Marie Jones is an author, screenwriter, and adventurer, in addition to being a fitness enthusiast and mother. Like so many other authors I interview, she’s been writing stories since she was young, but only ventured into the world of novel publishing relatively recently. Her debut with a traditional publisher, Those We Trust, released in May of this year and is doing well. It gained a five-star review with Readers Favorite, and it was the winner of the 2021 Rocky Mountain Cover Contest. Readers have a lot of wonderful things to say about the book too. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “Marie Jones has written a page turner here, a tale spanning parts of England up to the Scottish Highlands with vivid descriptions, picturesque landscapes and a story with characters that come to life as you read,” and another calls the book a “beautiful story of rebuilding trust after betrayal.” Marie is thrilled with the books reception and “feels privileged to share her work with a large and welcoming audience.” As we near the end of the year and frantic holiday times, I’m grateful for Marie’s time and attention to answering my questions.
Christina: Your traditionally published debut, Those We Trust, released in May, and it’s been called a romantic suspense. Elsewhere, you’ve said that you believe authors write in the genre they gravitate toward. Did Those We Trust have the potential to be anything else? What is the “origin story” of the book?
Marie: I do love to write romantic suspense (I’m a born romantic!), but also love to cross into genres of thriller and crime, both elements of which come into Those We Trust. The original origin of the book was very much a woman at a very low point in her life who believes she can blindly trust an old friend, yet soon discovers that may not be so. Its main core throughout the story is who can we really trust. My original idea for the story was exploring love and betrayal with an edge of mystery. Its since organically grown into a thriller. The cyber crime was something I added in to the story, wanting to explore how a favourite tourist destination of the Scottish Highlands can have this underbelly of criminal activity.
Christina: Screenwriting is something you’re well-versed in, and at one point, you were working on adapting Those We Trust for a limited TV series. What made this story a novel first and not a screenplay?
Marie: Writing a screenplay is very different to writing a novel, I’ve discovered! Screenwriting is providing a visual storytelling and often needs less speech and more nonverbal telling of the story through action and facial gestures, adding in more suspense moments. It should be a feast for the eyes. With novel writing you have a personal glimpse into the mind of the characters, their thoughts and feelings. For me, I find it easier to write the novel first and really know my characters personally, their thoughts and emotions, then adapt it into a screenplay/TV series.
Christina: Part of the novel takes place in the Scottish Highlands of Inverness. How important is setting to you and your writing? What’s your process—does the setting come first, or does it arise organically? Do you have any other favorite places that might show up in future writing?
Marie: Oh, bonnie Scotland! I love this country so much, especially the highlands, and visit whenever I can. I first visited when I was sixteen and immediately fell in love with it. The wildness and sheer dramatic expanse of the landscape immediately fuelled my idea for this book. There is such an air of mystery about the mountains there. I’m a photographer in my spare time and like to visually place my story setting from somewhere I’ve been, then build a story around it. I have lots of favourite places and in fact travelling a few places next year, so watch this space!
Christina: In 2015, you published Into the Shadows with PublishNation, a self-publishing platform. Were there any similarities between your two publishing journeys? Why did you decide to find a small publisher for Those We Trust? What have you learned from these different paths to publication?
Marie: It was a great experience self publishing Into the Shadows and I certainly learnt a lot about the publishing world and PR/promoting your book to reach a wider audience, which I’ve used for this book. This time, I really wanted to approach small publishers to have a good team behind me and also support the indie publishing world. It’s been great to have built relationships with other GenZ authors too.
Christina: Switching gears now, you’re very active with My Peak Challenge, which is “a global community that believes we can effect positive change in ourselves while helping others.” What stirred your interest in this community? What do you personally hope to achieve?
Marie: My Peak Challenge is founded on helping yourself while helping others. Ultimately it is fitness program with workout videos and crib sheets. But more than that, we support vital charities as well as having a community of over 15,000 members across the world. As well as being the fittest I’ve ever been in my life and gaining self-confidence, I’ve found some incredible friends and am really proud to be an ambassador for them.
Christina: While your books are well received, all authors must anticipate literary criticism. How do you handle it? Do you have any tips for other authors?
Marie: Oh criticism is hard, as was rejection along the way to publication. I’m fortunate to have received many 5- and 4- star raving reviews and awards, but I have had one solitary 1-star review with no comment, which really was difficult to see, especially with no feedback. I’ve learnt to accept there may be a few people along the way who found your book is not for them. As long as the majority are enjoying my book, then I will gratefully take that! One piece of advice I would give to would be authors—never give up, and every feedback you get is truly a gift.
Christina: What’s one thing your readers might not know about you by looking at your social media profiles and website?
Marie: One thing my readers may not know is that I recently ran my first half marathon for charity. I’m not a natural runner, so that took some commitment! I’m also a big tea drinker (Yorkshire tea all the way) but do love my gin! My favourite ice cream is salted caramel.
Thanks to Marie for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.