Marilyn Bishop Shaw’s writing is largely influenced by her family heritage and travel experiences. These two influences have given her a wide range of interests, as well, which often find themselves woven into her writing. Her friends often say they hear her as they read. Strangers ask how she comes up with her ideas and twists and turns in the story lines. She usually responds, “I hear voices . . .“ Maybe we can find her somewhere between the familiar and the mystical!
A fifth generation native Floridian, Marilyn’s paternal ancestors settled in Jefferson County in the early 1830s. Her husband Bob’s family settled in Alachua County in the mid1860s. Both families enjoy deep traditions of storytelling and family lore about which there can sometimes be great debate! Those are where her roots of storyteller and pride in family and place are found.
After graduation from Newberry High School she earned B.S. and M.S. Degrees in English Education from Florida State University and an EdS. Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida. Her professional life was spent teaching all manner of language arts courses in grades six through twelve in Gadsden, Pinellas, Lafayette, and Alachua Counties. Having taught English, creative writing, speech, debate, classical humanities, mass media, TV production, reading, drama, and even geography Shaw explains, “I learned to be flexible!”
Marilyn developed a love for travel early on when family vacations usually were to historical places that offered fun along with the history. Throughout college and early teaching she enjoyed visiting friends who lived in places she’d not seen. Before such opportunities were available at every university, Marilyn completed the last hours of literature study for her master’s degree in an Oxford University summer program. Those six weeks changed her life. Those experiences galvanized her undergraduate humanities minor and infected her with a permanent travel bug. She continues to shepherd groups to Europe every odd year and enjoys sharing travel adventures to new and experienced travelers.
“Everything we experience on these trips – history, geography, religion, sites, sounds, cuisine, arts, architecture, music, and crazy adventures of the travelers — add to the research base.” Lest we get too caught up in the exotic nature of European classics, Marilyn is just as passionate about her rural roots as she and Bob grow gardens year around, freeze and can food, follow the calendar by the habits of their wild turkeys and deer, and spend time with local family and friends. She’s also active in her church, particularly the music program. She sees herself as a rather odd blend of Homestead and Highclere.
An avid reader throughout her 36 year teaching career, Marilyn wasn’t driven to write until well into adulthood – almost middle age. “I think I had to live life significantly before I had much to write about or maybe I’m just a late bloomer,” she explains. Now she says she has all sorts of stories swirling in her head that may never make it to paper. Finally, as settled into retirement as possible, she has begun to feel more productive. “I’m not a fast writer, but I do hope to launch new titles with some regularity.”