Meet the Author – M. J. Neary

Author M. J. Neary

[This is a golden oldie—it ran on Indies Unlimited back in October 2011.]

Meet award-winning historical essayist, multilingual arts & entertainment journalist, novelist, dramatist and poet, Marina Julia Neary.  She also serves as an editorial reviewer and steady contributor for Bewildering Stories magazine.

Marina has a passion for telling untold stories and for “illuminating the dark side of the moon.” She incorporates real historical figures into her narratives and works to give them psychological dimension.

“For instance, in one of my novels, Wynfield’s War (a sequel to Wynfield’s Kingdom, both published by Fireship Press), I show a dark, almost demonic side of Florence Nightingale, who is regarded as a saint by the medical community. Within each saint there is a demon – and vice-versa,” she says.

When writing her books, she envisions the storyline, but writes  various scenes and then assembles them into one big mosaic, rather than approaching them in a sequential order.

She finds her inspiration in the past, “. . . in the smell of obscure rare books that have been out of print for decades. That’s the ‘indie’ side of me, I suppose. I usually don’t read bestsellers and don’t watch blockbusters. I like to dig up lost treasures.”

Marina does not use beta readers per se, but does have other novelists look over her manuscripts primarily for the purpose of writing reviews and blurbs.  She says, “If something stuck out like a sore thumb, they would bring my attention to it. But I would not classify them as beta readers. I think of them as colleagues and friends, and I do mention them in my acknowledgements.”

In promoting and marketing her work, Marina relies on special interest publications. She says, “If you establish an amicable relationship with the editor of a publication that deals with the same subject matter, your work will be promoted to an appreciative readership.”

She works predominately with small press publishers and encourages aspiring authors to consider the small-press scene when shopping their work.  “Don’t automatically go for self-publishing just because you had no luck with the big houses. There are other options. There are many wonderful genre-specific or theme-specific small presses,” she says. Marina stresses that the key to working with small-press publishers is to do your homework to determine which publications would be the best match for your manuscript.

Marina says of writing in general, “You have good days and bad days. On some days you write 3K words of beautiful prose on one breath. And then you hit a writer’s block. On some days you’ll get 3 rejection letters at once. And the next day you’ll get that long-awaited contract offer. It’s a roller-coaster.”

Marina Neary’s fourth novel “Martyrs and Traitors: a Tale of 1916” was published by a small publishing house that specializes in transformative fiction – All Things That Matter Press.

She says, “My novel deals with the Easter Rising in Dublin. The protagonist is a discredited Irish patriot whose name has been buried for decades as result of De Valera’s propaganda. As the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising is approaching, there is a great deal of revising and speculating in the academic circles. Heroes and villains are reevaluated and redefined.”

She reports that the book has received fabulous reviews from other historical novelists, including the bestselling author Peter de Rosa, her lifelong idol. She  has also received a very encouraging review from Midwest Book Review.

Learn more about Marina on her excellent website and at

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10 thoughts on “Meet the Author – M. J. Neary”

  1. I like the idea of a dark side to Florence Nightingale.

    I like old, rare books, too – but there are some wonderful indie books on the right sidebar of this page.

    Good luck with your projects!

  2. I didn't see it the first time round either, so thank you. I've never considered the idea of a small press either. Would they also be listed in the Writers and Artist's Handbook? Does anyone know of a good website that lists them? I am UK based but would like my novel to be available abroad too.

  3. Thank you so much for reposting the interview. And I am truly flattered that readers have taken the time to comment. I have my thoughts on small presses, but it's nothing that hasn't been said before. There are so many sites discussing the pluses and minuses of small presses. The truth is, agents these days only want to work with those authors who don't need agents. It's a catch 22. Unless you write about lipstick-wearing tormented gay vampires, you are better off exploring small presses.

    1. Thanks for this added input M.J.,

      I'm a new fan, having navigated through your website.

      Two questions, please. Isn't it most often true that small presses don't welcome previously published submissions?

  4. Sorry, that post omitted the second question.

    What is the best means of contacting small presses that are the closest match for each niche that fits our books?

    Genres and sub-genres are multiplying like guppies, and few books fit into a single genre.

    Thanks so much for your time.

  5. Oh, honey, it depends on what you mean by "previously published material". If you mean that your book was self-published, most small presses will consider it on the condition of rebranding and repackaging. They will do their own editing, change the cover, change the title and then present it to the market as a brand-new book. Of course, not all small presses will do that. But I knew many authors who self-published first and then managed to sell their manuscripts to small presses. And not all small presses are equal. They have similar business models (POD and e-book hybrid), but some focus on one theme/topic and others are more open to various genres. You have to do your homework. I have my books published by two small presses, Fireship Press and All Things That Matter Press. Fireship is historical/nautical specifically, and ATTMP is not tied to any specific genre. Although, they do stress their preference for transformative fiction with a strong personal message. Hope that helps. Feel free to contact me if you are close to exploring small presses in earnest.

    1. Thank you so much for your response, Marina.

      Enjoyed listening to your BTRadio interview, and learning more about how your father provided so much grist for the mill.

      I will do more homework, then contact you through your website. I forwarded this interview and your website's link to two Irish authors I communicate with, politically astute men who kindled my interest in knowing more about Ireland's complex history and current socioeconomic climate.

  6. Marcia, you can contact me any time at I'd love to hear from you. As far as Irish history goes, I must say that my last book ruffled a few feathers. 1916 is a very controversial issue for many people. In "Martyrs" I did not portray the widely accepted heroes like Clarke and McDermott in a particularly positive light, so I've gotten some hate mail on Facebook. You gotta be prepared for that. I try being impartial and detached, but there will always be people who'll take offense to your message. It comes with the territory.

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