Interview with Mary Elizabeth Raines

What do your fans mean to you?
I have the greatest respect for my readers and fans, for they are people just like me--people who READ, and share similar passions, integrity, and a love of good stories! My writing is diverse; none of my work fits in quite in the same genre as anything else. My first novel "UNA," for instance, is very intense historical fiction with moments of darkness and light, based upon one woman's experience of learning to survive in the woods on her own in Nazi Germany. In contrast, "The Secret of Eating Raspberries," while it has the theme of how people who are vastly different can learn to get along, is much lighter reading and I think of it as a romantic dramedy (a light drama with a lot of humor). "The Man in the GPS and Other Stories" has short stories that vary from whimsical to satirical to heavy, and they have a completely different texture from spirit-inspired book, "The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People."

Some of my readers are fans of just one of my works, such as my novel or my past-life book. Others love everything I've written. Regardless, no author writes just for the satisfaction of stringing words together. There is a completion to the process of writing. Just as a chef is recognized when people eat what she has cooked, and the musician when an audience hears her perform, an author's final joy occurs when people read--and appreciate!--her words. That connection is for me nearly palpable. My fans are hugely importantly to me, and I am ever so grateful to them!
What's the story behind your latest book?
My most recently published novel, "The Secret of Eating Raspberries," stemmed from something that actually happened to a friend of mine. Like the heroine in the book, my friend is a sweet, innocent, elementary-school teacher. One summer she thought she was getting a job in the parks department teaching arts and recreation to little kids. Instead, they mistakenly assigned her to the maintenance crew. She kept the job. She needed the money.

The people on the crew were from another world. They were unbelievably crude, horribly rude, and some were the kind of people you don't want to meet on a city street late at night. Some of the rough dialogue engaged in by the crew in the story was taken from what my friend shared with me.

I began to ponder. How could people from two different worlds learn to get along? In movies, that happens when one side or the other becomes transformed and "sees the light." What, I wondered, if neither side were to change? Could there be harmony? This question, along with my friend's amusing and yet shocking story, was the basis for "The Secret of Eating Raspberries."
How did you come up with the ideas for the stories in "The Man in the GPS and Other Stories"?
Great question!

All my short stories, as diverse as they are, share some commonalities. I don't know if anyone will ever be able to guess what they are, but I know and they make me smile!

While the characters are all fictitious, the majority of these stories are based upon actual experiences of mine. "Bear and the Guru," for instance, was definitely inspired by New Age seminars I've attended! One of the characters, Jillian, goes to a sweat lodge, and her humorous experience is nearly identical to my own one and only time in a sweat lodge.

The teasing I do about the New Age in this and other stories also comes from firsthand experience, for in addition to writing, I teach hypnosis, past-life regression, and other subjects some might deem esoteric. I know the foibles and fallibility of my own people!

I have friends who have shared both the appearance and curious beliefs of the handyman in "The Tender Harvest." Although the character is, again, fictitious, some of that dialogue was lifted from real life.

In the lead story, "The Man in the GPS," the main character, Jessie, is found to be madly in love with the voice of the man in his GPS. That story came about because I was (and still am!) similarly in love with the man in my own GPS. I lhave ong fantasized what it would be like if I were to overhear his voice in a place like a restaurant and actually meet my GPS guy in person some day. Thus the story!

"Transitions, Trees, and Cottage Cheese" came about after a hike I took one day alongside a creek. I was disturbed by some of the things that people were doing. Then I thought about looking at it from a tree's point of view, and...well, you'll just have to read the story!

The prize-winning story in the collection, "Easter Breakfast at Denny's," which is more serious than most of the others, is based upon an actual Easter morning when I stumbled across a murder scene which was almost identical to that described.

These are just a few explanations of how I got the idea to write these stories!
What was the process like when you wrote "The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People"?
"The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People" had a very different process from my works of fiction. It was almost as if the book was channeled. I certainly felt inspired, and wrote easily while the words streamed into my mind.

Of course, I am intimately familiar with the topic of past-life regression, as I have been training people for many years to become past-life regression counselors, and I have even more years of experience regressing others to their past lives, both in workshops and individual sessions. My background in reincarnation and past lives is solid, and qualifies me as one of the few true experts in the field. Still, the material organized itself almost miraculously. It was more effortless to write this book than anything else I've ever written. I do believe it was spirit-led.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on non-fiction, completing both a hypnosis reference guide and a book on creating expert guided imagery. Both should be out soon. I'm also a columnist for "The Journal of Hypnotism," and always have new columns to write.

There are a number of fiction projects on the back burner, and I'm excited about working on them soon as well! I have years and years of projects awaiting me that, I hope, you will love reading!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. It was a story about native people who lived on the Amazon River. I was in the 4th grade. I still have it, and it was just terrible--kids today are writing so brilliantly in comparison--but my teacher recognized something in it ,and wrote in the margin that perhaps I would become an author some day! By the time I was in high school, I was writing quite well. Even so, I had to pay my dues by plugging away for several years writing stories that (at the time) I thought were brilliant. Nobody else did!

