Q&A With Marcia Bradley
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Q&A With Marcia Bradley
I have the honor and privilege to do my latest Q&A with Marcia Bradley. Marcia is an author, editor, & writing instructor. Her novel The Home For Wayward Girls was recently published by HarperCollins Publishers. Marcia has had work published in The Chicago Review of Books, Drunk Monkeys, Literature + Film, The Writing Disorder as well as many other publications.
Q: Marcia, would you please tell the readers and I about your book The Home For Wayward Girls? How did you come up with the concept for the novel?
A: I have to say that I conjure story ideas every day. I have a document called First Sentences filled with the beginnings of future books I hope to write. Writers who know me know that I love words and sentences, that I wish I was a singer like Brandi Carlisle, but since I’m not I write.
The first sentence in my novel, The Home for Wayward Girls, is simply “Loretta was an independent woman,” yet there was nothing simple about writing it. I went back and forth regarding tense weekly and stared out my home office window contemplating if these five words carried what I needed to offer. I truly believe they do.
A few years ago, spending a grad school break out west, zipping down a back country road, I saw a building with a sign that read ‘Home for Girls.’ It got me started! And I wondered how an independent teen would survive there and become an amazing adult in New York City. That became my book.
I absolutely loved the story in The Home for Wayward Girls. It’s Loretta’s personal story about escaping an awful ranch far out on the prairie … but it’s also a theme many of us know—about making choices, staying or going, and finding our own destiny.
Q: Growing up did you always know that writing was your calling or did you figure that out as an adult?
A: At my first Mother McAuley High School Reunion in Chicago, a friendly alumni, Maribeth Hangstefer, asked me what I did. I said, and I was truly exaggerating, that I was writing a book. Ha! I then spent decades trying to make that come true. It is now a wonderful feeling. A big shout out to Maribeth for being my personal book nudger.
Q: What is it like writing for publications such as The Chicago Review of Books, Drunk Monkeys, Literature + Film, and The Writing Disorder? What advice would you give to those who want to submit pieces to them?
A: It’s really important for an aspiring author to have short stories, essays, and opinion pieces published. Your agent and publisher need these for many reasons including your bio, and it shows that you have done the hard work to become an accomplished writer. I tell people not to submit to the bigger journals and magazines although I think everyone dreams of being in The New Yorker. Pick smaller lit mags that will read your pieces, even local papers in your town. Go to the website of other authors and see where they’ve been published (go to mine, www.marciabradley.com). Write a note to an editor and mention that they published a writer or teacher you regard highly. If you search online, there are many lists of lit journals looking for your story.
Q: How do you juggle writing, editing, writing for publications and teaching writing courses?
A: Juggle is such a great word. Thank you for asking this. So let me answer in a twofold way that leans back to my corporate days. Tactically first—I keep a google calendar and everything for every single day is kept there. I make appointments for all my activities and I set up time for things like “read xxx’s pages” or “xxx birthday in 6 days” or “call xxx,” or “follow-up with xxx college about adjunct openings.”
Secondly, it is more strategic. Every morning I have coffee and I actively watch myself walk to my desk with a cup in hand, so I am ready to write. Sometimes I’m so busy that I only have time for a few sentences and other days I write a few thousand words. I reread what I wrote the day before. I will add to it. I will continue. On the rare occasion I can’t do this, I’m like one of the sparrows outside my window zipping back and forth hungry with wanderlust. Writing is my drug of choice. And very necessary for my life.
Q: So, since you’re an editor, if I or someone wrote a story, would we email it to you if we wanted you to edit it?
A: Yes! I story edit (also called developmental editing) both short pieces and full novels, memoirs, and nonfiction manuscripts. I truly appreciate the chance to help revise and add impact to a writer’s pages. Yesterday, I was at the launch of a book by a very special woman who worked with me early in her process. It was a true delight to know that I helped her sail her book into the world.
Please see my website, www.marciabradley.com, for more about all I do. I also teach full manuscript workshops for adults at Sarah Lawrence College, and I’ve recently begun teaching incredible classes about getting books published at QueryQuest, too!
Q: Can you talk about the topic of your next book, or is it too early to say just yet?
A: I have a few works in progress spread around my apartment, as well as piles of books I’m reading. I’m absolutely heartfelt-invested in everything I write. Yet I’ve conditioned myself to understand that not every book gets published. There are so many factors to consider: what’s in vogue, what theme won’t matter in two years, who gets to tell a story, and with the many book choices what will make this manuscript a must read. Right now, I’ve got a love story that I love, a book about a current threat to children, and one about new age grief. It’s so fantastic knowing I have choices. This makes writing so rewarding for me.