A chat with author Marianne Jones

September 2021

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if some of those words are set in stone?

That’s a unique perk of being a local writer, one that Marianne Jones was happy to discover.

“It was a city-wide competition (for the Prince Arthur’s Landing spots,)” says Jones. “And I almost didn’t enter, thinking I didn’t stand a chance. I was shocked when 3 of my poems were selected! It’s still thrilling when people tell me they read them and liked them. I even had someone from Florida track my contact info down to tell me how much she loved (my poem) Breathing.”

Jones is the author of eight books of varying genres. From poetry (Here, on the Ground) to children’s picture books (Great-Grandma’s Gifts, There’s a Monster in My School), from cozy mystery (The Serenity Stone Murders) to as-told-to memoir (The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die), her latest book is a literary novel about the spirit of Lucy Maud Montgomery, appearing to the protagonist in a Northern Ontario garden.

“The idea for Maud and Me came about in the strangest way,” says Jones. “I was drinking coffee at home one morning, when the image came to me of Lucy Maud Montgomery appearing in a modern-day woman’s garden. I could see the woman kneeling in her garden, putting in bedding plants, when she looks up to see the late L.M. Montgomery standing there, commenting casually on the flowers. The impression was so strong that I grabbed my notebook and pen and began writing the scene as though it was being dictated. By the time I had finished what became the first chapter, the image stopped.”

The character of Maud channels real-life Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, writer of twenty novels including the famous Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon.
I wondered how Jones could possibly weave this iconic figure into the life of a woman from the ‘80s.

“As the story developed, I began to see the connections,” says Jones. “Both women were minister’s wives, although from different time periods. Both had been abandoned by their fathers as children. Both felt stifled as artists and as people. The book explores their unlikely friendship and their stories in the beautiful natural landscape of northwestern Ontario.”
Maud and Me was released in May 2021 by Crossfield Publishing, a Canadian small press based in St. Mary’s, ON. Jones has had great success working with boutique presses, as well as self-publishing, and I asked her which of the two paths to publication she preferred.

“I prefer regional publishers,” she says confidently. “They take care of the details that I would rather not. They do the book design, the final editing, the covers. There are advantages to self-publishing as well, of course, but for me, I would rather leave things like covers and design to those who have those skills.”

Like most authors, reading and writing was a part of Jones’ life since childhood.

“I’ve been writing almost as long as I can remember,” she says. “I was ten or eleven when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I read voraciously and uncritically. My favourite books were books about dogs and horses: The Call of the Wild, White Fang, King of the Wind, Lassie Come Home, Black Beauty, anything by Albert Payson Terhune. When Sheila Burnford’s novel, The Incredible Journey, came out, I was thrilled. A woman novelist right here in my hometown—only a few blocks over from us!”

With eight books under her belt, I asked Jones what her process looked like, and whether she’s a ‘9 to 5’ writer, or one directed by ‘the muse.’

“Sadly, I’ve never been very disciplined about following a routine,” she says with a smile. “If I were, I would have been more prolific! I try to squeeze writing in around other things. As for ideas, I’m not really sure where they originate. Our subconscious is always seeing connections between things that may not occur to our conscious minds. Sometimes these connections surface in the form of a story, or a poem.”

Sounds like the inspiration for Maud and Me! With such a broad scope of genres, I wondered if there was a unifying theme that runs through all her work.

“That’s a tough question. Each of those books, I wrote for a different reason. I’m not sure there is a unifying theme, but many of them involve my love for this region, and its unique beauty. Plus, my sense of humour keeps inserting itself! In many ways, I think my previous books were working toward building the confidence to try Maud. I have always wanted to write a literary novel, and now, with Maud and Me, I fulfilled that dream.”

And that’s a line that can be set in stone.

Maud and Me is available at Chapters/Indigo, Entershine Books, Authentique and the Finnish Bookstore. Her children’s book, There’s a Monster in My School! is at Authentique, and her set-in-Thunder Bay mystery, The Serenity Stone Murder, is available from Amazon. For those that enjoyed Serenity Stone, stay tuned for a sequel: Death on the Water. Coming soon!

For more information or to stay updated, check out her Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MarianneJonesAuthor

Heather L. Dickson is a photoshop guru, zoologist and author of 6 novels.

Visit her website at www.hleightondickson.com

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