Maryann Martinsen grew up the third of six children in Salt Lake City, surrounded by dozens of animals, many of them, rescues. But unlike Hannah, the main character in Beyond the Savanna, Martinsen had no lions. There were, however, dogs, cats, ferrets, turtles, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, fish, newts, ducks, frogs, brine shrimp, and even the occasional cat-face spider.
Writing came in waves for Martinsen, and, at times, that writing rescued her. She grew up going to parochial school, wearing a uniform, and unaware of the distinction between haves and have-nots. As she hit seventh grade, her parents divorced, and she landed in public school, where she wore hand-me-downs, instead of fashionable new clothes. Soon after, she fell into a group of kids who cut school, smoked, and got into trouble. That is, until a creative writing teacher took her under her wing, inviting her to join the high school’s literary magazine. Winning an award a decade ago with Writer’s Digest Writing Competition helped fuel Martinsen’s aspirations.
But, the next wave of writing had to wait awhile. She married, settling in near the Wasatch Mountains. She and her husband had a boy and two girls, and her writing was mostly in her children’s baby books. The family was home to nearly thirty pets, including seven dogs, four ferrets, three cats, six chickens, and an array of hamsters, rats, and fish.
Martinsen later took writing classes in the local community college and online. She also participated in writing groups. Her stories appeared in a national magazine and the Salt Lake Tribune.
Then came the cancer diagnosis. Two days before Christmas in 2010, Martinsen’s doctor told her she had breast cancer. It was then that Martinsen decided to get her priorities straight and finish Beyond the Savanna, in and around the radiation and the doctor visits. It took her fifteen years to write the novel. Martinsen also beat the cancer.
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Maryann Martinsen’s novel has a timely message, born of her desire to draw attention to the brutal poaching of lions, elephants and other majestic animals, whose numbers are dwindling. We appreciate your assistance promoting Maryann and Beyond the Savanna.