You’re in for a treat today. Marie Estorge is a memoir writer and in her latest release, she delves into topics ripped from newspaper headlines. I asked if she’d like to sit down for an interview and she agreed. So sit back with your favorite beverage and read Marie’s interview. Take it away, Marie!
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I stop a writing session in the middle of a scene where I’m certain I know what will happen next. This helps to avoid writer’s block or procrastination.
What book do you wish you could have written?
Something Happened by Joseph Heller. This book is strange, hilarious, and underappreciated.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
Dave Eggers, Barbara Kingsolver, Mary Karr, Donna Tartt, Jodi Picoult, Jullian Medoff, Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie, Tom Perrotta, Carol Shields.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zelllweger, and a decades younger Harrison Ford.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I choose names that match the characters’ personality or situation. I collect unusual names from people I’ve met or read about. I worked with a man named Brodie and loved his name so much that I used in my novel IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE. I try not to have similar names (Danny and David) as an author has done in a book I’m currently reading.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’d love to have published a well-reviewed literary novel that is influenced by The Office, Something Happened, and This Could Hurt. I would enjoy collaborating on a film script based on my first two memoirs, Storkbites and Confessions of a Bi-Polar Mardi Gras Queen.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Read widely across genres. Study how other authors craft their stories and sentences. Analyze strong literary characters and settings.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I try to avoid reading reviews. Some can be so hateful and personal. I like honest, helpful feedback, but I don’t want to read things from strangers that paralyze me as a writer. Feedback is important at all stages of the writing/publishing process. My advice is to make sure you request feedback from people you trust to be honest yet helpful.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
The first draft. I love editing and reworking. I love sending my manuscript out to strong editors for critique and then making the revisions.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any)?
I’ve written two previous memoirs, STORKBITES and CONFESSIONS OF A BI-POLAR MARDI GRAS QUEEN, under the name Marie Etienne. I published my debut novel, IN THE MIDDLE OF OTHERWISE, in 2020. I have two completed manuscripts that I hope to one day resurrect.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
A novel about a CEO who has just been ousted by his investors after a whistleblower complaint by someone in his office. A whodunit.
Do you write naked?
No. My home office is really drafty and I fear I’d freeze to death. Plus, the mailman might have a heart attack if he spied me through the window.
What is your biggest failure?
Not being the best mother that I could have been.
What is the biggest fib you’ve ever told?
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
Sweets, cheese, and chips.
What is your biggest fear?
Poverty and permanent physical/mental injury.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
To know which stocks would increase the greatest amount in the next 12 months.
What literary character is most like you?
Bridget Jones, quirky, funny, innocent/naïve.
What secret talents do you have?
I can read people’s moods and feelings from their expression and body language.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Eagle. I’d like to fly, swooping in and out of trees and clouds.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Level 4 white water rafting in Africa.
If you could have any name in the world, what would you choose?
Mrs. Warren Buffett.
Do you have any scars? What are they from?
Emotional. My crazy childhood.
What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?
Easy Bake Oven and Barbie. I had one Barbie and sewed most of her clothes. I was so envious of one of my friends that had an entire Barbie clan with dresses for days.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
My anxiety dreams are either I’m packing for a cruise and I realize I don’t have any clean clothes or nothing fits. Another is I’m 18 again and waitressing at a pizza joint – it’s the lunch rush and I haven’t written the table numbers on any of my orders and can’t figure out who get what. I love flying dreams or dreams about old boyfriends.
Scroll down to check out her brand new release…
Title THEN THERE WAS LARRY
Author Marie Estorge
Publisher Alluvium Books
From Marie Estorge, bestselling author of Storkbites: A Memoir and Confessions of a Bipolar Mardi Gras Queen, comes THEN THERE WAS LARRY, a real-life cautionary tale of deception and scandal. Marie offers a unique and razor-sharp look at duplicity and betrayal among friends and lovers in her newest memoir. Headlines about the arrest of a well-regarded community member for charges of child pornography and abuse are disturbing in the collective sense. When the person charged and sentenced to 15 years turns out to be a man you’ve dated, the blow is sharp and personal. The questions and shock, the shame, reverberate at length. Infused with empathy, insight, and humor, THEN THERE WAS LARRY is an exploration of how well do we really know anyone? How can we trust that people are who they seem? As this quirky yet disturbing chronicle of a woman unraveling the layers of frayed friendships and a scandal from the past is revealed, the previously dismissed red flags reveal darker secrets.
