[Author Interview] Carol Marsh | Nowhere Else I Want to Be

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Carol D. Marsh

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Carol D. Marsh: I’m a 62-year-old woman living in Washington, DC with my wonderful husband. When not writing, I’m marketing my book and my online school, going to the Y for a work-out, knitting, reading, baking, or (a good bit of the time) managing chronic migraine pain.

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Marsh: I’ve written as long as I can remember. Small notes to my Mom, birthday poems for family members, the usual (bad) teenage poetry and essay attempts. My serious writing, meaning not for work or fund-raising, began in 2010, when I started my memoir.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Marsh: Nowhere Else I Want to Be: A Memoir was published in January 2017. It’s a work of literary nonfiction that got its big push at the Goucher College MFA program (2012-2014). And I’ve had a couple of essays published this summer, one in The Los Angeles Review, the other in Lunch Ticket.

Click here to get your copy!

ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Marsh: Its combination of creativity and intellect, and the way I feel while I’m writing and in the hour or so after I’m done. I also love the rewriting process – finding the right word or phrase, testing how the words feel in my mouth, getting to the precise point or meaning. It’s so rewarding.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Marsh: Getting past the inertia of anxiety and the feeling that I’m not actually a writer. Not, at least, in the way I assume other writers are. I have a sense I’m not good enough to express this emotion, or make that argument, or say this thing about something important. My journey as a writer has been, in part, about trusting my own voice.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Marsh: I write nonfiction and memoiristic essays, so my ideas come from my life, by way of my heart.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Marsh: My writing process is choppy because I have chronic migraine disease and am unable to establish a regular, daily practice. But I’ve learned to write when not in too much pain, and to let it go when in a lot of pain. I’ve had to ignore the common wisdom about writing for five hours a day, but I suspect most of us do. Who has the luxury of all that time? Certainly not parents, or the employed, or students, or … you get the message.

Because of that, my writing process never runs on momentum. I manage by fits and starts, and have had to learn not to let the fits keep me from starting. And then, having to start again. I’ve found if I accept my process’ choppy nature, I worry less about not having a regular practice, which gives me more energy to write when I can.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Marsh: I have to guard against the writing taking over because too often I seem to veer into the fanciful or the made-up. As though I’m writing how I want something to have been rather than how it was in reality. This is partly because writing a scene means getting to details – sound, smell, sight, etc. I end up questioning myself at the end of a writing session that has got away from me, wait, was the wind really blowing so hard that day? Or was that a different day? Did she actually say that in so many words?

At Goucher College, where I got my MFA, we were told not to make sh*t up. Honestly, that’s one thing for long-form journalism, and quite another for memoir. Not that writing memoir is an excuse to make sh*t up. It’s not. But we’re so often writing about something not researchable as fact. We rely on our memories or the memories of others. And memories are notoriously sketchy when it comes to reliability. So a memoirist needs to hone her integrity and closely monitor how she writes through inevitable memory gaps, working to not fill them in with sh*t. Plus, she takes advantage of research that can help with accuracy, such as public records, weather reports, home videos and photographs, and diaries or journals.

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Marsh: Oh, dear, that’s hard to say. If I have to choose, I’d say it’s not one part, but the scenes in which we’re together as a community. (My memoir is about ten of the years I worked and lived at Miriam’s House–a residence for Washington, DC’s homeless women with AIDS–as its Founding Executive Director). I tried to recreate the sounds and language and feel of our gatherings. They were fun to write and are fun, now, to read.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Marsh: I have a couple of essays in the works, and am started on a new full-length project that I’ll be mysterious about for now.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Marsh: Two places: 1) my website, http://www.caroldmarsh.com/; and my online school, http://forumatcaroldmarsh.com/ (Forum for Growth in Service — support and challenge for people who want to serve others authentically, compassionately, and effectively).

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Marsh: Thank you so much for this opportunity.

*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.

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Nowhere Else I’d Want to Be: A Memoir – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

Click here to get your copy!

Carol D. Marsh

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is Carol Marsh’s heart-wrenching memoir of her time living and working at Miriam’s House in Washington, D.C. She founded Miriam’s House in 1996, as a place for homeless women suffering with AIDS and addiction to receive the care, shelter, and safety that they so desperately needed. In providing for these women, who came from backgrounds incredibly different than her own, Carol had to learn to face her own shortcomings: privilege, discrimination, poor leadership skills, and an overwhelming, yet often denied, desire to be liked. In doing so, she, along with the staff and residents of Miriam’s House, transformed it into a safe haven for victims of AIDS and their families, saving dozens of lives in more ways than one. 

