We love success stories at WOW!, and Marla Cordle is certainly one of them. She has been in a WOW! subscriber for quite a while and won an Honorable Mention in our Winter 2006 Flash Fiction Contest. Her entry, “The Writer of a Paid-for Pontiac,” touched our hearts, and we’re proud to say that we knew she had some great things in store. Marla’s first novel, Silencing Sarah, will be released in November 2007, but is available for pre-order from Resplendence Publishing. So, join us as we chat with Marla, get to know her, and talk about her forthcoming book, Silencing Sarah.
M. L. Cordle's Bio: I am a lifelong sojourner of the rustic and beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia, and cherish my Appalachian heritage – my English/Scotch Irish forefathers and mothers and their folklore. I enjoy excavating early American house sites and researching subjects that I find fascinating. I write about things that I find most compelling – the complexity of the mind and human spirit, the unique love between a man and a woman, and the paranormal. If you tell me there are no such things as ghosts, I will just smile.
WOW: Greetings Marla, welcome to WOW! and congratulations on the forthcoming release of your first novel, Silencing Sarah. You must be excited. How did you first react when you heard your book was accepted?
Marla: I cried.
WOW: I can imagine! Tears of joy... Please tell our readers a little about Silencing Sarah.
Marla: In the past, Will McGomery’s involvement with two women led to a tragic drowning. Now, Sarah Chambers, the girl whose lifeless body was pulled from his grandparents’ pond years ago, haunts him, seeking justice for her murder.
When Madison Owens, a celebrated novelist turned reclusive writer, arrives on his doorstep, he is not surprised because Sarah has forecasted it in a dream. His attraction to the beautiful author is instant and profound but he knows that she has been brought into his life to help Sarah, and helping Sarah could be disastrous. More than anything, he wishes he could banish Madison from his life and spare her his nightmare, but with each passing second he realizes he needs her more.
As Sarah pulls out all the stops to gain attention, Madison becomes determined to solve the mystery that Will refuses to talk about – the identity of Sarah’s killer. He knows that he must find a way to silence Sarah forever before the truth destroys everything he’s grown to live for – his beloved Madison.
Silencing Sarah is a ghost story that meets a psychological thriller. It is also a love story.
WOW: Now that you’ve whetted our appetites, what inspired you to write this story?
Marla: In the summer of 2005, my dad’s brother lost his long battle with cancer. At the funeral, I found that I felt he was there among us and, quite simply, I opened my heart and my mind and asked my uncle to send me a sign that he carries on. Nothing happened at the time, but that night I had a dream that changed my life. It was the beginning of the book I would write, the beginning to Silencing Sarah. The dream and the idea it left me with propelled me to write again after a decade of believing postpartum depression had crippled my talent.
WOW: I'm sorry for your loss Marla. As you probably know, I lost my mother when I was young, and somehow writing helps heal the pain, even if you're not writing about the person directly. That and time. So, how long did the writing process take?
Marla: Initially, it took eight weeks to write the first draft of Silencing Sarah. I started writing it in longhand in June of 2005 and when I’d filled several legal pads, my husband Brett decided I was serious and bought me a used laptop. I spent a week transferring onto the computer what I’d written and then I got right back into the story. When the last sentence had been typed, I had a 214K word novel and I believed it would sell instantly. That’s how much I knew about the market at the time. After the advice of several interested literary agents, I knew that I was faced with cutting the book to half its size and spent a lot of days and nights doing that.
WOW: That's amazing, you have a lot of story in you! So how many hours did you spend in the cutting room?
Marla: I spent at least a year in the cutting room with Silencing Sarah. At the same time, I began my second novel as well, which is about ready to be seen by my editor.
WOW: Congratulations! Your editor must love that you're so prolific. Do you have a writing schedule that helps you with this?
Marla: My writing schedule is nothing that is set in stone but once an idea takes hold in my head, I try to write at least a few hours every day. I tend to go into the obsessive mode when I’m writing a book. Trust me, this gets the job done. I do tend to suffer from sleep deprivation, however, while writing the first draft of a book.
WOW: I understand that one. I've spent many spleepless nights myself. So Marla, when did you first get interested in writing?
Marla: Many, many moons ago. I took an interest in writing just about the time I read my first romance novel. I was nine years old and my friend and I pilfered this book from her mother’s stash. I don’t remember the title or the author now, but to this day, I believe that that historical romance was the best possible way I could’ve learned about the birds and the bees. I think I was a romantic from birth but this book set the stage for an insatiable curiosity. I’ve spent many years pondering the complex mating rituals between males and females, have read anything I can get my hands on to help me understand the dynamic between the sexes.
WOW: And who are some of your current favorites now?
Marla: I can get wrapped up in Sandra Brown easily, love her books both past and present. I enjoy reading Christine Feehan, Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Dean Koontz…there are so many. A romance with a side of mystery is hard to beat, but I also enjoy literary fiction, loved The Doctor’s Wife by Elizabeth Brundage. Johanna Lindsey is one of my favorite historical romance writers.
WOW: I find that the more I read, the better I write. How have these books influenced your craft?
Marla: The books by the aforementioned authors have influenced me in profound ways. A time existed when I believed I would never write anything that had to do with the paranormal. After I read Stephen King’s Bag of Bones I went through a transition; I began thinking like a cross genre writer. At times I actually feel as if I’m a literary writer caught in a romance writers daydreams. I’m still evolving but it has become apparent to me in the last little bit that I’m supposed to be writing love stories. Okay, love stories with a serious chill factor. lol
WOW: Reading love stories and mysteries always help me escape as well. I also happen to know that you're an excellent portrait artist with a specialty of drawing women. When did you start drawing, and have you ever pursued this as a career? Your artwork is exquisite.
