IN PLAIN SITE
At the age of 22 (In 1982) Marlayne was inspired to write The Victor by a line in an Amy Grant song called: “Fairytale” (from her Father’s Eyes album). The particular verse in the song which inspired the idea was: “two princes wage the battle for eternity but the victor has been known from the start”. The verse made her imagine an evil “Baron” in black armor and knight in shining armor crossing swords over “maiden in distress”. She wrote the story in her free time at work on an IBM Selectric typewriter and at home on a Smith Corona Portable.
Marlayne rewrote the story over the course of almost 30 years and made many attempts to get it published for several years but after a 4-year bout with ulcerative colitis that resulted in major surgery, then infertility then the adoption of her daughter and the demands of having to work full-time to pay the bills, she gave up on her dream of The Victor ever being published until April of 2008 when Tate Publishing called to offer her a contract.
The Victor was released on April 14th of 2009 and many doors have opened up for her to get the word out on her book. One of which being that as a direct result of her former employment with John Styll at CCM Magazine 28 years ago (who is now currently President of the Gospel Music Association), both he and Amy Grant now have copies of The Victor and Marlayne’s personal copy has been autographed by Amy Grant herself.
Welcome, Marlayne, I’m so pleased to be getting better acquainted with you. While reading In Plain Sight, I knew I wanted to know you better – it was a fun read and certainly a deep thought provoker. I admire your imagination and bravery to write an Amish story intertwined with space aliens, what thoughts and ideas of yours instigated such an idea?
I was challenged to write an Amish fiction in order to get a book contract because it is the hottest genre in Christian fiction. I am a Southern California native and have only been a tourist to Amish communities (Lancaster, PA) three times. Most Amish authors live near the Amish communities and know them or have family members who are/were Amish and I am none of them, but I figured how hard could it be? I have a general idea of what they do and don’t do and used the internet to research what I didn’t. I had no idea what I was going to write when I started. The seeds for the story actually came as a running joke at a writer’s conference I attended where an editor was commenting on the speculative fiction he publishes and said he wasn’t interested in the “buggy and bonnet” manuscripts unless they were…oh…maybe Amish Vampires from outer space (said tongue-in-cheek). I came up with the back cover teaser first and used that as my plot guide. I also married ideas from C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet, Romeo and Juliet, and the book cover from The Host by Stephanie Meyers and the movie Signs.
You and those you read are certainly of unique mind, some of that is challenging to understand. What interested you in this particular genre and era?
I had never read Amish fiction and always wondered what the big deal was. In preparation for writing my book I bought a couple of Amish books and read them. I quickly realized that they were basically G-rated romance novels about a sect of people that we “Englisch” find fascinating for their simple, self-sufficient and content lifestyle. It was more or less a “challenge” to see if I could do it.
You certainly met that challenge with In Plain Sight. How did you research for this book? That alone must have been a major undertaking!
Most of it was pure imagination. I did use Pennsylvania Dutch glossaries of common phrases that I mixed into the dialogue and found several Amish information sites on the internet.
What part of In Plain Sight did you enjoy writing the most and why?
The scene where the brothers go to the banker’s house to borrow the ham radio to contact their people. This was the point at which the inspiration had finally clicked in and I was actually giggling out loud when I wrote this scene. Also the auction scene was a lot of fun.
Oh, those were some of my favorites also – I love that kind jolly banker….a bit like a Santa character. LOL! He certainly developed a quick affinity for Amish treats that so amused me. I also laughed aloud. The dialogue between the twins was very well done, as was the fantasy time travel scenes. Fascinating. Where do you get the ideas for your books?
The Victor was inspired from an Amy Grant song 30 years ago called Fairytale and Make a Wish was a compilation of 35 short stories where I granted wishes for real people so the ideas came directly from the people (and the Lord) for whom I wrote the stories.
After many arduous years of trying, your book The Victor was published and quite successful. Please tell us a bit about it’s message and what was most important for you to convey to the readers. I definitely want to read The Victor and have added it to my TBR’s.
I was raised a nonreligious Jew who didn’t want to be witnessed to, go to church or read the Bible. The Lord got to me through watching Jesus of Nazareth on television by reaching my heart through my emotions. I gave my life to the Lord right in front of the television set. That is the goal for The Victor; to reach people emotionally with the Gospel in a fiction story where they are identifying with the protagonist who represents Jesus. To demonstrate through The Victor that the good news is the “ultimate” love story and how we are the object of His love. It was written to share the Gospel in a nonthreatening way with others who don’t want to be witnessed to, go to church or read the Bible.
Marlayne, that is so touching and fascinating, and I want to talk a bit more about that, but first tell us about your other writings.
Make a Wish is a truly remarkable book. It is the only book that was a gift for other people in which the recipients felt like they had heard from God and were blessed to the point of tears. I was even happily surprised at the reactions of readers who didn’t know anyone in the stories I wrote. Their reactions can be read in the reviews on Amazon but I can tell you that were all pretty emotional, which I also found very gratifying. I have a fourth book almost ready to go but don’t know when I will ever be able to get it into print now that I am working full time.