In THEN THERE WAS LARRY, Marie Estorge delves unapologetically into the universal themes of love and betrayal with the keen eye of a surgeon’s scalpel; dissecting, slicing, juxtaposing the truth against the backdrop of loyalty, friendships, and the unconscionable versus the forgivable. Sit down. Strap yourselves in. Enjoy the ride. — Regina Louise, author of Someone Has Led This Child to Believe
It’s cliché but I truly couldn’t put THEN THERE WAS LARRY down. It manages to be dark and funny at the same time. Its premise, the narrator’s unsuspecting relationship with a convicted sex offender, adds a new dimension to the #MeToo movement conversation. Christine S. O’Brien, author of Crave: A Memoir of Food and Longing
In August 2013, a few months later, after Jane dropped the Larry bomb at dinner, I was sitting in bed reading the newspaper when I saw the headline: Child Porn Distributor Gets 15 Years — Man Served Three Years Previously for Statutory Rape.
Wow, another pervert in Pleasant Hill, I thought. I scanned the article, stopped at Larry’s last name, and doubled-back to the Statutory Rape subtitle. What were they talking about? That couldn’t be right. Were there two Lawrence Pallens in Pleasant Hill? The article claimed Lawrence Pallen had previously spent three years in prison for statutory rape. What shoddy journalism, I thought. The reporter had obviously confused his case with another child molester in Pleasant Hill. Surely Larry, Jane, or one of their volleyball friends would have mentioned this prior felony.
The FBI had discovered hidden cameras embedded in his ex-girlfriend’s daughter’s bathroom wall and underneath their shared bathroom sink. Even though Larry’s handyman skills were seriously lacking, especially in terms of electrical work, he somehow figured out how to install a light switch in his bedroom to a camera where he could watch the girl live. Sick, sick bastard.
They found videos of his young roommate and photos from a Danville high school volleyball game. Did he attend one of the games and pretend to be a proud parent or uncle filming his daughter from the sidelines? The article said he was part of a peer-to-peer network, sharing online videos of children, including prepubescent minors, engaged in sex acts with adults. Four different computers, seven external storage drives, and four camera memory cards. Four camera memory cards! Was he the sicko behind the camera? Were these pictures he’d taken himself? Were there images of his friend’s children and grandchildren from the camp outs?
Reading and rereading the article, I sighed loudly and imagined others feeling as horrified and shocked as I felt. His family and friends must have been calling each other to ask if they’d seen today’s paper. His arrest was one of five Bay Area indictments in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Operation Sunflower. One of 246 suspected child porn producers spanning 48 states and six countries. Operation Sunflower. How strange. After he’d hung the door on my shed, I painted four huge, bright sunflowers on the glass window. Was there a connection between those flowers and the name of the sting operation?
I leaned back in bed, set aside the paper, and thought, I’ve dated and slept with a convicted child pornographer and a molester. My sons and I had almost shared a house, a kitchen, a bathroom with him. How many times had he come to watch my high school divers’ practice? No wonder he was such a faithful fan. I tried to recall if he ever photographed any of my divers at practice or a meet, but I couldn’t remember an instance where he’d done so. I’d have been mortified if some of their photos or videos were found among the evidence collected.
According to the article, his previous conviction stemmed from inappropriately touching two young girls while working as a volunteer coach and then having sex with a fourteen-year-old volleyball player during a traveling tournament. He later claimed that the rape occurred because of “a little alcohol, a little opportunity, a little braveness.” Darn, I hate when that happens, I thought, sarcastically—what an asinine comment. I was just out having a good ol’ time with my buds and the next thing I knew, I’d had too much to drink, and I’m molesting a kid. That, my dear Larry, I thought, was the lamest excuse I’d ever heard. Was he really that flippant? What’s the big deal? Just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You son of a bitch.
I had always wondered why he had quit drinking. Why didn’t I ever ask? Giving up alcohol was a big decision. Usually, there was a matter of hitting bottom, and in my case, I could pinpoint the moment I realized I needed to stop drinking or else I’d never sustain a relationship and have children. What was his bottom? Was it the three years the reporter claimed Larry spent in jail? Or fearing that once released, he might start drinking again, relapse into his old ways, and end up back in jail? Why wasn’t he required to register as a sex offender after the first conviction? There was always the unspoken question of why he’d quit coaching girls’ volleyball. He’d loved volleyball. He claimed he didn’t play anymore because of his bad knees and ankles. I should have probed deeper. It never occurred to me that I needed to be so careful. That he could hide so much and honestly, any curiosity I’d had about Larry’s background was fleeting.
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Giveaway: I’m one of the authors participating in the Are Ye Feeling a Wee Bit Lucky Giveaway and you can win a print copy of Then There Was Larry by Marie Estorge. https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db7750100
Runs March 1 - 31 and is open internationally for most prizes. Winners will be drawn on April 1, 2021.
Marie Estorge is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her debut novel, In the Middle of Otherwise, was published in July 2020. She is the author of two previous memoirs, Storkbites: A Memoir and Confessions of a Bi-Polar Mardi Gras Queen, published under the name Marie Etienne. Her essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, Diablo Magazine, and other publications. Marie and her two sons live in Northern California.
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