Thursday, May 1, 2008

Interview with a Sorority Girl- Marley Gibson aka Kate Harmon

What's Jack up to? He's still sleeping since I'm cheating and writing this at midnight. Must get some zzzz's. Jack will make me pay tomorrow.

Today I have the honor of interviewing author and fellow agency sistah Marley Gibson. Check out the photo of Marley and me from the NEC conference. Marley’s first 2 releases ev-ah in the Sorority 101 series Zeta or Omega and The New Sister comes out today, May 1st, written under the name Kate Harmon! Three cheers for Marley!


Here a blurb about SORORITY 101: Zeta or Omega?:


Who wants to be a sorority girl?
High school is already a distant memory for incoming Latimer University freshmen, Jenna, Roni, and Lora-Leigh. Jenna wants to meet cute college boys, Roni wants to get away from home, and Lora-Leigh...well, Lora-Leigh couldn't care less. She's going to LU and participating in sorority recruitment only to appease her mom. Sorority girls are pretty, rich, and snotty, and Lora-Leigh doesn't want to be one of those girls. So she's shocked to find herself actually connecting with the sisters of Zeta Zeta Tau. And her new friend Jenna can relate. She came to sorority recruitment only because her roommate begged her to, but now she can't decide which sorority to join; she likes them all! Roni knows which sorority she should join. The Tri Omegas are exactly the type of "it" girls she would usually befriend, but Roni came to LU to reinvent herself. As recruitment progresses and the girls prepare to make big decisions, they'll need to heed the best advice there is: follow your heart. But where will it lead?


And here’s a blurb for SORORITY 101: THE NEW SISTERS:
So far, college life at Latimer University has been everything Jenna, Roni, and Lora-Leigh expected. They’ve already made close friends, caught the eye of a few hot frosh boys, and participated in sorority recruitment. As if it were meant to be, all three found a home in the Zeta Zeta Tau sorority. Now Roni hopes to be the most perfect ZZT in history, while Lora-Leigh can barely believe how quickly she went from cynic to sorority new member! Jenna is just as excited to be in the sorority, but she also has classes to stuffy for, a nasty roommate to put up with, and a marching band scholarship to uphold. How’s a girl supposed to appease everyone and everything—not to mention strike up a romance with an adorable fraternity boy—all the while keeping her diabetes hidden? Lora-Leigh and Roni are there for her, but ZZT initiation is on the horizon and Jenna must decide if she really trusts her new sisters enough to share her secret...

Now to the hard hitting interview. (I love saying that):


Thanks for being here Marley. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have you here on this wonderful occasion. I’m just thrilled.


1. Let’s start with my traditional question did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Is this something you always knew you’d do?
Awww...thanks Kwanster! Much appreciated that you’re helping me pimp my books. LOL!! As for the question...I don’t know if I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but it’s something I’ve always done. When I was really little, I used to write stories (okay, they were like one page and six sentences) and then I would hold an “auction” where my mother, father, sister, and brother would bid against each other for them. Hmmm...maybe that prepared me for selling, eh? I’ve always written...in school, in my professional career, and finally, in 2001, I decided to do it for real. Seven years later, my first two published works hit the shelves!


2. Now for my next favorite question. Please tell us the story of your “overnight” success. You just know I’m cracking up as I say this one.
Yeah...seriously. See aforementioned starting to write “for real” in 2001. I had been dabbling for years with romance novels and have an entire folder on my computer entitled “Ideas” that’s full of all sorts of story ideas. I took a Fiction Writing class in 1999 where I was pretty much the oldest person in the class. All these eighteen year olds were writing about killing themselves, killing their grandparents, killing their parents, killing their roommates, killing the guy they babysat for, I think one even wrote about killing the neighbor’s dog. It was tres dark. And here I was, writing a story about two girls finding love on Capitol Hill in the 80s. We would all critique each other’s work and I remember one of the angsted-wants-to-kill-but-never-would kids wrote, “This sounds like a romance novel.” Seriously...underlined the word. Like it was a curse. Flash forward to 2002 and an assignment the teacher gave us (to write a sex scene) turned into my book A LAPSE OF VIRTUE about my favorite heroine, Vanessa Virtue. (http://vanessavirtue.blogspot.com/)

Anyway...I’m prattling...but I started writing my first novel in January 2001, called FOOTPRINTS ON MY HEART, which was about a girl reminiscing about her senior year in high school in 1985. It took me about eight months to write it and in the end, it turned out to be 863 pages and over 200,000 words! It’s a mess, with some glimpses of brilliance in it—LOL!—but it was a process and it taught me to write. Then, I went on to write Vanessa’s story, which got me my first agent, went to committee with two publishers and almost got published by a third, had the line not gone under. I finally had to put Vanessa aside in 2005 (although, I had written four other manuscripts in the meantime), as well as writing romance. In 2005, I decided to take a shot at the YA story that was calling to me...which was a good thing because it got me my new agent (the wonderful Deidre Knight) and some close calls on that, as well. In 2006, a publisher approached my agent asking if she had any authors who could write a proposal for a sorority series. The publisher had the idea, but needed someone to write it. Well, I took a shot at it and about two months later, we had the deal for the SORORITY 101 books.


3. What’s your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser and how do you get it all done working full time and meeting your deadlines.
Just the word “pantser” scares the ever-loving crap out of me. Before I can start writing, I have to see the whole story in my head from curtain rising to the final credits. I have to see it clearly, otherwise, I don’t know what I’m writing towards. I write out a full synopsis and then stick to it pretty much 85%...there are always twists and turns that come up...but that’s the fun part. Being a meeting planner my whole career, I’m used to deadlines. I simply set the deadline and work backwards from it. It’s all about sticking to a schedule and looking at it like a job (which it is.) I’m also a wicked-fast typist (over 100 WPM) so when I’m writing and in the blood-fever of getting the story done, I can get about 1,500 words done in my hour lunch break—when I write. Then, when I get home, I go over what I write and do a little editing and tweaking and then lather, rinse, repeat. It’s down to a science for me...and it’s what works for me.