My first published/paid-for story was called "Stacey and the Pig." It was bought by a large church group for a Sunday School magazine distributed worldwide. Most children's stories in those days (1973) were only about little boys; back then it was very unusual to write from a girl's point of view. The editor was thrilled because I had a little girl as the heroine, something she rarely saw.
When did you first start writing?
While I always wrote, and was quite passionate about it in high school, I began writing professionally in 1973.
What helped you to become a better writer?
Just as Harry Houdini learned his skills from getting a job working for a locksmith, I had a job that helped me as a writer. I spent several years working as what was called an electronic court reporter. We recorded trials and hearings on tape, using elaborate recording equipment, and then transcribed them for the court record. I would transcribe up to 200 pages a day on my beloved IBM Selectric--each with about four or five carbon copies, for this was in the days before computers.

Not only did this teach me how to type very rapidly (I got paid per page!); it also taught me how to write dialogue.

I had to transcribe the often disjointed speech of people like coal miners or factory workers, and punctuate it so that it would be intelligible. I was also exposed to the articulate, precise language of judges and attorneys...and, even though technically we were not supposed to alter one word, it was understood that we would clean up their language. If an attorney said, "Yeah," for instance, we would transcribe it as "Yes," and remove filler words such as "um," "you know," and "like."

While it was grueling, and there is nothing duller than being in courtrooms listening to hearings for the Securities and Exchange Commission or the National Labor Relations Board, it had a powerful influence on my ability to write, and I am grateful for those years.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Doing other creative things like artwork, playing the piano (like several of my characters, I play both classical music and jazz), keeping bees organically, cooking & gardening (in season), hiking (when my body is able), and constantly appreciating the beauty and sounds of nature.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Creativity, whether it's writing my books (which I usually get to first thing), artwork (I create the designs for all my book covers), playing music, or teaching! While I have my ups and downs, like any other human being, I love being alive in human form on Planet Earth!
What is your writing process?
Most writing gets done sitting on the couch! Then one puts it down on paper. I rewrite and edit.
My book "The Secret of Eating Raspberries" started out as a film script. How to get Hollywood to see it was a dilemma, and I thought the story had a lot of merit, so I turned it into a novel.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Stories bubble up within me that need to be told--an itch requiring a good scratch, a tickle building up that needs to end in a satisfying sneeze, a thirst to be quenched. These stories can range from the fantastical and whimsical (several of the stories in my short story collection, "The Man in the GPS and Other Stories") to the romantic ("The Secret of Eating Raspberries"). At other times what needs so fervently to be shared is important information unlike anything that has been written about by others ("The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People"). When I scratch the itch, sneeze the sneeze, and drink that refreshing glass of water by writing these books, I know I am doing what I was meant to do in this lifetime, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of joy. When I am writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, I am totally immersed in the story and time flies by. The entire journey of writing these books is joyous, topped by the ultimate rush of satisfaction I feel when I hold a copy of the competed book in hand and say to myself, "It is done!"
How do you approach cover design?
Since I am also an artist and designer, I create all my own covers!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I've been reading all my life, and have a large library at our home. The first completely adult fiction I ever read was Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations." I'd always thought adult classical fiction had to be boring, and I couldn't believe how exciting that novel was!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
This is absolutely impossible to answer! I will say that my favorite book of all time is probably "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like all good writing, but I have a special love for 19th-century authors, as well as a fondness for mid-century science fiction. Writing their names, or listing contemporary authors I love, both of fiction and nonfiction, would be grossly unfair because I know I'd be waking up at 2:00 a.m. thinking of someone I inadvertently left off the list!
Describe your desk
I use a laptop computer (an ancient Mac) and best love writing while sitting in a huge recliner in my library. As for my desk, right now it is clean and sparkling because I've recently had company. It sure isn't that way all the time!
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a lot of non-fiction, particularly about the way the mind and body work. The fiction and poetry I enjoy are of many genres...like you, I'm just always seeking that book you can't put down!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It is so much better to have control over one's work, without an editor deciding to chop up a book with the idea of better profits. My books were written because they were stories that needed telling, not formulas written to make a fast buck. Beyond that, a traditional publisher will put out a book only for so long and then withdraw it, leaving the author high and dry. So many people continue to discover and to love "UNA," "The Secret of Eating Raspberries," and "The Man in the GPS and Other Stories." Sales are steady, but they fluctuate. "UNA" has been out now for seven years, but if it were published by a traditional publisher and, for a few months had a temporary drop in sales, it may have been retired several years ago despite its worth to readers. The bottom line is this: book publishers are in it for the money. Indie authors are in it to share stories!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth! People really enjoy my books, from "The Secret of Eating Raspberries" to "The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression." They tell their friends, their friends tell other people, and voila!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in multiple places, including upstate New York, New England, and the Midwest. As an adult, I've also lived around the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania, California, and Arizona. Cities have included Chicago, Boston, and L.A., but I've also lived on a dairy farm, on a rural lake, on rivers, and in suburbs. This diversity has helped me understand a wide range of people and lifestyles.
Why do you write?
There are many reasons.
First, out-of-the-ordinary things have always seemed to happen around me. I've been chased by both a wild chimpanzee and a bear. I've been in the midst of a robbery and have seen a plane crash. I have witnessed one murder and was the first to tumble on the scene of a second ("Easter Breakfast at Denny's"). Simply as an observer, I have tons of material to share!
Secondly, I've been around many different kinds of people with quirks--and have had a few myself ("The Man in the GPS").
Third, I have a passionate love for the environment ("Transitions, Trees, and Cottage Cheese") and keeping honeybees ("The Secret of Eating Raspberries").
Fourth, I teach subjects where information needs to be shared in more depth ("The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People").

