Interview: T. B. Markinson, Author of A Woman Lost

MarkinsonWomanLostFolks, please welcome author T. B. Markinson to Dab of Darkness. I started following her blog last year, long before I knew she was an author, because of her pets. Yep. What can I say, I’m attracted to small fuzzy creatures, and Miles and Atticus certainly count as cute. In fact, I knew the names of her wee beasties before I ever knew her name. So, in order to correct that, I eagerly asked T. B. if I could pester her with questions. She graciously agreed.

1) You have traveled quite a bit compared to some. What about traveling has lost it’s shine over the years and what has only gotten better? Do you take paperbooks that can be left behind as gifts?

In the beginning, when we started traveling to different countries I would get so excited and knew exactly how many days until we left. Our second big trip was to Guatemala and I think this trip changed how I prepare for trips. Months before the trip I went onto the US State Department’s website and saw all these warnings about murder, rape, and robberies. Someone even told me that some criminals would chop off your finger to steal a ring. Yikes! I was still looking forward to the trip but at the same time I was terrified. Nothing bad happened during our trip and we had a marvelous time. Since then I’ve tried to block out the nervousness by not focusing so much energy on an upcoming trip. Now I’m much calmer when I plan trips to different parts of the world. I no longer keep a countdown at my desk like I used to. Before leaving for Malaysia this past April I thought about this fact and it saddened me a little. I felt like I was taking it for granted and not appreciating it enough. I should get back into the habit of counting down for trips, just not freaking out about what could happen. I do enjoy that I’m much more relaxed when I travel. Yes I look at the warnings for each country and stay vigilant, but I don’t let my fear take over.

I do take paperbacks on my trips. So far I haven’t traveled with my kindle since I’m afraid I’ll either lose it or break it. As of yet, I haven’t left any books behind, but I’ve always had a hard time getting rid of books. They are my friends and I like to keep them close to me. I have books in just about every room in my home and I love seeing them there. I’ve been like that since I was a child. Even when I went to college I would bring my collection of books (it was much smaller then) along and squeeze them into my small room. One day I hope to have a massive library of my own with a ladder to reach the ones on the very top. If that happens, I would probably move my bed in there as well and the TV, fridge … I may never leave it.

Author T. B. Markinson

I’ve always been interested in the lives of normal people. When I studied history in college, my specialty was the history of everyday life. I love to see how normal people survive in this world and how they react to it. As for my writing, I like to see my characters in everyday situations. Sometimes I throw them a curveball to see what happens. I wouldn’t say that I’m overly descriptive in my writing. Some authors, like Charles Dickens, Sarah Waters, and many others, can set a scene beautifully.  Reading these works is a real treat and I wish I could write more like them. However, I’m drawn to dialogue and actions. I want to know what the characters are thinking. Get inside their heads some and see what makes them tick. When I snap photos of people on my trip, I’m always wondering what they are thinking. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to ask them.

3) Part of your 50 year project is to watch the top 100 movies. Do you feel that movies can be as powerful as books in regards to moving the human spirit? Will you share a few movies that affected you? 

I will admit that I generally prefer a book over a movie that is based on a book. That doesn’t mean that I think movies are inferior. In fact, ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved movies. And so many of them have moved me to tears. Back when I was in grad school I was working on a research paper about the Hitler Youth, the Holocaust, and survival accounts. Many of the things I read were horrifying. However, I was able to separate myself from it somewhat and focus on my research. Then I went and saw the movie, Life is Beautiful, a wonderful and moving story about a man trying to protect his son from the horrors of a Nazi death camp. I lost it during this film and ended up crying for some time after I left the theater. A few years later when I had to watch Sophie’s Choice from the top 100 movie list for my project, the same thing happened. Don’t get me wrong, when I read works like Night by Elie Wiesel, I get choked up. But when I watch the movies I can’t keep the emotions locked up inside. Meryl Streep’s performance in Sophie’s Choice is superb and I think one of her better films even though most of her performances are damn good.

4) Your debut book, A Woman Lost, focuses on a woman and her lesbian relationship. What other authors or books would you recommend in the LGBQT subgenre? 

