From Teacher to Romance Writer: An Interview with Award Winning Author Penelope Marzec

Penelope Marzec grew up along the Jersey shore, heard stories about Captain Kidd, and dug for his buried treasure. Her adventure resulted in a bad case of poison ivy.
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Deciding books were better than buried treasure, she discovered romance novels and was soon hooked on happy endings. She became an early childhood educator and found her own hero in an electrical engineer who grew up in Brooklyn, played the accordion, and was immune to poison ivy. Together they raised three daughters. Now retired, Penelope either writes her stories or paints seascapes in oils. Sometimes she sings while her husband plays the accordion.
Penelope writes in several subgenres of romance. Two of her inspirationals won the EPPIE award and one finaled in that contest. Her paranormal, Irons In The Fire, was a nominee for Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award.
I would like to welcome and thank Penelope for sharing her thoughts and time with Write on Fight on. 

 How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was nine. I wanted to fly, so I wrote a book about a girl who could fly. In addition to flying, the plot involved romance. I still write romance, but I gave up on the flying heroine idea. 

What book made you realize you wanted to be a writer?

As I said, I started writing when I was nine, but I wasn’t serious about getting a book published until I was nearing forty. By then I had read a plethora of truly boring, unhappy books. I was sure I could write something far more entertaining. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the specific book that egged me on. I just remember it was a paperback. Since I had a plot already whirling around in my head, I put the old manual typewriter on the dining room table and I hammered away for two months to get it all down on paper. The internet hadn’t been invented yet. Sending out a ream of paper in a box to a publisher wasn’t cheap or easy and I had to wait an entire year before the publisher replied with a rejection. I was undaunted. During that long year of waiting, I had written another book. I wasn’t going to quit. Writing was fun!

Do you have any quirky writing rituals or odd sources of writing inspiration?

I don’t have any quirky rituals, though I’ve tried a few other authors claimed worked for them. One author said she sniffed a particular essence oil when she sat down to write. She was conditioning her brain to realize that when she smelled that aroma, it was time to get to work–much the same technique as Pavlov used on his dogs. I bought some grapefruit essence oil and happily sniffed it when I sat down to write. It didn’t seem to make any difference. In my case, I just have to get comfy, add peace and quiet, get bored with the blather on Facebook and write. My house is not totally quiet because hubby practices his accordion upstairs, but the door is closed and the music is faint. Also, he plays the same song over and over. I’ve become adept at tuning him out.  

Writing inspiration comes from everywhere but favorite sources for me are often trips to historical houses or museums. However, I usually pick up ideas whenever I visit someplace new.

 What is the most famous book you’ve never read?

 I’ve never read Lord of the Flies. The summary alone is far too depressing. I read Brave New World because it was required. I read 1984, also because it was required. I read Ethan Frome because my daughter was required to read it and said it was the worst book she ever read. So I read it and agreed with her. I had enough sad literature and continue to stick with happy endings.

How is the writer’s life you’re living different than the one you imagined?

 I thought I would make a great deal of money, live in a mansion, and never have to do anything more than type all day. That didn’t happen. I taught for twenty-five years and squeezed in my writing time whenever I could while dreaming of retirement when I imagined I would have endless time to write. Retirement didn’t work out the way I hoped. I had to care for my elderly father. After he died, I got breast cancer. Now I’m helping my husband watch over his mother. I still squeeze in writing time, but it hasn’t been easy. On the other hand, those precious writing minutes are a great tonic for the soul.

If you could build a super-author consisting of three, living or deceased, authors who would you pick and why?

 I loved all the books written by Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart. Those where the popular authors when I was young–the ones who wrote Gothic suspense. They never failed to satisfy me. They contained intrigue along with romance. The hero invariably appeared to be a bad guy at first, but the authors cleverly turned everything around at the end. The books were very well written and worth reading more than once.

Of your invented characters, who would you like to meet for lunch? Why?

I’ve love to meet Wildon Forest, my Prince of the Mist, for lunch. He was about the sweetest guy I invented plus he loved garlic. The two of us could have a delightful pasta primavera and wear diaphanous togas. What fun!


 What are you currently working on that’s got you excited?

I’ve been working on the third book in my Patriots series. The book is titled Patriot’s Courage and is set in Ohio Territory in 1794. It opens on the day of the Battle of the Fallen Timbers. I’ve enjoyed the research on the time period. The hero joined General Wayne’s army to avenge the death of his brother, but soon questions his own motives after he is injured and discovers the Indian he killed in battle was the husband of a white woman who was adopted by the tribe at a young age.


Where can we find your books?

My books are at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and similar outlets. 

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