Friday, May 15, 2009

Inner View: Marilynn Griffith, BFF, Writer, Amazing Soul

You're in for a treat, lovies. One of my seriously homey homegirls is visiting today, novelist extraordinaire, Marilynn Griffith. I met Mary write here on raga-d. She just appeared one day with a flurry of comments. I knew when I read the first one she was truly my soul sister. That was five years ago, and Mary has gone the distance with me. We've laughed, cried, and held each other up through some good times, and some rough times. I'd trust her with my life, and I can't say that about too many people.

Mary isn't just a friend to me. She's a mentor. I don't think I could have written a single book without her love, support, guidance, and teaching. She's between the lines in all my novels, lovies. Every one of them.

Mary has a new book out, Mom's the Word. If you haven't read her books yet, you owe it to yourself to run out and get one right now. Start with Mom's the Word. Then go back to Pink and work your way up to pre-ordering Songs of Deliverance, the sequel to her ridiculously amazing and incredible book, Rhythms of Grace.

Tell me about Mom's the Word.

Mom's the word is a book about marriage, motherhood and discovering
God's best surprises in the places we least expect. It's about
rediscovery, friendship and the poetic rhythm of God's love.

You write so beautifully about women's friendships, and they're often very complex relationships. Why do you think this theme comes up so often in your work?

Perhaps because it's something I struggle with in my own life. As a child, I was friendly with everyone but only allowed to have a few friends. My cousins were my friends. Books were my friends. My
grandmother was my friend. I knew a lot of people and liked them, but
I know that being my friend isn't always easy. You know that better
than anybody! My family takes a lot of my time and my books and work
seem to take the rest.

I've had seasons, especially when my children were young, or during my
worst depressions, when I felt like the lone wolf. I wasn't a good friend to
anybody, and I felt impoverished and friendless, which may or may not have
been true. In other seasons I was so nourished by my "girls". And of course,
there were also those relationships I had that went through rough patches.
They were, and are, complicated. Have friendships been challenging in your
own life?

Definitely. I am amazed as I observe some women in their
relationships. They just seem to know how to be friends. It's easy to
be misunderstood or be misunderstood in today's flurry of emails,
tweets and dings. It's always nice to have some women who just get
you--warts and all.

Your warts are fabulous. And they're funny, sometimes hysterically. You're at your best when you're writing about the warts. That, and when you're penning those big, epic, juicy love stories of yours. What were you like before you were a wife and mother?

Wow. What a question. That's hard to remember. I was very ambitious, I
remember that. Smart. Driven. Broken. A lot like most young women. Oh,
and I wasn't getting married or having more than one kid.

What were your goals and dreams?

They changed so often that I don't remember them all but they were all
lofty: doctor, engineer, stuff like that. Nothing that I really wanted
to do, but things that I was capable of. I didn't have a good grasp of
purpose. I didn't want to be poor or alone. I remember that. And I
didn't want to be at work when my kid (only one, remember?) got home
from school. I remember that.

You had me beat. I don't think I had much real ambition except to be a wife and mom and writer. Little did I know how difficult all of the above would be. And what are you like now, you incredible wifey and mommy?

Not so incredible. Silly, serious and everything in between. A bit
crazy most days, but who isn't?

I know, right? Some of us are more than a little bit. What are your current goals and dreams?

Ha! To make it through the next 30 days alive. How's that?

I'll take it. In fact, I'll take making it through the next 2 weeks, or even today. It's Prom day here at LaCasa Burney. Pray for us! That child wore me out, but is she ever bright and shiny today.

What's it like to be a writing mom, Mary?

Beautiful. Crazy. Hard. It's a great privilege and I thank each of my
readers for giving me the opportunity to experience it.

We should be thanking you. I've had moments reading your books in which a turn of a phrase took my breath away. You're amazing. Seriously. So, which is harder? Wife and mom, or writer?

I think you've got the order right. Being a wife isn't hard, but being
a good one is and I often miss the mark. Same with parenting. The real
books I'm leaving behind are written on the hearts of my family.

