Flashback Friday – Marianne Mancusi
I’ve been so lucky in my life to not only meet amazing people, but question them and learn from them. I’ve been able to amass a pretty large catalogue of interviews because of their generosity and they have really helped me get my foot in many different doors. So first, to all the people who have been gracious enough to give me their time and patience, thank you!
I’ve created the Flashback Friday series to show these interviews and reviews. They’ve been locked away in my archives but now it’s time to share them. I hope you enjoy this look back on the articles that got me started and introduced me to some of my best friends. Enjoy!
When it comes to writing, award winning author Marianne Mancusi doesn’t like to play by the rules. A multiple Emmy award winning television producer, she sold 11 novels to three publishers (Dorchester, Berkley, Dutton Children’s) in less than three years. While best known for her time travel romantic comedies, Marianne also writes a vampire romance series and other books for teens and will have her first speculative fiction romance (Moongazer) out in August. Marianne has worked in television stations around the country, including Orlando, San Diego, and Boston. A graduate of Boston University’s College of Communications, she currently produces for a nationally syndicated lifestyle show. She lives in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Hi Marianne! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with me. I’m a great fan of your blog, www.mariannem.blogspot.com/. It’s informative and entertaining and extremely fun. Your last few entries were especially exciting, as you got to attend NYC’s famed Fashion Week and got to interview some very famous people, including Bill Murray, Jamie Lynn Sigler, and Olivia Newton John. So let’s talk first about how you’re able to do such great things. You work for BetterTV as a producer, yes?
Yes, I’m a field producer for the women’s lifestyle television show “Better.” We air in forty-two television markets around the country and are owned by the Meredith Corporation. (Known for such brands as Better Homes and Gardens, More, Ladies Home Journal, Fitness, Family Circle, etc.)
It’s a great job because every day I find myself doing something different. Today I did a behind the scenes tour of the soap “As the World Turns” then wrote a script on a dating website called “CrazyBlindDate.com.” Later in the week I’m touring a new boutique hotel that just opened up in Brooklyn and last Friday I shot a makeover with a celebrity makeup artist from Clarins. From interviewing celebrities to cooking with world renown chefs to getting sneak previews of designer’s new collections—every day is unique.
How did you get that job?
I had been working in television news, doing feature segments for the eleven o’clock broadcasts. The stories were often pretty sensational—“Can your couch kill you? We’ll tell you at eleven!”–designed to keep the viewer up a little later after their favorite prime time shows. (I wrote a novel based on these adventures called “News Blues” which came out last March.)
About two years ago, I realized I wanted to work on something more interesting and relevant in people’s everyday lives. I also wanted to move to New York. So when an old boss of mine started the Better show and invited me to join him, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s been quite a ride, working on a start-up show from the very start, but also very rewarding.
Who has been a favorite interview of yours?
For celebrity, I’d have to say Bill Murray. He was fun and charismatic and really friendly. Sometimes when you interview celebs they act disinterested or bored or just plain tired (as you’re usually their gazillionth interview of the day). Bill was none of those and I definitely appreciated it.
A personal fave, however, was with New York Times Bestselling novelist Sherrilyn Kenyon. I could hear her rags to riches story fifty times and not get sick of it. She’s such an inspiration to other writers and women in general. Overcoming a hard, poverty stricken life and becoming a world-renown author—she’s my hero and I was so happy to be able to do a story on her life.
A question I always like to ask my fellow interviewers: does it feel at all strange when you are the one being interviewed? Do you prefer to be the one asking or answering the questions?
Oh yes! I’m so weirded out when the camera turns on me! But it’s a good refresher. Reminds me what the person in the other chair is feeling when I grill them, haha. But yeah, I absolutely prefer to ask the questions than be asked.
Is it very difficult maintaining that career with your writing career?
I’m lucky in the fact that my day job is pretty much nine-to-five, with a few exceptions here and there. So I don’t find the balance too difficult. I wake up early before work and write every day. When you make something a habit, it becomes easier to do.
I used to write a lot more and had much tighter deadlines, but I refuse to do that to myself anymore. I have a wonderful boyfriend and amazing friends and I want to spend time with them and have a life. I’ve learned a lot about setting priorities over the years and I know now how important balance is for your sanity.
What’s a typical day for you like?
I wake up around 7:00 am and write for an hour. Then I shower, get dressed and head to work. Once I’m at work, it completely varies by the day. Some days I may be out and about, shooting one or several stories. Others I may be in the office, writing something I shot earlier in the week. I answer a million emails, set up new shoots, talk to publicists on the phone, and supervise my editor’s work on the final piece. At 5:30ish I either head to the gym or go home and go jogging near my house. Or I’ll meet a friend for a drink/dinner. Then I go home and the boyfriend and I will watch TV or play videogames, then go to bed. We always read right before bed, which I like.
When did you decide to really pursue writing? Did people react positively to the news? Negatively? Or was there no real response at all?
I realized, when in my mid-twenties, that if I wanted to become an author I had to actually suck it up and finish a book. I was always starting stories and not finishing them because it was too much work. When I told people I was going to get published, I think many of them were a little skeptical at first. After all, there is so much competition out there! But I didn’t give up and eventually I got the call. I was going to be a published author. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew.
Usually people are really excited when I tell them I write books and they’re curious about the process. Sometimes you have to deal with jealously, but that’s just part of the gig. I just try to be encouraging to the aspiring authors I meet. After all, if it happened to me—it can happen to them as well!
Tell me about Rebels of Romance.
The Rebels of Romance was something my friend/co-author Liz Maverick came up with to help publicize what we’re trying to do with our books. We’re not your typical romance authors, to say the least. And we wanted to show the world that there’s something in romance that’s appealing to everyone. It isn’t always about cowboys and secret babies and all the stereotypes you hear about when it comes to romance fiction. We think romance can be cool, hip and relevant to younger generations. We want women who have never wandered over to the romance section before to know there might actually be a book there for them.
It’s a cliche question, but you’ve had such an incredible rise in the writing world and lead such a fascinating life, that I’m sure your answer will be anything but. so here goes: Any advice for beginning authors?
Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Work hard, learn the craft, tell the story you want to tell. And finally, when you truly believe it’s the best book it can be, then send it out to agents and editors for publication. I see too many writers who are in such a rush to get published that they don’t send out their best work and then get defeated by rejections they receive. Or they try to copy other successful authors in order to get published rather than writing in their own voice. They begin to lose the joy of writing that they once had and become disillusioned and end up quitting in the end.
Doctors and lawyers spend years in training before they can start working in their chosen professions. But since writers have little formal training required, they seem to want to take short cuts. They believe their first book will be published and don’t take under consideration that they’re still actually in school/training mode. A doctor can’t perform an operation in his first year of medical school. But for some reason many writers truly believe their first book should become a bestseller with very little effort.
Write because you love to write. Stay dedicated to the craft and the storytelling. Never lose sight of that in a desperate attempt to get published. I guarantee when that day comes when you eventually do hold that first book in your hand the wait will be worth it!
Please tell me about your new book!!!! You have a lot of books already under your belt. Is it getting easier to write or harder?
My newest book is called GAMER GIRL and it’s my first hardcover. A teen book, designed for girls ages 11 and up, it focuses on videogames, manga, and bullying. I usually compare it to that “You’ve Got Mail” Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie – but with videogames instead of emails.
Is it getting easier to write?
I don’t think so. I think I demand more from myself now. I have higher standards. But it’s still fun. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun.