Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Characters, Setting & Writing Advice: Interview with Mercedes King

We welcome Mercedes King to As the Page Turns today! A founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (affectionately dubbed SiCCO), Mercedes can be found elbow-deep in research, reading, or enjoying the local bike path. Combining her love of pop culture with history, she created A Dream Called Marilyn, a fictional take on the last weeks of Marilyn’s life. With an unquenchable thirst for a bygone era, she’s also written O! Jackie, a fictional take on Jackie Kennedy's private life--and how she dealt with JFK's affairs. Short story fans would enjoy The Kennedy Chronicles, a series featuring Jackie and Jack before the White House and before they were married. Visit Mercedes’ website at to find out more.

Can you tell us what your book is about, Mercedes?
Sure! Dr. Charles Campbell has been hired by a studio executive to treat and subdue Marilyn Monroe and her erratic behavior—no matter what it takes. Although he’s warned about Marilyn and her unpredictable behavior, Charles finds that she’s not what he expected. Within days of their first meeting, Charles’ world turns upside-down, both professionally and personally. Marilyn shares a secret with him that could destroy the Kennedy administration and possibly put the U.S. at war with Russia. Charles realizes that if he’s going to save her from those who want her silenced, it means crossing doctor-patient boundaries, and it could cost him his life.

Why did you write your book, A Dream Called Marilyn?

That’s always a good question. What compels someone to spend months making stuff up, then ‘hoping’ that others will find it and enjoy it. Marilyn Monroe, even though she’s been gone for over 50 years, still has a strong fan base and people still like learning about her. My goal was to imply a twist on the conspiracy theories surrounding her death and to imagine, “What if she wasn’t as ‘crazy’ as she was made out to be?” Unfortunately, I couldn’t write a happier ending for Marilyn.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?  

For this story, there’s a fair mix of real people and ‘made up’ people. Readers get to catch a glimpse of Frank Sinatra and Bobby Kennedy. Sophia Loren also makes a cameo.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

Both. I like to plot out my stories from beginning to end, because it helps so much, seeing the big picture. But once the writing begins, new twists and surprises always emerge. It means my notes get rewritten several times, but it’s worth it.

Your book is set in Los Angeles, 1962.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I had to stick with this setting, since my novella is a blend of fact and fiction. But this was pretty much the beginning of the end of Hollywood’s Golden Era, so revisiting classic movies for research was great. Plus, relationships and expectations were different back then. There’s a lot to play with.

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Helen, Charles’ wife, has just walked in on Charles’ session with Marilyn (which Helen knew nothing about). Charles and Marilyn were having champagne and celebrating Marilyn’s birthday (all Marilyn’s idea), and her head had been Charles’ lap.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

Anywhere in New York City. I’ve been a few times now and can’t get enough. It feels like the center of the world.

What do you like to do for fun?

I’m really looking forward to spring. When it’s warm enough, I hit the local biking trail for a 20 – 25 mile ride. For now, I’m stuck with the stationary bike.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Keep writing. Quitting is the easy thing to do, as is jumping to a ‘great new idea’. Finish, finish, finish what you start. Even if you HATE it by the time you’re done. Finish that book. You can always go back and fix problems, and you learn a lot about writing (and yourself) along the journey. Every book is an adventure.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks, Dorothy. It's always great talking Marilyn and writing. Thank you!