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Stories of All Endings: An Interview with Marianna Boncek, author of Diamond City

Boncek 1

I am an author, scholar, researcher, and budding Egyptologist living in New York’s Hudson’s Valley. Diamond City, my most recent novel, is published by Atmosphere Press. My two popular non-fiction books, Gone Missing in New York and The Spooky Hudson Valley, are published by Schiffer Books. My YA novel Ajar is published by Mélange Books. My poems have been published in a variety of journals and my poem Bittersweet won the 2021 Stephen DiBiase prize for poetry. I also am a playwright and two of my plays have been featured in the Hudson Valley Short Play Festival. Needless to say, I love to write. I have more degrees than necessary which makes me generally too educated to be employable, but I have been subversively teaching high school English for more years that my current students have been alive. I read and write Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs. I live with my partner Dave.

You can buy Diamond City here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I love writing and the writing process. That being said, I hate coming up with titles. I’m awful at it. That is what writing groups, friends, and family are for. However, Diamond City came early in the process and never changed. I think that is because at least, in part, I wanted to elevate the characters who were Diamonds.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

It took me ten years to write Diamond City and find a home for it. But the truth is, it just lived in my mind until it was a real book that I could hold. The cover is just beautiful and I have Ronaldo Alves from Atmosphere Press to thank for that. He really understood my book and my vision for it. My mother has dementia and lives in an assisted living. I’m not sure she will be able to read my book but she definitely was proud when I put the book in her hands.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. However, my mother was a writer and I think she made writing seem normal. What I mean by that is children learn by watching. I grew up watching my mother write. Writing was something people did. It was odd or unusual. Eudora Welty and Russell Banks really influenced the topics I write about and my style. Both are regional writers and both present life as it is, warts and all, reminding us that many stories do not have happy endings.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked as an insurance claims processor, ceramic supply customer service, medical billing clerk, medical records clerk, video store clerk (remember video stores?), waitress (that didn’t last long; I was horrible at it), deli clerk, gift shop owner, and adjunct college teacher. I was a high school English teacher for twenty-five years, too. During Covid, I discovered Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphs. I am halfway through an MA in Egyptology and hope to write a historical novel about Queen Hatshepsut.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The end of the process, where the writer starts to reflect on the book as a whole. Writers write in such isolation. But at the end, I realized I was never alone. There were so many people who were supportive and made it possible for my story come to fruition. It can be very humbling.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I just want people to enjoy the story. That’s it.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I have finished a novel which I am editing called Neither Here Nor There about two women who have near-death experiences only to find they have returned to the wrong body. I am also writing a book tentatively entitled AI, which is about aliens who come to earth and conquer us by taking over all our AI without us knowing.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

I am so pleased with how my book came out. Everyone at Atmosphere Press was extremely professional and honest. It is a tough industry and so many publishers tell you things they simply can’t or won’t deliver on. Not Atmosphere Press. Everyone was highly skilled, competent, and easy to work with. For other writers who want to publish and for whom the traditional way isn’t working, there is more than one way to get your book(s) to readers.

You can buy Diamond City here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.