CRACK IN THE WORLD tells the story of Emily, who is molested by her father. Emily is a member of a large family as she becomes increasingly isolated and all alone. After moving to Rhode Island she develops a strong outside support group comprised of Martha, a neighbor and grandmother, Sean, Martha’s grandson and Jeannie, a young girl Emily’s age. It is this support group that inspires Emily to defy her father as she turns her world upside down and takes control of her future.
I love your title. When terrible things happen, we often feel as if we have fallen through a crack in the world. What inspired you to write this particular story?
I’ve always wanted to tell the world my story. I know how important it is to talk about this thing because it’s still so alive and well in our human society and, in particular, my family. Someone needs to expose this dirty little secret which has the power of destroying a victim’s future. I originally wrote a memoir and gave it to my girlfriend (among others) to read. She told me it was good, but, more importantly she told me that I was a writer. Then, she suggested that I write a non-fiction novel. She loved my description of the first time I became intimate with my husband. She said, “It’s steamy, Maribeth. You have a knack for romance novels.” That was all I needed. I think I wrote the original story in less than two months. My same girlfriend read it and said, “I read a lot. I believe this could become a best seller.” Not to sound cocky, but I do too.
You’re so brave to write this story. Why will readers relate to your characters?
Because they’re real and I think we all know them by other names. Martha is gentle and wise and someone we all feel drawn to. Sean, who was brought up in a loving home environment with a strong mother and, of course, Martha as female role models, is every woman’s dream male. Jeannie is wise, worldly and smart-mouthed; just what Emily needs to bring out her guts and glory side. Emily…oh, Emily, she’s bright, loving and oh so innocent; but not so innocent that she hasn’t been in waiting for just the inspiration she needed to take back her power from her narcissistic father, Joe. Sarah, Emily’s mother, we all know. She’s downtrodden by her bully husband. Joe’s a jerk, period; and Emily’s siblings are just living life without molestation.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?
Yes. I mostly used the Internet to get weather in Rhode Island correct and many other facts in the book which I checked for, e.g., when did I-pods first go on the market. I came away realizing that, basically anyone with a talent to write can do it. There’s so much information on the Internet to fact check and get time-lines correct.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
When I wrote the original version (the ending changed) I just knew when the story had ended. I’m a person who follows her gut and I’ve become pretty good at knowing things like that. I’ve finished the sequel, A VIEW INTO THE UNKNOWN and was able to end it at the end. Again, I walked away satisfied that I told the story the way it was supposed to be told.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
It’s taken me a long time and a lot of work to get to where I am. Emily and I are very much the same person. She looks on the sunny side of life, rather than living in the darkness her father tried to bestow upon her. She also looks for the good in people, although she isn’t gullible. She knows evil when she sees it. She’s a fighter and proves that.
When I finally moved away from my parents’ home, I searched for ways to change my life. My first year of college I took a Sociology course and read a book, PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY SOCIETY, by Erving Goffman. It changed my life because, for the first time, I realized that I was the author of my life and future. All I had to do was write a best seller and I’ve been writing it ever since. Even prior to that, I looked for a mate who would love and respect me and, damn if I didn’t meet Bob the night I moved away. Several years ago I realized that, although I had worked hard on undoing what my father did to me as I put it in the proper perspective of my life, I had a lot of internal turmoil going on and it was causing me to feel unhappy. At the time I felt as if I should just accept that I would never be completely happy. But…that’s not me. So, I decided to look for an answer to the internal turmoil. In the meantime, I went back to meditating to an audio program called HOLOSYNC because I knew it had worked. I did begin to meditate again and low and behold I was able to unravel all my unconscious fears which caused me dysfunctional behavior and which was the root of my unhappiness. One day, as I was driving, I realized that I was and am happier than I ever thought possible. In the sequel, I give Emily Holosync as well. In the end, she finds the happiness she craves.
How lovely that you finally found happiness. Apparently, writing makes you happy, too. At what age did you discover writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing; however, I discovered it while I was beginning to heal. My mother’s death set my healing in motion. Before then, I was skillful at keeping the lid on that Pandora box. When I began to feel all the emotions of what happened to me, I knew I needed professional help. I not only spent about nine months in therapy, but I read a very powerful book called THE COURAGE TO HEAL, written by two females who talk candidly about molestation. It became my bible as it also became Emily’s. Authors Ellen Bass and Laura Davis encourage the reader to begin writing down feelings, thoughts and anything else that needs to come out. I have a huge file full of things I wrote including a letter to my father while he was still alive which I mailed. Over the years I’ve culled through the file and marveled at what I wrote. It gave me the courage to begin writing. My meditation, has set my talent free to write with confidence.
