Name: Mary E. Trimble

Age: 76

Where are you from:
Washington State, U.S.A.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect:
I’m married to Bruce Trimble. I have four grown children from a previous marriage. Bruce and I live on Camano Island in the great Northwest. For many years, I concentrated on being a homemaker. My other experiences include serving as purser and ship’s diver aboard the tall ship Explorer, and as Admissions Director for a professional deep-sea diving school. In my late forties, I began my college career, earning a degree in Computer Science. I then worked for a large insurance company at their corporate headquarters as a computer programmer/analyst.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My fourth book, Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps, is close to publication.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Bruce and I took two years off to sail the South Pacific. While in the South Pacific we often anchored off various islands for weeks, including Nuku Hiva, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Samoa and The Kingdom of Tonga.  During the long passage home, we discussed what we wanted to do next. Bruce planned to return to the marine electronics field, but I decided to write. My first writing ventures were of sailing. After several rejections, in one month three of my articles were published in magazines. I was on my way.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Once I began getting published on a regular basis, I felt like a real writer. I had several magazines with whom I became one of their “regulars.” One thing led to another and I now have more than 400 articles published in magazines and newspapers. Most of these articles are destination pieces of interest to RVers; some are articles of interest to homeowners.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
We were on a camping trip in Eastern Washington–we travel with a truck and camper–and I saw a young woman trudging down the highway with a huge backpack. She was all alone, it was hot, and she looked miserable. I wondered what her story was. I’d never know the answer to that, but my first book, Rosemount was born that minute, a story of a ranch girl who runs away from home. Her older brother goes in search of her so the book is in both their viewpoints.

My second book, McClellan’s Bluff, is a sequel to Rosemount.. McClellan’s Bluff is an EPIC Award winner for Best Young Adult Novel. It’s about Leslie Cahill, now 17, who falls in love with a 28 year-old cowboy, but danger lurks. Both Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff are coming-of-age stories.

Tenderfoot, my third book, is a romantic suspense novel with the sub-plot of the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. Although the story is fiction, everything about the mountain is factual. I made a detailed timeline of the events surrounding the eruption and wove a story around that. Tenderfoot won a Silver Spur (Finalist) Award with Western Writers of America, Best Western Long Novel category.

All three of these books are contemporary westerns.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m told I have a straight-forward, honest writing style. It’s the only way I know how to write, so I suppose that’s as good a description as any.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles aren’t hard for me. My third novel, however, was first called “Real Cowboys Don’t Cry,” but the publisher didn’t like it and felt it wasn’t a good representation of the story. I came around to her point of view and with the help of my critique group and some serious brain-storming, we came up with the great title of Tenderfoot which is really a better description of the story.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I always want to write honestly and realistically. I guess a message might be to live life in that way.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
All my writing is realistic and I go to great lengths to get details right. I visited a cattle ranch in Eastern Washington and participated in roundup so that I could experience the noise, dust, confusion and hard work of roundup and branding.. I admire fantasy writers, but there’s no way I could do it.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Only to the extent that I have paid attention to life. I can remember when I was a teen–those were good years for me–and I’ve lived a good, full life as an adult.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove is high on my list; Edna Ferber’s Giant is way up there, and Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage is stunning.  I’m awed with Jane Kirkpatrick’s meticulous research, superb characterization and the sheer volume of books she churns out. One of my all-time favorites is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I’ve been able to take lessons from all these books.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
By example, I’d choose Jane Kirkpatrick. For one thing, I know her–we both belong to Women Writing the West. She’s a friend and always willing to share her knowledge.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Jack Gunter’s The Egg Rocker. It’s a fun book. I happen to know the author–he’s a local artist and antique dealer, which is the subject of this book, so it’s especially fun to read his work.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I meet new authors all the time. I belong to a critique group and we have both accomplished and new authors in our group. In addition, I frequently speak at writing workshops and meet budding authors there.

Fiona: What are your current projects?
My work in progress is a memoir, Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps. When Bruce and I had been married only a year, we joined the Peace Corps. Finally, after 30 years, I’ve written my memoir of that adventure. We wrote home frequently and asked everyone to save our letters. That correspondence furnished rich research material for the memoir. It has been a fascinating project.

Other than Tubob, I still write articles, though not as frequently as I did at one time. I write a weekly blog and try to keep up with social media.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have found great support through a critique group that I’ve belonged to for many years. I usually don’t send anything out without running it by them first.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Tubob is still at the stage where I can still make changes, but all in all I think it’s ready to go.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I hadn’t thought of writing as a career until our sailing trip. Writing books came later–my work just evolved to that level.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
As I mentioned, Tubob is a memoir. I’ve approached our two years in Africa with honesty and tried to be fair and non-judgmental. We endured a lot of hardships, but there were joys, too. The memoir is a chronological account of our two years with the Peace Corps. They say “Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love.” That is so true and I’ve made every effort to be honest to that experience.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’m finding social media and on-line marketing to be a real challenge. I’m still more comfortable selling a “real” book in person.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Jane Kirkpatrick’s work is meticulously researched. She brings history to life. Her dedication to her writing career is amazing. She’s publishes a book about every year–all high quality reads.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I travel locally, speaking to groups or showcasing my books. When Bruce and I go on vacation, I take my books not only to bookstores, but gift shops, etc. too. Then, during the year I either visit them if they’re close enough, or call them on the phone. I have quite a clientele using this method.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For Rosemount and McClellen’s Bluff, the publisher’s (Atlantic Bridge) artist, Adriana Overton (now deceased) did the covers.  For Tenderfoot, my husband Bruce designed the cover. That is an actual photograph of a cowboy on horseback with an overlay of Mount St. Helens before the eruption. Since my main character is a woman, Bruce changed the cowboy to a cowgirl, using PhotoShop, giving “her” a pony tail, slimming her legs, etc.. For Tubob, Bruce used a picture of me with some African friends. Bruce does all the photographic work for my articles, too.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Tubob just came flowing out. First I read all those letters we wrote home, then sat down to write and had more than 90,000 words in 5 months. But then, of course, came the editing. I like the editing part though–trying to make it better.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Trying to say something using as few words as possible is always a challenge. There’s a middle ground, of course, but fewer words is better.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read! Especially in your genre of choice.  You simply must do both, read and write. It keeps the juices flowing. Try to keep to a schedule, though I realize that isn’t always possible. Join a critique group, or form one yourself. Writing is a business; keep the meetings businesslike. Join writers associations and attend conferences.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am so grateful for the many generous people who have helped me along the way. The best way to honor this kindness is to “Pay it forward.” Also, writing as a career requires a lot of self-education. Speaking for myself, I need to get up to speed on social media. That’s one of my immediate goals.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
Actually, I’ve pretty much done what I have wanted to do: be a wife and mother, be successful in a business environment, spend time in Africa and at sea, be heavily involved as a volunteer with the American Red Cross, writing both articles and books. I’m feeling pretty satisfied and just want to continue doing what I’m doing now.

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
My blog is on my website. I’m also on Facebook as Mary E. Trimble, Author and on Twitter and LinkedIn.