Interview with Mary McCarthy

Jen: Today we’re pleased to have Mary McCarthy visiting the blog. Mary, will you please share a short bio with us?
Mary: Sure!

Professional freelance writer with 15 years’ experience in magazine, newspaper and online features. I’ve written features in Victorian Homes magazine, The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer, Maryland Life, Chesapeake Life, What’s Up Eastern Shore (as Managing Editor) & others. I write for a number of websites, and also run Creative Halloween.

I have a blog called Pajamas & Coffee and I am the author of the books Adult Halloween Parties and Cape May for All Seasons.

I am mother of four children ranging in age from fifteen to three. Our family lives in a spooky-looking 1881 Second Empire Victorian house which undergoes perpetual restoration on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Jen: Tell us about Adult Halloween Parties: Spooktacular Decorations, Food, Drinks, Costumes & Beyond and where it’s available.
Mary: Adult Halloween Parties is available on Amazon.com. The how-to Halloween party planning book offers frighteningly cool ideas for interior and exterior Halloween decor, party food and drinks, activities and atmosphere, over 100 Halloween costume ideas (plus how to hold a costume contest) and much more! I wrote the book in a casual, bloggy style, offering tips from my own experiences planning a decade full of totally ghoul adult Halloween parties.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Mary: I have been writing since the novel I never finished when I was in grade school! I wanted to be Judy Blume! I ended up first being published professionally after the birth of my first child, 15 years ago, since I needed a way to make money working at home and had always loved writing- it was my Minor in college, and I was editor of my high school and college newspapers. My first paid piece was for a regional magazine here in Maryland, then I wrote a humor column for two local newspapers.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Mary: My mom is a poet.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Mary: Honest, funny, thought-provoking

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Mary: I like to write with my feet up, in a recliner. Weird, I know. I usually write while my four kids are in school since that’s the only ‘quiet time’ in my house. I usually write for an average of about three hours a day, five days a week.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Mary: I had almost a decade worth of adult Halloween parties! Also I wrote several dozen Halloween-related articles for Suite101.com, where I’m a Feature Writer.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Mary: Challenge: staying focused (darn twitter!). Easiest: doing it. It comes naturally.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Mary: Comments from readers on my personal blog. (www.pajamasandcoffee.com)

Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?
Mary: My first book was Cape May for All Seasons, a glossy color photo book that came out in 1998. Honestly, I will be most excited when my memoir comes out- I plan a series of personal narrative/essay style books- not sure whether these will be self published or picked up by a traditional print publisher. I’m tired of waiting for a literary agent!

Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Mary: I was really excited when The Washington Post published a humor piece I wrote. But I don’t think the highlight has come for me yet- hopefully, it’s in my future. I would LOVE to be a best-selling New York Times author at a busy book signing because I think THAT would be a real highlight- ah, hope.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Mary: I love Jen Lancaster, David Sedaris, Stephen King- but my first favorite writer was Erma Bombeck- her humorous accounting of day-to-day life is a real inspiration for me. I just finished Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad- right now I’m in love with memoir.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Mary: Free time?

Jen: What’s next for you?
Mary: Get over trying to find an agent (rejection is too depressing) and become my own publisher for the books on which I’m working.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Mary: Pajamas and Coffee is home for me on the web.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Mary: Won’t you be my neighbor? (Sorry, random Mister Rogers reference.) I’d ask them to come by and check out Pajamas and Coffee and if they like my style- stick around!

Jen: Readers, we have a copy of Adult Halloween Parties up for grabs to a random commenter. Leave a comment or question for Mary and be sure to include your email address (or send a message to contests.bookblog@gmail.com after you comment) and you’ll be entered in the drawing. The contest will end on Thursday, November 5.