Today's Spotlight Interview is with the author J.S. Marlo.
Welcome to Dishin' It Out!
Readers, I save the "red ink" for myself 😁 However, since the title of J.S. Marlo's latest release is The Red Quilt, I'm 'loaning" her my favorite color for today's interview.
J.S. Please tell us about your current release from B.W.L. Publishing Inc. (Books We Love):
The Red Quilt is a cozy mystery / romantic suspense set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, during the Christmas Holidays. It was released in December 2021.
For Eli and his five-year-old granddaughter Ruby, a last-minute Christmas road trip goes horribly wrong. Stranded in a ditch during a blizzard, they are rescued by Lana, a widow who welcomes them into her house.
Outside, the snowstorm rages, the illegal activities of Lana's neighbors threaten their safety, and Eli's past mistakes catch up with him.
Inside, the little girl and the grandfather fill the void left by Lana's son and husband, but the hope of second chances seems as impossible as the little girl's wish for something Santa cannot bring her.
Connie: What was the inspiration for this story?
My friend Jody and I talked about book covers and titles when she commented about colors and their different meanings. It sparked a crazy idea. What if I pick a color and then introduce a shade of that color in every chapter of my story?
The more I thought about the concept, the more interesting it became. Finding shades of red was relatively easy, their descriptions & meanings not so much, but coming up with a storyline in which I could seamlessly lace these different shades together proved challenging.
I was wrapping Christmas presents with my little six-year-old granddaughter when inspiration struck. What if I write a Christmas story with a cute little girl and a dog? A Christmas story would give me many opportunities to add shades of red.
In The Red Quilt, I mention fifteen shades of red, and at the end, I give the meaning of them all. It is also the reason the series is called "Fifteen Shades."
Connie::What would you like to see more/less of in the genre(s) you write?
I write a blend of mystery and romantic suspense novels. On a few occasions, I also dabbed in the paranormal, adding ghosts and time travel to the stories in my Unraveling The Past series.
The same ingredients are mixed in different proportions depending on the story, so I can't say I'd rather see more or less of something. It depends on the novel.
Connie: What, in your opinion, makes a good writer?
Not everyone might agree with me, but I have to say: Imagination.
An editor once told me, "I can teach any author how to write, but I can't teach anyone how to invent a good story."
Connie: Do you have this novel's favorite paragraph/line of dialogue?
I knew I had favorite lines, but when I reread the story, I found too many L.O.L. I couldn't choose just one, so I picked two. For the sake of clarity, these are the characters in the two paragraphs:
Eli, aka Papili, is the grandfather
Ruby is the 5-yr old granddaughter
Lana is the woman who rescued them
"Papili?" Ruby poked her grandfather's chest with her owl. "What does inaccessible mean?"
"It's inaccessible, munchkin. It means you cannot get to it like...like the cookie jar on the top of the fridge at home. It's inaccessible to you." He kissed the top of her nose. "You cannot get to it."
"Yes, I can. I push a chair against the fridge, and I..." Her sweet little face blushed a rosy shade of red. "Nothing."
"Eli, it's me. I'm in the back of a patrol car, wrapped in a blanket. I...I don't think I'll ever be warm again, but I'm safe and tired and...and mad." With that last word, Lana's voice rose too many notches for his ear's comfort. "He shot my new winter tires, Eli. I spent a fortune on them, and he blew two of them into pieces, like getting stuck in the middle of nowhere wasn't bad enough. I swear if I ever see his face again, I'll smash his nose into his skull with the butt of his rifle."
Stunned to hear the sweet woman chew up nails and spit out a barbed-wire fence, Eli slumped in her rocking chair. "Are you sure it's wise to threaten your neighbor within earshot of the nice officers who rescued you?"
Connie: Why did you choose this location for your novel?
I'm Canadian, so I like to set my stories in Canada. I also very much like winter and snow. My husband was a military officer, and I would have loved a posting in Prince Edward Island. We ended up having two postings in Nova Scotia, and from there, we often went camping to P.E.I. in the summer. Back then, there was no bridge. P.E.I. was only accessible by ferry. The island had a magical aura that screamed "cozy" to me. It seemed like the perfect place to set that story. Besides, it's not unusual for a blizzard to storm the island and snow on everyone for days, sometimes without electricity… not fun for the inhabitants, but great for a story.
Connie: Who would it be if you were forced to live the rest of your life as one of your characters?
In The Red Quilt, Lana is a retired military nurse who lives on her late husband's potato farm, and in Seasoned Hearts, Riley is a scriptwriter who lives on a ranch at the foothills of The Rockies. I could probably be either one of them.
Connie: What are your hobbies? Do any of your characters share your hobbies/Interests? Do any of your hobbies play a part in your novels? Or did anything unexpected happen/discover a fact that changed the course of your story?
I enjoy puzzles, escape rooms, music, gardening, writing, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, traveling, and on the side, I'm also a Jill-of-all-trades. If something breaks or needs to be redone around the house, I'm usually the one fixing it.
Most of my female characters have unusual jobs/careers while having similar hobbies to me that play a role in the story. Many also consider themselves Jill-of-all-trades, some by choice and others by necessity.
In The Red Quilt, Lana makes jigsaw puzzles with little Ruby, which I enjoy doing with my little granddaughter—and my husband stays clear of it, as does Eli in the story.
In Seasoned Hearts, Riley lives on an old ranch where she's always fixing something. When she ends up locked in her office, she takes the doorknob apart to escape, then she's caught putting it back together one piece at a time. The week I wrote that scene, I'd just changed my front lock after it literally fell apart in my hands when I turned the knob.
In Mishandled Conviction, Violet renovates an escape room. Her character came to life while I redo my own floor, but I'd never been inside an escape room when I started the story. I had a design in mind, but that design changed after I ventured into an actual escape room to visualize it—and I ended up loving the concept.
Connie: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I would just like to mention that my current work in progress is The Blue Ribbon, a Fifteen Shades of Blue in the backdrop of a wedding.
Thank you for having me here today. It was fun.
J. S. Marlo
Where may our readers purchase your novels and locate you via website/social media sites?
My website: https://sites.google.com/site/jsmarloauthor
The Red Quilt is available in print (at Amazon) and ebook at all these retailers: https://books2read.com/The-Red-Quilt/
Thank you, J.S. Marlo, for visiting "Dishin'It Out!"