This interview was originally done in June 2018. Marla passed away in February 2020.
Please welcome author, screenwriter, and producer Marla Hayes!
The writing career of Marla J. Hayes has spanned many types of creative output: a column in a magazine about collectible antique dolls, newspaper articles in both the US and Canada, scholastic publications for Canadian public schools, picture books, celebrity interviews, optioned/produced TV and film scripts (both long and short), and now a cozy mystery novella!
We're thrilled (pun intended) to have Marla Hayes here today with us.
Actually, writing a
book has brought me full circle to when I first seriously stepped
beyond writing teenaged angst poetry and personal journals. I had
written a novel that got me an agent in Toronto. Following her editorial
suggestions, it went through 15 drafts. I had some not-too-serious
nibbles from publishers, but eventually the agent let me go to
concentrate on clients who were earning her money.
By then I had started on the path to writing sample episodes of TV shows I loved watching, like Magnum, P I and Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap had a series of paperbacks published which involved the leads from the TV show. Really fun reads. Too, there were thick volumes of stories called fanzines written by the show's followers. Eventually fans were hired to write some of the paperbacks. I tried my hand at that, too, unfortunately not successfully.
With all the novels I read and the books I wrote I tended to skip over long descriptions and concentrate on dialogue to tell me the story - see where I'm going here? Dialogue is a major portion of scripts and screenwriting. In fact, I converted 2 of my screenplays into YA novels and was pleased to see Short on Time Books publish them.
So, my early book writing lead me down the path to screenwriting, and in return screenwriting lead me down the same path. And here I am again, a new and improved writer, back to being a book writer.
I was taking an intensive, online
screenwriting course that had me writing a new drama script with strong
mystery elements at the same time that the opportunity to write a
mystery novel came along. The timing was perfect to write CASSIDY'S
It wasn't so much a decision as it was a wonderful chance to spread my wings to appeal to a broader audience in the same genre.
owner of Short on Time Books, Karen Mueller Bryson, approached me,
asking if I wanted to be one of a select group of seven writers for the
series of novellas she called 'Tawnee Mountain Mysteries'.
Beyond giving us a word count (20,000-40,000), and asking that our characters spend a week or weekend at a resort Karen had created in one of her series of books, and interacting with characters there who she had brought to life, we were given complete creative freedom. Karen and her talented husband worked to create the covers of my book and all the others in the Tawnee series.
always enjoyable and a highlight to create new characters, and let my
'evil' side put them in danger. Writers should always write their
characters into a corner and see how they get out of it. Too, seeing how
the other authors in the series wrote their mysteries - that was
enjoyable. Our styles really do vary, yet mesh nicely at the same time.
For highlights ... when people read the story and tell you they were surprised by the ending, that they'd picked the wrong person to be the killer - that's pure candy to a writer's ego. I go through the story so often, it's hard to know if I'm giving away too many clues. I'd say that reaction is definitely an enjoyable part of the process, and a highlight.
The highlights are still ongoing as I continue to market the book, to attract new readers to experience Cassidy's expedition into the world of mystery.
I'm plotting a second cozy mystery for Cassidy to solve in what I hope
becomes the Spotlight Theater Mysteries series. Too, I'm plotting a
dramatic story, but I'm vacillating between it being a play or a script
for a short film.
And I'm always working on my genealogy research for both sides of my birth parents. Do you think my investigative inclinations in the arena to solve my own biological mystery may have influenced my writing all along my varied career path? (wink)
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