That can certainly be an obstacle to writing, but I have a feeling that the Lord will work that situation for good and it will be completed when the time is right. Marlayne, out of everything you have written, do you have a favorite and why?
The Victor is my “love child” and baby. I labored over that book for decades and never thought I would ever get to see it in print; much less read and appreciated by total strangers.
Miracles do happen! When did you know you were called to write?
I truly feel that The Victor was divinely inspired and got the idea in 1982 when I was 22 but I have been writing since I was age 12. I never went to college so it is safe to say that my writing abilities are a ‘gift’ from the Lord as well as a result of all the books I have read. I was a voracious reader as a child.
Marlayne, I can see you’ve had some major challenges as a writer? Please tell us how you overcame problems, or what you are doing to change it?
The greatest challenge I have had as a writer is the publishing industry itself. I had two traditional publishers interested in The Victor and In Plain Sight. They loved my writing, they liked the stories, but because I had self-published and had not sold 5,000+ copies on my own (it’s much harder than anyone realizes) they did not want to take a chance on me. It seems like they no longer care about how good the stories or writing are; they just want authors to already have a large platform. It discouraged me so much that I have just decided to give up on it all.
Oh Marlayne, I vehemently hope you don’t give up altogether, you’re too talented and imaginative of a writer and the readers would suffer the loss. Discouragement is a big killer of what can be – so I’ll be praying this will change for you – again, when the timing is the Lord’s.
Ok, I’m always curious about writers development of characters and wonder – what character is most like you in your books or have you written yourself into your stories?
I suppose there is a little of me in all my characters; after all; I am making up their reactions and dialogue. I did put my mom and brother in law as minor characters in my third book, In Plain Sight.
Now you’ve got me wondering about who your mom and brother are in this story – I’ll have to return and read it again. LOL Marlayne, back to a bit about you, please tells us how you first came to faith in Jesus and your salvation experience?
My entire family is Jewish. I used to attend a reformed Temple in her youth and observed the high holy days but it was mostly done out of a cultural obligation to Judaism rather than devotion to God. Like many Jews, I was raised with an anti-Christian/anti-Jesus “bias” and was taught that it was the height of betrayal to my Jewish heritage to “convert”. Growing up I had little to no interest in “religion” and at the age 13 considered myself an atheist. At this time the “Jesus Movement” was in full swing and I found myself a “prime target” for the “Jesus Freaks”. I soon learned that if I just prayed the sinner’s prayer with them they would go away not only happy but quicker! I came to faith in Jesus as Messiah as a direct result of watching the television film, “Jesus of Nazareth” by Franco Zefferelli in 1977. From that moment on I began to read the Old Testament and discovered that believing in Jesus was the fulfillment of my Jewish faith and not a betrayal of it
How does your faith influence your writing?
It is my desire to reach the lost for the Lord with my writing and to bless
those who already believe who are struggling and suffering.
Do you have a favorite scripture?
Shortly after beginning The Victor, I asked the Lord for a confirming scripture that this book was inspired by Him and Psalm 45 popped into my head. I looked it up and the first verse said: “My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” My jaw just dropped. I sign that verse at all my book signings, it is the url for my blog and it is my tagline.
Have you imagined writing stories about Biblical characters – a woman, perhaps?
I often thought of writing a story about a young woman who knew Jesus growing up and loved him from afar since she was a child only to undergo a series of tragedies that result in her being the woman caught in adultery and thrown at his feet for judgment.
Has any particular person, author or otherwise been a literary inspiration to you?
J.R.R. Tolkien. I read The Hobbit and entire Lord of the Rings in a single weekend and then once a year every year after that for decades. The man was an absolute genius and his work was a masterpiece.
What book have you read that stands out as your favorite? Did that book or any book impact your life in any way?
The Lord of the Rings and Hans Christian Anderson fairytales had a big impact on me. The fairytales taught me compassion, the virtues of perseverance, honesty, faithfulness and empathy.
You have a great appetite for reading, so what is your favorite comfort food?
Noodle Kuegel. The recipe is one of my very first blog entries. By the way, the Amish food recipes mentioned throughout the book are in the back of the book.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Both; it really depends upon the situation. At book signings I have to be an extrovert. I go up to total strangers in my medieval costume with a basket full of candy and bookmarks and chat bookstore customers up until I talk them into buying a book. I find it really fun to be the center of attention and talk to a crowd of people about my books but at a party I’m a total wall flower unless I am lip synching to music as part of the entertainment.
Do you enjoy other hobbies other than writing? What do you and your family enjoy doing in your leisure time?
I love to cook (and I look like it). When I was much younger I used to draw, take ballet, ice-skate, stamp, scrapbook and sew but all of that has fallen by the wayside. I’m either too poor, too old or don’t have enough time. The only creative outlet I have left is cooking because we have to eat.
If a movie was made about your life or the protagonist from this story in particular, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I would like a total stranger to play the lead characters in In Plain Sight. As far as me, my husband thinks Sally Field and I have no clue.
