We're happy to spotlight novelist Marion Surles and her books focused on children growing up in poverty across the United States' Southern border. Marion is a frequent Southern Christian Writers Conference participant who attends the annual workshop and book expos on a regular basis.
Marion grew up and lived in Mississippi for almost fifty years until her family moved to Texas twelve years ago. She is married with two daughters and a granddaughter, and enjoys horseback trail riding, camping, and kayaking.
I recently had the chance to talk to Marion about her writing and faith, as well as her passion for literacy and missions.
Tell me about your published books.
I have self-published with Amazon two short Christian novels based on the lives of
[these] children.. The first book, Grit in Juarez, follows two different families in their struggles to survive the extreme conditions of Juarez. The second book, Araceli’s Path, is a coming of age story of the mother from the first book. The sales of my books help support Love and Literacy, a mission in Juarez, Mexico that encourages reading and staying in school. The books are available in paperback, in Kindle format, and in Spanish.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have two projects I am working on now. One will be the sequel to complete a
trilogy of this series. The children grow up and follow their dreams, some crossing
the border and some staying home to make things better there. The second project is a
middle grade fiction chapter book about a boy running away from home. Boys are
harder to entice to read. I hope the adventures of this character will encourage boys to
I do not write full-time as I travel often to Juarez to bring more books and supplies to
the children I work with there. I’ve also made a connection with the local school
principal and bring books and supplies for the school. I am always happy to receive
donations of books in Spanish for my mission Love and Literacy.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
My mother always encouraged us to read. We went to the library often, chased down the bookmobile, and often received books for Christmas and birthdays. She always read to us, and on our camping vacations she would select a special chapter book to read from each night. Plus, we always saw her reading and wanted to copy her. She was a homemaker, later a teacher, and even later an author and genealogist. She gathered old family letters and published two books, My Darling Daughters which contains letters from her four-greats grandfather to his daughters far away at school, and a compilation of my daddy’s letters, My Marine Memories of World War II. But I never considered writing until my mission friend Jay Nutt suggested it. He enjoyed writing and encouraged me to write and tell stories of the people we worked with. Sometimes I feel like an impostor when other writers say they have been writing all their lives.
What are your ultimate writing goals?
I hope I am writing what God is asking me to write. I hope I am opening a tiny window
into a very different world, helping us all to appreciate the blessings we have and to be
more generous with those blessings.
How does faith fit into your writing?
I used to go on team mission trips. Afterwards we would give a report to our support
churches. There were statistics of how many immunizations given, how many houses
built, or how many souls saved, maybe a slide show, and a few funny stories of gaffes
by fellow teammates.
In Texas, I met a volunteer who enjoyed writing and helping in a more individual
way. He encouraged me to write and tell stories of the people we worked with. I hope
my books make our mission report more personable and easier for those who cannot
“be there” to feel as if they are there. I want my readers to understand the material
and spiritual needs across our Southern border. I hope my stories strengthen the
reader’s faith and encourage him or her to use the blessings we have been given to
give a hand up to someone else. We cannot all go, but we can all serve and learn from
each other. These people who have their faith tested daily are the real heroes of life.
They truly rely on God for their daily bread. We have so much to learn from them.
Do you work in another job, or do you write full time?
I am a retired schoolteacher. I volunteer teach English as a Second Language and help students with immigration paperwork and other life issues. I travel to Juarez every other month to bring books in Spanish and offer children’s activities that encourage reading.
On my long drives I do some writing in my head. Most of my real writing is done at night
on my porch.
Learn more about Marion's books on Amazon: LINK HERE
Check out Love and Literacy for MORE INFORMATION