Marni Mann made an incredible debut with her powerful novel MEMOIRS AREN’T FAIRYTALES, the haunting story of Nicole Brown’s downward spiral into the madness of heroin addiction. Now, she’s released a sequel, SCARS FROM A MEMOIR, which continues Nicole’s story as she forges a life for herself during recovery. Marni has taken gone to great lengths to tell an authentic addiction story cycle, and with her new release sailing up the charts I thought it would be a sweet opportunity to gain some greater insight into what was different about writing about recovery, and how crafting the Memoirs Series has impacted her life.
With the exhaustive research you did for MEMOIRS, you’ve become something of an authority on the topic of addiction. What further research did you undertake for SCARS, and what did you learn from it that you hadn’t discovered in your previous learnings? My research for SCARS was the exact opposite than MEMOIRS. I interviewed addicts who were sober; I learned the struggles of staying clean, triggers, the 12-Step community, and the ramifications of one’s addiction. The recovered addicts I spoke to had done three, four, sometimes even five stints in rehab. I knew the statistics, but hearing them in person made it much more real.
Writers develop deep emotional connections to their characters. Sometimes it’s difficult to put them through their paces. When you began writing SCARS, did you know exactly everything that might have been in store for Nicole, or did this leg of her journey evolve organically as you wrote? Most of Nicole’s journey evolved organically. I knew the major points that needed to be covered, the characters I wanted to resurface, but most of the plot points were connected as I wrote. The ending was the hardest part for me. I had two different scenarios in mind and I couldn’t choose which one I liked best so I wrote out both and left it up to my publisher and editor to decide. I’m really happy with their decision.
You wrote MEMOIRS for very personal reasons, and SCARS was a natural continuation, considering where the first book left off. And now you’re readying a YA version of MEMOIRS as well. How did you arrive at the decision to revise the story and aim it at a younger audience? Lots of my readers contacted me and said they wanted their children to read MEMOIRS, but the content was too gritty. That got me thinking; I really weighed the benefits of targeting a younger audience and how much this book could help them. I discussed the possibilities of a YA version with my manager and publisher and they were all on board. The only thing left was figuring out how to tone down the language and content, but to keep the message intact.
I know how much both books have helped give me insight into the world of addiction – heroin addiction, in particular. What is the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers regarding your portrayal of the subject matter? A few months ago, the mother of a heroin addict contacted me. She told me that her son was 27 years old, recently in jail for 45-days, and was now on house arrest. His rock bottom was a serious car accident that almost killed him and a friend. While he was in jail, he found MEMOIRS in the prison library and read it. After finishing the book, he called his mom and said my novel made him realize he never wanted to be there again. She said my novel had really made him think. I was floored, honored, humbled, and completely speechless after reading her email. I was really surprised, too. I still am.
As much knowledge as you’ve accumulated writing the MEMOIR series, have you ever considered pursuing a career in addictions counseling? It’s something I strongly considered while writing MEMOIRS. I would have to become certified, possibly even obtain a master’s in counseling with a concentration in addiction. A lot of time and schooling would be needed, and time is limited for all of us. At some point it may be something I pursue, but at the moment I just enjoy writing about it.
On your blog recently, you wrote a very moving letter entitled “My Dearest Nicole,” a bittersweet love note of sorts to the character who inspired MEMOIRS. As you move on to other works, how do you feel creating a character as defined as Nicole has affected your ability to craft stories? Has she set up you up for a challenge or paved the way for everyone who comes afterward? Because of Nicole and my *relationship* with her, I believe all future stories will be character driven. It all really starts with the protagonist, for me, and as I listen to their voice their hardship and pain begins to unfold. Nicole paved the way. She helped me create the process of how a plot forms, taught me my likes, and gave me a new style of writing.
You have more dark fiction waiting in the wings…what projects loom on the Marni Mann horizon? The best way to describe my next novel is: When a young woman experiences an unforgettable tragedy, how does she cope? Is it the tragedy that causes her tirade or is it something, deep-rooted, we haven’t yet discovered? And when the truth surfaces, will the character? ;)
YA versions of MEMOIRS and SCARS should be out this fall.
And one question that has nothing to do with heroin or books or writing: what do you do for absolute relaxation, on a day with no obligations to anyone but Marni? (Have to end it on an up note J ) Traveling is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It’s when I can completely unwind, turn off all my electronics and just enjoy everything and everyone around me. At home, it could be as simple as watching a movie on the couch, getting a pedicure, or eating really good food. A perfect day would be walking the dogs on the beach, cruising around the islands on a boat, having lunch on the sandbar, dinner and drinks with friends, and ending the night at the comedy club.
Thanks for hanging with us, Marni...it's been awesome!
Thanks for having me, Steven. It’s been such a pleasure. :)
In my opinion, the Memoirs Series should be required reading for high school students, as a cautionary tale against the unexpected spiral that can turn casual drug use into full-blown drug addiction. If you haven't read them yet, I recommend picking them up and reading them back-to-back. Both are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in e-format or paperback. So thoroughly impressed with what Marni has accomplished with these stories. Well done, friend!
A New Englander at heart, Marni Mann, now a Floridian is inspired by the sandy beaches and hot pink sunsets of Sarasota. A writer of literary fiction, she taps a mainstream appeal and shakes worldwide taboos, taking her readers on a dark, harrowing, and gritty journey. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop, she’s scouring for chocolate, traveling, reading, or walking her four-legged children. Scars from a Memoir is her second book, a sequel to the highly regarded Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction. Find out more about her on her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.