About Mary Ellen
Roaming from Egypt to the Philippines to Holland to the Hebrides to Tasmania to a tiny Indian Ocean atoll and to points between opened my eyes to others. Being a US Navy Machinist working on nuclear submarines widened my technical knowhow. A few degrees grew my understanding of form and substance. Building my log cabin in the Kentucky woods gave me a refuge from the world’s turmoil. Brewing my own ale, bitter, porter, stout, wine, cider, kyser and mead (and drinking it) made me ready to spin some stories.
I’d love to meet you! Visit maryellenwall.com
----------interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
|Mary Ellen's Cabin -
WOW: You have been literally everywhere – do tell how you ended up in a log cabin in the woods of Kentucky? Other than your current home, where was your favorite place to live or visit during your career as a US Navy Machinist?
Mary Ellen: As a kid in Louisville, one of our favorite treats was driving out to my Daddy’s old
stomping grounds just south of Bernheim Forest. I’d play in the creek…far downstream from where Daddy was fishing. At Twilight he’d make weird creature sounds and say the Greeps were coming for us. I certainly have been all around the planet and have seen wondrous sights from the canals of Amsterdam to the pyramids in Cairo. I stood on the beach of a coral atoll in the Chagos Archipelago and watched a distant ship with full canvas sail by. No distant marvel surpasses the scene of a creek tickling the smooth brown stones, it’s like they’re laughing. Now my log cabin deep in a thick forest has the Wild Branch running right through my front yard. I hear the owls, the coyotes and the whippoorwills as the sun goes down, and sometimes I think I hear Greeps.
WOW: I love that you sent me a photo of your cabin along with your response. This is absolutely breathtaking! Now tell us, where do you write? What does your space look like?
Mary Ellen: The insanely big library (think ‘book obsession’) upstairs has six big windows. That’s where I sew, make jewelry, paint acrylics, write and listen to the birdsong all around me. I cozy into an old green leather recliner, within reach of a homebrew, and type away on my archaic laptop. Hours pass. Much of my writing includes a rural setting, making things, or as in Three Fingers – painting.
WOW: I imagine your environment is super conducive to thought flow - thank you for sharing!
You write about a suicide attempt; would you care to elaborate on this topic and why it is near and dear to you?
Mary Ellen: In my 20s I could not find an anchor for my soul. I was living in Southern California, in the Navy, and was very depressed about divorcing a cheating idiot I was a fool to marry. I suffered debilitating migraines and most of the men in my division showed no mercy. I’ve always been a loner, so no support group. The glorious way out in the story was a thread from the ragged cloth from that dreadful time. I am a firm believer in ‘write what you know’.
WOW: So brave of you in many ways Mary Ellen. I want to let our readers know that I provided a list of questions and you were able to choose which you wanted to answer - thank you for being brave enough to answer such a tough and personal question. I admire your strength.
What advice would you give to other writers toying with the idea of submitting their work to a writing contest?
Mary Ellen: Don’t jump into just any contest. I wasted so much money, there are so many rip-offs. My advice is to look for reviewed, vetted contests. WOW is the greatest site for writers I’ve found, with valuable classes and services, and they do a contest that works to promote the writers. I did win a prize for the second Dutch refugee/alien book, but nothing was as exciting as winning a spot in the WOW contest for Three Fingers. I wish WOW! did book contests, too!
WOW: Thank you for such kind words - and you never know what the future may bring! Thank you for the suggestion!
What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2018 and beyond?
Mary Ellen: I have a science fiction series about a no-holds barred Dutch refugee girl who smuggles giant aliens to a faraway colony planet I’m part-way into publishing, a task I’m woefully behind on. Next, I have several stories in a sci-fi series featuring a New Mennonite hero and the savvy heathen woman he teams up and am waiting for the chance to write enough to fill a book. I also have written three rather wordy shorts about an angel who loves to come to Earth and listen to music, but naturally always finds a dire situation he must attend to without revealing his identity. Another shorts book? Meanwhile, I’ve written about twenty short and flash stories including Three Fingers. I recently asked Chelsey Clammer to review a few stories and she gave me excellent feedback as well as places where I might get them published. I have a feeling that’s going in front of the priority list!
WOW: This interview has been absolutely lovely and I have a feeling we will be working together again in the future! Thank you for your insight and inspiration and congratulations again as one of the runners up for the WOW! Women on Writing Fall Fiction Contest!
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