Recently noted about my current novel, “Dearest is dramatic, insightful fiction written with comedic flair.” It warms my heart to know that readers are embracing the lovable, eccentric characters, as well as the deeper life story. I have always wanted folks to come away from my work with a sentence or paragraph or chapter that in some way brings them home. Dearest is the story of Dr. Amelia Payne, the daughter of a clown and mime. And although she refuses to identify with that world, magicians, puppeteers, carnival performers, and a wayward clown continue to make unsolicited appearances in her life.
While Amelia’s story does not reflect my real life, being a member of the Marshall family has been influential in expanding my horizons. I’ve had exposure to many interesting sides of humanity. My late father-in-law, Jay Marshall, was a well-known magician. He was Dean of the Society of American Magicians and proprietor of Magic Inc., the oldest continuously operated family-owned magic shop in the country.
Excerpt from Dearest - The write-up of Amelia’s parents’ wedding in Clowning Around magazine.
MAIZE MARRIES MIME
On August 7th, Maize wasn’t clowning, at least not during the ten minute ceremony that made her the wife of a well-known creator of mime and magic. Although no one actually heard him say I-Do, the marriage of Maize the Clown to Jonah the Mime was sanctified by magistrate and sleight-of-hand magician Samuel L. Diggers. Maize, aka Mae Roberta Dooley, and Jonah Wallace Payne met in 1936 at a magic convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. At the time, both were gaining recognition as top-of-the-line professionals in the world of mirth and magic. Maize had been a featured clown in several Hollywood movies and Jonah, whose uncle was the Dean of American Magicians, was gaining recognition for inventing mystifying magic tricks. Today, Maize specializes in upscale children’s parties, and Jonah is a mime. Both are heavily involved in running Payne’s Magic Shop and Supply.
The wedding reception, held in the small theater behind Diggers House of Magic, hosted a colorful array of mimes, magicians, clowns, and comedians. As a tribute to the couple, and relishing an opportunity to ham it up, many of the guests offered entertaining toasts. The Rollo Brothers juggling duo tossed pink and blue Indian clubs back and forth while singing Mercer & Whiting’s “too Marvelous for Words.” Eight tuxedo-clad mimes used their wiry bodies to spell Good Luck. Clarence, a three-hundred-pound clown/bodybuilder, anointed the couple with water from a seltzer bottle, hoisted Maize under his left arm, Jonah under his right and danced them around the room while honking the kazoo held between his teeth. And the Amazing Arlo got oohs and aahs from the wedding guests for his unique wallaby-out-of-the-hat trick. But the best tribute of the day came from the bride herself. “He doesn’t say much, but he’s good with his hands,” said Maize of her new husband.