Hard to believe sometimes, but there are other types of writing out there besides mystery novels. This week the Chicks share what we moonlight as when we’re not penning the crime-solving adventures of our beloved main characters.
I began my career as a playwright and supplemented my meager, artsy income as an entertainment journalist – meaning I knocked out celebrity-driven articles, mostly for women’s magazines like Redbook. Among my dodgy claims to freelance fame, I was the first writer to interview Ivana Trump when she returned to work at the Plaza Hotel following a month-long rest. (Translation: she got her first facelift.) She actually referred to her then-husband as “The Donald.” (I can think of other things to call him, but that’s for a different blog – or site!) Anyhoo, I burned out on the “theatuh” when yet another pay-free workshop of a play resulted in a lengthy critique session. I decided that if I was going to get notes someone should pay me to take them. So I moved to Los Angeles, found a great writing partner, and transitioned into TV. After years of writing for sitcoms, I’m currently on an animated series. There’s now every possibility that in one of my future mysteries a victim will die when an anvil falls on his head, followed by a loud “boooing!!” sound.
One version of my bio starts like this: “A professional writer her entire adult life, Marla has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku.” While the haiku part was a joke, I have written all sorts of things, for all sorts of people, under all sorts of circumstances. My day job? Advertising and marketing copywriting. I started at an ad agency, but now I freelance, which means tons of variety and, more importantly, flexibility. There’s a cliche about copywriters hiding their unfinished manuscript in their desk drawer, but since I’m a freelancer, I don’t have to hide it! Working from home lets me balance my work writing with my mystery writing and my occasional travel writing. (Yes, I also write travel guidebooks in my “spare” time.) So, sure, when it comes time to have fun, I could take up jogging or start using the piles and piles of craft materials that I’ve assembled, but instead what do I go and do? Write this blog, that’s what!
Oh, I spend plenty of time working on other manuscripts. They just aren’t mine. I’m a freelance book editor and I also used to write for hire for a bunch of kids’ book series (hello, Mary-Kate and Ashley–and Lizzie McGuire, I’m looking at you!). Lately I’ve been having way too much fun trying my hand at freelance back cover copy–for semi-steamy romances. Yep, the ones with the hot, shirtless firemen on the cover. I have to admit, though, my favorite genre to write (or read, for that matter) has always been mystery, hands down. Maybe it’s the tight and super-specific plot structure. Or the “puzzle” aspect. Or the whole quest-for-justice thing. I’m not adverse to a little romance thrown in every now and then, either. (Did I mention I used to edit at least three teen series with “Sweet” in the titles?)
You name it, I’ve written it. I’ve written entertainment articles for Vibe magazine, killed people for the CBS drama Cold Case, crafted technical documentation for an electronics company, and even churned out reports for a small Private Investigation firm. Not to mention the million group texts that I send to my friends on a daily basis. I’m currently a communications writer for a media company, which means I write a lot of press releases, internal announcements and blog posts. About the only thing I haven’t written is poetry. Based on my inability to rhyme, that is probably a good thing.
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