My latest book is my memoir, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker. I take my readers for a hilarious romp through my days in an exclusive L.A. matchmaking agency and my daily struggles to keep my self-esteem from imploding in a town where looks are everything and money talks. From juggling the demands my out-of-touch clients and trying my best to meet the capricious demands of an insensitive boss to the ups and downs of my own marriage with a Latin husband who doesn’t think that I’m “domestic” enough, I write about the universal struggles that all women face in their lives.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in a suburb of Seattle, Washington. Growing up I had dreams of being a writer, an actress, a ventriloquist or the fastest tap dancer in the world. Hey, I’m a Gemini, what can I say? I moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and got an agent. I started doing TV commercials and also working in restaurants at night to pay the bills. In 2001 I ended up getting a part time job at a video dating service, I was burned out waiting on tables, so I tried something new. That job led me to an upscale Beverly Hills matchmaking service, and my career as matchmaker extraordinaire was born. I got the idea for a dating advice book and wrote Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate Is Waiting, which was published in 2008. Then in 2009 Good Date, Bad Date was released, and now I am writing memoirs.
What inspired you to write this book?
People are always fascinated about my job as a matchmaker, I am always a hit at any party. I also love the memoir and chick lit genre, so I decided to go for it and write my own memoir.
How did you choose the title?
I really did wrack my brain for some time trying to come up with a fabulous title. I finally settled on what the book basically is, a diary of my life as a matchmaker.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I was very lucky, my publisher wanted the book before it was even written.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
My parents introduced me to books at a very early age. I have always been a bookworm. In grade school I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories. My favorite author was Beverly Cleary. I wrote her a letter, telling her that I wanted to be a writer just like her. Gradually I pushed the idea of writing to the back of my mind and concentrated on acting. In my twenties I remember having the desire to write again, but I lacked the confidence. Back then in the 80’s there were no computers, I had an old typewriter and didn’t where to put the punctuation etc. I felt completely lost, so I gave up. Then a few years ago I had the idea for the dating book and I took the plunge. I discovered that I am a good writer and that editors can clean up the punctuation etc. My job was to get the ideas and information on the page.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I wouldn’t say that I have any writing rituals, but I do like to write propped up with pillows in bed with a nice cup of tea. I have a MacBook Air, only 3 pounds, so I can take it anywhere and write.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
In my memoir I used real names and I changed a lot of names for privacy reasons as well.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned so much writing Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker because my first two books were how to, advice books. This time around I needed character development, conflict, interesting dialog, etc. It was an interesting journey and I am still learning.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I did the best I could and learned along the way. I don’t think that there was anything that I could have or should have done differently.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I read all types of books, I love chick lit, memoir, biography, self help, spiritual books and history. I love Indian authors, I will pretty much read anything to do with India or the middle east, I find it fascinating. Some of my favorite authors are Rohinton Mistry, J.K. Rowling, Jen Lancaster, Jane Green, David Sedaris, Khaled Hosseini and Firoozeh Dumas.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes! I am hard at work on the sequel to Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker. It is a book for our times, a story of my struggle to find myself and rewarding work in a recession. It is about values, change and triumph.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Besides writing, learn whatever you can about the publishing world and marketing. Writing a book probably the easiest part, getting it published and selling it are the most challenging. The competition is stiff, so write because you love it and because you want to create something wonderful and express yourself. It is not a way to get rich quick. There are lots of wonderful books that you can read to learn all about the business of writing.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
The perfect reader for my book is women of all ages who love a good memoir. If you are a fan of Helen Fielding, Jen Lancaster, Candace Bushnell, or Jennifer Weiner, you will love my book. I have to say that many of my male clients read it as well as my husbands mechanic and they all loved it, so anyone can get a laugh out of this comedy.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
My website is: www.marlamartenson.com