This week’s Motown Writers Network spotlight is being shined on Mary Anne McMahon. Mary Anne no longer lives in Detroit; but she regards the Motor City as the place she will ever call home. She is the author of The Motor City and Me: Our Story, a story that tells the remarkable history of Detroit and offers inspiration to the once great American metropolis during its most trying time. Let’s listen in on Mary Anne’s interview so we get to know her better and learn more about her book.
Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I now live in Houston, Texas.
Tell us your latest news?
I have published a book, The Motor City and Me: Our Story, which highlights the rich history of Detroit and how the Motor City has left a lasting impact on my family and me.
When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing most of my life and have taught writing skills to students for 28 years. After my retirement from education I wrote puppet skits for my puppet performing business, Sassy Celebrations. I then decided to write a book about my beloved hometown.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always considered myself a writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My book evolved from the acquisition of my ancestral history, my happy Detroit childhood and continual connection to my hometown.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I do not have one specific writing style. In my book I utilize both the expository style and the persuasive style.
How did you come up with the title?
The Motor City and Me: Our Story parallels the rise and fall of Detroit with ups and down in my own life. The title reflects our connection.
Is there a message in your memoir that you want readers to grasp?
I overcame major obstacles in my life. I want to inspire Detroiters to overcome the obstacles facing their city today.
How much of the book is realistic?
My book is non-fiction. The events are real.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The experiences are based on my own life.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel had a powerful impact on my life. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela inspired me as well.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would choose John Grogan. His heartwarming book, The Longest Trip Home, about an Irish boy from Detroit resonated with me. His story inspired me to publish my Detroit memoir.
What book are you reading now?
I am reading I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s writing and especially liked his book, David and Goliath. The insightful novel, The Invention of Wings, drew me to Sue Monk Kidd.
What are your current projects?
I have begun a second book.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Both professional and non-professional reviewers have given me significant support and encouragement.
Do you see writing as a career?
I want to continue as a writer.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I made many changes as I wrote the book. So, I am quite satisfied now.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My mother influenced me with her love of literature and writing.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Paralleling the rise and fall of Detroit with the ups and downs of my own life, I show readers how Detroit values strengthened and reassured her throughout the difficult times. From the rise and fall of the automotive industry to the city’s recent financial woes, The Motor City and Me strives to take readers on a personal journey through an extraordinary American city. Tracing my family’s Detroit lineage through four generations, my memoirs aims to give readers a thorough look at the city’s history and the indelible mark it has left on me.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When I wrote my book there were times when thoughts flowed for hours. Other times I had difficulty putting two words together. There was a certain amount of frustration that I had to leave my computer at the “two word” moments.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his/her work?
I like Ross King. He writes fascinating detailed accounts of engineering marvels and the history that goes with those marvels. I loved his books, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling and Brunelleschi’s Dome.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I did considerable traveling while writing my book. I traveled to my European roots and ancestral homelands.
Who designed the covers?
My publisher designed my cover. I provided the photo.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The most difficult part was writing about the challenging times in my life.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
While I struggled with revealing challenges, I learned afterward that I am not alone. Everyone has challenges. My book has inspired others to come forward and share the dark moments in their lives.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Writing is a gift that you give yourself and hopefully to others including future generations.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
The conviction, that we can overcome adversity and that failure is not an option, may be a good beginning for renewal.
For more information about the author and her book go to: http://marymcmahonauthor.com/