Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Conversation 39: Author Mary Rowen

Greetings all! It gives me great pleasure to welcome back author Mary Rowen to the blog...

Glad to have you visit again, Mary! First, in a few paragraphs, please remind our readers who you are and what you do.

MR: I’m a Boston area writer who grew up in the Massachusetts Merrimack Valley, graduated from Providence College with a degree in English, and have worked as a teacher, a marketing writer, and a political canvasser.
All my novels (Leaving the Beach and Living by Ear are currently published by Booktrope, and there's a new one in the works) are about women of various ages discovering who they are, and what they want from life.
My blog is at:
Q1: Thank you. Now, please tell us who (either a person you know or someone famous) has had the greatest influence on your life as an artist, or just in general?
MR: In college, I floundered a LOT. I know everyone does some of that, but I was very anxious and confused, and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. 
Therefore, I made a bunch of bad decisions, which only made things worse. But one night, on a whim, I entered a campus poetry competition and was shocked when I won some kind of prize. 
Later on, one of my English professors--who oversaw the school's literary magazine--asked if I'd like to be co-editor of that magazine. 
That professor was the first person to tell me she saw potential in my writing, and she took me under her wing and became a real mentor. 
Unfortunately, I was also suffering from a serious eating disorder at that time, and a year later, I made another decision on a whim: to spend my junior year abroad in Switzerland. But I never got around to telling my mentor about that until the very last minute, leaving her almost no time to find a replacement for me on the magazine. When I finally told her I was leaving, she was--justifiably--very angry, and told me I'd hurt her very badly. She also said I needed to get my (you know what) together. 
Of course, I cried and apologized, and later on, I cried a whole lot more. But that professor taught me two things I've never forgotten: 1. that I have the ability to be a decent writer if I work hard, and 2.) regardless of what you're going through/dealing with, you still need to treat people with respect. I'd heard that latter point many times, but it wasn't until she laid it out for me that I truly understood. It was a very hard lesson to learn.

Q2: We’ve spoken about your love of music before, but please remind our readers… how did you come to fall in love with music? How has it helped to shape you as a person?

MR: Oh gosh, music has been an integral part of my life since I was a baby. My dad used to tell me that he'd get me to sleep as an infant by blaring Count Basie on the stereo and dancing me around the living room. Later on, in middle school, I found my identity (for a while anyway) by playing guitar with a group of classmates. 

We called ourselves the Beach Girls, and would play at talent shows and in church too. Then, in high school, when my life began taking some dark turns, I found comfort in all kinds of rock & roll--the Doors, David Bowie, the Police, Bruce Springsteen, Blondie, Elvis Costello...the list goes on and on. 

Also, I should mention that my husband and I never would've dated if we hadn't bonded over our mutual love of Nirvana. I can't even imagine where I'd be right now without music!

Q3: You recently wrote an important blog post about things people should consider before adding a companion animal, specifically a dog, to their family. What advice would you have for anyone considering animal adoption?

MR: Thanks for mentioning that, Bru. I was really affected by something I read on the internet about our disposable society, and how so many things we acquire these days can be tossed in the trash or returned for a full refund. And I guess that's a good thing if you buy, say, a pair of shoes, and then realize they don't match your outfit. But it's terrible when people adopt pets and then decide, after a period of time, that they're too much work or simply not what they were hoping for, so they turn them loose (yes, people actually do that) or return them to the animal shelter or breeder that they came from. 

Of course there are exceptions--like when a good pet owner falls in love with someone who's allergic--but in general, when a person decides to bring a pet into their home, they should plan on keeping that animal for the duration of its life. 

So they really need to think about the amount of time, energy, and money that pet will require. Dogs, in particular, need a lot of exercise (at least when they're young), so if the owner doesn't have a fenced yard, that dog will need to be walked several times a day. Our family got a dog two years ago, and I must admit I never expected to spend as much time walking him as I do. I'm lucky that I have a flexible work schedule and have grown to love our walks together, but bringing him into our lives was a huge change.  

Q4: What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?

MR: Easy question: the Greek islands. Although I went there many (many!) years ago with friends, and would love to return sometime with my husband.

Q5: Since you’ve answered the usual bonus question before here’s a new one for you: Say money is no object. What vacation trip would you plan, where would you go, for how long, and what would you hope it would be like?

MR: Well, since the only continents I've visited are Europe and North America, if money were no object, I guess I'd try to plan some sort of trip around the world. The biggest problem would be figuring out where to stop on each continent. I'm fifty years old, so I've met people from all over, and whenever I talk to them about their home counties, they tell me about "must see" places. So what do you do? Go to the major metropolises, or try to stay in out-of-the-way spots? It sure would be fun trying to plan!!

Thanks so much for having me as a blog guest, February! You're such a great host, and I'm really looking forward to reading Wishing Cross Station. 
That is so kind of you to say. Thank you again for coming by for another visit, it has been an absolute pleasure!

You can find out more about author Mary Rowen here:

We'll see you next time on Clockwork Conversations!