Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I'm so happy to be a stop on the 
blog tour for author 
Mary Marks
and her new book
Book 4 in the Quilting Mysteries

Funerals can be patchy affairs for Martha Rose and her close-knit circle of friends--especially in the case of a missing body. . .

When Birdie Watson's husband Russell is killed during a bank robbery, Martha just wants to support her grieving friend. But en route to the burial plot in Oregon, Martha makes a harrowing discovery about the casket's contents--instead of Russell, she finds an unidentified man. Now Martha and her quilting klatch can't rest in peace until they unspool the truth behind the macabre mix up. . .

A talk with with author 
Mary Marks

LKBR:  Thank you for being here today, Mary!

MM: Pleasure. Thank you for asking me.

LKBR: When did you first know you wanted to be an author? 

MM: Not when I was a kid, that’s for sure. I wanted to be a motorcycle cop. When I was in my 50s I decided to write about my unusual life as a way to apologize to my children for having such a crazy mother. But I didn’t do anything about it until my 60’s when I took memoir writing classes. Along the way I got sidetracked by a fabulous workshop I attended on mystery writing. So I switched gears and the first quilty mystery was published when I was 70.

LKBR: What was your inspiration for this series? Where did the name come from?

MM: Because of health issues, I had to take an early retirement from my administrative job at UCLA. Suddenly I had a lifetime of free hours to fill and I knew just what I wanted to do with them. I’d always been artistic and loved working with my hands, so I threw myself into quilt making 24/7 for the next dozen years.

When I decided to write my first book, I followed the old adage “Write what you know.” Well, I knew about quilting, and about being an overweight divorcee with health issues living in the San Fernando Valley. Hence, Martha Rose and her Encino quilters were born.

The word “knot” appears in each title as a reference to the quilting theme of the books.

LKBR: Do you ever get writer’s block? If you do, how do you work through it?

MM: I sometimes come to a dead end when I’m writing and don’t know where to go next. When that happens it usually means I’ve wandered down the wrong path. So I back up to the point in the narrative where I began to veer off, and take the story in a whole new direction. If a writer isn’t willing to let go of ideas, they may very well come to a screeching halt.

LKBR: Do you have a favorite place to do your writing?

MM: I have a room dedicated to writing. Next to my desk is a window opening to a small patio where I’ve placed a bubbling fountain and pots of flowers. My desk faces a wall I’ve purposely left blank. As a matter of fact, all the walls in that room are blank so as not to distract my mind from exploring my internal world.

LKBR: What is your writing schedule like? Do you write a certain number of hours a day, or go by word count?

MM: Neither. My goal is to write a chapter a week. I prefer blocking out the weekend and writing all day Saturday and Sunday to produce the first rough draft. Then I can spend Monday through Thursday making changes and polishing the chapter.

On Fridays I attend a private workshop with other writers where I read my chapter aloud and receive valuable feedback. I take those comments home and revise the chapter. Then I’m ready to begin the next chapter.

Any writer who thinks they cannot benefit from critique is delusional. I couldn’t write a decent book without it.

LKBR: What is the hardest part of writing? What is the easiest part?

MM: For me, the hardest part is plotting. I’m one of those writers who cannot write from an outline. I only have a vague idea of what the mystery will be about and who the murder victim will be. I have to discover the story as I go. 
This is not the easiest way to write, and I have to rely a lot on my unconscious to be working out the details.

The easiest part is going back and making revisions. I actually love this part because I know I’m making the story much better by clarifying the text, inserting important details, and making the prose more elegant.

LKBR: Do you have plans for a new series?

MM: None whatsoever. If this series continues to be popular, I might take Martha in new directions. And some day I hope to get back to that memoir.

LKBR: What book are you reading?

MM: The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart. She writes lyrical fiction with exquisite descriptions. I get lost in the beauty and clarity of her words.

LKBR: What are three things you want your readers to know about you?

MM: First, my age. I just celebrated my 73rd birthday and launched my fourth novel. The lesson for everyone is: it’s never too late to try something new.

Second, I’m not a voracious reader. I have some kind of brain thing that makes it difficult for me to focus on reading. I did much more reading when I could listen to books on tape while working with my hands and making quilts. I really admire people who can sit for hours and devour books like lemon cake.

Third, I am tremendously grateful to those readers who buy my books and send me positive feedback in online reviews, Facebook comments, and emails through my website. I cannot stress enough how much I feel validated by their encouragement. After all, I haven’t been one of those authors who has devoted my life to writing books and perfecting my craft. Basically, I’m just a grandma who likes to quilt and tell funny stories.

LKBR: Thank you so much for letting us get to know you better, Mary!

MM: Thank you for inviting me, Lisa.

More about Mary

Mary Marks grew up in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. She became an award winning quilter after retiring from an administrative job at UCLA. Her first quilting mystery, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in the 2011 Malice Domestic competition.

"I always heard that the best stories come from writing what you know, so Martha Rose is loosely modeled after me: a divorced, overweight Jewish quilter of a certain age who lives in the San Fernando Valley." The smart but impulsive Martha Rose is aided and abetted by her best friends Lucy and Birdie and a cast of quirky characters.

The author is an unrepentant Hidden Object game player and Sudoku addict. "Solving puzzles, finding patterns, piecing things together--that's what quilters and mystery writers do all the time," says the author.

Learn more about the author at 


 2 Print Copies of


(Open to USA only)

Winners will be chosen after July 24 
at the end of the tour
Enter using the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

This giveaway is through Great Escape Book Tours, not Lisa Ks Book Reviews.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

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  1. Thanks, Lisa (and Mary). Great interview! Happy Tuesday, to you.

  2. Great interview. It's amazing to hear her story. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for the great interview.. I am an aspiring author who is beginning a little bit "later in life" due to health issues as well. You are a power of example to myself and other women. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  4. I loved this interview and getting to know a bit about Mary. My favorite fact was learning that Mary didn't embark on her writing journey until the age of 60. I don't quilt (card making and cross stitch are my crafts of choice) but will most certainly read this quilting series.

  5. This is a new author and series to me. I really enjoyed the interview and I look forward to reading this series.

  6. Another new author and series for me, too. Thanks!