Hmmm, I would consider that a compliment…Sally is a great actress. Marlayne, Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
It will leave you really wondering hard about the ‘what if’s” posed in the story-line.
What is next on your writing agenda?
Maybe a second Make a Wish type book once I have enough short stories compiled.
This has been a fun and interesting chat with you, Marlayne. I love your answers, you are a very interesting lady I am very impressed with your background and interest in writing what many aren’t brave enough to attempt. I know I don’t feel capable of your style, but that’s what keeps all of us ready for the challenge. Your faith in God is solid – and it definitely shows your faith in yourself depends completely on Jesus. Believe me, God isn’t done with showing you and the readers that He isn’t finished with you yet….so be ready for what he’s planned to bless your life with excitement and greater success. Are you prepared to give us your recipe for Noodle Keugel? Perhaps you can share that with us on your next visit unless it is listed in the back of the book where you mentioned the Amish recipes are listed.
Now, let’s allow our friends and followers know what I really thought about In Plain Sight! Thank you for being here and keep us posted from time to time about what’s going on in your authoring career. Oh, and be sure to bring your Noodle Keugel recipe!
MY REVIEW OF “IN PLAIN SIGHT”
Marlayne Giron wrote a note inviting me to read and review her newest novel. Amish stories are among my favorite reads, but little did I realize what I was in for! After I accepted her invitation, there was doubt and skepticism as to which one of us was crazy – in my thinking anyway. Presently, I am honored and grateful to Marlayne for the pleasure.
As the story opens, Jacob Lapp has begun the early daily chores and as daylight began he was badly shaken at what his eyes saw, and his mind couldn’t believe. He was horrified to see that his entire corn field had been flattened in a precise circular design. Disbelief caused various thoughts to emerge in rapid succession until he could only surmise that the stories he’d heard about crop circles might be factual. He had never seen anything like this and decided to take the matter to the Bishops immediately.
As I began the next chapter, I was a bit confused as to who the Protagonist of the story was. I soon found out the Esh family, especially Rebecca, were the main characters the story extended around; although Jacob is importantly blended into the story as is the Amish faith and culture.
As Jacob Lapp was taking in the mysterious happenings on his farm, nineteen year old Rebecca Esh was helping her mother prepare breakfast in the Esh family kitchen. All seemed normal as every other day when Rebecca’s wandering thoughts were interrupted by a silver flash as she glanced out the kitchen window and saw a strange blue beam above the hill behind the barn. “Surely she had imagined it…it couldn’t possibly be what she thought it was. “Time to stop reading science fiction novels and stick to Beverly Lewis she thought.” She did long for romance and adventure, it seems, proven by the number of books on the shelves in her room. We learned that Rebecca has a good sense of humor among all her qualities – but if this story was heading in the direction I imagined – Rebecca might be in for a shocking change or two in her near future.
Marlayne Giron is an imaginative writer and courageous to put the Amish culture and aliens from outer space into an equation that adds up to a sensitive spiritual story beyond any I’ve read. I felt some of Marlayne’s writing was a bit Disney-ish where the time travel sequences between Rebecca and Seth were concerned; however, important to the flow of her story. Her style is fresh and of a generation much younger than I, and that is why I kept an open mind throughout and was entertained. Her story brought out my emotions and I felt a lot of joy emanating from her words, as well as the sorrows. Ms. Giron added humor that caused me to break out laughing where lifting the scene was essential. Especially the kind banker and how the twins duped him into allowing them in his home to use his radio equipment. I wonder if he gained any weight with all those Amish pastries the twins used as persuasion for his help? Those twins! Sometimes they went a bit far trying to help. I found it quite delightful. This lady knows how to write.
Back to this fascinating story…..the next day is a barn raising for a newly married couple in the community. Every family is involved in the preparations from food to physical labor. When the meals have been served, many times the women and young girls participate in quilting – as do the Esh ladies. In fact, one of the fun parts of this book is about a quilt fashioned by the Esh mother and daughters. The day of the barn raising, Rebecca undergoes strange feelings, hears bothersome hums, thinks someone is watching her and at times is rendered mute. THEN!! The first “Amish” twin makes his presence known to Rebecca and mesmerizes her with his silver eyes and handsome prince-like appearance. The second twin makes his appearance a bit later, and we learn how alike and different the twins are from outer space, as here on earth. Whew, can you tell I’m really getting into Marlayne’s story?
Are you rushing to buy Marlayne Giron’s book yet? Why not? If I said much more about this intriguing story – I might tell you too much and spoil your entire reading experience of In Plain Sight. This is a very well written, educational, and thought provoking story that will cause you to wonder more about this vast universe and about who the alien’s King is. When we, people of faith, think about the wonders of the world, how can we not ponder the first chapters of Genesis – is our God the God of the universe or only the God and father of the planet we live on? Marlayne has made an important point of truth that I pray all her readers will determine correctly. A space ship crashing in an Amish corn field is unlikely…..but then only the God of the universe knows the likeliness of such a happenstance. Who am I to question?