Terrifying. I used to tell my folks here that I hoped to do well as a writer so I could pay for their therapy. And they're all so different. If what we leave behind is written on their hearts, those are going to be some very diverse books. I guess we'll have to see, eh?

Brave soul, you put so much put so much poetry into this novel. Are these
really Karol's poems? How much Mary is in those amazing verses?

Oh, there's a lot of Mary in there, I suppose. I just cut the vein and
bled on this one. I had no plan for the poems at all. They just sort
of went in. Once there, they seemed to fit. I love poetry.

Again, you're at your best writing like that. I remember your 2004 blog. Smokin'!

Is it easier for you to write poetry than fiction? I feel totally exposed
when I write poetry. Not to mention I'm so not good at it. You inspired me
in this one.

Sometimes there is no room for thought, just the words, raw and
straining for the sun. They open up and I write them down, glad for
the distraction. I once spent three years revising a poem.

Now, that's how to write! God save me from speedy manuscripts. But sometimes we do what we have to. You know all about that.

Is the process of writing poetry different than writing fiction for you?

Hmmm... The poems just come. I'm always glad to see them. The fiction?
Well, sometimes it must be coaxed off the ledge and back into the

I know what you mean. Sometimes, I have to be coaxed off the ledge when I'm writing.

What else are you working on? In case you didn't get the hint, I've
opened the door for you to shamelessly plug SistahFaith.

SistahFaith, which you helped birth and have been a part of from the
beginning. The network ( is growing and
I'm looking forward to having you as a keynote for the Garments of
Praise Conference along with Stanice Anderson and Sharon Ewell Foster.
The book comes out in February and I'm looking forward to that too.
Your testimony in there is powerful and healing, just like your

Please don't miss this one, folks. It's beyond powerful, and so moving. If you can make it to the conference next month BE THERE! God is gonna meet us in that place.

I'm also part of the Million Blessings Anthology (Kensington, 2010)
with Angela Benson and Tia McCollors. That was my first time writing a
novella. It was fun.

That's excellent company girl. Angela and Tia are first rate, and I love those women.

Songs of Deliverance, the sequel to Rhythms of Grace will drop
December 1, 2009 as well.

Please, please, please don't miss that one, lovies. But read Rhythms of Grace first. Prepare to be up all night. You will not want to put it down.

Where can readers find you on the web, and where is your book available?

I'm easiest to find on Facebook
( and SistahFaith
( but I'm around Twitter, my website
( and wherever I can check without
getting too behind.

How 'bout an excerpt.

Anyone can sneak an excerpt at the First Fiction Blog Tour
page( . They're going to do some reviews this

Love you girl, thanks for being on raga-d.

Love YOU. Can't wait to see you in June. :)

Omigosh! Could I be any more excited about that? Click on the link for the Garments of Praise conference for more info y'all. And thank you again, Mary. You are a gift to this ragamuffin, and proof that my Father is very, very fond of me.


Renee Williams said...

What a powerful interview! I hate I can't be a part of the Garment of Praise weekend. I know it will be powerful. This has been a great tour Marilynn, and I look forward to reading all of your books.

Ty said...

Thanks, Claudia and Marilynn, for sharing a wonderful conversation. You both are the best!

ragamuffin diva said...

Thank you, Renee. We'll send up some prayers for you, girl.

Ty, thank you so much for your hard work on this blog tour. You rawk!

Tracey Michae'l Lewis-Giggetts said...

When Mair said, "I've had moments reading your books in which a turn of a phrase took my breath away," that is exactly how I feel about your writing, Marilynn. You are raw and fabulous and beautiful and honest in your work. Thanks for the interview, Mair. Both of you are like my big sisters in my head! lol

PatriciaW said...

Two of my favorite authors! Wonderful interview, ladies.

ragamuffin diva said...

Tracey, we're totally sisters!

Patricia, it's so nice to have you drop by. Thanks for be a blessing to both Marilynn and I.