4. Tell us about your characters in Zeta or Omega? and The New Sisters.
Well...I there are three heroines: Veronica “Roni” Van Gelderen is a Boston Brahman from Beacon Hill who was born to very hands-off parents who see her more as a reflection of their social status than a daughter with needs, desires, and dreams. Roni rejects her mother’s Wellesley and her father’s Harvard offers of admissions and goes off on her own to Latimer University in Latimer, Florida, to find herself. Next is Jenna Driscoll from Marietta, Georgia. She’s a serial-joiner, and over-achiever, and the big sis who spends every spare moment taking care of her little sisters. She also became diabetic at the beginning of her senior year in high school. Since then, everyone treats her with kid gloves and looks at her like she’s different. Thanks to a band scholarship to Latimer, Jenna has the chance to start fresh and she can’t wait. Finally, there’s Lora-Leigh Sorenstein. She marches to her own drum, designs her own clothes, and can’t wait to fly away from the nest. She wants to go off to New York for design school, but her father, the dean of students at Latimer University, says she has to go to school locally. All three girls meet during sorority recruitment (known as Rush when I was in school) and become friends.

Sidebar question: I hear there’s an intriguing minor character in The New Sister with the interesting name of Kwana. Tell me what inspired such a choice?
LOL...why yes! Kwana “Johnson” (ahem) is a very important part of the initiation ceremony in THE NEW SISTERS :)

5. What up next for you, Marley? A little birdie tells me you’ve been hanging around in some really spooky place lately?
Yes! I’m verrrrrrrrrrrrrry excited about my new series that comes out in May 2009 from Houghton Mifflin – GHOST HUNTRESS. It’s a three-book deal and here’s the blurb for the first book: GHOST HUNTRESS: THE AWAKENING: Sixteen year old Kendall Moorehead never imagined in a million years that she’d become a ghost huntress. But after moving from Chicago to an historic southern town, she finds herself awakening to her latent psychic powers...and discovering there’s a ghost in her bedroom! With the guidance of a local medium and the help of her new friends and ghost hunting team (including a massively cute skeptic who makes her heart do flip-flops), Kendall must quickly develop her newfound intuitive abilities to talk to the other side and discover why a belligerent spirit is trying to harm her father.
I’ve been doing a lot of research for the series, which means a lot of lectures by paranormal experts, many hours of watching Ghost Hunters, Dead Famous, Psychic Kids, Paranormal State, and Most Haunted, and several ghost hunts to see this stuff first hand. I’m having a ton of fun with it and I can’t wait for the books to come out!

Thanks so much for doing this interview and more than that thank for being a great friend and wonderful inspiration over these years! All the best to you.


Thanks so much for having me and for helping me promote the SORORITY 101 books! Hope people enjoy them! Hugs!!

Best,
Kwana

P.S. You can check Marley out at her web page or at her blog here.

Oh and keep scrolling down for Top Chef and ANTM it's a late night.

19 comments:

Amanda Ashby said...

Great interview and I can't wait to read these books!!!!!

Mel Francis said...

big hugs to Marley! Can't wait to see you (and you too, Kwana)! We're gonna have a blast!

pam said...

Marley!

Happy Release day!!! Am looking forward to celebrating with you...and Kwana too!

:)Pam

Marley Gibson said...

Thanks so much, Kwana, and thanks you guys! I hope you enjoy the books!

(HOW much do I hate that picture of me?! Bleck! I look pale as a sheet of Xerox paper. We'll get a better pic on Friday, Kwana! = )

Kwana said...

Ok Hush Up, Ms. Marley! You look great and if I can deal with my big head then I don't want to hear anything from you:)

keri mikulski :) said...

Great interview. Can't wait to check out the series. :)

Kathy Holmes said...

Congrats, Marley! So nice to see your writing career taking off!

Fun interview, Kwana!

bria said...

This is great! Thanks for stopping by PurpleHearts it was great meeting you at NEC!

The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick said...

Great interview! I can't wait to get these signed by you at Nationals in SF! And I definitely can't wait for your Ghost Huntress books! A subject after my own heart. ;-) Congratulations, again, on your book release this week!!

Megan Frampton said...

Yay, Marley! You are an inspiration! I can't wait to get your book (coming soon, hurry up, Amazon!)

Marilyn Brant said...

Kwana,
What a terrific interview! Thanks for posting this!

Marley,
Again, happy release day! Loved reading details of the new series :).

KristinWallace said...

Love your interview, Kwana. Marley, congrats on your book release. I'm sure it's an amazing feeling. Your upcoming series looks great, too. Keep it up, girl!

Mary-Laure said...

I love reading writers' interviews! Thanks.

Kwana said...

I'm so glad you all liked the interview. Thanks again to Marley for doing it!

Leanna said...

Great interview! Super cool.

Thanks for your recent post on my photo, Kwana, glad you liked my dress, guess red velvet brings out my inner tiger or something. *wink*

Gerb said...

Great interview, Marley! I'm going out to see if I can get some on the shelf pics of the books today!

Linda

Marley Gibson said...

Thanks for all the support, everyone! The launch party last night was a BLAST!!!! = )

Melissa Walker said...

Really great interview--the "overnight" success story is fantastic!

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