The Spotlight Is On... Mary Yungeberg
Welcome to our new monthly author spotlight blog series! Each month, we will be shining a light on a different author, showcasing their work, and providing insights into their writing process. Whether you are an avid reader, aspiring writer, or simply curious about the creative minds behind the books you love, this series is for you. Join us as we delve into the worlds of a diverse range of authors, exploring their inspirations, challenges, and successes. We hope you enjoy this series and discover new authors to add to your reading list!
Today we have the award-winning author of The Rowan Milani Chronicles, Mary Yungeberg on deck. Let’s take a moment to learn more about her and then jump right in.
Mary has been an avid writer all her life. After graduating from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Animal Science and almost a minor in English, she pursued several careers that included selling hybrid swine breeding stock, professional resume writing, and the airline industry. Along the way she wrote numerous freelance articles, raised two rambunctious sons and showed her National Show Horses and Arabians. In 2008, on an Alaska cruise, relaxing for the first time in decades, she made the decision to pursue the career she’d always dreamed of: writing thrillers.
Mary lives in the great state of South Dakota with her husband Ernie and Lucy, an intemperate Rat Terrier who runs their household. When she’s not working on the next installment of the Rowan Milani Chronicles, you may see her tearing up the pavement with her black Mustang convertible attempting the fine art of autocross, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or busy with her family.
PPP: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Mary: The first time I stood at the chalkboard in grade school, staring at the scuffed black expanse with a piece of chalk gripped in my fingers. All that space was for me to write a story. I still have that feeling of wonder and excitement. The long-ago memory is still vivid.
PPP: What was the first book you wrote?
Mary: Consummate Betrayal
PPP: How many books have you written?
Mary: I’ve completed five books, thrillers in a series called The Rowan Milani Chronicles.
PPP: On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
Mary: Oh for a “typical day!” Let’s just say it varies. I may write for an hour and spend four hours in tedious research, trying to find out things like, what kind of desk would a government official have in Tehran? What kind of wood is generally used to make desks in Iran? What would his/her office look like? What kind of wall covering, photos, on and on… Usually if I’m not in research mode, I spend around 4 hours writing, with 5 or so minutes of break every half hour.
PPP: What comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
Mary: At the start of the series, the plot came first. I knew I wanted to write about betrayal, retribution and redemption. Then I decided the protagonist would be Middle Eastern and that translated into an Iranian American FBI agent who would be betrayed. However, as the first story progressed, the characters took over. The stories now revolve around the characters and the choices they make drives the plot.
PPP: What was your most difficult book to write? Your easiest?
Mary: My third thriller, A Different Man was the most difficult. The stories, which I had envisioned as a trilogy, had become more and more complex. At some point I realized the redemption wasn’t coming…mostly because my protagonist is a hard hearted, arrogant guy, set on doing things his own way, with a chip on his shoulder toward God and most authority.
As far as easiest…none of them have been easy. Each one has presented a different set of difficulties. If I had to choose, I’d probably say Unholy Retribution was the easiest, even though I ended up ditching the entire plot line, somewhere around 40,000 words worth, after meeting with Nicholas Guilak in Los Angeles and getting his vision for the books as possible movies or a streaming series.
PPP: Do you have a favorite book or character that you have written?
Mary: I think the fifth of my series, The Man Behind The Shadows is my favorite. My favorite character is my protagonist, Rowan Milani. I often joke that he’s my alter ego.
PPP: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Mary: Hmmm. I don’t know if this is very interesting, but when I’m stumped, if the weather is ok, I jump in my Mustang convertible and tear up the pavement in our rural area in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Sometimes I get lost. Sometimes I can’t figure out which state I’m in. I drive fast, with loud rock & roll music. Lots of times scenes I need just appear, like a panoramic vision in my head and I tear back home so I can get the vision on the laptop screen.
PPP: Tell us about your current WIP or your most recent book?
Mary: My WIP is a continuation of the RMC series. Since finishing the previous book in the series last fall, it’s taken me almost five months to get approximately 20,000 words written. I’m struggling with the complexity of the story and where it is headed. Everything feels amorphous…like it’s all “out there” and I’m grasping at parts and pieces straggling around, trying to pull them together. I take copious notes and have been researching like crazy. Just a couple days ago I came up with what I think will be the beginning scene, which will help set the tone. I am slowly putting together where I think it will end up. But it has been an incredibly slow process.
PPP: Where did you find your inspiration for writing it?
Mary: I’m going to share my inspiration for writing the series. During 9/11 I worked at the Sioux Falls airport for the United Express carrier. We knew many United flight crews and for all of us working there, those were our airplanes that those bastards stole. I’ve been to Ground Zero seven times. When I had to opportunity to start writing, I knew it would involve 9/11.
While at Iowa State University, I met some great kids from Iran and have always had a special place in my heart for the Iranian people. I also wanted to have a Middle Eastern protagonist instead of a blond haired, blue eyed guy. So an Iranian American was my choice.
A lot of “what ifs” came into my mind that eventually became the themes of betrayal, retribution and redemption.
PPP: Tell us about your experience working with the team at Poised Pen Productions.
Mary: Working with Poised Pen Productions has given me hope that I might actually be able to make more of a business of my writing and possibly someday actually make some money. I totally understand that there are no guarantees, but I’m seeing some results and at economical cost.
I am constantly amazed at how quickly and (to me) easily Tessa and her crew come up with cool descriptions, images, and a logo. Wow…just WOW! It’s so encouraging for me, as I feel like I can trust their processes and quality of work.
PPP: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
Mary: As far as anything else for your readers to know, it’s this: Whatever your dreams, whatever your age, young or old, don’t give up. We all only have one life and deserve to pursue our dreams. Don’t give up or quit. Be open to new things and enjoy your life.
Rowan Milani resides on a private island estate that provides security for him and those he loves...or so he thinks. A surprise revelation from his Mafia Don partner thrusts Rowan into a role he did not expect. While determined to complete his plans for former CIA Director Oscar Abramson, the man responsible for destroying his life, ruthless enemies await. Iranian Darius Al-Hashimi, the Emir of Jihad, loathes Rowan and everything he stands for. Acting as the point man for the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Hashimi delivers a series of taunting, devastating blows. FBI Special Agent Craig Stewart, humiliated by Rowan’s escape from custody, itches to reclaim his reputation by bringing in one of America’s most wanted. The Director of the FBI gives him the go-ahead to act. When Rowan inadvertently walks into a trap, he finds himself teetering on the brink of losing everything he’s worked so hard to protect.
You can find your copy here: Amazon
Thank you for joining us, Mary. It’s always a pleasure chatting with you.
Join us next month for our May Author Spotlight. Joining us will be award-winning authors', Tina Susedik, and Sherrie Lea Morgan.
Until next time...
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