I met Mary Firmin via Twitter and discovered that she is a local author from the Los Angeles area. Mary is a self taught author, much like myself and is enjoying success with her first novel. She is a good example of what you can achieve as a new author if you stick to your guns and use the resources that are available in the community. I hope you enjoy her interview here at No Wasted Ink.
My name is Mary Firmin, I am the author of Deadly Pleasures. I have been many things in my life, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, salesman, and now, writer. Deadly Pleasures is my first book. My husband, Bill, gave me a publishing package from iUniverse for a Christmas present in 2010. We did not know that six months later he would pass away in his sleep. Soon afterwards the activity on the book began in earnest, editing, book cover, design etc. and this book saved me. While it did not eliminate my grief, his gift to me mitigated the terrible angst I felt after his passing. I believe that he knew I would need this book, and all that comes with it, to help me through the most difficult time of my life. Thank you, Bill.
When and why did you begin writing?
I have always been interested in writing but I never dreamed I could write a whole book. One day my friend, Kathleen and I were discussing, jokingly, how we would like to be a guest on the The Tonight Show. We decided the only way we could do that is if we wrote a book. So we checked the UCLA catalog of classes and found one called How to Write a Bestseller. Right up our alley! In this class we met a wonderful teacher, Marjorie Miller, who convinced us that, yes, we could write. We joined her class in Westwood and spent many years working with other authors and learning our craft. Of course, neither one of us has made it to The Tonight Show, but we both acquired such a love of writing . . . and that was the gift. This all began 25 years ago. So I guess I am an overnight success.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My current book is Deadly Pleasures, a mystery/thriller. It has received fabulous reviews from Kirkus, ForeWord Clarion, Readers Favorite, but it is best described by Blueink Review as, “Sex in City meets James Patterson.” Megan Riley and her three best friends are unhappy with the men in their lives and decide to hire, hunky stripper Michael Harrington, as a time-share Boytoy. They are unaware that he is a suspect in a series of gruesome bondage murders. The story takes you on their journey to find a Boytoy and has some very funny moments. But the mystery and the tragedy is the murder of several young women by the Bondage Murderer. Enter handsome Detective Matt Donovan, and Megan falls in love. The story takes place in the Southern California yachting community, Venice Beach, Malibu and Catalina Island. During Matt’s intense investigation into the grisly crimes the reader is taken on a wild ride through L.A.’s private sex clubs, bondage parlors, and the homes and yachts of the rich and famous.
What inspired you to write this book?
Years ago when I lived in Hollywood, I heard about four men who hired a woman to be on call to fill their sexual needs. I began to write a mystery that included that unusual situation. But then, I realized how much times have changed, and it would be so much more interesting if four women hired a lover, hence, the time-share Boytoy. The women had to have money, opportunity, and the desire to get back at their men. My ladies have all of that and then some.
Are experiences in your book based on someone you know, or events in your life?
I did not know the men who hired the woman in Hollywood. The characters are not based on anyone I know, specifically. Yes, some of my own experiences are in the book. I sold real estate in most of the areas mentioned. My husband and I belonged to a yacht club, and we went to Catalina frequently. I lived in Santa Monica and walked on Venice Boardwalk almost every day. The personalities in the book are a mixture of human traits that I think we all have to a more or lesser degree. I’m sure there is a little bit of me in all the ladies.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
The working title of the book was Dangerous Games. But a movie came along with that same name, and then a similar book title. I wanted to change it and felt like Deadly Pleasures best fit the action in the book. The murder victims were fulfilling someone’s idea of pleasure. The four women were looking for pleasure from their Boytoy. And no one knew who would be the next person to die. The results were Deadly Pleasures.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I did not start out with a message as some writers do in Spiritual Books or Motivational Books. I wanted to write a book that people would enjoy and hopefully get a break from their everyday life while they were reading it. I have always loved mysteries, and spent countless hours reading them. If my husband and I went to Catalina for a few days, I would call it a great time if I had read six books. I am a self educated person who, later in life, took what I needed from writing classes, seminars, conventions and writer’s groups. I did not have a lot of formal education. So, if I have any message I would say it’s never too late to fulfill your dreams. If your desire is strong enough you will do it. If you want to write, the first thing you have to do is START.
Which authors have most influenced your life?
Since I am a recovering alcoholic, like Megan, the most influential book in my life has been the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. It changed me and my life profoundly. But I love Thomas Harris, the author of Hannibal and Red Dragon, which I use as a text book on building suspense.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I would repeat what I said a couple of questions ago. If you have something to say, a memoir, biography, family history, or a mystery, you must sit down and START. Harold Robbins, author of The Carpetbaggers, told me, and a group of authors in Palm Springs, that ‘you have to put Ass Glue on your chair and do not get up until you have written five to ten pages.’ It doesn’t have to be perfect. But again, you have to START. You will feel such a sense of accomplishment every time you do this . . . and writing is really Fun.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes, I do. If you love a book, mine or anyone else’s, go into Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com, and give that person a good review. The author has worked for years to bring the book into fruition and it is like music to his or her ears if the reader gives them a good review. I hope you enjoy my book, Deadly Pleasures. At present I am working on number two of a Deadly Trilogy, called Deadly Secrets. It takes place in a Desert Golf and Tennis Club. So friends and fellow members, beware. And you too, Wendy!
English born, Mary Firmin spent many years in Canada. She settled in Santa Monica, California, married and raised three children. Vice President of a large Real Estate firm, Mary and her husband Bill belonged to a yacht club and spent many hours in Catalina. She studied the craft of writing in her spare time. Eventually, she moved to the Desert where she wrote a Society Column for a local newspaper. Last year, Mary lost her loving husband, Bill, and presently lives in Rancho Mirage, California, where she is at work on her second novel, Deadly Secrets. Mary is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Palm Springs Women in Film, and the New Palm Springs Writers Guild.
Mary Firmin has generously offered to gift a free copy of her novel Deadly Pleasures in a raffle. On May 2nd, I will randomly select one commentator from this post to receive the free copy. Don’t miss out. Post your comment today!
Update 5/3/12: The book contest is now closed. A winner will be selected at random from the people that left comments to this post. Thank you all for your participation!