Saturday, November 3, 2012

Writers4Higher features Marina Brown

Welcome to Writers4Higher



The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.



This issue, Writers4Higher features
Marina Brown



 Image of Marina Brown

Hi, Marina. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!

Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
To tell you about myself is to string together one seemingly less fortunate event to the very fortunate one that could only follow if the first one occurred.
I was born with ‘flat feet’. The doctor suggested dancing as a therapy. And thus I entered the world of ballet. Eventually, at 15, I would dance solo roles with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and American Festival Ballet .
And then I had an injury. In my early twenties, while dancing, I broke my Achilles tendon. But a wonderful nurse somehow encouraged me, and I went to nursing school.  Having an RN enabled me to continue traveling and to live in NYC, LA, and Boston. It was in Los Angeles that I met my husband and moved to Florida.
We didn’t have children of our own, but adopted three wonderful ones.  And while home being a mother, I had the time to develop some other skills. I began to paint more and show my art work in juried shows, winning a number of Best of Shows and Honorable mentions for watercolors.  And I took up the cello, later playing for 14 years with the Tampa Bay Symphony. I hired a teacher and polished my French. Then started Italian. 
And then my marriage ended. But amazingly, in the orchestra I had joined, I met a violinist. He turned out to be an amazing man who owned wonderful boats, and soon, I too became a sailor.  It was on one of our trips sailing through the islands to Venezuela that we visited the island off the coast of Trinidad where my first novel takes place. I also began to write for the St. Petersburg Times and other newspapers, doing travel and features pieces; dance pieces for Dance Magazine; sailing articles for Sailing Magazine.
I now live in Tallahassee. I have discovered Argentine Tango and Flamenco dance. I play with the Big Bend Orchestra. My art is in the 1020 Gallery. I write for the Democrat on an ad hoc basis and for several magazines, including Florida Design, Tallahassee Magazine, Palm Beach Magazine.
So those are the facts. But the astounding thing about living them is that like Russian nesting dolls each must fit within the other…except that I sense I’ve done things from the inside out!
Land Without Mirrors is my first effort at writing a book. I had won awards for short stories, but the experience of living with characters for a long time was unique.  Each morning when I would sit down to write felt like opening a door on a room peopled by interesting folks who’d been "planning" things all night long. God knows what went on in that room…but as I began to type, the characters chatted and chastened and had their way.  I’m sorry to leave them for now.
Inspiration is…well, everywhere. It is in wonderful words that pout if not used. It is in the spotted red leaves I look out on as I write. It’s in music—the sound of words’ rhythms, the cadence of a man’s walk, the half-formed conversations I snap off and take with me as I walk through a train station. It is also in the people I’ve known, and lost, and forgotten, and wish I could resurrect.          
Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
Impulsively, following a return from sailing in Greece, I submitted a long travel/feature article to the St. Petersburg Times. It was my first venture in writing for money…before that envelopes covered with poems, character studies, and short stories filled boxes and the corners of closets. But then the Times bought the article and asked for more.
Over the next years I wrote whenever I traveled--India, China, Turkey, Peru, St. Lucia, Columbia, and so on.  I wrote about my hospice patients. I did ballet and music reviews. And many, many feature stories for the paper. I wrote about Ballet Russe for Dance Magazine; about sailing the Med for Sailing Magazine; about perfume for Tampa Bay Illustrated; America’s Cup helmsmen; Greta VonSustren’s yacht; Tamara Mellon’s Jimmy Choo shoes, and Venus Williams’ design studio.  Always learning from truly wonderful editors, who molded and tightened my writing, each one became a loving and caring professor and hopefully….my writing improved.
Now I have written my first book, a novel that takes place off the coast of Trinidad, on the island of Chacachacare, a now abandoned leper island where from the late 1920s over 300 patients, their uninfected caregivers, and a convent of Dominican nursing sisters lived. Hansen’s disease was effectively cured in the 1980s and the Chacachacare colony’s patients dispersed back into society on medications that rendered their disease non-infective.  However, it was those living there for nearly 60 years that caused me to reimagine their lives.
Today, one can walk through the abandoned buildings…the convent, the church, the infirmary, and the tiny cottages of the patients. It’s as though these people had gotten up and left "yesterday." Though the jungle is now reclaiming many of the buildings, one can still pick up tubes of medicine, read the name cards with the treatment someone received, see the rusting iron beds lined up side by side. It was in the infirmary that I found scrawled on the wall in tiny, childish script, the words, “When I grow up I want to be a teacher.” It is to that child, and others like him, whose forlorn hopes were likely never fulfilled, that I dedicate Land Without Mirrors.
How do you use your talents/time to help others?
Like most of us, I serve on a variety of committees: the FSU Friends of Dance Board, chair of the Publicity Committee of the Big Bend Orchestra, among them. I do pro-bono writing for several other worthy organizations.
I hope I am a help to my three grown children with motherly advice and understanding.
I bake Christmas cookies for the homeless…
And hopefully, next year I will publish a book of Hospice stories that lets Death enter with beauty and not with fear.

Would you like to find Marina?
Check out the links to this talented author:
Thank you, Marina!

Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.


Rhett DeVane

Fiction with a Southern Twist





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