In terms of content, Nowhere Else I Want to Be is certainly not the easiest book to read. It is rife with tragedy, from abandonment to parental neglect, devastating illness to inevitable death. It weighs on the heartstrings in a manner that most books cannot achieve, largely because the stories Carol Marsh shares are all real. These “characters,” who often seem larger than life in some respects, existed once, and now, do not. It’s an awful feeling, to fall in love with each quirky, lovable woman as Carol did, only to be forced to face their eventual demise. However, the tender tone in which each woman is described is admirable and honorable, shining a spotlight of love and acceptance on an otherwise horrific life. It’s devastating, but profound, in all the best ways.  

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is not a book easily defined, as it balances perfectly the qualities of humor, love, sadness, disdain, and acceptance, combined into one spectacular memoir. Carol Marsh takes her readers on the same journey she once walked, alongside society’s forgotten as they struggle to better themselves, contribute to communities who continuously reject them, and just survive, at any cost. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy, but it is forever worth it. Nowhere Else I Want to Be is a treasure as much as it is a tragedy, if for nothing else, for Carol’s bold, dignified, and honest approach to a truth best not left forgotten.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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This Week’s Non-fiction Books of the Week!

This Week’s Featured Non-fiction Books

Carol D. Marsh founded, directed, and lived at Miriam’s House, a Washington, DC, residence for homeless women living with AIDS. In this powerful memoir, Marsh recalls how she came to confront issues far removed from her own experience: addiction, poverty, and the institutional racism that permeates our society on every level. From the humorous to the tragic, the mundane to the sublime, Marsh offers a gripping view into a world where the stakes are high and love is pushed to its limit.

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is the story of the inspiring women who transformed Marsh’s life. From Kimberly, who triumphs over a lifelong alcohol addiction, to Alyssa, who dies reaching out for the mother who abandoned her, Marsh witnesses the spectrum of human experience and the depth of the human spirit.

More books to check out…

You decide if they’re rock stars!


Project Domino Effect  by Vanessa Gowora

Are you stuck in a dead-end job that gives you absolute no satisfaction?

Do you want to let go of the limiting beliefs holding you back? Do you feel as though you have no idea what your purpose in life is?

What if you could learn the skills and strategies today that will drastically improve your life and the way you see the world?

Project Domino Effect takes you by the hand and shows you the necessary steps to take so you can achieve success and greatness.

This book will help you overcome fear, anxiety and help you to find out what your calling is. It will help put an end to limiting beliefs, low self-esteem and build up your confidence. No longer will you be too afraid to face your fears, achieve your dreams and build the life you want?

Improve Your Self-worth, Find Your Calling And Become a Better Version of Yourself.

  • Overcome limiting beliefs.
  • Learn to be more productive so you can have the life you want.
  • Find your self-worth.
  • Discover your calling.
  • Learn what makes people successful in life and how you can achieve the same results.
  • Learn how to overcome rejection and become more confident.
  • Learn from those who have achieved success using these methods.

Project Domino Effect will teach you how you can work on your goals so you can improve your life. It will also help you understand your potential, stop negative emotions from affecting your life and focus on self-love.

In this book…

  • You will learn what is holding you back and how to overcome it.
  • You will learn how to love yourself more.
  • You will build an amazing self-image.
  • Confidence in yourself and abilities will greatly be improved.
  • Create a circle of influence that will help you accomplish your goals.
  • Achieve fulfillment in your life and relationships.


 I Swear to Tell the Tooth by Dr. Carroll James

Quirky patients, one-of-a-kind employees, and farm animals set the stage for this humorous, tender, and sometimes irreverent saga of Dr. Carroll James’s dental practice. Headphone-clad patients bop in the dental chair while Dr. James tries to work on the moving target; a long-timer happily drops her pants to show off her latest surgical scar; and a lost cell phone drops out of a patient’s boxer shorts.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Working from his rural home office, Dr. James juggles family, patients, staff, and occasional livestock as he struggles to maintain his professional decorum. After thirty years of scatterbrained staff and distinct clientele, he often finds himself simply shaking his head with a laugh. Alongside the colorful assistants and hilarious antics, we learn just how challenging–and perilous–dental school can be, as well as witness the acquisition of a half-built farmette certain to take years to finish, a few errant horses, an intriguing trip to Russia with US-USSR Bridges for Peace, and poignant lessons that, when you’re not chuckling at the author’s childhood (and sometimes adult) mischief, are sure to touch your heart.


