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Kolyn Marshall is an actor, author and lecturer. The past 20 years Kolyn has made southwest Missouri is home, having earned a BSME degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Kolyn’s love for the mid-west can be found in his writings, especially his book Back to Justice. In recent years Kolyn has expanded his writing to include various screenplays and pilots. Kolyn currently lives southwest Missouri with his two daughters.

Interview Published by Page ONE Literary Newsletter Website

PageOneLit: When did you first become interested in writing?

Kolyn Marshall: I don’t remember when exactly. Writing has always been something I enjoyed. The first thing I remember writing was a short story for one of my grade school classes. We had to write and illustrate a story of our own creation. I was hooked from then on.

 PageOneLit: What inspires you to write?

Kolyn Marshall: Life. I enjoy looking at life from a different viewpoint. Science Fiction has always played an important part in what I’ve read or watched. It has the unique advantage of not being tied to the limitations of the real world. Good science fiction has the ability to do both – stretch the boundaries while still playing by the rules. I like taking a topic or a thought and twisting it. Sometimes I learn a little bit about myself along the way.

PageOneLit: Who and/or what have been you biggest influences and why?

Kolyn Marshall: Tough one. I’m not really sure. I would have to say from a literary stand point it would be Michael Crichton, Stephen King and James Patterson to name a few. These are truly master story tellers in their own way. Michael has a great ability to take fact and make a great fictional story out of it. You feel as if you are learning as you go. Stephen simply takes you away to a world only he knows and wants to share. James is short and to the point. He creates great word pictures.

And then you have the countless Start Trek novels that are out there.

These are the people who have influence my writing.

PageOneLit: “Back To Justice.” Tell us about this piece of work.

Kolyn Marshall: Another tough one. I find it hard to talk about my own work, as odd as that may sound. Back to Justice originally started out as a short story and grew from there. The piece began mainly from a simple concept of how I wanted the story to end. I had this idea for a cool “twist”, something I think would be new and original. From there it grew, changed and grew some more. A friend of mine at the time read it and made a few suggestions that seemed to fit and I ran with it. When that was finished it told a story, but it had no depth, so I let it sit for a while.

My senior year in college I took a writing course. One of the things the instructor said was something like “there is no such thing as fiction”. Basically what she was saying is that it is impossible to write a completely fictional tale. Somewhere in there is a nugget or two of truth. That may be something simple like a place, or a car you had, or a persona you knew someone possessed. Something had to be real. If it wasn’t, then how could you describe it? That went along with the theory of ”you write what you know”.

So, I went back and re-wrote the story. I thought about the characters and I pulled traits from people I knew – their strengths and weaknesses. One character may actually compose traits from three or four people. As I did this they suddenly became real, believable. I wrote them as if I cared about them, which in a way I now did.

At the same time I dug into my own life and pulled out events that had happened to me. Things that are personal and close. I used these to help define some of the characters. We all have those moments in life we look back on later and wonder “what if”. I now had the opportunity to see “what if”. I was amazed at how the characters came to life.

I did the same thing with the setting. Originally the story took place in California . A place I thought to be interesting, but I had never really spent time there. It became quite evident I had no idea what I was describing. In later re-writes I moved the setting closer to home, back to Missouri and to locations I knew. Now the places I talk about are places and things that can actually be seen. Take a drive and there it is.

In the process of all of these re-writes I decided to take a page from Michael Crichton and throw in some historical fact. I researched the history of the area and discovered some very interesting things. I took bits of that history and mixed it in. This helped make the events and settings more real, more interesting.

From there it was a matter of mixing it all together.

There are things in this piece that are true. Histories that are real. Events that actually took place. Some of them are nationally known while some are personal. I think, because of that, this piece will always be special.

PageOneLit: What inspired you to write “Back To Justice?”

Kolyn Marshall: I don’t remember. I do know the nugget came from the movie Tombstone with Kurt Russell. I wanted to write a western, but I wanted a western with a sci-fi twist. So, I came up with the twist and crafted the body of the story around that. From there, the focus changed as I went through the various re-writes, but the core element remained the same.

It really is hard to say now what my initial impetus was. The final version of the story is greatly different from the original.

PageOneLit: Tell us about the character Sara Mackenzie James. How did you create Sara? What was your inspiration for her?

Kolyn Marshall: I don’t know if there really was a single inspiration for her. Back to Justice is unique in the sense that there are two protagonists (Sara and Jake) and one antagonist (McFarlon). Sara became Jake’s missing piece and vice versa. Those two, and really all three of them, are key elements to the story. It’s hard to really describe the process that went into this.

