Author Interview with Marsha Cornelius
Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators.
When they bump into each other at the soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth by taking his mind off his own problems. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high as a working man, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.
By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.
Stephanie: Hello Marsha! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Your book, “Losing it all”, sounds fabulous and can you believe, I live in the Atlanta area! So I’m even more intrigued. Please tell me about Chloe. What are her strengths and weaknesses? What is an example of how Frank helps her?
Marsha: Chloe is a loving, caring wife and mother. Unfortunately, she’s too naïve, so she trusts people she shouldn’t: people she works with, family, even her husband.
After a while, she begins to doubt herself because she has trusted the wrong people. Frank is the one who helps her regain her faith in herself.
Stephanie: What genre does this fall under and what do you like most about writing in this area?
Marsha: Losing It All crosses a couple genres. It’s basically a drama about two people struggling to keep afloat. It could also be considered women’s fiction because I think a lot of women can identify with Chloe’s struggle. And then of course, it has romance. Although this is not your typical girl-meets-rich millionaire or strapping cowboy.
All of my books seem to cross genres. The one thing they have in common is that I love to explore the relationships between people, whether it is husbands and wives, parents and children, or even two strangers who are thrown together.
Stephanie: What are some of the emotions you experienced writing this story?
Marsha: There are a lot of scenes where it didn’t seem like things could get any worse, and then they did. I felt bad about putting Frank and Chloe through all of that. But it isn’t called Losing It All because someone loses their keys. They have lost EVERYTHING.
I did manage to get some chuckles in, to break the tension. And there are some very heart-warming scenes between Frank, and Chloe’s children. I tried not to get to maudlin.
Stephanie: Generally when a person reads, they read with a purpose. It might be just to have fun. Other times it is for specific information, knowledge or an escape from reality. What is your purpose for writing, “Losing it All” and what do you hope the readers come away with reading your story?
Marsha: I guess I’m hoping readers will step back from their own troubles and see that other people are suffering, too. I’m on Facebook (too much) and I see lots of posts from folks who are way too absorbed in their own lives.
From time to time, I catch myself in a pity party, and it helps to remember how bad my life can get very quickly.
Stephanie: What was your writing process for this book and how long did it take to write your story?
Marsha: This was my first baby, really. And it probably took 20 years for it to see the light of day. When my first son was born, I decided to stay home until he went to Kindergarten. Then the second son came along, and I was getting really bored. I missed the contact with other people. So I created Frank and Chloe to keep me company while I was changing diapers and picking up toys.
On weekends, when my husband was home, I would park myself at my little laptop and write like crazy.
Even when I went back to work, I never had time to write except on weekends. That was usually from 5 am until the kids got up, or we had to be at the ball field for a game.
Then I got the idea for my second book, H10 N1, and I put Losing It All on a back burner. A couple years ago, I pulled the manuscript back out, dusted it off, and here it is.
Stephanie: When do your best ideas for a story come to you?
Marsha: That’s a tough question, with no real answer. I can just be taking a walk, driving in the car, watching the news. And Boom! an idea pops into my head.
I will say that my best ideas for a book, once it’s started, come when I’m out walking.
I live in the country, so I take long strolls with my little notebook and pen. My neighbors have gotten used to seeing me talk to myself, or stop in the middle of the road to jot down an idea. They wait patiently until I move out of the way so they can drive by.
Stephanie: Are you currently working on a story now? If so, what is it about?
Marsha: My latest book is speculative fiction (as opposed to science fiction) about a college girl who is tired of taking pills for everything from appetite suppression to memory enhancement.
I came up with the idea because it seems like every year, we become more and more dependent on drugs to ‘regulate’ our lives. I can’t help wondering where it will all end.
Stephanie: Who designs your book covers?
Marsha: Jun Ares. He’s a freelance artist in the Phillipines. He was referred by a friend, and I love his work.
Stephanie: What are some of the comments you have received about your book?
Marsha: One of the best comments was from a woman who had actually lived in her car for a while. She liked the authenticity of the book.
A lot of the reviews mention how once the reader got started, they couldn’t put the book down. That’s the best compliment you can get.
Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Marsha: A fellow author had posted on Facebook that she received a BRAG Medallion, so I decided to check out the website.
So glad I did. Indie authors definitely need some recognition. We are drowning in a sea of published works.
Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
Marsha: Hire an editor. You can’t rely on friends or family to read your manuscript with a critical eye.
Any book you pick up – from Nora Roberts to James Patterson – when you flip to their acknowledgments, I guarantee they thank their editors. If they need one, you do too.
Thank you, Marsha!
After working for fifteen years as a cafeteria manager in an elementary school, Marsha Cornelius turned in her non-skid shoes for a bathrobe and slippers. She now works at home, writing novels, acting out scenes with her cats, and occasionally running a Swiffer across dusty surfaces.
Like thousands of others, she thought she could write romance, but soon discovered she was a dismal failure. She did increase her repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .
Her first novel, H10N1, is a thriller about a flu pandemic gone awry, and her second endeavor, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead, tells the story of a man who chooses to have his body cryonically-frozen rather than face death. And now she has released her third novel, Losing It All, a drama that follows a homeless man as he helps a mother and her two small children get off the streets.
Cornelius resides in the countryside north of Atlanta with her husband. Her two grown sons occasionally visit for clean laundry and a hot cooked meal.