I first met Marion Ueckermann at a Beauty for Ashes women’s conference in Johannesburg. I was intrigued to find out that she was writing novels in her spare time, and ever since then I have followed her writing career with interest. Her debut novel, Helsinski Sunrise, has just been released and I’ve reviewed it here.
Marion, what can you remember about your birthplace?
Far less than you, Aldyth, I’m sure. For a few years now, you’ve lived in Mufulira, Zambia where I was born. I was only six when my parents immigrated back to South Africa, but my memories of Zambia are of its wildness and beauty—the hunting trips my dad took, fishing on Lake Kariba, visits to Mombashi mission station, and Sunday school picnics.
Where have you spent your life?
From our return to South Africa, up until I completed high school, I was raised in a small town in the North Eastern Transvaal, as the province was then known. Phalaborwa is known for two things: 1) the heat—summer temperatures over 40°C, and 2) it’s located right beside the Kruger National Park. It was therefore not unheard of to have wild animals roaming the town at night in the early days before the town grew. Lion, elephant, buffalo, antelope, leopard, and baboon to mention a few. And snakes…LOTS of different species, most highly venomous.
After school I moved to Johannesburg. I started my working career, got married to a childhood sweetheart (age ten does count, doesn’t it?), bore two sons and raised them in a quiet suburb between the two major cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg.
At the turn of the century, we immigrated to Ireland and spent eighteen months living just outside Dublin. But, there’s no place like home, so we moved back to South Africa and settled in the eastern suburbs of the capital city, Pretoria.
Your school friends used to call you John Wayne. Please tell us why.
My maiden name is Morrison. So at school I was Marion Clair Morrison, although no one ever took notice of the middle name. I was called John Wayne, because this old cowboy was born Marion Morrison—Marion Robert Morrison to be more exact. He was also known as Marion Mitchell Morrison and Marion Michael Morrison, but is probably more famous for his nickname, The Duke. He preferred Duke to Marion (I wonder why), and the name stuck for the rest of his life.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
There are other things to do besides write?
What does your family think of your writing?
I guess they think it’s pretty cool to have a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and aunt who’s an author J My family are all so supportive of my writing, and give me the space I need to write. I couldn’t have reached publication without them, especially my husband. Anyone who writes can attest to how time-consuming it is.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written two complete novels, four semi-complete novels, one book of short stories, three complete novelettes, and one almost complete novelette. I guess that makes it around eleven books I’ve written. I can’t say I have any favorites. Each time I write, I fall in love with the story, the setting, and the characters.
What is best writing advice you can give?
- Write, write, write.
- Read . . . a lot.
- Learn the craft.
- Network with other writers.
- Join a writers’ group (or two).
- Critique and be critiqued.
- Start building your writing platform early.
- And have a lot of patience and endurance.
- Trust the One who gave you the talent to write.
Without all the above, it will be hard to reach publication.
If your book were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character’s part?
Kate Hudson would definitely be my heroine, Eveliina Mikkola. I think Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries), would make a great Adam, but he’d have to wear brown contact lenses to get rid of his stark blue eyes and match Adam’s features.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Definitely a pantser, although I am trying to plot a little more. Would that then make me a plantser, a plotser, a platser . . . or a platter?
Do you have any scars? What are they from?
I have a few, but there is one that will always be memorable. It’s quite visible and travels from my wrist up the inside of my arm for about 8 cm.
It was the day before I was due to leave for Florida, USA with fellow writer, Shirley Corder. We were going to attend the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I was busy with last minute packing and was searching for a disk. It was stupid, I know, but I stood on a chair…with wheels… The chair went one way, I the other.
The diagnosis in the emergency room was a fractured (actually I think shattered was a better term) wrist. I was still determined to undergo surgery the following morning, be discharged and head off to the USA with my arm in a sling (my suitcase had wheels, so what was the problem?) The following day I understood why the doctor was amused and had insisted, “No flying.”
Be sure to follow this blog tomorrow down to Port Elizabeth, South Africa where we’ll learn more about Marion when Shirley Corder interviews her.
Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.
Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube
Marion’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven. Her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise, releases August 22, 2014 by White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series.
Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.
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Permission to use images obtained.