mary?

I originate from the east coast of the US, but have lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years.

When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?

I wrote my first story sometime in grade school. It was about a horse named Wesco. That’s all I remember about it. I always loved imagining. Still do.

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

When I mailed my first query to an agent. I had no idea what I was doing. That was probably about 3 years ago. That novel has had many revisions since then. I must say he was very polite about the novice schlock I sent him.

Sign of a good agent, eh?

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

I want to write novels. I have so many ideas/stories swimming in my head. I’d like to earn enough to afford a maid.

Oh, yes, the personal servant that can free up writing time :-)

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

I have a Bachelors of Science in Journalism and took a lot of literature, English, and humanities classes in undergrad. No formal creative writing though.

Still, that’s some impressive writing experience!

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

Writing enough to discover my voice/style then networking with other writers. Getting involved in my local writer’s group [I’m their blog director], attending workshops and conferences, reading my work at open mics, networking on Blogger and Twitter, and acquiring several critique partners.

You’re doing all the right things, Mary, especially, “Writing enough to discover my voice/style…”

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

I love Margaret George and her historical biographies. I have a thing for history. Peter Mayle. His Provence books used to make me laugh out loud on the subway. Magic. Arthur C. Clarke was my first taste of sci-fi in grade school. He still awes me. He makes me think and I love a story that makes me think. Hermann Hesse. He makes me think, too. Bradbury, Vonnegut [who I met once – he bought cigarettes in the building where I worked] and Frank Herbert for their incredible imaginations and boldness. Jane Austen. Her stories are timeless. Thomas Hardy. He is so poetic and his words drip with so much emotion and nuance–the settings always matched the character’s mood. I’m not sure people get nuance much any more. Too many more to mention.


Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

I read Scientific American and I’m always on NASA. I read physics books. I work as a star guide at an observatory. The high desert and Oregon inspire a lot of stories. Things I see. Things that happen to me. Conversations with people. If something strikes me, I jot it down in an idea journal I keep. Eventually ideas from different places seem to go together. Sometimes the first line just comes to me, usually in the shower or when I’m about to fall asleep or making dinner. My father tells me his dreams. Those go in my idea journal, too.

Oh, my, your father’s dreams; fascinating

What’s your normal revision or editing routine?

I print out what I worked on that day. I usually leave it alone until after dinner. I read it and hand edit it. In the morning I input the changes and then pick up where I left off. I repeat until I feel happy. Then I’ll move on to the next chapter. Same with short stories.

Are you published?

I had a short story published locally, Beacons. I just had another short story accepted for publication, The Tumbas. I hope to add many more titles to this list soon.

Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?

I’m just my geeky self on the blog. I post about things which interest me and inspire me. Things I love. Space, sci-fi, writing, art, history, research, weird events, news, etc… If you keep writing your blog, eventually you’ll find things you enjoy writing about and develop a sort of routine. Fridays are usually about inspiration. I try to get something sciency or sci-fi-ish once a week. I talk about my writing journey.

A very interesting journey it is, too

Thanks for taking the time for our interview, Mary.
So, my dear readers, ask Mary a question in our comments :-)
M. Pax
The stars are the beginning … –“M. Pax Works”

Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
AND, Get A Free Copy of Our Book

2 responses to “Author Interview ~ Mary Pax

  1. Karla Telega February 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    That’s interesting that you polish each chapter before you move on. Do you use an outline, or let each chapter run it’s course as you go?


  2. MPax February 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    On the first draft, I have a rough outline. I know the major plot points I want to hit and where I’m going to end up. I let myself explore how to move between the points in the 1st draft.

    On the revision, I do more planning. So far, the revision usually follows the 1st draft. The details change and I fill out chapter forms which track the story question / main plot, character arcs, subplots and the chapter’s focus and ending. Helps me track the threads and where they begin and end and when I last did anything with a particular thread.


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