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Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco


An interview with Fern Michaels, aka Mary Ruth Kuczkir

This grand lady of "storytellers" is unique unto herself. To quote her, "Fern Michaels isnít a person. Iím not sure sheís an entity either since an entity is something with separate existence. Fern Michaels is what I DO."

This rare and incredible lady of the pen has given pleasure to readers for over thirty years. She is known to friends and family as Dink, a name her father bestowed upon her because she was a wee little one when born.

Mary has written eighty-eight novels, of which many of are on The New York Times Best Sellers. Her special talent is being able to breathe life into a story and give her characters a realistic nature.

Mary is living proof that success can be sustained. Rewardingly, she is at an all time high in her career and all of her novels are still in print. There arenít many in the business that can claim the same.

This charming lady was born in Hasting, Pennsylvania and has the honored pleasure of being inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame. But, this lady is beyond fame and fortune because she truly feels blessed. Therefore, she founded the Fern Michaels Foundation, which grants four-year scholarships to needy and deserving students.

If you think thatís great, her generosity doesnít stop there. Sheís also opened pre-school and day care centers with affordable rates for single moms who are having a hard time of it. Why, you ask? Well, she raised five children and put them through college with no help from anyone and realized the hardships of a single parent first hand.

I selected Mary because she is a role \model for young writers and sheís willing to help them in their quest to become a "storyteller."

We communicated recently, and I asked her the following questions about her life:

Michael G'Francisco: Do you believe it was easier to get an agent and be published when you penned your first novel than now?

Fern Michaels: Michael, truly I didnít even know what an agent was when I first started writing. I actually picked a publisherís name out of the yellow pages and sent in my manuscript.

Three years later he advised me that I should get an agent. Today, I understand it is quite difficult for a new writer to get an agent. Iím sure that there are many talented writers that will probably never get published because they are unknown.

 

Michael: In todayís publishing atmosphere, would you advise a novice writer to seek an agent first or a publisher?

Fern: Most publishers donít except unsolicited manuscripts, so it's important to create the best query letter they can and send it to agents that represent their genre.

 

Michael: Did you think when you began writing novels that romance was a missing element in marriages?

Fern: Absolutely. When I began writing in the mid 70ís, romance novels were sold as fast as they hit the shelves. Publishers had a hard time keeping up with sales.

 

Michael: How do you formulate your main characters?

Fern: I do it in a unique sort of a way. I have large erasable boards in my office on which a character is created. It takes weeks to develop just one character, especially, when developing several of them at the same time. They must be able to interact with each other. It can get pretty tedious at times, but it works for me.

 

Michael: What was your reason for creating different romance series?

Fern: Michael, does a master chef cook the same entrees every day? Of course not, so why should a writer? I just didnít want to be classified as a "cookie cutter" writer. After all, Michael, remember, Iím a storyteller.

 

Michael: Mary, would you please comment on the importance of characters and their development?

Fern: Michael, now, youíre getting into the meat of writing. Character development is crucial to every story. The birth of a character is what gives the story depth. And, itís not only the main character that pulls the reader to want to keep turning the pages, but itís the writerís challenge in creating a great story.

 

Michael: Mary, please give some advice to my readers.

Fern: Research, research and more research. This obtained knowledge will enable a writer to create a convincing novel and allow the reader to become intertwined with the story. They know itís fiction, but the reader wants to transcend into the story and identify with the characters. So take them there! Last, but in no way the least, no matter how many rejection slips you receive never give up. Always believe in yourself.

 

Michael: Mary Ruth Kuczkir novels have sold over 70 million copies to date. She presently resides in Charleston, South Carolina on a historic 300-year-old plantation with a ghost.

Fern Michaels also features a contest, which can be entered on her web site: www.fernmichaels.com/


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