1) Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I like to write about finding wonder and hope in the hard places of life. I also like to live that same theme. As such, I am the founder and executive director of Wonder Wood Ranch, a California charitable organization that brings hope through horses to at-risk, foster, gang-impacted, homeless, and other disadvantaged kids in Monterey County, California. I’m also the award winning author of twelve books and well over 1,000 articles. I’m a speaker, a California native, and a graduate of Stanford University (with a B.S. in Chemistry!). In addition, I’ve earned my Masters in Theology, with an emphasis in Biblical Studies, from Fuller Theological Seminary.
After twenty years on the infertility journey, and numerous miscarriages, I now live with my husband, six children, and fifty-some critters at Wonder Wood Ranch.
When I’m not cleaning up after critters of all kinds, doing laundry, or writing books, I love sipping white mochas, reading re-told fairy tales, and riding my horse. But I especially love finding hope and wonder in the mucky, yucky things of life … and then writing about it!
2) What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
The things that I learned through my 20 year journey through infertility all make their way, somehow into my books … learning to find joy when faced with repetitive disappointments, choosing to become all you are meant to be even when all your plans for your life go awry, choosing to believe and live with fierce faith and hope when everything seems to go wrong. These themes not only show up in my nonfiction and fiction that discuss infertility (Empty Womb, Aching Heart and If Tomorrow Never Comes), but also form the underlying refrain in all my books, fiction and nonfiction alike.
3) What inspires/inspired your creativity?
What sparks my creativity is finding beauty and life wisdom in unexpected places, especially in everyday life. For example, I might find inspiration about facing and overcoming obstacles in the flight of a rescued bird, or learn a lesson about clarity from clearing an oak trees from choking vines of poison oak. I want to notice the things around me and pause long enough to understand the wonder of life and the world I live in. Then, I can also find the beauty and wonder in the dark and difficult.
4) How do you deal with creative block?
stop trying to force writing out and instead read something totally
opposite of what I’m trying to write. If I’m writing about
finding wonder in the hard times of life, or, as lately, writing a
book for women who have been abused, then I stop and read a chapter
or two of a fun retelling of a fairy tale. I stay at my desk, read,
then go directly back to the writing. It’s amazing how well reading
something completely different clears my mind and allows the words
and thoughts to flow again.
5) How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
They don’t, and I don’t. I’ve come to a place in my writing career where I don’t care about reviews anymore. My philosophy is that I do my best on each and every book. I stretch my abilities, I pour my heart into the work, I commit to vulnerability, and I pray. So if there’s a bad review and I see it, I simply say, “Well, I did the best I could, and this was the offering I was able to make for my readers. If a few don’t like it, then this is not the book for them.”
6) Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Yes. Both! I know that if I am well satisfied with what I’ve written, and if it is helpful to me personally, then my readers will also be well-served. I’m a reader too, not just a writer! I want to like what I’ve done, and then I am more confident that others will too. And I find that if later remember things I wrote and apply them to my own life during difficult times, then my readers will be able to do the same. I don’t want to just write stuff that sounds good, but rather have my words and thoughts (nonfiction or fiction) bring actual hope and help to readers. If I don’t find my work satisfying and helpful, no one else will either. But if tough times come and I’m clinging to a thought or phrase from one of my books like a lifeline, then I believe my work can also be of benefit to others.
7) What are your plans for future books?
My next book, titled Women of the Bible Speak Out, is a book specifically for women who have been oppressed, abused, or discriminated against because of gender. It’s a big topic for me, but I wanted to take the #MeToo movement further than just getting justice. I wanted to focus on help and healing for those women who have been hurt and abused. This book will release on June 1, 2020.
8) Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I love to run on my horse, riding bareback through the woods. That’s my happy place! I also have very sensitive skin, so it’s difficult for me to wear glasses, hats, binding clothes, or … oh no … a helmet! … which means that since I recently got a horse that’s six inches taller than my previous mare (who is now retired), I am often getting scratches on the top of my head from tree branches. Alas! Maybe I will have to wear that helmet after all.
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Marlo-Schalesky/e/B001IQX6UG