Marilynn Byerly

Well, first off let's meet the writers herself. Describe yourself, what you write, and any miscellaneous tidbits the readers might like to hear. :)

I'm happily single. I have a dog and a cat as well as two nephews and a niece to spoil. I garden, lift weights, read (not as much as I'd like), and donate my time to the local theater organization. I live in the Triad of Piedmont North Carolina.

I write paranormal romances, futuristics, contemporary romantic adventure, and romantic suspense. I've also written a science fiction adventure novel. Although quite different from each other, all my books have a strong element of adventure, and most have some magical element. They also tend to hop genre boundary lines and defy categorization.

TIME AFTER TIME, my first published novel, is a reincarnation romance, but many readers have called it a time travel novel. (It was one of the five best time travel novels of 1998 according to both the reviewers and readers of "Affaire de Coeur.") The hero Justin Lord remembers all his past lives, and the one woman who has been his soulmate in all those lives. When he finally finds her in this life, she's engaged to another man. To win her, he must make her remember one of her past lives to convince her that they belong together. He recreates and retells some of their lives with adventurous, humorous, or disastrous results.

When did you first start writing, and what's your writing background been like?

I've always wanted to be a writer. I come by my storytelling abilities and interests naturally. My dad told wonderful bedtime stories about Bushy Tail Squirrel--his variation on the Br'er Rabbit stories, and he wrote an often humorous hunting column for the local newspaper. Supper involved Southern tale-spinning from various family members. Coming from a large family and being quiet, at least quiet in comparison to my talkative family members, I tended to tell my stories only to myself.

As I grew older, my inner stories soon involved my favorite TV characters, and I created a whole universe of different characters to interact with them. When I realized that Mr. Spock from STAR TREK and Artemis Gordon from THE WILD, WILD WEST couldn't really meet, I solved my problem by making many of my own characters members of a long-lived alien race of time travelers--the Immortals.

Much later, I borrowed from these imaginative forays into an alien culture to write my first science fiction novel aptly called THE IMMORTALS. (Published by The Fiction Works as an e-book.)

My passion for books led me into graduate school as a literature major, and I used what little time and creative energy I had left to write poetry and an occasional short story, but I promised myself that one day I'd write the novels I had floating around my head.

After my dad died from cancer, I realized that time was too short not to write those novels. A month after his death, I began my first novel, and I haven't really stopped since.

What jobs have you held, and how have they influenced your writing, if at all?

My background is teaching. I've taught at public, community college, and college level. I've also been a research assistant. Growing up, I worked at my parents' store. During college and afterwards, I worked at their weekly auction sales. I've also written book reviews and articles on genre fiction for an area Yuppie arts journal.

My professional background hasn't really affected my books as far as subject matter, but it certainly has been of great importance in the business of writing. And, romantic visions of the writer aside, writing is a business. Working with my dad was worth an MBA at any university. I also collected a hoard of stories about the quirks and foibles of the buying public. The research work proved invaluable in my own research for my different stories.

How do you think up characters for your stories?

I start out with a general premise or one image or scene as the embryo for my novels. For STAR-CROSSED, the futuristic which is coming out in February 2000, the premise came after I read a novel which used sexual slavery as sexy fun and titillation. Horrified by the book's treatment of women, I had the evil thought--what would happen if men were the sex slaves, not women? By switching the genders, I would be able to make my points about the inhumanity of such treatment and the corrosive results on a society as a whole. I would also have one heck of a romantic adventure setting on another planet.

I then asked myself what kind of heroine and hero did I need to tell the story I wanted to tell. The heroine would have to be from this society, but against the harem system. She would have to be brave and willing to sacrifice everything for what she believed in, have enormous kindness and sympathy, and be totally ignorant of men. Mara d'Jorel was born.

