On today’s edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio we are going on location to find Contemporary Romance author Mary H Collins. We’ve been trying to get together for about a month now to do this interview but between writing, work and family, she just hasn’t been able to get away, so we are going to her. This will be a complete surprise, she is not expecting us so, you, delightful reader, get a rare insight into the real person behind the books. Right now, my husband is driving and we are almost there so take a moment and check out Mary’s website while we get situated to barge in on her:
Wow, did you see all those books she’s written? Amazing and I bet you didn’t know that Mary has been a photographer since 1991?
So picture this, my husband has rigged up an old video camera, you know the old, really huge ones that weigh a ton. He got the main light working, has taped one of those laser pointers for the red record light just under what has to be a 75 watt bulb and did some clever craft work on the lens part to extend it and make it look really big. It looks like a huge TV camera if you look at it from the front. The idea is to walk in, ask for Mary and get a huge reaction from everyone so everyone knows how famous she is, or should be! So here we go, my husband is behind me with the camera and I have my big fake microphone as usual. Opening the front door and action!
Debra: Hello! <lady at the front desk is wide eyed and her mouth hangs open as my husband shines the light right on her face> Hi, I’m Debra Hartmann here with Talk Radio with NO Radio looking for Mary H Collins, I just need a few minutes to ask her some questions, is she here? <flips microphone forward for her to respond directly into it>
Receptionist: <leaning into the microphone> Yea…really? Who did you say you’re with?
Debra: Talk Radio with NO Radio, it’s a live show? Have you seen it? Is Mary here?
Receptionist: No, I haven’t seen that, you’re filming this? <she tries to fix her hair, her face still shows such confusion it’s all I can do not to laugh> Uh, <picks up the phone and dials> Mary, there’s a camera crew here to see you and they are filming live, can you come up here, right now?
Debra: Thank you!< turns to camera and speaks into microphone> Ladies and gentlemen we are just waiting for Mary to come out and we should be able to ask her some questions any moment now, just stay with us, live on Talk Radio with NO Radio.
Mary: Oh my goodness, what is all this?! <Mary has come through the door behind the receptionist desk with a number of people following her and is just as wide eyed as the receptionist now?
Debra: Hi, are you Mary H Collins?
Mary: Yes, I am. What is all this? Who are you?
Debra: Mary, it’s my pleasure to finally meet you. <extends a hand to shake and holds back laughter> Debra L Hartmann, host of Talk Ra-
Mary: Debra! I can’t believe it’s really you! Wow, and you came all this way, the interview, but what’s the camera for?
Bob: I guess I’m done now…<flips all the lights off and lowers the heavy contraption, is laughing after holding that in for the last 5 minutes or so>
Debra: Mary, this is my husband, Bob, we thought we’d surprise you and come in with a big bang to get everyone’s attention. <laughter finally bursts through>
Mary: <is looking around the room and busts out laughing too, points at the receptionist, still fixing her hair> Well, you certainly did cause a fuss! Everyone, this is Debra, she wrote a book review on one of my books and I have been meaning to go see her to do an interview but-
Debra: We came to you, you are always so busy, and don’t you guys ever get a day off? <points and snickers at the wide eyed group of people surrounding us now>
Mary: This is Ron, my boss, Stacie and Judy, marketing, Rhonda, Louise, Gerald and Mike, photographers, everyone say hello, oh and that’s Tonya, our receptionist.
Debra: Hi everybody, sorry for disturbing your work day, I hope we didn’t get Mary into any trouble.
Ron: No, not at all, it’s a quiet day and this is quite exciting. So why are you here again?
Debra: Don’t you know that Mary is a published author of 7 great books? I am here to interview her for my Talk Radio with NO Radio show.
Ron: You don’t say? We knew she wrote a bit but had no idea! Mary, you’ve been holding out on us!
Mary: Well, I, um, well-
Debra: Ron, can we borrow Mary for about half an hour? I’ll bring her right back, I swear!
Ron: Sure, sure, in fact you can use the break room if you like?
Debra: Mary, does that work for you? We could sit and do this interview and then get out of your hair?
Mary: Yes, that would be fine. I’ll take you there, just follow me.
<We, and I mean my husband and all of the people that Mary introduced us to, head through the doorway in search of the break room>
Mary: Hey, guys, a little privacy? This is my big interview, scoot, all of you!
Crowd: Oh! Yea! Sure! Sorry! <they turn and head back to the reception area>
Bob: I’m going outside for a smoke and leave you two ladies alone to do your interview.
Debra: Thanks babe! Be out soon. Mary, are you mad, did we get you in any trouble?
Mary: No, not in the least! I can’t believe you came all this way just for me and what a hoot of a surprise, we will be laughing about this for the next week.
Debra: Oh good, I was so hoping you’d be thrilled and get a kick out of some movie star treatment. Your books are just wonderful and I think everyone should know more about you! So, can I start by asking you to share something about your work here? Tell our audience about some event that was particularly fun or exciting, besides today, of course? <settling into comfortable chairs at a round dining table after filling two paper cups with coffee>
Mary: Hmmm, let me think, oh, this is good. Years ago at Portraits Plus, which is the company I started with in 1991, the owner had the idea that we could photograph animals, as easy as people. We hooked up with some lady in Cleveland, TN, who ran a place called Pampered Pets, I think it was. We did two or three shoots with everybody bringing their pets in, mostly dogs but some cats, birds and 1 snake. Another photographer and I shot it. You wouldn’t believe the chaos. We had dogs humping other dogs, dogs chasing cats, cats trying to get to the birds, and much, much more. The snake was huge and when the owner released it from its cage, it slithered away from him. Talk about 2 photographers running out the door, along with several other people. I think that was the last pet shoot we did.