When where you first published? How were you discovered?
CRACK IN THE WORLD is my first published book. It was published this year. After writing the book and believing I had something worth publishing I began trying to figure out how to get published. Most people I talked to sarcastically told me, “Good luck.” I don’t think anyone believed I could find a publisher. I was hounded by self-publishing companies but my husband advised me not to go that route. I also decided not to self-publish. My line of thinking was…so what if you self-publish. What happens when you get it published? All you have is a book. So, I began to search the Internet and found a site (can’t remember what site) that listed over 100 publishing companies. The site discussed the query letter, etc. I simply began sending out query letters until one day, Mike Simpson, responded telling me I had a story that needed to be told. He gave me some much needed tips on how to structure the story and invited me to resubmit which I did. The rest is history.
Too, this is the history of who I am. I am a firm believer in BELIEVING. If you believe something can happen, it will. I was determined to be published. I never, ever give up. In fact, Bob calls me a bulldog who just won’t let go of that damned rag. When I make up my mind to do something, I just do it.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I’ve already begun writing two additional books which I plan to complete. I love writing basically women’s books with lots of romance and wonderful, naughty sex. I also want to incorporate other social wrongs into my stories such as sexism, date rape and the like. One book I have in mind will deal with another realm, maybe an alternate universe. Too, I want to write a few children’s books under the pseudonym, Molly B. Goose. I raised two rescued ducks last summer as well as an injured goose this year. I want to teach children to respect other living creatures even though many of their parents don’t. I keep all these ideas in a computer file which is backed up on a separate hard drive.
What writer influenced you the most?
I have a confession to make. I don’t read as much anymore as I used to. I’m more a movie buff. In fact, I’m hoping that CITW and my sequel are made into a movie or miniseries. My major in college was film and television production and direction. The biggest kick in the butt would be to be part of making that movie or miniseries. When I used to travel for a living I read a lot of Steven King and John Grisham. I love things that go bump in the night. The sequel to CITW has reincarnation as a sub-plot. I also love how Grisham deals with social issues. When I was a little girl I read all the Nancy Drew books. I love sleuthing. In fact, years ago before going to college I was going to join the police force so I could become a homicide detective. In terms of being influenced, I’m the consummate romance lover.
How have you marketed and promoted your work?
I sent a copy of my book to Oprah Winfrey. I used to live in Nashville, TN and knew her father owned a barber shop in Nashville. I did some research and found the address. Oprah now owns the shop after saving it from foreclosure and the street it’s on has been renamed after her father. I sent the book to him and asked him to give it to her. Who knows if anything will come of this; but, I do know that, because she was also molested it’s a subject near and dear to her heart. If she actually gets the book, I expect to hear from her one day. I’m now sending my book to some of the South Carolina women’s magazines asking that it be reviewed. I’m also going to set up a book signing with Barnes and Nobel and have already talked to the Business Development Manager about doing that. I’ll go to other local book stores and do the same. I use FB to promote my work as well. I also have a website, www.maribethshanley.com. I’m so open to finding out how to optimize social media to get my name and books out there and read.
Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?
I keep one close by at all times. I get many ideas while watching movies, etc. as well. Good lines inspire me so I write them down. I’ve also used a photo to inspire me to write, e.g., what do you see in this photo?
What one word describes how you feel when you write?
Would it matter to you if you were never published? (In other words, would it matter if no one ever read your books?) Why or why not?
Yes, it actually would matter. I’ve done enough writing for myself and have that file I mentioned full of my writings. I now wish to write in hopes of inspiring others with my stories. Also, yes, it would matter if no one read my books. What’s the point of writing if no one reads them?
Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?
Yes I do, and I firmly believe this motto. I am living proof that it works. That motto is: Your life is your story. You are the author. Create a best seller! I’m putting that on my bookmarks which will also become my business cards.
I’ve been trying to adopt that same philosophy, because it is true, our lives are our story. One last question: Where can we learn more about your book?
From the Second Wind Publishing site: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!maribeth-shanley/cdgr