For Marie Hefley: An Appreciation

by Elizabeth Lutyens, Editor in Chief

from Editors Elizabeth Lutyens and Julie Abbott

Marie Hefley interviewing Robert Beatty

Marie Hefley interviews best-selling author Robert Beatty in his Asheville study.

Marie Hefley, who has just retired from her position as Managing Editor of this publication, was a long-time member of the Great Smokies Writing Program and is a graduate of the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program at UNC Asheville. She worked as part of our editorial team for ten years. As Managing Editor, she was the proverbial wearer of many hats, everything from line-editing submissions to querying authors to checking the estates of dead poets for permission to quote.

Hatless, but with pen and recording device in hand, Marie took on the task of conducting and writing an author profile for each issue. We hope you will sample Marie’s talents as a journalist and interviewer in The Great Smokies Review Archives. Go there to read her profiles of Tommy Hays, Wiley Cash, Robert Beatty, David Ebershoff, Denise Kiernan, and Frances Mayes, to name a few. She has also been published in The Forest Companion and Smoky Mountain Living.

Her style and method, and the background she brought to the job, were the subjects of a 2016 Home Page piece titled “Interviewing the Interviewer.” From the start, Marie had her own approach: “I want to ask smart questions in a simple way that will get the subject to talk.” She painstakingly prepared for each interview, reading the subject’s writing, researching their biographies, listing her topics, but the secret, she said, was coming up with “the just-right question to get them started.” It didn’t hurt that she asked that question and all others with her trademark effervescence. She never failed to find that hook, or to charm.