Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the pleasure of interviewing multi-published novelist Marlene Banks. Marlene has written in many genres, and now she’s trying something new—mystery!
Welcome, Marlene! Please tell us about your new book, Ruby Redd – Unrequited Love.
This eBook is the first novel of my RUBY REDD MYSTERIES, featuring protagonist Ruby Lee Redd, a mature woman returned to her small Southern hometown after living up North in a big city for thirty years. The reader is introduced to Ruby after the murder of one of her dearest friends.
What made you want to try your hand at writing mysteries?
I wanted to try writing a mystery since I really like reading them. It’s different writing a mystery, because your focus has to be on the events surrounding the mystery to keep the action and characters all in sync and the reader interested but unable to solve or unravel it. You have to write the story toward a specific end without giving away too many clues, which can be tricky. I wanted the challenge of doing something different.
It’s a definite challenge! Did you have any other challenges or surprises while writing this story?
I started with a clear murder mystery scenario in mind and a cast of characters that fit well into that storyline, but things took a sharp turn while I was writing it. I found myself delving more and more into the romantic narrative than I originally intended. I initially planned a slight romantic edge just to spice things up, but the romance started taking over in a big way. I had to calculatedly push the mystery back in place as the main event, and that was with a lot of effort on my part. I guess the romantic nature in me refused to be upstaged. It was during this time, about two thirds into the story, that I decided to insert the subtitle to justify my heavy hand with the romantic plot.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Without doubt it’s romance. I just can’t seem to get away from that romantic nature in me. Regardless to the set up, I will intentionally or unintentionally inject romance into the story. I can’t recall one single novel, novella, or short story I’ve written in recent years without at least a romantic undercurrent.
Well, I’m of the opinion that you can never have enough romance. Now, Christian novelists often share lessons God has taught them in life—through our characters. Does this happen in your novel?
Without giving away the story’s overall message, it resonates in my life in a very real way as I’m sure it will others. Many of us spend the better part of our lives chasing the wrong things in all the wrong places. Because we are lured by the world’s enticing culture, we are not satisfied with the direction of our lives and we go seeking satisfaction elsewhere. We move ourselves off the path God wants us on for what the world has to offer. For most of my life, especially my young adult and middle-age life, I was off my proper path and in the world like Ruby. It took some hard situations and eye-opening revelation to get me where I should have been all along. The calling on my life required I get on the path I was designed to follow, and in future Ruby Redd novels that will become evident for her as well. As is said, there are no accidents. For me it’s all about Divine purpose,
Let’s look at it from the other direction—how has writing novels impacted your relationship with Christ?
It has been a constant reminder for my living with a faith-based mentality instead of a worldly point of view. Writing about Christian people and their everyday lives and problems from a Christian perspective reinforces in me how I should conduct my own life. I spiritually grow when I write stories placing my Divine Source square in the middle. That seals it for me how every area of our lives (my life) is in the Master’s Hands.
Why do you love writing, Marlene?
Writing is what I was designed to do. God gave me the ability, the drive, and personality to do the work. I can’t say exactly why I love writing so much, but I do and have loved it since early childhood. Before I learned cursive writing, I used to print out little stories. I have always loved stories and storytelling—reading them and writing them. I know now that I was born to write for my Redeemer’s Kingdom, in service to Him. Be it fiction or nonfiction, I write with my faith firmly intact and upfront. It’s who I am and my worldview starts there.
When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
A few years after I got saved.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
Writing should not solely be about making money, should not be considered a way to make a fast buck. And you have to be in love with the writing process not just fascinated with the idea of writing. Anyone can be an author, stick their name on a book, like celebrities often do. That is very different from being a writer. A born writer writes whether they get paid for it or not.
Do you have an unfulfilled dream?
Yes, owning a parcel of land and having a residential housing for Christian missionaries who are no longer in the field full time and for disabled veterans. I would also like to board older retired service dogs (military, police, search and rescue, and therapy dogs) and have them retrained for adoption maybe.
That sounds wonderful! I hope you can make that dream come true. What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading another Benjamin January Mystery by Barbara Hambly titled Cold Bayou. I’ve read all the series, and I think this one was the last she’s written. I am also reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
A classic! Other than writing, what are your hobbies or activities or passions?
Bible study is something I am quite passionate about. I love digging into the Scriptures and unearthing some new revelation. I am always awed by how much I still need to learn from that Sacred Writ after all these years. I think the Bible is a supernatural deep well of revelation that we can never exhaust in a lifetime. Our Sovereign Father never stops speaking to us through His Word. I also have a significant fondness for dog shows and horse racing.
I love it! So, what are you working on now? Please tell us about your next project.
A second RUBY REDD MYSTERY novel is in the works continuing Ruby’s exploits and highlighting another juicy mystery.
With some romance, we hope! Thank you for sharing with us, Marlene!
To learn more about Marlene and her books, please visit Marlene’s website and Marlene’s blog.
Writing for Him,
Angelina youngJuly 4, 2021 - 12 : 36 : 58
What a extraordinary enlightening interview..I have to say,Marlene writings are simply a enjoyment of a good read..Reply