Mary Firmin author of Deadly Pleasures is a vibrant, irrepressible character. As her diverse topics indicate she is interested in life and all its facets. Her family always supported her writing. Her mother suggested she become a newspaper reporter. Mary wishes now that, “I had done what she suggested”.
She jokes about being an “over night” success after only 25 years of writing. Short stories, a book about Haiti, titled Voodoun Fire, co-writing a screenplay, Rhumba, about Cuba in Revolution add to her writing mix. Relocating to the Desert she wrote a society column. Transitioning from political revolution to society in print was, in her words, “great fun”.
Always interested in reading, as a child she devoured books by, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Charles Dickens or about Sherlock Holmes. Mary says that being British born “developed my taste for mysteries very early in life”.
Meticulous about details Mary uses only the most current information available in research. As forensic textbooks “…go out of date very fast” she haunts the Internet. She encourages authors to mine for information wherever possible, including hiring researchers or asking knowledgeable friends.
For Deadly Pleasures she researched erotic bondage and the apparatus used. Being dedicated to research, she and her husband visited a store in West Hollywood “which had everything imaginable hanging from the ceiling or tacked to the walls”. She was fascinated by “what people will do to each other for a thrill or two”.
Deadly Pleasures was written over to three years, excluding the years’ long break she took mid book.
With writing, writing becomes much easier. Deadly Pleasures was birthed without a plan. She “stumbled along”. The book required constant editing. She concludes “Most writing is re-writing”. She is fortunate that she loves to “re-write, tweak and perfect”.
An insomniac, instead of sleeping she wrote at night in a quiet house. The phone did not ring, no visitors called and there was no one to feed or cook for.
She encourages writers with, “It’s never too late. If you have a story you want to tell, just Start. Harold Robbins told me ‘You need some ass glue to keep you on the chair until you finish 5-10 pages.’ Then you can leave. They don’t have to be perfect; you just have to get something on the page. When you come back to it the next day that is when the re-writing begins and that is fun. Then you write another 5-10 pages. Hopefully you then take it to your writers group and they tell you it is wonderful - or not.”
This book gave Mary her voice. With it she will write a Trilogy of Deadly Books featuring Megan and Matt and the other characters in Deadly Pleasures. Angelle, Matt’s partner will loom larger in the next book titled Deadly Secrets.
Her husband gave her a book publishing package for Christmas, 2010. Sadly he passed away six months later. The book took on even greater importance as the crucial part of editing and preparing the cover began right after he passed. While it did not eliminate her grief, she says, “at the time it did mitigate it, somewhat”.
Her writing, editing and new grandson kept her from “falling apart”. Her husband’s gift helped her fulfill her lifelong dream. She said “it will forever be tied to my love for my husband”.
Mary discusses her characters. “Megan, the heroine, is a real estate salesperson, a recovering alcoholic, and at the moment almost broke. Her three wealthy friends are unhappy with their cheating husbands. They hire a time-share Boy Toy to fill their needs, unaware he is a suspect in a series of gruesome Bondage Murders.”
Megan and her friends are not left alone. “Detective Matt Donovan investigates the murders and Megan falls madly in love with him. The book is set in the wealthy yachting community of Southern California, Venice Beach, Marina del Rey, Malibu and Catalina Island.”
Mary emphasizes that accurately recording how the days flow is vital. Tuesday always follows Monday, even in fiction. Mary stringently brainstormed timelines with a writer of Historical Romance. Mary said, “It was a marvelous lesson for me. Her books spanned years, my book covers a couple of weeks. I had trouble even with that timeline. Getting the exact days and dates right that events, or murders occurred, takes diligence. You have to leave “today” and refer back in time, enter confusion.”
Mary now lays events out before, and after the fact, to recheck the chronology of everything that happened. Using this method she said, “I eventually got it right. The murder suspects’ alibis demanded I keep the time line correct. For my second novel Deadly Secrets, I have written a detailed synopsis. It will be faster and easier doing it this way”.
Mindful of her readers Mary said, “I want my readers to have fun. I work hard to make my writing invisible allowing the reader to experience the story. I want them to laugh with my characters and cry with them. I want them to feel the emotions of betrayal, sadness and even the joy. I want them to feel bad for the murdered girls and be angry at the killer. Not asking much, am I?”