October 15, 2013

Chatting with Marsha Ward

Today we're privileged to interview author Marsha Ward.

ES: There are an estimated 535,389.7 unique ways to die. How do you hope to meet your maker?

MW: I want to die in bed with my family surrounding me, and with enough oomph left to say something profound as my "Last Words," something that will echo down the ages and be repeated endlessly in family members' journals and on Facebook. [big grin]

ES: Tell me a little about yourself as a person.

MW: I am a widow; a mom to four grown-ups; a grandmother of six; a musician: composer, director, and performer in both vocal and instrumental areas (soprano voice, piano, organ, stringed instruments, and guitar); a jill-of-all-trades and mistress of none; and an unlettered historian. That means I don't have a degree in it, folks, but it seems to be my niche in the eternities.

ES: What genre do you write? Why?

MW: My genre of choice is 19th Century American historical fiction with a dollop of romance, usually set in the Western United States. I style myself as a writer of "Westerns with Heart & Grit." That could change to simply "Novels with Heart & Grit," if I go into other genres. My four published novels make up an on-going series called "The Owen Family Saga."

Why do I write in this genre? I love history, and have a fascination with the Old West cultivated by my father's stories of life in a Mormon colony in Mexico and on the wild frontier of early-day Tucson, Arizona. My non-series, planned but unpublished (and unfinished) novels deal with a Mormon pioneer, and an Arizona cowboy.

ES: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

MW: I dabble in arranging hymns and composing music for small church choirs, because I belong to a small church choir with few, if any, tenors.

ES: What could you not survive without for three weeks?

MW: This is an easy answer: my computer. What writer can live without writing? My preference is to type my work, because my mind goes too fast for longhand. I know that because I sometimes write in longhand at church. Yeah. While that process allows time to think of the right word or phrase, I usually already have those selected, because my subconscious has been working on the scene for a while.

ES: What makes you different from other authors in your genre?

MW: I do a tremendous amount of research, not that others don't, but many women writers on the Romance side of the Western genre don't do as much as I do. Then I use just enough of the research to sweeten the story.

ES: Tell me about your current work in progress.

MW: I'm writing a prequel to the other books in my Owen Family Saga series titled Gone For a Soldier. It's set during the American Civil War, and features Rulon, the oldest of the Owen children. This novel has required a lot more research than usual due to the events of that era, but I've discovered interesting facts that fit nicely into the storyline. Although it's taken me over a year to do the preliminary research, it has been rewarding and revealing.

ES: Tell me about your most recent published work, and why people should buy it.

MW: Spinster's Folly tells about Marie Owen's worry that she will never find a spouse, and the appalling circumstances she gets herself into because she trusted the wrong man. If readers like adventure, suspense, and romance, no matter the setting of time or place, then according to my endorsements, this is a good book for them to read.

ES: Spinster's Folly is available here.

ES: What’s your writing tool of choice?

MW: If you mean actual tool, the computer. If you mean software, I use a free program for Windows machines that was written by an Australian author, Simon Haynes, who just happened to be a computer software programmer in his day job. When he couldn't find a satisfactory program that fulfilled his needs as a novelist, he wrote his own. It's called yWriter5, is supported and upgraded regularly (which is why it's version "5"), and has a great online community. The website describes it thusly: "yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. yWriter was designed by an author, not a salesman!"

I like yWriter because of the achievable process of writing scene by scene. I've found it so  versatile that I've used it to write two novels, a cookbook, a sampler of novel chapters, and an anthology of prose and poetry.

Find it at http://spacejock.com (the site is named after Simon's main character, Hal Spacejock). Did I mention that it's free?

ES: If you threw a cocktail party and invited all of the characters in your books, who would be the least likely to come, and why? Who would you really hope to see at the party, and why?

MW: I would need a conference center to invite all my characters to a party, but I would not expect C. G. Thorne from Spinster's Folly to make an appearance. He couldn't bear the scrutiny of the rest of them, and he well knows it. He operates best in the shadows.

Julia Owen is the character I'd most like to chat with at the party. I find her fascinating, because she's the power behind the throne. She's married to a 19th Century autocratic head of household, and I'd love to talk about her secrets for managing him.


  1. My great-grandfather founded a Mormon colony in Colonial Juarez, Mexico in the later part of the 1800s before returning to Showlow region. Now I'm beginning to wonder if Marsha and I aren't truly blood-cousins. When you have your character party, Marsha, invite me, please! Fruit punch only, of course.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I love Marsha's novels, and I'm not even a Western fan! I do love historical fiction, though, and Marsha writes it wonderfully!

  3. I've been a fan of Marsha's writing ever since I read one of her Sweet Saturday Samples on her blog. Her writing is so descriptive and full of life! It's awesome to learn more about the author here -- great interview!