Captivating: An Evening with Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica collage
Author Book Event – Atlanta, GA

I had the pleasure of hearing Mary Kubica speak at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, GA, as part of her Don’t You Cry book tour. I connected with her on Twitter, @MaryKubica, along with my friend and fellow author Chelsea Humphrey, @suspensethrill, so we were super excited to meet her in person.

I’ve heard many authors speak, reading excerpts from their book and sharing their story, but I have to say, Mary was one of the best! During her presentation, “captivating” was the word that kept coming to my mind.

Mary shared that she loved to write as a child, but never really considered a career as an author. Like most kids, she didn’t necessarily think about the person behind the book or the possibility of writing as a vocation. She became a high school history teacher until her first child was born. She then opted to stay home and raise her baby and began writing The Good Girl. As Mary described it, something about that book felt special, the characters spoke to her. As she spoke, I found myself nodding in agreement – I’ve often felt like I was watching a movie and taking dictation as I wrote Free of Malice.

It took her nearly five years and she wrote in secrecy – I can relate here as well. It was quite a leap to let my mother and fiancé read my book. Mary had no contacts in the publishing world (ditto!) so she looked up how to query agents and got a few bites. As she noted, it’s sometimes easier to share your work with strangers than friends.

Although there was some initial interest, she didn’t get any takers, so Mary shelved her book and went on with her life. Two years later, she received a letter from an agent who asked if her book was still available. This woman had read her book when it was first submitted and had since been promoted to a position to make a decision to move forward. This was in 2012 and Mary was offered a two-book deal, with the gentle nudge that it couldn’t take another five years for her next book, which was Pretty Baby.

When she embarked on her third novel, Mary described how the characters “fought her.” She felt like an outsider looking in and didn’t seem to find a natural flow. Given the success of her first two books, this one didn’t feel worthy of following in the same footsteps and was giving her a good deal of angst. Much to her relief, Mary’s editor didn’t want to move forward with the draft so she set it aside. With a blank canvas, she quickly started writing again and that became Don’t You Cry. With a deadline looming and limited time, Mary described how she would get up at 4:30 am to write and instead of editing along the way, she just kept moving forward to advance the story. From the rave reviews, it sounds like it was a smart plan. Hearing her story was such an inspiration—to learn that she had a two-year wait to be discovered and just experienced putting an entire book aside to quickly write a new one. Amazing!

There is a great deal of tenacity and heart in that petite body of hers and I’m so thrilled to have had the chance to learn more about her and her journey as an author! Thanks to the Margaret Mitchell House for making this event happen and to Mary for stopping by Atlanta on her book tour!