ULM: What lead you to writing your first novel, Irony of Time?
Three years ago I found myself at a point in my life where I was trying to figure out more about myself. I had just come off of participating in the Avon Breast Cancer 2-day Walk where I had been training, with my two best friends, for 6 months prior to the walk. It was a wonderful experience to do something that was more than my own world. But when the walk ended my one friend got busy with her new house. My other friend had a new job. I was now off for the summer since I teach and my two children were old enough to have their own lives, interest and summer activities all lined up. I found myself wondering what more there was to me than a teacher, mother and wife. What else could I do? I wallowed in that for two weeks until one morning I awoke from a very vivid dream. The kind of dream that makes you sit up quickly and think Wow! That was interesting! I wanted to know more about these two characters that were in my dream. I wanted to know what happened to them after the one made such a dramatic decision. I sat there for awhile thinking of this dream then Stephenie Myers came to mind and how she wrote the whole Twilight Series stemming off her dream. I thought if she could do it, I certainly could give it a try. I thought I might get maybe 50 pages, but the moment I sat down at my computer to type, that first scene from my dream poured out of me and these characters came to life. That became chapter one of Irony. It was then that I remembered I use to have a passion for writing. I wrote all the time when I was younger up until college. It was then my passion turned to teaching young children. By the end of that summer I had finished the first round of the book which was almost 300 pages.
ULM: Inside of Irony of Time, your character, Miriam, goes through a journey of redemption. What was it like creating her?
Miriam was exciting to bring to life. I knew her name right away. The arc of her character was fun to write because I got to show at different ages. First at the age of 26 she was an amnesiac, but living so blissfully with only the current year memories to sustain her. She had found happiness away from something tragic that had happened in her past that still haunted her dreams. She was feisty and ready to discover everything and anything about herself. She wasn’t afraid to take charge even with her lover, the mysterious physicist, Dr. Ian Stone, who was shrouded in a lot of secrets himself.
Then I got to write her as a 16 year old when she traveled back in time. Not only was she a 16 year old, but this teenager with all her memories back intact, having the mind and experiences of a 26 year old, but a body of a young girl. Could you image? It was challenging to bring that to life, but fun. Now she was in a race against time trying to prevent that one tragic event that had spiraled her whole life out of control. She was on the cusp of the one event that destroyed her family-this family she now remembers and treasures.
The range of her emotions through this journey hit every possible level as she had to rediscover her inner self over and over again, working through the weaknesses that broke her down when utter heartbreak occurred to discovering and using her strengths to overcome the pain, betrayal and despair. She used all this to really find her true self.
ULM: What were your thoughts when bringing to life, Dr. Ian Stone?
Now, this character was a little different. He wasn’t as clear to me in the dream. I knew he was there. I saw what he did, but he was a mystery to me. One I wanted to figure out. I did not have a name for him until many chapters into the book. I left blank lines or used a pronoun. I researched and made a list of mysterious male names. Ironically, his name actually did not come off that list, but all of the males (except William) from Book two, Hope With Stickers, did. I really loved the name Damian for him, but Vampire Dairies had that name for their seductive, mysterious, sometimes evil, character. I love the actor who portrays Damian, Ian Somerhalder, so finally I just decided to use his first name. To be brutally honest, I visualized Ian Somerhalder whenever I was writing a chapter with Dr. Stone in it.
Dr. Ian Stone is a character I wanted readers to be confused about at first, uneasy, not sure what to think kind of feelings. Maybe then a sort of liking occurs. Next all of a sudden hate his guts. Then for the rest of the story find yourself in a hate-love relationship with him. My goal by the end is for readers to land solidly on one of those feelings, but if they’re still on the fence then when they read the first chapter of Book Two and gain some clarity with what he did and what would happened if he didn’t, that seals the deal for them.
ULM: Inside book 2 (Hope with Stickers), readers really get to meet Hope. A mother who lost her child. What lead you to this specific plot?
Hope showed up towards the end of Book one. She is only there for one and half pages, but she makes a dramatic impact as she actually detours the time traveling Miriam from a path where abuse would have entered her life again. I instantly knew there was more to this woman’s story. I thought that it would be so interesting to find out what would have happened to Hope and her run away daughter if she never met Miriam during her time traveling journey and then the complete altered path her life took because she did cross paths with a time traveler. I purposely left out 14 missing days in Irony because I knew what was going on with Miriam during that time and how Hope played a bigger part than just one and half pages, but that would not be discovered until book two.
ULM: Hope with Stickers is an interesting read. Can you share with us, readers, who the Novaks are? Especially, Rylas Novak.
Ah, Rylas. He is a character you love to hate and then hate that you love him.