Marla: I started drawing female subjects when I was ten-years-old. I would look at fashion magazines and sketch from the ads in them. I loved trying to come up with my own designs for the models I sketched. I took Art I, II, and III in high school and at the conclusion of my senior year, walked away with the highest grade point average in Art III. I then took a course in college but ultimately decided that creative writing was more important to me. My artistic abilities have always aided me in my writing endeavors. Sketching taught me to be an avid observer of people. Now, hundreds of portraits later, I have a keen sense for detail. You must have an eye for detail when it comes to writing. My sketches and paintings have sold to individuals in thirty different states across America. Those displayed on my website and on MySpace are no longer in my possession. I have maybe two original sketches left; they are stashed away for now.
WOW: You mentioned myspace, how has the promotion been for you there so far?
Marla: Well, it’s been a true labor of love. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time trying to come up with unique ways to connect with readers on MySpace. In my experience, I find that people enjoy reading something that prompts them to make their own observations, so I post a lot of bulletins and blogs that invite their feedback. I’m not heavy-handed when it comes to promoting my book. If folks read my blogs and grow to respect and trust me as a writer, and I can make them smile, I figure they will want to read my book. I’m a big believer in showing not telling. If I show them an aspect of my talent through my observations and prose via blog, they are likely to want to know and read more of my work. I do mention the upcoming release of Silencing Sarah; I just don’t beat them over the head with talk about the book. lol
Resplendence Publishing has enabled their authors to customize some promotional items through Zazzle, and I’ve got a link to these products on my MySpace profile and my website, so this is a great way to offer awesome merchandise to readers and get the word out. Also, I was able to do this wonderful interview with WOW! which will be tremendously helpful in garnering some attention to my debut novel. I’m so honored to be associated with WOW! Truly.
WOW: Aw, thank you Marla. It's always wonderful to hear that one of our WOW! family members has made it; we're thrilled! You mentioned your website, http://www.nocoincidence.net/ and I saw you recently started a journal there, which also must be a great promotional tool. In one of your entries you said, "Writing a book is a very selfish and selfless thing to do.” What I garnered from this was that writing could be a very lonely process, but a gratifying one—to be able to touch someone else with your words is amazing. What does this quote mean to you personally?
Marla: It basically means what you just said. Writing is a lonely process, a journey that I embark upon that leads me deep into my mind, but at the end of this expedition, I am left with something that I can share with so many. I can only hope that my book touches someone, and perhaps opens his/her mind to new possibilities.
WOW: You also call yourself ‘a digger’. Please tell us about the artifacts you’ve unearthed and why they are important to you.
Marla: While excavating the house site of my 2nd great grandparents, I unearthed many fascinating items, including clay pipes and figurines, coins from the 1800’s, porcelain buttons, and even a human tooth. These items are important to me because they belonged to my grandmother, great grandparents, and great great grandparents. One item I recovered - a lead pencil - was worn down nearly to the eraser. It still had the metal clip attached with the patent. The date was 1916. My grandmother would have been eight years old at that time and I like to think it belonged to her, though I can’t ask her because she passed away in 1982.
WOW: I bet those artifacts fuel a lot of inspiration. Just hearing you talk about them fills my mind with untold stories. So how can readers get a copy of Silencing Sarah?
Marla: The book will be available to download electronically, November 1st. The e-book can be pre-ordered now by clicking on a link to the Resplendence Publishing web site. Most, if not all of the upcoming titles being published by Resplendence can be pre-ordered at this time through the Resplendence Publishing web site. When my book goes to print, early in 2008, it will be available for purchase at the major book chains. Silencing Sarah will also be available at any conferences/conventions I attend, as well as at book signings. Eventually, it will also be available for order at Amazon.com.
WOW: Well, congratulations Marla, so what's next on your promotional schedule?
Marla: I’m planning to join some writing forums such as Coffee Time Romance in the near future. Also, at the close of August, I will be traveling to New Orleans to participate in the Heather Graham workshop. I will have lots of goodies to give away as will the other talented RP authors attending. Then in March I am scheduled to attend the Christopher Newport University writing conference where I will be a presenter. Then, there is the RT conference in April, of course. I wouldn’t miss that! I’m going to be very busy the next few months during the launch of Silencing Sarah, and I’m very excited.
WOW: And we're very excited for you! Please check back with us and let us know how things are going for you. Do you have any closing comments or advice for our readers?
Marla: I would like to take a moment to thank your readers for taking a few moments out of their busy lives to learn about who I am and what I write. This interview is an important first for me and I’m so pleased that I was given this opportunity to connect with the readers of WOW! I hope that you will remember one thing when you hear or see the words Silencing Sarah; this book was born from a dream and made tangible by the faith of a few. I’m excited to bring it to you. You hold the key to our future together as reader and writer. All you have to do is open Silencing Sarah and start reading. I’ll meet you at the conclusion!
WOW: Thank you Marla for joining us, and for your wonderful words. I know you're going to do super, and I can't wait to read Silencing Sarah, especially now that we know a little bit more about the wonderful woman behind the book. ;-)
To find out more about Marla, please visit:
And pre-order Silencing Sarah from Resplendence Publishing