Thursday, May 20, 2021

Marilyn Kriete Interview - Paradise Road: A Memoir

Photo Content from Marilyn Kriete

After a colorful life spanning four continents and 16 cities, earning her keep as cook, chambermaid, waitress, fisherwoman, missionary, speaker/teacher, tutor, and academic writing editor, MARILYN KRIETE now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, with her charitable husband Henry and three demanding cats. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Lyric, Storyteller, The Eastern Iowa Review, The English Bay Review, and Brevity Blog. PARADISE ROAD is her debut memoir.


Greatest thing you learned at school?
Greatest thing I learned at school was how to read! Once I started, I never stopped. Books have been my constant companions ever since, and I can’t let a day go by without reading. A lot. When I meet people who don’t read, I feel so sad for them!

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is how we make sense of our lives. Listening to others’ stories teaches empathy—or should!-- and broadens our horizons. We are made to tell and share stories!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My book has been out for three weeks at the time I’m writing this. The most wonderful return so far has been reading the great reviews and hearing how much readers relate and connect to my story, even if the outward details were very different.

Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is that I’m just getting started on my Author’s Journey. It’s taken many years to get here, and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead. I have three more memoirs slated for publication over the next few years, and I can’t wait to ‘birth’ all of them.

Can you tell us when you started PARADISE ROAD: A MEMOIR, how that came about?
I knew for decades that I’d write Paradise Road, though I didn’t have a title or know when life would present me with the time and space to write. The actual writing happened about four years ago. It took about a year to write it, counting revisions. Then the querying began…that part took much longer.

  • 1. I wrote the whole memoir without any notes, journals, letters, or diaries from my past. I worried I wouldn’t be able to remember enough, but once I began writing, the memories—so full of emotion—came flooding back.
  • 2. The cover photo is the only color picture I have from those years of cycling. My husband found it among some old papers and documents after I finished writing; it was a single slide. The only other photos I had, all black and white, were used on the back cover.
  • 3. My working titles kept changing as I wrote: Runaway, The Girl Who Loved Too Much, DIY for the Newly-Bereaved, Silky Green Parachute, and others I’ve forgotten. Paradise Road came later. I like it because the syllables match with my name!
  • 4. Apart from a few word choice changes and typos, my editor changed nothing about the manuscript I submitted.
  • 5. My publisher and I have known of each other, and had friends in common, for over 30 years. But we have yet to meet in person.
  • 6. I came across the memoir, Wild, when it was first released, and thought it might be similar to the book I planned to write—someday. Both were stories about solo journeys after losing a loved one. I was dying to read it, but didn’t let myself until my own book was written. Turns out the stories were quite different!
  • 7. I changed only two names in the memoir, to protect the not-so-innocent. And only three of my immediate family members chose to read my manuscript before it was published. I guess they trusted me…
  • 8. I queried many agents and publishers before Paradise Road got accepted, more than I care to remember. To keep from getting discouraged, I wrote two more memoirs while I was waiting.
  • 9. My mother developed Alzheimer’s around the time I began writing, which made is SO much easier to think about publishing my version of our relationship. She died last year.
  • 10. The follow-up to Paradise Road, titled The Box Must be Empty, picks up my story 20 years later—but it’s intimately connected to the events in Paradise Road.
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want readers to get swept into the story and feel like they’re right beside me. And that’s one of the comments I keep hearing from readers—they can picture what I’m seeing, and feel what I’m feeling. I love books that do this for me. On a deeper level, I hope they’ll be moved by the answers I stumble upon by the end of my journey, and that my journey will make them think about their own search for love and belonging, and where they’ve placed their hope.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Once I started writing, there were no distractions: the story wanted out! Before that, I wasn’t so much distracted from writing as I was chronically over-stretched and over-busy. I spent many years in the fulltime ministry, moving all over the world, along with raising a family, and we kept an insane schedule seven days a week. I longed to write, but there was literally no space in my life to do it. Once I had time, I needed to put in my ‘practice writing’ before I attempted a book. So that took a few years, too.

