The (non)interview: Marianne Arkins

Today, Marianne Arkins and I are chatting about her debut novel One Love for Liv, which is available from Samhain Publishing.

I wouldn’t call this an interview. More of a chat, where I ask Marianne the tough questions about writing and publishing, involving DNA, non-headless models, and the best way to waste time.


Charity: First things first, now that we have the cover front and center. Is it me, or does model portraying Geoff (lower right-hand corner) look like the result of combining the DNA of David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier) and Ian Ziering (Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210)? Your thoughts?

Marianne: LOL… okay, that’s really funny and a little scary to think of Niles and Steve mixed together.  But, honestly, you may just be right.  ((shivers))

Charity: In a related question, while I’m thrilled you have models with heads on them for your cover art, was it difficult/weird to adjust your mental image of Geoff and Mike?

Marianne: Ack, YES!! The absolute biggest problem I had was the people chosen for the cover.  The artist, Dawn (who has the patience of Job) and I went back and forth on it.  Oddly, I wasn’t as married to the image I had of Liv as I was of Mike.  I was content with the woman she’d selected for that, even though she really wasn’t the same as I’d chosen on my collage. 

Eventually, we decided to go for an illustrated “comic” cover because of that, and she came up with one that was spot on (I wish I could share it with you … it was AMAZING).  Unfortunately, it was vetoed by the powers-that-be who explained that those types of covers really didn’t sell well.

I sent Dawn a cover to another book that I loved, and she used that as an idea of what to do with Liv.  I still don’t think Mike is right, but he certainly is handsome.  And I’ve gotten several unsolicited compliments on the cover, so she must have known better than I did!


Marianne’s collage for One Love for Liv

Charity: Although now that we’ve tossed up your collage, I’m thinking the cover artist was spot on where Geoff was concerned. Wait a minute! Is that Ian Ziering in your collage? And speaking of collages, excellent visual aid for writing or simply a lovely way to procrastinate? Do you have any other (unusual or otherwise) prep work that you do for writing?

Marianne: I do think that the artist did a great job with Geoff’s image.  With the exception of the receding hairline, he’s really spot-on.  I love having a collage… I’d originally seen the idea on Jenny Crusie’s blog, but didn’t have time, patient, inclination or magazines I’d need to do a real one.  Then this terrifically talented person I know (*cough*Charity*cough*) showed me how I could work one up in Power Point, and I’ve never looked back.

[Chairty: It’s true. I have mad PowerPoint skillz.]

I really do think creating one helps to boils the story down to some basics.  With Liv’s I tried to focus on the characters and their differences:  hence the spa, and the beer and pizza.  Of course, beer and pizza is an important part of the book.  I know my editor fell in love with Mike over that scene in the book.

Charity: I think I’ve heard you mention that you like quiet when you write, but are there any songs you associate with Liv? Would you ever be tempted to make a novel playlist?

Marianne: I love music, but not while I write, because I tend to really focus on the words and the stories in the songs.  So, yes, I write in utter silence.  Even slight noises like the stove clicking (as it is now) can be terribly distracting.  It’s one of the reasons I do the majority of my new writing in the morning before anyone (including potentially noisy neighbors) is awake.

I do mention some artists in “One Love For Liv”:  U2 (a nod to a certain person I know) and Led Zepplin.  Liv needed a musical education in the novel, because she’d primarily been exposed to classical music in her life.  But a playlist?  I can’t imagine what I’d use, to be honest.  I don’t really associate specific songs with this story.  Classical music and classic rock would have to be the mix.  Yep, a little odd.  But so is the story.

Charity: I know you’ve mentioned being surprised that One Love for Liv was the first novel you sold, since you had several others completed. Thing is, I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I knew you had something with Liv from the very first scenes I read (and I know you’ve revised since then). Did you ever have a whisper go through your mind that maybe this one was the one?

Marianne: Maybe.  I do know that I kept returning to it, even when I’d pretty much decided that no one would want to publish it because it was a little off center.  Of course, I can’t seem to write anything that falls neatly into any one category.  “One Love For Liv” is categorized as romantic comedy by Samhain Publishing, but I’m not sure I’d call it that.  Certainly, it has some pretty odd situations, but it’s not as “comedic” as, say, Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I tend to think of it as a romance that doesn’t take itself seriously more than flat out comedy.

* * *

There you have it! I want to thank Marianne for being gracious and answering my weird questions. If you want to know more about Marianne’s writing process, what her writing space looks like, and the other real writing questions, visit her blog tour page for all the real interviews.


Filed under Books, Friends, Reading & Writing, Writing

4 responses to “The (non)interview: Marianne Arkins

  1. This was great fun, Charity! Now I have to think about what I’m doing in terms of my visit with Marianne.

  2. I was getting tired of all the “real” questions, C., so appreciated yours tremendously. 😀

  3. Dru

    That was a fun interview.

  4. Great interview! (And a great book, too!)

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