The hero couldn't be a member of this society because the men on Arden are trained from birth to be protected darlings who don't worry their pretty little heads about anything. Something about him, beyond his looks, would have to attract Mara so she would consider taking a sex slave against her moral beliefs. I made him a famous scientist in Mara's field. ("He's not a man, he's a scientist!") He would have to be worthy of her emotionally by having enormous love, kindness, and courage, but he would need some flaw which would drive them apart. The flaw would somehow reflect the premise of the story. I decided that he wants a woman to love him for himself, not for his fame, looks, and wealth, and no relationship is more shallow and less likely to go beyond looks than sexual slavery. Earthman Tristan Mallory was born.

What books and authors do YOU like to read?

I have very little time to read. That's one of the ironies of being a writer. Another little irony is you can no longer totally lose yourself in a book in the same market you write in so for my light reading I enjoy the kinds of books I don't write. I have a passion for Regencies. Mary Jo Putney and Mary Balogh are favorites. I love mysteries like THE CAT WHO series by Lilian Jackson Braun, the Amelia Peabody mysteries of Elizabeth Peters, and the Fremont Jones series by Dianne Day. I'm also a fan of Andre Norton's Witch World novels.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Keep writing, keep submitting, keep learning, and keep your spirits up.

Be professional, be polite, and be politic. Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry, the craft of writing, and the market opportunities. Join professional organizations like RWA and EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) and ask knowledgeable questions of those who are more experienced.

What is your next book(s), and when is it/they due out?

Both of my first two books are still out. That's one of the joys of electronic publishing. Your books don't disappear after a few weeks. TIME AFTER TIME is available from Hard Shell ( THE IMMORTALS, my science fiction adventure novel, is available from Fiction Works ( My futuristic STAR-CROSSED will be out in February from Hard Shell.

What attracts you to science fiction or the paranormal?

Science fiction and paranormals both give me ways to tell stories I couldn't tell any other way. I could never have turned my original premise for STAR CROSSED into a novel without the freedom of the different worlds of the futuristic.

The paranormal allows a slightly skewed and fresh perspective on romance, and tells us that even telepathic men don't understand women.

How much luck have you had in getting published? How long did it take your first book to be published? What are your thoughts on epublishing?

It took me 16 years from the time I finished my first novel until I sold a novel. I didn't have the wonderful learning opportunities today's aspiring writers have in RWA and on the Internet so I had to learn my craft on my own. The first 6 years of that 16 years were spent learning my craft as I wrote my first novels.

Even after my craft was competent, I still couldn't sell a book. My rejection letters from editors sounded like glowing review blurbs on the back of a bestseller, but the letters would always end, "I loved this book, but...." My novels just didn't fit the tidy little definitions of what the publishers wanted.

I had a number of near misses of sales. Book lines died when I was at point of contract, an editor who loved my book had a baby and her replacement wasn't interested, and another book was accepted by LionHearted over five years ago and is still waiting to go to press because of financing difficulties. A fellow LionHearted author told me about the new form of publishing called e-publishing, and I decided to take a chance. I sold TIME AFTER TIME to Hard Shell who considered its uniqueness a virtue rather than a fault. Going to e publishing was the smartest career move I've ever made.

E-publishing is a new market, and the readers are just beginning to discover the exciting new voices among its authors so the money is far less than what a paper-published writer would make. But our books don't disappear after a few weeks like mass-market paperbacks so our sales keep growing month by month. Most of the e-publishers don't buy any rights beyond electronic so we are free to sell our book to paper presses, audio book companies, and other media.

I have enormous faith in the quality of my books so I have sought reviews in national magazines like "Romantic Times" and "Affaire de Coeur." Both magazines were extremely favorable. TIME AFTER TIME received a glowing review in RT, and "Affaire de Coeur" named it one of the best time travel novels of 1998, and I was named one of the best up-and-coming authors.

TIME AFTER TIME is the 5th best-selling e-book romance of all time, and it has been 3rd on the RocketBook romance bestseller list at It was quite a kick to see my book above romances by LaVyrle Spencer and Jude Deveraux and between books by Stephen King and Bill Gates.

I hope to use this success to move into paper publishing and other markets, as well. I believe the future for e-publishing and my writing career isbright.