It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Marlena Evangeline, author of Liam Mcphee and The Thief of Laughter.
About Marlena Evangeline:
Marlena Evangeline hails from Southern California. She earned a B.A. in English Literature and a Master of Arts in Composition and Literary Theory from the California State University in San Bernardino and an M.F.A. in fiction from the Writers Workshop at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
M. Evangeline took the first steps in her writing career as a part self-discovery, part post-divorce survival Evangeline and began to write about her new unique life experiences.
Navigating her new world with a renewed sense of wonder evolved into a collection of short stories, three novels, multiple chapbooks of poetry, fourteen screenplays and a collection of country western lyrics.
One of her first books, The Orange Blossom Express was nominated for the Editors Book Award by Lawrence Ashmead of Harper-Collins. Evangeline’s poetry has been published by The Pacific Review and Poetry Motel, which includes Radical Beauty, a collection of poems written by Malibu residents who experienced the Woolsey Fire. In addition to her short stories and fiction, Evangeline has written several screenplays.
Evangeline lived in a boat yard for several years while rebuilding a Navy Utility boat into the yacht, The Ruby Tuesday. She traces that story in the memoir, Raising The Ruby Tuesday, not yet available in print.
Evangeline’s latest young adult fantasy novel, Liam McPhee and the Thief of Laughter is a love story to her daughter and grandchildren for whom the whimsical characters in the book are named after.
Liam Mcphee and The Thief of Laughter is a refreshingly original tale with enough twists and turns to make it a top pick for all ages of readers.
The first thing to note about Liam McPhee and The Thief of Laughter is that the story was written for the author’s own grandchildren, which lends it a feisty sense of reality as the young people immersed in their Scottish roots find adventure in the most unusual places and adds to the personality of the characters. As the wild Scottish sea churns, the faery Queen Luminata becomes involved, and though some of the sentences are long enough to be deemed paragraphs ( And the fell down the moon beam, they fell right through the memory of home and as they tumbled all their lost buttons and lost mittens and lost balls and lost hats and scattered marbles spun around them like little galaxies and they laughed to see their lost mittens again and then they tumbled through the memories of their mother’s and their fathers and through the memories of their own soft beds and warm pajamas and then they tumbled head over heels right back upon the shore where they slept.” The atmosphere and description can’t be beat. Monks, pirates, spells, dragons and the future of Scotland’s laughter wind into an epic tale that is quite long( over 70 chapters ) and delightfully compelling. The wealth of characters introduced – Rico – Izzy – Ragpicker – Melrose and many more – require affection for detail and changing scenarios, but the three books of Liam McPhee and The Thief of Laughter together form an epic quest and struggle that a shorter treatment could not have adequately captured.
Author Interview with Marlena Evangeline:
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- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
When I was working on my Master’s Thesis, A Deconstructive Analysis of Plato’s Phaedrus, I threw my books, notes, dog, and backpack into my car and drove to Wyoming(where I once lived) to visit friends. I rented a place in the wilderness that I thought might be conducive to thought and drove out to the Gros Ventres (a mountain range) and rolled into an old camp ground where I had rented a cabin. Well, it was really remote, and bears are common in Wyoming. I spent one night in that wilderness cabin …. WIDE awake at each tiny sound. I had lived in Jacksoon’s Hole, Wyoming before for ten years while my daughter grew up, so I rather understood the territory but this campground, while perhaps romantic, was not for me. All I could see was a big old grizzly (fictional none appeared) but in my mind every creak and moan of that little cabin screamed BEAR! The next morning, I packed up again, called the people I had rented from, and scooted into Teton Village, pleasant and not remote, to a pal’s house, where I spent the next month writing and revising.
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing totally energizes me. I love a good sentence, a good paragraph and a well put word; I am a poet so I believe words and the way they land upon a page are important. I love the mysterious process of writing, how, after a while as one writes, new ideas and images appear as a result of the writing process itself. I write poems, scripts, novels, short stories, and feel that writing in different forms simply strengthens the writing muscles of thought. Like working out in a gym, each different muscle makes the whole process stronger.
- How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
Interesting question. My theory is that writing is like seduction, and that one must enchant a reader with thought and words, enchant and entice them into a story, thought, poem. A old pal and marvelous poet friend and mentor of mine always said that writing was like an attack on the reader, but I entirely disagree. I think of writing as part enchantment and part seduction; I want my readers to follow my words and thought into my story and when I am writing I am highly aware of the reader, of how I want them to react, feel, and to this end I gather words to seduce them to my story.
- What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I am so grappling with this element right now as I am finishing up a memoir. The memoir is called Raising The Ruby Tuesday and it is about the time I spent in a boat yard, four years, rebuilding a 1955 Navy Utility Boat into a yacht. I had intended to launch the boat and write. Well, after completion I lost the boat in a storm, and my memoir covers the time building the boat and then there was the storm and the dynamics of a complicated Port situation; so in the memoir I have changed names of people, and then created dialogues that must have happened, but the dialogues are fictional, as I could not have been present for them. They are things that indeed happened as I have people who have told me about these conversations. But I am treading a thin line as I cannot name names as I have created fictions in one sense, but fictions pulled from actual experience. I am trying to do the legal thing, not attribute conversations to exact people, although the characters will be renamed but thinly disguised as anyone who knows that Port would know.
- What does literary success look like to you?
A reasonable income, good reviews, happy readers.
- What inspired you to start writing?
A difficult divorce and an unusual beginning were the catalyst that led me to a typewriter (it was a typewriter then)… I had an unusual marriage chronicled in The Orange Blossom Express, about a woman in love with a marijuana smuggler in the early 70s. After a divorce I sat down and began a journey of self-discovery and gave a hard look at what had just happened in my life.
Now, I tend to write lighter children’s stories as I like the lift away from drama of my past . . and I write comedy in scripts. And I like the freedom of fantasy and creating fantastical worlds for my readers.
To learn more about Marlena Evangeline, here’s where you can find her: