Saturday 14 April 2012


1.What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
I’m Marlene Dotterer. I was born in Tucson, Arizona and have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1990.

2. Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, even in grade school. But the truth is, I never did know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don’t! Therefore, I have done a lot of things to earn a living over the years, from bookkeeping to geology to cooking. I had my own business as a personal chef for about five years. Now, in addition to writing, I teach natural childbirth classes. That is a VERY part-time job, but I love it. Especially when I get to act as a doula for a couple. I love seeing babies born when Mom has had no drugs and both she and baby are alert and getting to know each other.

3. How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
There’s really no set time. Shipbuilder was my first novel, and it took about a year to write. There was a lot of research involved in that one, too. It’s funny, but that was the easiest book to write. The words just flowed out. I’ve started several novels since then and every one of them has been a struggle. I’ve managed to finish one of them (Moon Over Donamorgh), but that one needs a sequel, so I guess I can’t really say it’s done. The other novels are all still in the working stage.

4. What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’m writing in both science fiction and in fantasy. I think all of my books have romance themes as well, but they don’t fit the usual romance template. Right now, I’m concentrating on the second book in the Time Travel Journals series. It’s called Bridgebuilders. It has one of the characters who is in Shipbuilder - well, sort of. When you’re messing with time travel, things get a little mixed up. For instance, Shipbuilder takes place in the early 1900s.  Bridgebuilders takes place in 2080, but only 70 years have passed by. Don’t worry, it makes sense in the book!

I expect to publish Bridgebuilders this summer, which places a lot of pressure on me to get it written!  I’m still looking for a publisher for Moon Over Donamorgh, which is a fantasy in the early 1800s in Ireland. And I’m almost finished with a paranormal romance called Worlds Apart. That one is present-day, and has a magical realm intersecting with our “normal” one. It’s got werewolves, witches, elves, and all manner of creatures. It just needs one more chapter, then it’s off to the editor!

The best place to see what’s in store, is my website at You can read the first chapter of all my works-in-progress.

5. If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
I can’t really say I’d want to be any of them, although Shandari, a minor, but important, character in Worlds Apart, is fascinating to me. She’s  a healer from the magical realm. I haven’t exactly figured out what species she is, but she’s got black skin, blue eyes, and snow-white hair, with pointed ears. She can “see” into the body and easily determine what is wrong, and how to fix it. She’s very compassionate and soft-spoken, but she has an iron will. I imagine she’ll have her own book one day.

6. Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
That’s not an easy question to answer. With Shipbuilder, the inspiration was Thomas Andrews, himself. Everything I read about him showed him to be a kind and compassionate man. He built ships because he LOVED to build ships, and he knew he was doing something good. As I read about him, I thought about how horrified and guilty he had to feel as Titanic sank. I think it was harder on him than anybody else, a pain that not even his death could erase. It broke my heart. I wrote the story as an attempt to give him a second chance. A second chance to live, and a second chance to save as many lives as he could.

I think all of my books have themes in common. Writing science fiction or fantasy lets the author build an entirely new world, based on whatever criteria the author feels is important. So I get to explore ideas that I would like to see implemented in our own world, and see how they work. Some of my ideas have to do with environmentalism, or feminism, or even group marriage. I like putting characters into those worlds and then seeing what happens to them.

7. Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I wish I did! I’m afraid it’s very haphazard. I write all over the house. The important thing is that it must be quiet. No music, no TV, no conversations... I have to concentrate. I don’t know why, and I haven’t always been this way. I used to do my calculus homework while my five little children watched TV or ran around playing games, but I can’t concentrate like that anymore. Of course, I only got C’s in calculus...

8. Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Absolutely. I have a crit group I meet with monthly, and they see every chapter. I also belong to the Online Writers Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Authors can post a chapter online and get reviews from lots of other members, including people who are established authors or editors. The final draft goes to an editor for more revisions. I want my books to be as perfect as they can be.

9. Do you read all the reviews of your book/books? Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
I’ve read every review so far, but it’s been just a handful. I’d really love to have more! But no, I would never, never, never ask a reviewer to change anything. Reviews are sacrosanct. They are the opinion of the reviewer and no author has a right to interfere in that.

10. Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Oh, goddess. When do I not have writer’s block? I swear, all I have to do is open my manuscript, and I’m taken with an overwhelming desire to go play Spider Solitaire. I love my books, but I fight for every word. The only solution I’ve found is just to type words until the story appears. It can be painful.

11. What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I cook. I love to cook. I’m a big, typical, California-Alice-Waters-Michael Pollen-foodie. I like Real Food, whole grains, local, organic vegetables and meat and eggs. I hardly buy anything processed - not even chicken broth or canned tomatoes - not very often, anyway. I won’t buy food grown by Big Agriculture. I think it’s poison. So I cook a lot, and I’m always happy while I’m doing it.

The problem with all that, is that someone has to eat all the food I cook, and there’s only two of us. So my latest “hobby” is a membership at the YMCA, where I lift weights and do water aerobics!

12. What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m always reading more than one book. Right now, for my book club, I’m reading The Tales of Aradia: The Last Witch, by L.A. Jones. I’m also reading The Politics of Breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer. It’s really stirring up my crunchy-granola side. Why do we make breastfeeding so hard?

The Last Witch is an ebook and Politics is a paperback that belonged to my daughter, who is studying to be a lactation consultant. She’s almost as crunchy-granola as I am!

13. Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
Too many to count, but I have to mention a couple from OWW, who are putting out wonderful works: Patty Jansen writes hard SF, with strong characters and realistic, complex worlds. Darke Conteur writes dark paranormal fantasy, and has a new series featuring paranormal troubleshooters that is really cool.

For some writers who are not from OWW, I’ll mention Sue Ann Bowling, who writes epic science fiction, which is a bit unusual. She has a highly detailed world and lots of description in her books, similar to Jean Auel, without all the sex.

A new writer from your side of the pond is Jean Cross. I loved the voice of her novel - it’s a charming kind of old world Irish with the funniest names for all the people, places, and things.

14. What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Respect your reader. Respect your writing. Get real criticism, and work to make it better. Join a critique group. Join two. Find good ones with a variety of people who will tell you the truth about  your writing, and have suggestions for how to fix it. Don’t be afraid of rejection.

Where can readers follow you?
Lots of places!

Your facebook page?
Your Twitter details?

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