The person who immediately popped into my mind is Sarah Waters. Her novels, Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, are fantastic and if people haven’t read them I suggest they run out to the store right now and buy them. I feel like I should add that I don’t always go looking for books that fall into certain genres. When I think of Sarah Waters, the first thought that pops into my mind is she’s a brilliant writer. I do that with most if not all books. Genre doesn’t creep into my thoughts. For me, what matters is a wonderful story. I don’t care what genre or subgenre it falls into or about the author. Story matters to me.  As long as I’m entertained, I’m a happy reader. So when people ask me to suggest books in different genres I struggle a bit. Some are easier, like mystery. Others are more difficult. It’s odd I don’t ever associate Frankenstein with science fiction, even though many claim it’s one of the first examples. For me, I think it’s a great story. The past couple of years, since I have joined reading challenges I have looked more into genres so I can meet the qualifications for the challenges. Again, though, the initial thoughts I have about these books when I write the reviews are the story and not how they are shelved in a bookstore.

The grumpy cat, Atticus.

If I answered this question last week I would have said my writing cave was a complete disaster. On Monday, I reached for a book on my desk and everything crashed down around me so I decided to take a couple of hours to clean it up. As I write this answer, I’m on day three after I tidied up. I won’t say it’s a complete disaster again, but it’s getting there. I have two tea cups (empty), one water glass, notebooks, books, pens, and papers around me. They are still somewhat organized. Give me another day or two and it will be a mess again.

I prefer writing at my desk in my office. My office, which is a spare bedroom in my London flat, overlooks a lovely garden. However, I have my desk facing the wall otherwise I would stare at the garden all day and not get anything done. I have been known to go to a pub to read and edit drafts. I find I need to be away from my computer when I edit. Sometimes I listen to music, but most of the time I work in silence, unless you count Miles’s barking.

6) You’ve traveled and lived in multiple places. Is there a single library or bookstore that truly stands out in memory and do you mind sharing what made it so memorable?

I have many fond memories of bookstores and libraries. Since you are asking about one that stands out I would have to say the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado. When I first walked in I was stunned that it had different levels. At the time I was 14 and it was the biggest bookstore I had ever been too. I lived in Colorado for many years, and I spent many wonderful afternoons getting lost in this store. If my memory serves me correctly, they even had stacks of books on the floor in some places. I loved it. My favorite section was the bargain basement. I can’t remember a time when I left the store empty-handed.

Miles - taking a nap while T.B. writes.
Miles – taking a nap while T.B. writes.

7) Since I am an animal person, I have to bring Atticus and Miles into this. How do they take your novelist career? Supportive, moping, hadn’t noticed? 

Miles, my dog, loves that I work from home now. The only problem is he wants to play all the time. He just doesn’t understand why we can’t go for long walks all day, play fetch in the park, or take naps on the couch. He’s pretty good though and sleeps on his bed in the office. His bed used to be my papasan that I loved reading in. Miles has decided it works better as a dog bed and now that it stinks like him, he can have it. Atticus, the grumpy cat, sleeps on a blanket on my desk for most of the day. Occasionally he walks over the keyboard to add his own thoughts and he doesn’t understand why I get upset when he deletes a day’s work. For the most part, Atticus only cares about his naps and eating. He’s glad I’m around more to fill his food dish several times a day instead of just in the morning and night. Pretty much I’m a servant and playmate, not a writer to them.

About T. B. Markinson:

T. B. Markinson is a 39-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling around the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. A Woman Lost is her debut novel.

MarkinsonWomanLostAbout A Woman Lost:

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Petrie has it all. She’s rich, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. None of this matters to her mom. Les-Bi-An. That’s all her mom sees. Despite’s Lizzie’s insistence that her mom’s antagonism does not bother her, Lizzie distances herself from her mom and the entire family. When her brother, Peter, calls her out of the blue to announce he’s getting married, Lizzie’s entire life changes drastically. Peter’s fiancée wants to bring the lesbian outcast back into the family. Will this desire cause Lizzie to lose everything dear to her? Sarah, Lizzie’s girlfriend, is ecstatic about this change in Lizzie’s personal life. Sarah, the hopeless romantic, wants it all, including settling down with the fiercely independent Lizzie. Can Lizzie be tamed? And can she survive her family and all of their secrets?

Places to Find T. B. Markinson

Author Blog: Making My Mark
Travel, pets, books, movies: 50 Year Project

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