 Finding FabYOUlous by Melissa Venable

Does this sound like you? 

  • You work and work but never feel like you’re making any real progress toward your goals?
  • You know that you were created for more, but can’t for the life of you, figure out what that more is? 
  • You see other people living their dreams and wonder how the heck they got so lucky? 
  • You long to make an impact in the world but can’t seem to muster the energy or enthusiasm to get going? 
  • You feel stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find your way out? 

If any of these statements resonate with you, you have come to the right place at the right time.

Finding FabYOUlous: A “Self-Help with Sass” Guide to Finding, Celebrating and Capitalizing on the FabYOUlousness that Makes You, YOU, will take you on a journey to discover all of the unique and FabYOUlous gifts that you have to offer the world; and then guide you as you learn to cultivate, celebrate and capitalize on those gifts as you create the life of your dreams.

Finding FabYOUlous offers inspiration that goes far beyond just a motivational pep-talk. Each chapter of Finding FabYOUlous is chock full of actionable steps that (if taken) will guide the reader ever closer to the fullest expression of her unique and FabYOUlous purpose. PLUS–Finding FabYOUlous readers will enjoy exclusive access to a private website full of additional exercises and material to supplement what they are reading in the book. This elevates Finding FabYOUlous from just a book, to an EXPERIENCE. The practical wisdom, applicable action steps and gentle guidance provided throughout the pages of Finding FabYOUlous are sure to provide any woman with the tools and confidence she needs to “ditch the drab and find her FAB”. Additionally, the personal stories from the author’s own experience of battling a debilitating Anorexia Nervosa diagnosis and escaping from a dangerously toxic marriage, will provide the inspiration to show that no one is ever “too far gone” to get back on track, find her FabYOUlous, and live an amazing, purpose filled life.


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2017 ATAI Book Award Contest Finalists Announced

2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

Finalists Announced!




Jorie and The Magic Stones – A.H. Richards

Cub’s Wish – Angie Flores

Weeds in Nana’s Garden – Kathryn Harrison


Honorable Mention

The Tail of Max the Mindless Dog – Florenza Denise Lee

Diesel the Body Guard – Cindy Shirley

Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas – Sojourner McConnell

The Magic Pen: Cindy’s Castle Adventure – Erin Childs

General Fiction


Pyre – Eric Hull & C. M. Stultz

Like Ashes We Scatter – Bradon Nave

Broken Branches – Brenda Spalding


Honorable Mention

Splintered Reflections – Laura Kelly

The Everett File – Steven A. Moore



Strain in Resistance – Michelle Bryan

The Muse: A Novel of Unrelenting – Arjay Lewis

Chrysallis and Clan – Jae Mazer



Lineage – JN Sheats

A Tightening Noose – B.K. Berrell

The Darkness of Water – Matthew Neighbours



The Grand Gypsy – Ottavio Canestrelli with Ottavio Gesmundo

Nowhere Else I Want to Be: Memoir – Carol D. Marsh

Classics: Why and how we can encourage children to read them – Fiza Pathan


Honorable Mention

How Mommy Got Her Groove Back – Rebecca Undem

Damn Mind – Jacqui Letran

American Justice on Trial – Lisa Pearlman



The Baby Chronicles – Beatrice Bruno

Elicit My Heart – Shauna Pendleton

Purgatorium – J H Carnathan



What It Takes – Sonya Loveday

Rosemary for Remembrance – Nikki Broadwell

Everything She Needed – Christina Butrum



Pulse: Book One of the Zoya Chronicles – Kate Sander

The Korpes File – JI Rogers

Through the Hostage – JC Steel



The Darkness of Water – Matthew Neighbours

The Wolves Within our Walls – L.E. Flinders

Thicker Than Blood – James Sumner

Young Adult


The Rite of Wands – Mackenzie Flohr

The Good Citizen – Joel Döty

The Water Kingdom – Deborah Gray


Honorable Mention

The Kingdom of Oceana – Mitchell Charles

Splintered Reflections – Laura Kelly

Veronica and the Volcano – Geoffrey Cook

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Authors Talk About It

The winners have been chosen for the Oct./Nov. 2017 Book Cover Contest! The votes have been tallied and the best book covers have been decided. Click here to check out who won! Congrats, everyone! Happy writing! -Authors Talk About It   Authors Talk About It 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest Winners Announced!   Finalists and Winners: Children Third Place: Jorie […]

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