This is really hard to do!
  • 1. The Bible
  • 2. A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • 3. Angela’s Ashes
  • 4. A Fine Balance
  • 5. The Poisonwood Bible
  • 6. The Blind Assassin
  • 7. Anything by Bill Bryson
  • 8. We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • 9. 26A—a little-known novel by Diana Evans
  • 10. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven – a mind-blowing memoir
Best date you've ever had?
I had a lot of boyfriends (as you’ll read in my memoir) but I was also a hippie, so we didn’t really ‘date’. But when I met my husband, our first date was watching a performance of The Nutcracker, with a long winter walk and coffee and baklava afterwards. That was pretty special! He even got his hair cut and bought a new pair of shoes for the occasion.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper? 
Last letter on paper? That’s a tough question! I used to write letters often, especially when we lived abroad and couldn’t afford phone calls. Now I still send long letters, by email, when the mood strikes me. But I can’t remember the last long letter I posted to anyone. I do regularly mail books to my elderly father—does that count?

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home? 
I should have a lot of answers for this one, since I work as a house cleaner and go into lots of strangers’ homes. I can tell stories about dirty dwellings that would make your hair curl! But the answer that first came to mind isn’t about a ‘thing’ in a home, but an event. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we were invited to dinner by two young Jamaican men—Rastafarians, who also happened to be identical twins. My husband had met them downtown in Toronto, where he was sharing his faith. When we got there, the men kept smoking joint after joint, offering to share (we declined), and talking, talking, talking. After two or three hours, they thanked us for coming and said goodnight. They were so stoned, they forgot all about dinner! I don’t think we even got a drink of water.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I’m not fearful person by nature—you’ll see that in my memoir—but I’ve been scared by health events in my kid’s lives. My son got malaria right after we moved to Africa, and he’d just turned one. That was scary. My daughter once fell through a skylight on someone’s rooftop terrace—she was about nine, and we were downstairs, waiting for dinner. She fell over 12 feet and landed in between the hard marble countertop and the toilet. She was knocked out and broke her foot, but it could have been so much worse! Our hosts felt terrible, as you can imagine—he’d been meaning to put a barrier around the skylight, but hadn’t gotten around to it.

If you could live in any period in history, where would it be and why?
As a Christian, I’d love to have been part of the first century church, to have met the apostles and watched the gospel spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire. Even more amazing would have been to meet Jesus, of course!

First Heartbreak?
All my early heartbreaks are explored in Paradise Road—you’ll have to read it to find out!

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
The biggest life-changing incident, by far, would be my conversion. It changed everything. After that would be adopting both my children. Parenthood changes our priorities, and brings out layers of unconditional love we never knew before—I think most parents experience that, or I hope they do.

A restless child of the 1960s, Marilyn yearns for love, hippiedom, and escape from her mother’s control. At 14, she runs nearly a thousand miles away to Vancouver, British Columbia, eventually landing herself in a Catholic home for troubled girls. At 16, she’s emancipated, navigating adulthood without a high school diploma, and craving a soulmate. When she falls in love with Jack, the grad student living next door, life finally seems perfect. The two embark on a cross-continental bicycle trip, headed for South America, but before they reach Mexico, tragedy strikes. Utterly shattered, Marilyn does the hardest thing she can imagine: a solo bicycle trip, part tribute, part life test. She conquers her fears but goes wildly off course, chasing her heart as she falls into a series of tragicomic rebounds. Two itinerant years later, a chain of events in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains leads to a peace she never expected to find.

Reminiscent of Wild and Travelling with Ghosts, Marilyn’s journey portrays a life unmoored by grief, brought to shore again. Paradise Road was selected as the International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club’s International Book of the Month for March 2021.

You can purchase Paradise Road: A Memoir at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. "Who is the fourth person on your missed calls?" I don't use those weird newfangled talkie-talk machines!

  2. Some robo call from the east coast area code.

  3. 800 spam call was my last intentionally missed call.

  4. My fourth missed call says “scam likely.”

  5. My fourth missed call was a spam call from Missouri area code.

  6. The fourth missed call was a number that I did not recognize, so I did not answer it.