As most of you know, one of the primary goals of HumorOutcasts.com/HO Press/Shorehouse Books is to get the word out about talented authors. Mary O. Paddock is one of those authors. Today, we are sharing a Q & A with Mary. We encourage you to check out her work on her author page on HO Press-Shorehouse Books. Her work is available on Amazon.
Give us a little glimpse into who Mary O Paddock is?
I’d like to tell you that Mary O Paddock is a brilliant, rich woman who lives in Vermont in a log cabin constructed from logs cut by environmentally conscious lumberjacks. And, of course, she spends her winter evenings by the fire, sipping wine with her wonderful hot husband, while reading letters from her four remarkable children who are all doing world-saving things at the opposite ends of the planet.
In reality, Mary O Paddock is a fairly bright woman who lives in the Missouri Ozarks with a wonderful (hot) husband and four boys, who really are remarkable, but have so far only traveled as far as the nearest large city and are either gainfully employed or are attending school in order to become so. All are brightening the corner they inhabit, saving the world in fine, small ways. Life is good in this modest little house on Table Rock Lake and, while she wouldn’t turn down a log cabin in Vermont (or any house in Vermont, for that matter), she is content.
Mary is a remarkably chatty introvert who likes people, but needs solitude and lots of it. Loves to read, garden, camp, and, of course, write. She also loves animals, as evidenced by the copious numbers of bird feeders in her front yard, the cats and dogs napping on beds and windowsills in her house, and her refusal to actually shoot the deer who keep snacking on her roses and fruit trees.
When did you first start writing?
I hope there’s more than one right answer to this question because I never really know how to reply. I started writing stories and poetry as a kid and continued to do so throughout my school years. It helped that we moved to an ancient mining town in Northwest Arkansas when I turned twelve, living miles from the nearest movie theater and public library, and only got one channel on the TV. During the summer I wrote long stories—not quite book length, but close. Mom, bless her, used to buy Big Chief Indian Tablets because they were cheap and, when I ran out of those, I used paper sacks to write on. Yes, really.
Later on, Gary (the hot husband mentioned previously) encouraged me to keep writing after the kids were born—largely because he realized that I needed it to survive the brain-sapping early years of motherhood. Shortly after we connected to the internet in the late 90s, I discovered online writing workshops and am a longtime member of two, and a moderator of another.
I’ve had some work published (both for money and recognition) but, honestly, I didn’t really start thinking of myself as a writer until I finished my third book sometime in my mid-thirties. And sometimes I still need to be a reminded that it’s important enough to neglect all the things society tells me I should be doing.
You write both short stories and poetry? Is there one you prefer doing over the other?
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to read the poetry of successful talented poets in one of those workshops I mentioned. It takes a great love of discipline and language to compress moments or thoughts into tightly woven verse and do it so well that it looks effortless. I can do it, and do I it passably well, but it is not basic to my nature. I’m a storyteller at heart, in print and in person. And, honestly, while I’ve written a lot of short fiction and I know it’s most of what you know about me, I’ve actually spent more time crafting the art of novel writing—it is more challenging and there’s more room for error, but it’s my preferred mode of storytelling.
What is the inspiration for your work?
Do you mean—what drives me? Or where do I draw my ideas from?
Beginning with the latter question, there really isn’t any single source of inspiration. Sometimes it’s a news article, or an odd conversation. Sometimes it’s a word someone uses. Once I was inspired by a creepy guy at a campsite in Arkansas (who was probably just socially awkward, but—you know—walking back and forth past our campsite after dark carrying an ax and staring at us did not make me anxious to invite him stop for a glass of wine). Another time I was inspired by an online friend who (quite generously) sent me a box of books. It occurred to me that gifts—both the giving them and the acceptance of them—are powerful things. And that power can be used for good or evil.
As for what drives me—I don’t really know how not to write. Well, that’s not true. I know exactly how to avoid writing. But I don’t know how to get out of the habit of thinking like a writer and it nearly always ends in my succumbing to the habit.
Are your stories and poems collections you have completed over any specific time or are they works from throughout your life?
They are from works throughout my life. Most were written for classes or workshops.”Souvenir” contains several more recent works. Interestingly, my short fiction is often inspired by glimpses into other people’s lives. It is a far more right-brained process than novel writing.
What are your goals for writing in the future?
I’m currently just over halfway through a rewrite of a paranormal science fiction novel entitled “Trouble Waters” (TW). TW is about Sevin Waters, an unusually gifted white-hatter who works undercover for the FBI, tracking down sex offenders who contact children and teens online. After her sister is murdered by a man she met on the internet, Sevin makes it her personal mission to find and stop him. The question is—will she figure out who he is before it’s too late?
After I’ve sent it off to whoever I can bribe into beta-reading it for me (FYI–I make good zucchini bread), I’ll turn my attention to editing another novel called “Bright”, which I finished in January. Though it’s paranormal science fiction too, “Bright” is probably the more serious of the two works.
Once I’ve heard from the beta reader(s), I’ll put TW through a final edit and publish it. I’m hesitant to give a date on that one yet, but I hope to have it all ready to roll by Christmas. Bright’s final draft is further out as it is not as far along in the process.