The bottom line is that I am a communicator. I write because I MUST. It feels good.
Published 2018-06-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Man in the GPS and Other Stories
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 32,840. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
The Man in the GPS and Other Stories is a sometimes salacious, sometimes poignant, sometimes sardonic, sometimes whimsical, but always entertaining collection of short stories told in the masterful and unique voice of award-winning writer, Mary Elizabeth Leach.
The Secret of Eating Raspberries
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,790. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
The Secret of Eating Raspberries tells the riveting story of worlds that collide and an unlikely romance. When a gentle schoolteacher finds herself thrown into the midst of crude, foul-mouthed young people and their surly, enigmatic boss, she faces the nearly impossible task of trying to get along with people who are very different from her.
You Might Like Some of These Poems
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 2,920. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » American poetry, Fiction » Anthologies » Poetry - single author
This 28 poems in this small volume by Mary Elizabeth Raines were written in the 1960s and 1970s. The author re-discovered them after they sat in a box for many years, and found them interesting. Simply written, reflecting whimsy, tenderness and sometimes deep emotion, these are the timeless musings of a young woman. You might like some of them.
The Road to Happy Hills: A One-act Play
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 3,380. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
This short (15-20 min.), comic one-act play has a cast of 2 women and 1 man. Laura, an uptight librarian, hates George, whom she met through an internet dating site, until they begin discussing routes and maps. The dialogue is full of cute sexual innuendo, and is intended for adult audiences. No costumes or sets are needed beyond a table and 3 chairs. Premiered by Fly-by-Night Players.
The Transformation of an Egg: A One-act Play
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 2,310. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
In this short (12-18 min.), comic one-act play, three eggs in a nest discuss their fate. Cast for two women and one man, the clever, light-hearted script is G-rated. No costumes or sets are needed, and movement is minimal. While it is equally funny in large venues, this is the perfect low-budget one-act play for small theaters, clubs, churches, schools and living-room readings.
Triplets: A One-Act Play
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 3,310. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
This short (15-20 min.) funny one-act play for two women and one man has mildly adult content and slightly racy dialogue. "Triplets" is about three people who find themselves reincarnated as babies. There are some cute twists in the script, which takes a comedic look at topics of adultery, bisexuality, racism and reincarnation. No costumes or sets are required, and actors remain seated.
Love on the Subway: A One-act Play with Monologues
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 2,970. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
In this short one-act play (10-20 min), three strangers stranded on a subway swap stories about the first time they fell in love. The play consists of a brief segment of dialogue, followed by three monologues. It can be performed by 1 woman alone, 3 woman, or 2 women and 1 man. No sets are required, and actors may remain seated, making it an ideal venue for small theaters/performance spaces .
One-Act Play: Why Can't They Just Eat Flowers?
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 4,820. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Drama
In this short (30-min.) one-act comedy, Myrtle and Rose are two fairies who dislike human beings. They temporarily take human form, with surprising consequences. There are three scenes. Cast for either 2 women, or 1 woman and 1 man, this play was originally written for h.s. play competitions, and went to state level. With minimal cast and sets, it is ideal for h.s., church or small theater groups.
The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-life Regression: A Handbook for Real People
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 42,630. Language: English. Published: February 24, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » New Age » Reincarnation, Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Self-realization
(5.00 from 1 review)
What is a past-life regression like? Do we all have past lives? Why would someone want to learn about who they were in a former lifetime? Aren't most past lives made up? What if I remember something unpleasant? Mary Elizabeth Raines, an internationally recognized expert on past-life regression, answers these questions and shares the secrets of how past-life regression works to heal and transform.