Not to give too much away concerning the paranormal aspects of this series, but the Novaks are a mysterious family of private investigators. Quade and Declan are brothers and Rylas is their cousin. They run their operation in secret out of their nightclub, Taboo, in North Carolina. They have a connection to Ian because they once enlisted Ian’s help with a case they were working on many years back. Declan is the strong leader of the group who manages everything the way he see fit for the good of their kind. Quade is the misunderstood, humorous misfit of the group. That leaves Rylas— the tortured, bruiting, cocky but handsome detective that takes an odd interest in Hope for there is something about her that begins to shatter his whole world.
ULM: What are you other hobbies besides writing?
I have a passion for teaching. I teach first grade and have taught for over 15+ years now. My other passions are reading and cooking.
ULM: How would you describe Hope with Stickers using only three words?
Textured, memorable, heartfelt
ULM: What themes can readers find in your work?
I think in the Irony of Time series there is a theme for almost anyone. There is the bond of family love with a focus on sibling love that sometimes only seems to occur either later in life or after a tragedy. That leads to the theme of making each moment count now by appreciating and loving one another. Other themes include overcoming tragedy, finding self-worth, redemption and forgiveness. Romance and passion wind itself through all the themes.
All my stories have a curve ball somewhere that comes out of left field when you least expect it because that is what I love to read.
ULM: If your novels were to become movies, who do you see playing Miriam, Hope, Dr. Ian Stone, Rylas, Declan, Quade, Carly, Lisa, and Miranda?
To be honest, I only ever had Ian Somerhalder in mind for Ian.
Rylas, I feel needs to be someone new and hot, but if I had to pick then maybe a cross between Josh Holloway and Charlie Hunnam, but with black hair.
In the book Miriam describes Hope as a Cheryl Tiegs almost 40-years-old looking waitress. So, someone similar to her since she is a model and not an actress.
The rest, I simply cannot think of a current actor that would fit my visual of what he/she looks like.
ULM: You have a third novel coming out soon. Can you share with us, readers, what Heart of Mine is about?
Heart of Mine is the third and final book in this series. It is divided into several parts. The beginning and the end parts comes from the point of view of a surprising character that is really the heart of this whole series. The middle is how all the stories and central characters from each book come back together in a very unique way. All three books tightly intertwine each other in so many ways that readers will encounter those aha! Moments throughout each book as scenes and events unfold which trigger a new understanding and realization concerning something from one of the previous books. Even from the biggest of moments to the smallest of minute details, there are hidden secrets being slowly revealed.
Book three wraps it all up in one big, I-didn’t-see-that-coming bow.
ULM: Any other projects to come out after your third novel?
Yes, over my Christmas break I began writing my fourth book. It is about a young, first year teacher….go figure. Well, I wanted to write about something I know a lot about. There is romance, possibly a love triangle…hint, hint. It is humorous, but there is a central tragedy that has occurred. This form of tragedy is a worry that plagues the mind of all teachers everywhere and one in which some have endured.
ULM: What is it like teaching? Did this influence your stories?
Teaching is like having a job you can never leave. I mean that in every sense of the phrase. I mean I can’t see myself ever leaving teaching until they push me out the door. Because it brings me joy and satisfaction through interacting with children as I help them grow, learn and achieve, but also there is never a punch-out clock. Even as I type these answers I’m watching the time and thinking of my lesson plans I have to finish for next week, systematically filing through the five days and the subjects of math, social studies, science, reading and writing. Then there is the pile of journals I need to assess tonight (while I am mentally preparing for a week of two different formal individual assessments in reading, I need to give each of my 24 students). A coworker said she even teaches in her sleep, which her husband can verify because of what she says out loud.
My favorite subject to teach has always been writing. I love being a part of their growth as a writer from September through May. The magic that would happen there in their writing would be one of my joys.
Now, I don’t think the first three books where influenced by my teaching, but more of an escape. I needed to demand a punch out clock for short periods of time. Even in the summertime between online courses I had to find a way of escaping into another world with imaginary adults and events I could control. It was a way to get lost.
Now my fourth book is heavily influenced by teaching as I previously mentioned.
ULM: What is your advice to other writers?
Writing, editing, formatting and publishing (self-publishing) are the easy parts. It is the marketing that is the biggest challenge. Get out there now, before your book is going to be published, before the formatting, before the editing and writing. Get out there and get seen, be heard, while you are thinking about becoming a published writer. Build your writer’s platform NOW.
ULM: Where can readers find you and your books online?
Book one and two, The Irony of Time series, are both found on Amazon.com, my website and Goodreads
You can also learn more about me and what’s going on by following me at:
Amazon: M.L. Crum