Book Talk: Mary McGarry Morris finds persistence pays

Wed Apr 8, 2009 7:29am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - American novelist Mary McGarry Morris had 27 rejection letters before her first novel saw the light of day, but nearly 20 years later she's glad that she never lost her faith in herself or her work.

Morris, 66, is the author of seven novels including "A Dangerous Woman" which was made into a movie starring Debra Winger and Gabriel Byrne and "Songs in Ordinary Time" that was chosen for the Oprah Winfrey book club.

Her latest novel, "The Last Secret," released this month, is about secrecy, betrayal and passion in which a woman uncovers her husband's affair while a dark secret from her own past reemerges.

Morris wrote her first novel "Vanished" over 10 years with only her family aware of her writing. It was published in 1988.

Morris, who lives in Massachusetts, spoke about her writing:

Q: You had a slow start with "Vanished?" A: "It was a long time getting published and those were the years in which I had a young family. I had five children and that made the writing hard to get to and it was in fits and starts."

Q: Did the rejections knock your confidence?

A: "Vanished" was rejected 27 times by everyone from editors to agents. It wasn't going anywhere. But I had such great faith in it as I knew it was good. In the early stages I would tweak it but then I put it away and I thought it would never see the light of day. Then the first agent that took me on managed to find a publisher. She is still my agent."   Continued...

<p>American novelist Mary McGarry Morris is seen in a recent publicity photo. REUTERS/Frank Monkiewicz/Handout</p>