Mary Ford is the author of Boy at the Crossroads: From Teenage Runaway to Class President. Boy at the Crossroads: From Teenage Runaway to Class President is a true story that is a coming of age adventure about Conley Ford. In addition, the novel explores overcoming adversity, vividly painted recollections, and stories of resilience. YEM was able to speak with Mary about writing a true story, an author that inspires her, as well as advice she has for other authors.
Young Entertainment Mag: When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
Mary Ford: As a young girl, I had pen pals and the UK as well as Germany. I was a prolific letter writer, so I was probably destined to become an author at some point. I started my journalism career at 35 and kept at it for 35 years, leaving me little time to write outside of my work. Once I retired, I started on my first novel.
YEM: Did you know that you wanted “Boy at the Crossroads: From Teenage Runaway to Class President” to be your first book?
Mary: Yes, I thought from the time I first met my future husband that his story had to be told one day. We’d been married 48 years when the book was published! He has an amazing story and the reporter in me knew it should be shared.
YEM: What did you learn from writing “Boy at the Crossroads: From Teenage Runaway to Class President”?
Mary: The main thing I had to learn was how to transition from reporting to “authoring.” It wasn’t easy but once it clicked, I was on my way.
YEM: What was the experience like writing a true story?
Mary: Someone said “you should always write about what you know.” Writing about my husband’s youth was challenging but very doable in that I knew his story so well.
YEM: What made you want to write a true story?
Mary: As a journalist I had the knack for recognizing what the story was—my “news judgement” helped me be successful. I knew my husband’s story was very different (running away at thirteen, etc.) and I wanted to share it.
YEM: Do you want to write a fiction book in the future?
Mary: Yes, I am working on my second novel which should be published in the spring. Again, it is inspired by a true event but, in this case, all the characters and story are fiction.
YEM: How much was your husband involved in the process, with it being his story?
Mary: Conley was on board from the beginning. He loves attention! I had him make tape recordings of his memories, starting about 25 years ago, when he went to Tennessee to see family. I transcribed those tapes and then went over the details and chronology with him.
YEM: Who is an author that inspires you?
Mary: I don’t have a particular author other than being inspired by them all! It takes a lot of determination and even, courage to put yourself out there and write a book. I have been inspired by the budding authors that I have met through Meet-ups and classes, especially their generosity of time in critiquing each other’s work. I have made a host of new friends through this process.
YEM: Do you have any advice for those who want to be authors as well?
Mary: The best advice I have is to listen to critiques and make necessary changes. Sometimes, you have to have a thick skin (which I developed as a journalist). I find that some would-be authors take suggestions personally and are not open to making changes that would, in the end, improve their writing!
YEM: How long did it take you to write “Boy at the Crossroads: From Teenage Runaway to Class President”?
Mary: It took about two years. I buckled down once I retired from my 40-60 hours a week job and had the time (and the need for a project)!
YEM: What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Mary: I have received so many great reviews on Amazon, etc. for “Boy at the Crossroads.”. I have found that while it is a “coming of age” story that older people love it because it takes them back to their youth, a very different time. I think it is also inspiring for a young person who may have made some bad decisions to realize they can turn their life around. It’s a very easy read! My most recent review makes me laugh:
I read this book in a day when I meant to be doing other things. Held my attention so strongly that I got nothing else done that day. A glimpse into an unfamiliar world.
YEM: Are you working on any other books at this moment?
Mary: Yes, I am working on a love story whose backdrop is a true event. I am really enjoying developing the story.