Marilyn attended schools overseas, in Seoul Korea, 1946-47 and Linz, Austria (1949-1952) and various schools stateside. From this background, she has crafted her autobiographical Once a Brat, relating her travels with her army officer father from her birth in 1938 to his retirement in 1958.Her first novel, Sabbath’s Room, was published in 2001, and her most recent work, Diagnosis: Lupus: The Intimate Journal of a Lupus Patient was released in December, 2005 by Publish America. She has taught creative writing at Tarrant County College, Fort Worth TX and survived numerous book signings and speaking engagements. She is co-facilitator for the Fort Worth Lupus Support Group, North Texas Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America and advisor to the Board of Directors. When not writing or editing emerging writers’ manuscripts, she enjoys searching for former classmates and true to her Brat heritage, she has a suitcase packed under the bed, ready to travel at a moment’s notice.
I was fortunate enough to interview Marilyn recently and would like to post the content of our e-mail exchange here. If you have any further questions or comments, you can reach Marilyn Celeste Morris directly at (817) 246-2639 or by email: marilyncmorris at sign sbcglobal.net. See also http://www.freewebs.com/graceworksproductions/ for excerpts of all three books. Her publications may be purchased by calling the publisher at 877-333-7422, from the website at http://www.publishamerica.com/; http://www.amazon.com/ or your local bookstore can order for you. AND You can read an excerpt of Once a Brat here.
INTERVIEW WITH MARILYN CELESTE MORRIS
SIGRID: What was it like for you as a child growing up in war-torn countries like Austria and Korea? I understand that you had to keep a suitcase packed under the bed so as to be ready to evacuate if necessary. Wasn’t that frightening?
MARILYN: I would say maybe a bit apprehensive. When we were in Korea, we were aware that the Russians were above the 38th parallel, not far from Seoul, and it was commonly assumed that at some point, they would try to invade South Korea. Which they did, on June 25, 1950. We had left Korea by that time, and my dad was stationed in Linz Austria, but we were on a family vacation in Paris on that very day. What concerned us at that time was the possibility of war breaking out in Europe, too, and there we were…I may have been too confident in my assumption that if anything were likely to happen, the army would take care of us.
SIGRID: Was it difficult for you as a teenager being an Army brat? Most teens need to individuate and separate themselves from their parents; they want to rebel or act out in some fashion. There would have been serious consequences for you if you had done that.
MARILYN: Fortunately, by the time I reached high school age, we were back in the States and I was able to complete all three high school years in one school, Lawton, OK. As for trying to rebel, I just couldn’t do that; therefore, I was somewhat of a goody-two shoe who never acted out. (I saved that until my second divorce, lol!)
SIGRID: You've said that your life of moving from place to place has resulted in the ability to simply walk away from jobs, marriages or relationships without looking back. That must have been a helpful mechanism for you when you were young but has it put a damper in your adult life?
MARILYN: Yes, it was a helpful mechanism as I was growing up. I learned not to get too attached to a person or a place, so my relationships were superficial. Unfortunately, I carried that into my adult life and marriages, until I realized I was repeating that pattern. I did, however, enjoy my work as a “temp” in many job assignments, knowing I would be there only for a certain amount of time and I didn’t have to take any work-related problems home with me at the end of the day.
SIGRID: What do you think of the armed services today and the mixed feelings that people have about the Iraqi war? Unlike Vietnam, this time around the people who disagree with us being there seem to be much more able to separate their respect for the troops from their disapproval of the war.
MARILYN: The armed services today are completely different from when my dad was on active duty. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I might point out, however, that during WWII, we had a draft, and our young men came through. With today’s culture, I kind of cringe when I hear people protest against the war in Iraq, and this can’t help our soldiers’ morale. My feeling is, you can be against the war in the Middle East, but please support the troops over there.
SIGRID: Do you have any advice for young people who are growing up as Army brats today? Words of wisdom, perhaps.
MARILYN: As with yesterday’s army being completely different from today’s armed forces, the children of the military are no doubt experiencing a much different life than I did. My daughter and I went to Europe about ten years ago and stayed with some friends in an army base in Germany. It was like a Little America, with all the conveniences of home. But I suspect these kids still have a struggle with being moved around so much, just as I did. My words of wisdom would be, “You are experiencing a life others can only imagine, and maybe some day you will come to appreciate your nomadic way of life. I did.”
SIGRID: Marilyn, you've given us a lot to think about. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. It was great having you here and I wish you the very best success with your book!