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Interview: Marilyn Randall, Author of My Heart and Soul

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A former graphic artist, art director and graphic production director, Marilyn had her own graphic design business called Personal Touch Designs by Marilyn.  She designed silk screen art for clothing, as well as freelance work on business logos.  One of her biggest sellers was designing the “I’m Proud To Be An American” shirt that was purchased by the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, during Operation Desert Storm.

In 1993, Marilyn retired from the design business to pursue writing and illustrating for her own pleasure.  She published her first book, Feelings, in the early 1990's. Finding great enjoyment in her writing and illustrating, Marilyn went on to creating four children's books, including her newest works Elmer the Christmas Elf and her collection of poetry, My Heart and Soul

After overcoming several challenges and the loss of her spouse to cancer, Marilyn remains strong in her spirit and faith.  Through her children's books, Marilyn strives to help children overcome fears, everyday struggles and cope with many of today's difficult issues.

Please join me in welcoming this vibrant and warm soul, as she shares with readers a bit of herself and her journey in writing her newest release, My Heart and Soul.

What is the story about, who are the characters, etc.

My Heart And Soul is an anthology of poetry, prose, letters and prayers; a reflection of my emotions and events that have happened throughout my life.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from My Heart and Soul? Could you share that with us, please?

A favorite excerpt from My Heart And Soul is from page six and is from the piece "Colorblind";

I think that I have journeyed down this path before .
That I saw the man ahead of me, beside me, and behind me.
And I know they didn’t speak and find his heart, but I did.
And I loved it as God blessed it and me for the togetherness.
And thank God I am colorblind.

What do you want readers to take away from reading My Heart and Soul?

I hope readers will take from My Heart And Soul a different perspective of prejudice and bigotry and claim their own openness and acceptance for difference without judgment.

What was the most fun about writing My Heart and Soul?

It was a pleasure to write the letter to my father who passed away in 1990 and present him with it before he died. He was overwhelmed with love when he learned my truest feelings for him and I am very proud that I was able to include those very private memories in My Heart And Soul.

What was the hardest part about writing My Heart and Soul?

I was constantly living in an emotional state during the writing and editing of My Heart And Soul and being a sensitive person made it difficult to spend so much time in those sometimes difficult, emotional places.

What kind of research did you do for My Heart and Soul ?

My Heart And Soul is not a book that required research to write, but has required much research to publish it and market it.

Could you please tell us about your writing process?

When I feel inspired to write about a feeling or an event, it seems to flow effortlessly and most of the pieces in My Heart And Soul came to me as a result of deep feelings about what was happening to me or to someone else at the moment. Once inspired I write for whatever length of time it takes me to say what I am feeling.

Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.

I write best when my surroundings are perfectly quiet. Music or noise of any kind is very distracting to me. I live on a serene and peaceful island in the Pacific Northwest that is very conducive to the quiet environment I needed to be successful while writing My Heart And Soul.

How did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Was there any authors or books that made you think "Wow, that's what I want to do – craft stories of my own for others to read"?

I recently lost my husband to cancer after a long and difficult illness. After his loss I needed a new focus and direction for my life and since I was a former graphic artist in the printing industry and had written poetry and prose all of my life, I thought that putting together a book and publishing it would be a way to share my experiences with others who may have experienced similar events in their lives and hopefully would be inspired by someone who survived those difficulties and this was a way I could share how I was able to do that.

What make you take that leap from "wanting" to be a writer, as opposed to "becoming" a writer? Many talk of being a writer and dip their toes in, but it seems there is often a sort of "push" to bring one over that wall.

My Heart And Soul is a compilation of writings reflecting many different times of my life and I felt compelled to share them because I never wanted to get to the end of my life and look back with regrets for things I wasn’t able to complete. It was a “now is the time” kind of moment and I always try my best to finish what I start.

How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!

In my new book Quicksand, which will be released in the spring of 2010, I have had the experience of naming characters for the first time, as it is my first fiction novel. Naming characters was difficult work for me because I wanted the names I chose to reflect the strength or weakness of the character’s personality and I worked diligently to make this happen.

Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

I didn’t like reading until I became a young adult. Early on my favorite author was Edgar Allen Poe.

If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?

My Heart And Soul is a summary of my deepest feelings and emotions that I have experienced throughout my life so I would say that this is an appropriate title for my book.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on my seventh children’s book, which I am both writing and illustrating. It is called Morgan and Friends and is about an Armadillo, a black Scotty dog and a blind Mr. Mole who needs help rescuing his family from their flooded out nest.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite author today is Ann Rule. I thoroughly enjoy the way she takes her readers on a psychological journey into the background and mind of the criminal she is writing about.

If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Ann Rule because I admire her ability to bring us such in depth research into the criminal mindset of the people she writes about.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

I have plans to continue writing and illustrating children’s books as well as books for the more mature audiences. If my children’s books can positively affect the lives of even one young person I will have accomplished the goal, which I set out to do in the beginning and I will feel like I am a success.

Is there anything that you would like to add? That you would like readers to know about you or your writing?

I have a strong faith and hopefully that comes through in the work that I do. I enjoy sharing that side of who I am with anyone who might benefit from knowing about it.

I can be reached at my website or by email at sugarlynn1@aol.com. I would be delighted to hear from readers and will always try to answer all correspondence that I receive.

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