PageOneLit: In “Back To Justice,” you cleverly mix history of the Midwest with fiction. Are you a “history buff?” Did it come naturally to meld history and fiction?

Kolyn Marshall: I am not a history buff, not really. I had to do a lot of research into the history of the areas and people to get things to come across well. I used history to help create a more believable reality. I wanted the reader to be pulled into the story. Using historical facts helped create that “reality”.

One of the goals I had was I wanted the reader to wonder what was a bit of real history and what was made up, fictional. If they had to wonder then I succeeded in drawing them in. If they could tell the difference then the illusion would be broken. The one comment I get is about the town of Justice . People want to know was it real? Did it exist? When I hear that I know I was successful.

PageOneLit: Are you a daily disciplined writer? When writing “Back To Justice” did you find it difficult to stick to your schedule? Do you have certain tricks you use so that you don’t stray from your writing?

Kolyn Marshall: I used to be. I remember spending 30 minutes a day just writing. It didn’t have to be on anything specific as long as I wrote. It took me almost 10 years to get Back to Justice into print. It went through several re-writes before I came to a version I liked. During that process life got a little busy – family grew, job grew, etc. I am now trying to get back to the routine.

Part of this is process includes joining a writing group. They are great. They help you by providing feed back to things you are working on and they provide a little pressure to keep the keys on the keyboard moving.

I think the most important thing is to keep a journal. Don’t let the ideas slip past. Write them down. Even if it’s a word or two that will help you remember the concept. There are days that I see something and go “that would be a great addition to a story”. Write it down. If you don’t you’ll forget. I used to carry a pocket notepad for just those reasons. It helps. It’s one of those things I need to start doing again.

I have also started writing character/event/location histories. This is usually a journal about things in the story. What is the overall outline, what events do I want to include, what facts are there, what characters are there. I have even went as far as writing biographies on the characters. Nothing but character details. Where were they born, when did they get their first bike, those sort of things. Most of that will never be seen in the final story, but it helps to define their character. Bobby, for example, may have had a bike stolen when he was ten and it affected him greatly. This may come across in the story as the reason why he became a cop. Those sort of things help to maintain the focus.

PageOneLit: Have you ever suffered writer’s block? How do you overcome it?

Kolyn Marshall: Sometimes daily. I find myself writing pages just to go back and delete them and start over. Writer’s block is a nasty thing. But, when you finally break through it is usually well worth the wait. Things have to click and writer’s block is a defense mechanism that keeps us from royally messing things up. Our subconscious knows we’re on the wrong track.

The best way to over come it is to move past it. Highlight the area in the story so you don’t forget where it is, skip a few lines and pick up where you want the story to get to. Sometimes the block is something simple like how to get a character from point A to C. Well, don’t dwell on B, move on to C. What happens is that you end up writing something that can be used earlier, something that can be used to define the missing link. Your subconscious mind fills in the gaps before you do.

PageOneLit: What has been the reader reaction to “Back To Justice?”

Kolyn Marshall: They have all liked it. One reviewer from the Lebanon Daily Record wrote: “I enjoyed this book more than anything I have read recently. It was captivating, spine-tingling and kept me glued to every page.”

Everyone I meet at book signings say they really enjoyed the book and the fact that they can relate to the places I describe.

One of the most common comments I get is when will it be a movie. I’ve been told it has that feel. We can only hope.

 PageOneLit: Are there any new projects your working on? Will there be another book?

Kolyn Marshall: Yes and yes. I have outlined four new novels and are currently working on two of them. They are all different. I don’t want to get caught in a book series right now. I want to get a few original ideas finished first.

 PageOneLit: Who are your favorite authors, and why do they inspire you?

Kolyn Marshall: This was sort-of answered above, but the main ones are Michael Crichton, Stephen King and James Patterson. They have unique styles that pull the reader into the story. Stephen King wrote once that the only way to learn to write is to read. I think that is key. You are exposed to various styles and techniques and ideas. I try to read as many different authors as I can, but I usually find myself coming back to the core group.

PageOneLit: When you’re not working, what are your favorite ways to relax?

Kolyn Marshall: Reading , watching good sci-fi, movies, XBox and spending sunny Saturday afternoons with my kids in the park.

PageOneLit: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?

Kolyn Marshall: I truly enjoyed writing Back to Justice and I think this is a story that works on several levels. I hope those who ready this story find it as interesting as I did when I wrote it.

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