Welcome to Marilyn Celeste Morris and her new book "Once a Brat". I am privilaged to be hosting her book tour on mumswritings blog and wish her all the best in promoting and sales of her book. The following is my interview with Marilyn.
Marilyn, What influenced you to write a book about your life as a military "Brat"?
It was kind of by chance that I met the president of the board of the American Overseas Schools Historical Society at a convention in 1999. About 3,000 military brats were all together at DFW airport for a reunion we never thought we would have. As I am --- ahem -- older, he suggested that since I was one of the first military brats to be deployed overseas with the Occupation after WWII, that was something unique and the AOSHS archives would like me to write about my experiences so historians and researchers could find out about that time in our nation's history -- from a child's perspective. And, as our WWII veterans are dying at the rate of 1,000 per day, so, too are their children aging and losing a vast storehouse of artifacts from our nation's history. So I wrote about my experiences, sent the manuscript and got a reply from Dr. Drysdale, saying, "You really need to get this published." So I did.
Was your life as a military child mostly happy, especially having to move every so many years and making new friends?
I had mixed feelings about my nomadic life. On one hand, I was encouraged by my parents to treasure these experiences, as many children my age had never left their hometown, and by age 10 I had traveled the globe. Not all of it was fun, but neither was it traumatic, except when I left Austria where I had lived an enchanted life at a crucial time in my life (pre-teen) and I cried loud and long as we departed. My mother tried to comfort me saying, "You'll make new friends." And I countered, "But I want these friends." Of course, I always made new friends wherever I went.
What are some of the'good' things about living with a father in the military?
One of the "good" things was that I was a firsthand witness to history in the making. I grew up with respect for my elders and obedience without question.
What are some of the 'bad' things?
LOL! The same as above. As a firsthand witness to history, I sometimes had to do without my father's presence, either because he was on maneuvers or he had left for a duty station far ahead of us. And although I respected my father, and was obedient, I found that as an adult, I have difficulty asking questions. My father was strict, but not punitive. His word was law in our house.
Do you have a good memory of all the countries in which you lived?
My mother taught me that there would be something good about each place we lived in, and she was correct. I learned about the cultures of Korea and Austria, and for the most part, my memories are good ones. Maybe I have chosen to blot out the "bad" memories, but if I did, the good ones still prevail. It was difficult, however, to find something good about Killeen, Texas (Fort Hood) after we had returned from beautiful Austria.
Have you returned to many of these countires, going down 'memory lane'?
Yes. In 1995, my daughter in CA called me and told me she was taking me on a trip to Europe. She said, "I've heard you talking about Austria all my life, and we're gonna go see it." I was so thrilled! We flew to Frankfurt, and I remembered my first visit there, landing at the airport and seeing rubble from the war still lying in the streets. It's now a sleek new city. We went to Kaiserslautern to stay with friends of hers who were stationed there, and I was astounded to find myself in a Little America, far different from the way we had lived so long ago in Austria. We toured a few spots in Germany, then went to Austria, where I found the house that we had lived in and it hadn't changed a bit. The Danube River still flowed behind it and the Spanish Guard Tower was still there on the hillside, where I used to pretend I was a princess trapped in a castle tower. The school building was the same, except a small tree in the front had grown to gigantic proportions in the intervening years.
We also went to Paris, where I had visited in 1950, and on the train, I visited with a German lady and I think she understood my broken German, which pleased me to no end. I would love to go again. And again. I'm so homesick!
Marilyn's Biography and how to reach her.
Born a Military Brat, 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.
Marilyn Celeste Morris may be reached at (817)246-2639 or by email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a speaking engagement or arrange for editing services. 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.