Debra: Oh, I would have been running out the door too! I know you had shared with me that you are ready for retirement and just helping out a little longer here?
Mary: Yes, I want to focus completely on my writing and enjoy my retirement. I’m going to be 66 years old in July and I am done working for a living. It’s about time for me to just relax and I have always wanted to write full time.
Debra: Well, I do hope you get to do that soon! I know I’d love to read some more of your books. Let me jump right into the questions your fans have for you then, let’s see. <flips through notes> Ah, here we go, can you remember the moment when you logged into your author account and discovered you had made your first sale?
Mary: Actually, I never checked it. Melissa Miller, at Hearts on Fire Books at the time, emailed me and told me My Sister’s Keeper was selling well and had made the amazon.com Best Seller List. I didn’t expect it to start selling that early. After that, I began checking the Amazon Rankings several times a day, it was like an obsession. <laughs> I’m now checking Amazon/UK Rankings, seems my books are selling better there than here. Right now, My Sister’s Keeper is 23,480.
Debra: Wow, congratulations. Here’s one, about the book I just reviewed for you, Deception. If it was made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character and why?
Mary: Jodie Foster would be perfect to play Jillian. She’s one of my favorite actresses. I’ve seen all of her films. She is so versatile and has portrayed so many different characters in many different genres. While writing the book, Jodie’s face came to mind. That’s how I pictured Jillian looking.
Debra: Oh perfect, I can see that and I love her as an actress too! Oh, here’s a good one, if you were to write a story featuring a fictional character from another author’s novel, who would you choose and why?
Mary: I’d choose Blue Bailey from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novel, Natural Born Charmer. I listened to this book on audio, while on a trip to Oklahoma about 8 years ago. It’s probably my favorite romance novel ever… Blue Bailey was hitchhiking in a beaver suit when a famous football player, can’t remember his name, picked her up, took her to his summer home and in the end they fell in love, as usual. I may have the book somewhere. It’s one of those books that you want to read again and again.
Debra: I’ll have to find that one, it sounds good. If you could invite one character from your novel(s) to a dinner party who would it be and why?
Mary: I think it’d be Kevin Richards from Out of The Blue. I developed him to be my kinda guy, rough and rugged with a sense of humor. In the book, Kevin got a bad rap for leaving Erika for her sister. But in real life that happens sometimes and my books are all about what happens in real life. Unlike most romance novels, where boy meets girl – they fall in love – and live happily ever after, my stories run closer to what might actually happen in life.
Mary: No! You can’t come. That’s how he met Erika’s sister. LOL!
Debra: Ha! Of course, I forgot! <refills their coffee cups, notices box of donuts on the counter, snags one> Would you rather sell 1000 books at $10/£10 each or 2000 books at $1/£1, what gives you the greater sense of satisfaction; overall earnings or overall sales?
Mary: I’d rather sell the 2,000 at $1. I don’t write for the money. I get more satisfaction from knowing more people are reading my books. A while back my brother mentioned my name to one of his friends and her daughter requested him to get my autograph for her. She had read all my books and knew my brother well but didn’t know that we were related.
Debra: Very neat! That must have been a great feeling, knowing someone loved your writing so much! What do you think stimulates sales the most; positive reviews or advertising?
Mary: I’m sure it’s advertising. My Sister’s Keeper began selling well when it was first released in 2007 with Hearts on Fire Books, and is still selling more than all my other books combined, yet it had the most 1 star reviews. Yesterday I checked amazon.com/UK and it was 53,000 in the rankings. Of course it doesn’t go as low as it used to, but it’s holding its own. I’m thinking about writing a sequel to it.
Debra: You just never really know I think. Even 1 star reviews are reviews and can have a positive impact on sales. One theory is that it makes people even more curious than a great review. I’m curious, Mary, how do you see the publishing industry changing over the next few years?
Mary: I think more authors will self-publish. I’ve thought about self-publishing, Of course it’d be more royalties for me, but, Melissa over at Solstice Publishing is so good to her authors, I wouldn’t want to leave her. I’ve been with her since 2007. I don’t know how she manages all the stuff she does, plus taking care of her husband and two young boys who suffer with Asthma.
Debra: It’s rare these days to hear an author so pleased with the relationship with the publishing house. The world of publishing has changed so much! Are there any book blogs or websites which you would recommend for an author looking to find potential reviewers for their book?
Mary: Well, I always refer them to your site Debra. There used to be a site called, Ghostwriters Reviews, but they must have closed down or changed their name. They did several reviews for me. I wish I could locate them, but I’ve searched all over the web and can’t find them.
Debra: Oh, so you are the one that’s been keeping me so busy! Thank you for that Mary, I do love writing the reviews and doing these interviews. I get free books to read and I get to meet some amazing people. We still on for that flea marketing adventure over near Pigeon Forge soon as the weather allows?
Mary: I can’t wait!! We’re gonna have so much fun. I’ll bring a gentleman friend of mine along and make it a foursome.
Debra: Sounds good, weather is finally warming up for us so do let me know when you can take off for the weekend and we’ll just come right back up and make a day of it. There you have it folks, real people, just like you are writing the books you love to read. So support your favorite authors, write a review, comment on their blogs and web posts and watch for their new releases! To wrap up, here’s a list of where you can find out more about Mary and all of her wonderful books. Thanks so much for indulging me today, Mary, I’m so thrilled to finally meet you and I wish you all the best success!
The Talk Radio with NO Radio show is a fictitious skit written around the actual interview with the author, designed to capture the truth of the person behind the books and is accomplished through collaboration via email with the author. Once written (by Debra L Hartmann, exclusively) the author has the final say on the skit content before it is published as a final check point that the written material truly reflects the authors dialogue and accurately represents them in skit. To learn more about getting on the show, contact firstname.lastname@example.org