An Interview with Martha H. Fitzgerald: Author & Entrepreneur
Sylvia: Welcome Martha. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Martha: Thank you Sylvia. My name is Martha Holoubek Fitzgerald and I am an award-winning journalist of 27 years, serving the Shreveport Times as columnist and associate editorial page editor. I am also an independent editor, writer and publisher and native of Louisiana. I earned a B.A. in history and American studies from Loyola University-New Orleans and a master’s in history from Louisiana Tech University.
My husband and I enjoy living on a quiet country road in a bend of the Red River in Louisiana.
Sylvia: Intriguing! What inspired you to write your first book?
Martha: This book found me, as custodian of a personal legacy and historical treasure, and a veteran journalist embarking on a second career as independent editor, writer, and publisher.
Before his death in 2007, my father, co-founder of LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport, entrusted to me his personal papers. Among them: the nearly 800 letters he and my mother, both physicians, exchanged before their marriage in 1939. The Courtship of Two Doctors draws on that collection to celebrate long-lasting love and the healing profession.
The book began as father-daughter collaboration. We had the handwritten letters transcribed and began editing them together. He wrote the first draft of a prologue, describing how they met. When he died unexpectedly, at age 91, I felt his blessing to continue the project, to preserve my late mother’s story as much as his own. Women were scarce in medical school when she enrolled in 1934, but she was modest about her achievements then and later. Courtship illustrates the 1930s barriers challenging women professionals and two-career marriages.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Martha: Long-lasting love builds over time, beginning with trust and commitment. And lives of service begin with high ideals and perseverance. As one reviewer has written, Courtship is a “lesson from those who came before that great obstacle can be overcome and all will be worth it in the end.”
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I sometimes help aspiring authors find their voice or develop the confidence to express themselves. One client had a manner of writing that seemed formal and inconsistent with his casual speaking style. It turned out he had been writing in the style of a favorite author from childhood. Another had a nonfiction manuscript that lacked feeling. It came to life when he shared a tragic episode in his personal life.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Martha: It’s far too early to claim success, as the book’s release date is this week. But we seem to have built up a demand through blogs and Facebook. I share photos, excerpts from the letters, and relevant bits of news. The author and publisher websites were totally revised. They are now a Word press format that is easily updated with breaking news and other blog items.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Martha: It’s an inspiring look at the birth of a marriage and a lifetime of service. With “Courtship,” I hope to provide a new role model for young people who may be discouraged by high divorce rates and the freewheeling sexuality celebrated by popular culture. Romance is all the sweeter when it represents fidelity and draws on deep wells of faith.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Martha: At the flat-screen computer in my home office. I seldom write in longhand. After 27 years in the newspaper business, I find it natural to think as I type.
I remodeled the space three years ago, and it’s a pleasing mix of oak furnishings, books, family photos, and high-tech gadgets. Love my wireless printer, keyboard, and mouse!
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Martha: Nothing new this year. I am finishing a four-year Bible Institute through the University of Dallas School of Ministry that involves a great deal of writing and research. And I’m looking forward to a trip to the Holy Land next year.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD?
Martha: Dance! That word lifts the spirits. It makes one smile, fills the heart with joy and laughter. That may be why I enjoy zumba so much!
Sylvia: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview with me today. How can my readers contact you?
Martha: You are welcome. My contact is below.