Posted on 02/10/2016 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Marion Cornett, like many novelists, got her start in print journalism.
In her case, though, that meant having national magazines publish her original patterns for knitting, crocheting, and needlework, and reporting on motorcycle racing.
Now, however, her claims to fame are all about Michigan’s past: two volumes on the history of her adopted town, Fowlerville, and a fiction trilogy that begins with Juniper and Anise — a based-on-real-life tale of a female bootlegger.
We recently chatted with Cornett about her own past and what lies ahead for her novels.
SADYE: How did you become so interested in Fowlerville history?
MARION: I'm a blogger and, when asked by the local newspaperman if I wanted to be a part of their operation, I started looking closer at the village. That meant taking "squint shots" of old buildings and the architecture, researching the history of those buildings and the downtown area, and focusing on the joys of small town living.
The more I researched through old newspapers on microfilm — since there were no books on the area — the more I realized the rich history of this area would be lost if not documented.
I started the blog in 2009, and by 2010 and 2012, I had self-published two tomes of history, including not just text but pictures, maps, sketches, aerial photo shots, and anything else I could find.
SADYE: How much of Juniper and Anise is based on the article you found while researching your local history books, and how much is artistic imagination?
MARION: As I put together the biography of G.L. Adams in Through the Eyes of a Country Editor, ... the Prohibition era and the Great Depression made my head spin with the possibilities of creating fictional stories taking place in a small town that looked a lot like Fowlerville at that time.
Juniper and Anise came to life when I happened upon an article of two rumrunners driving through town, leaking alcohol out of the trunk of their sedan. They had hidden away 100 quarts of hooch behind the back seats and in the trunk and, of course, in all of the jostling, bottles broke. The rumrunners were apprehended, and my story was born.
SADYE: What was the most surprising thing you learned during your research?
MARION: While researching the Prohibition era and the Great Depression, I spoke with a few old-timers in town. Some things hadn't changed from those long-ago days.
With a wink-wink and a lowered tone, I was informed there were stills and moonshiners in existence long after Prohibition ended in 1933. Some were still operational in the 1960s and 1970s.
I'm not sure I was totally surprised, but it at least validated that what I created in my stories may have really been true.
SADYE: Will your third book head to a different era of history?
MARION: Juniper and Anise has been on the market for just over a year, and my second novel has been contracted, and I'm hoping the publisher will be releasing it sometime this year.
My third novel in this trilogy of sorts (although I call them companion novels as each story is a complete read) has the main character leaving the village in the mid-1930s. Her adventure takes her eastward, encountering both good and bad, with a little bit of romance along the way.
It will be a bit of a departure from the first two stories, but I'm hoping readers will hang in there with me to see what happens.
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Categories: Author Interview