Western Travel Writing Life

Mara Purl Visits During Her Virtual Tour

Milford-Haven Books
Milford-Haven Books

Mara Purl has spent the month of August on a virtual book tour to promote her recent work on her Milford-Haven novel series. Her piece entitled, When Hummers Dream, is currently available as an e-book for 99 cents from Amazon.com. Her novel, What the Heart Knows, will be published in hardcover next month in September by BelleKeep Books in association with Midpoint Trade Books. If you just caught up with Mara’s virtual travels, or her work is new to you, Mara is a talented award-winning author/actress/musician who divides her time between her Los Angeles and Colorado Springs homes. You might know her for her role in the TV show, Days Of Our Lives, or playing a Japanese stringed instrument, the koto, on stage, or her series of novels. I have enjoyed many encounters with Mara through mutual involvement in Women Writing the West, and I have benefited from her valuable advice and warm friendship when our paths cross. Her insights about writing and the West are the result of solid experience and a passion for her craft. She will share some of those perspectives here in a series of three posts during the next three days.

PLEASE NOTE: As a thank you for your visit today, Mara would like to offer her new short-story “When Hummers Dream.” Her charming story, which has become a best-seller in the Kindle store, is a prequel to her upcoming novel “What the Heart Knows.” You may download it for your Kindle from amazon.com for free until September 1. But in case you don’t have a Kindle, you may still download it for free from Mara’s publisher! Visit www.BellekeepBooks.com/Bonus, then enter the password BKbonus. Enjoy!

I proudly present to you Mara Purl’s thoughts on writing.

Joyce & Mara
Joyce & Mara at UCLA 2009

THE INTERVIEW — Segment #1 —

You have a wide and varied background in the arts. You’ve been an actress on TV and otherwise, a musical performer at Lincoln Center, and you’ve learned the tango in South America! Tell us a little more about all that, other interesting endeavors, and how you became a writer.

Though I was born in the States—in New Haven, near Milford (more on that later)—I grew up in Tokyo, Japan and attended a school with students from forty countries. There’s no question this experience had a profound impact on me. For example, my favorite film is “Rashomon” not only because it’s a classic but because the story is presented from multiple points of view. I now write a novel-series told from the perspective of multiple characters.

Back in my school days, I was walking across the campus one day and was called into the Principal’s office. Worried about what I must’ve done wrong, I was surprised to learn I’d actually been scouted by NHK-TV, the national network. I auditioned and landed the part in a drama-series called “Teach Me English.” From then on for the next few years, twice a week I performed in this show, playing the part of a young girl who lived in Japan with her American family. I had to have the script memorized letter-perfect, because students were following along in workbooks at home. So it was both a drama and a teaching program.

The legacy of growing up in Japan, and also in a family of actors (my dad also grew up in the theatre, and attended Yale Drama School; my mom was a ballerina and performed on Broadway and in film; my sister became a well-known actress)—for me, lead to two specific things in my adult professional life. One is being a story-teller and performer comfortable with media like television, radio and theatre; the other is that I learned to play the classical Japanese harp, called the koto. Though this has never been the central focus of my career, it continues to be a golden thread that has woven its way through many years. I’ve recorded several CDs and have performed at Lincoln Center intermittently for thirty years.

Meanwhile, the writing has always been the focus in one form or another. I was a professional journalist for several years, and loved it. I was on staff in the New York bureau of the Financial Times of London, another multi-national experience. I worked on special assignment for the Associated Press, and freelanced for Rolling Stone and many other publications.

Much as I loved that chapter of my career, I felt compelled to return to creative writing and to performing, so I left New York and headed to Los Angeles, where I plunged into a challenging and wonderful time of acting on stage and television, and writing screenplays and teleplays. I felt excited, and very clear this was where I was supposed to be, and what I was meant to be doing. I think that sense of intuition is a very key part of being an artist.