Saturday, June 6, 2020

Inside the Mind: Marie W Watts

Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is Marie W Watts, the author behind The Cause Lives.

Lily:  Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Marie I enjoyed reading The Cause Lives: Warriors for Equal Rights. Alice is a unique heroine; did anyone inspire her?

Marie:  Lily, thanks so much for having me. To me, characters need to be realistic, and the best way to make this happen is to take aspects of real people. I’ve done that with Alice, taking bits and pieces of investigators I have known, including myself.

Dexter, Alice’s pooch, was inspired by one of my friends who actually had a dog she cooked for and fed with a spoon. All her dogs were given the same name. She was an awesome investigator and a tireless worker. The Singapore Slings Alice drinks came from a job I had at the food stamp office in Houston, Texas, back in the 1970s. The job was so terrible that we would spend our lunch hour at the Horseshoe Saloon around the corner where you could get two Slings for the price of one.

Lily:  I think it's great that you've pulled from people you've known and worked with. That job must have been really rough! What made you decide to give Alice the job she has?

Marie: I worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity for ten years. I continued doing discrimination investigations in the private sector and for the federal government for nearly twenty more years. I am a strong proponent of diversity and allowing everyone to live up to his or her potential.

The book gives me a platform to discuss biases and prejudices and, hopefully, help others to be more tolerant. I’ve chosen to do this through fiction, which is more fun than through a textbook format.

Lily:  Fiction will definitely reach more people than a textbook, and I'm glad you're using your experience to reach out like this to the masses. In the light of current events, is there anything you hope readers take away from reading this?

Marie:  Yes. I’ve frankly been so depressed that we appear, as a nation, to be backsliding in our ability to accept differences. We have work to do. Each of us has biases and prejudices; we can’t help it. However, we need to learn to recognize and control them.

When we stereotype anyone—minorities, women, police officers, the disabled, immigrants—we began to see them as non-human.  That’s where the trouble starts.

Lily:  I have to admit recent events have hit me fairly hard. I hope that this time we all grow and manage to make changes to the system. (And I'll leave it there because I don't want to get off on a tangent). If you could spend a day with two of the characters, who would you choose and why?

Marie:  Wow! I think Quiana and JJ. Both of them are battling stereotypes. Quiana has sociophobia and hides from people. JJ is an ex-con trying to put his life together. They’re both smart in their own way, but others assume they are not capable because of their handicaps.

Lily:  I would love to spend a day with Quiana honestly. I have severe social anxiety and it would be interesting to have us in the same room. I find it easier to connect with people who share my fear. Now, we’d like to talk about you as a writer. Do you have a favorite drink and/or food when you’re writing?

Marie:  I drink either Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper or unsweet tea. As far as eating, hmm. I keep microwave popcorn around. Usually, I have low-calorie bars for munching, but since COVID hit, I’ve backed off of them.  Mainly because I don’t go to the grocery store often and keep forgetting to put them on the list.

Lily:  I don't think I could do unsweetened tea. I like my sugar too much! Do you have a schedule you stick to for writing?

Marie: Unfortunately, no. I need to do better on that front.

Lily:  Honestly, I'm not always great at sticking to a schedule for working on the blog but I'm trying. It can be hard to set up and stick to a schedule when you're not actually on the clock. Do you prefer noise or quiet when writing?

Marie:    I’ve got to have it quiet. I can’t concentrate with music playing when I’m trying to create.

Lily:  I'm the opposite. I'm actually sitting here with the TV on in the background, so I can focus. Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. How dark do you like your toast, 1 being warm but barely toasted, 2 lightly toasted, 3 golden brown, 4 dark brown, and 5 being burnt? Is there a toast level you won’t eat even if you’re really hungry?

Marie:  Oh, that’s easy. I’m definitely a #1.  Unfortunately, I’ve struggled with weight all my life and will eat anything and everything if I am hungry.

Lily:  I need at least a 2, but a 5 I'll eat if I'm starving and don't have the time/supplies to toast another piece. Would you rather not eat anything cooked in an oven or on a stove for the next year?

Marie:  For sure, I can give up the oven and live with stove-cooked things. Just don’t try to take the microwave away from me, you’ll have a revolt on your hands.

Lily:  I'm still torn on the stove vs oven. But the microwave can make up for a lot. What’s your favorite fresh fruit or veggie? What’s your least favorite?

Marie:  I absolutely love fresh, homegrown tomatoes. And the least favorite…. I’ll eat anything if it is cooked well. I’ve even had cactus on several occasions.

Lily:  I don't think anything can beat the taste of fresh picked tomatoes and strawberries. I can't say I've had cactus yet but I'd love to try it someday. If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would you want to wake up?

Marie: Oh, no! You’re going to limit me to one place? Very unfair.  There are so many places I’d love to be. I could see myself on an around-the-world tour. Today, I’d probably wish to be in Alaska or maybe Japan.

Lily:  I like the idea of traveling the world by going to sleep and waking up in a new place, and I'd love to visit Alaska and Japan some day. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done that you’re comfortable with sharing?

Marie:  Several years ago, I took a cruise, and we stopped in Cancun. My husband did not want to leave the ship, so I took a pre-arranged tour.  Unfortunately, there was a mix-up, and I was the only passenger. As the driver tried to make a turn to take me snorkeling, he became agitated. Apparently, the guys standing next to a nearby limo were members of the taxi mafia.

He feared the mafia would accuse him of acting as a taxi driver since I was the only passenger. Not wanting to miss snorkeling, I willingly took over, driving us past the watchful eyes of the mafia. All the while, he was hunkered down in the passenger seat.

Lily:  That's crazy and I love it! Do you have a favorite TV show or movie that you could watch over and over and never get bored/sick of? One that you really don’t like?

Marie:  The weird thing is, I grew up reading books. When I was in first and second grade, our TV broke, and my parents didn’t bother to get it fixed. I won’t watch a movie made from a book that I’ve read, and, once I’ve seen a movie, I don’t watch it again. I do have a few TV shows that I enjoy such NCIS, but I’m not about to watch the re-runs.

Lily:  I've always loved books (can you tell?) but I usually have the TV on for noise, so I end up rewatching a lot of shows. But books are definitely my first love. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Marie:  Absolutely.  Warriors for Equal Rights is a trilogy, and I am pleased to announce that the second book, Only a Pawn, will be out shortly.

It has been held up because of COVID, but is nearly ready for publication. I’m looking at mid-summer, at this point.

Lily:  I'm looking forward to reading it and featuring it here. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Marie:  I’d love for them to visit my website. I blog “Stories about Life.” Readers can also sign up for my newsletter.

Lily, thanks so much for having me.  I appreciate being able to reach new readers.

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