Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Interview and Giveaway BirthMarked by Maria Violante


What inspired you to become an author?

I don’t think it really worked that way for me.  I mean, I’ve been an avid reader my whole life.  In school (and after), I was a pretty skilled writer, and I’ve always shown a real aptitude for languages--both native and foreign.  But there was never a moment where I sat down and said, “hey, I’m going to be an author.”

Instead, it happened more like this.  I was in a bad car accident in the middle of winter, an experience that left me pretty traumatized.  It also happened at a particularly bad time in my life, and I wound up becoming quite depressed and anxious and more or less unable to function with panic attacks and crying spells.  I quit my job and wound up crashing on a friend’s couch (okay, more like, in her guest room) while I tried to get on my feet.  

My friend doesn’t have the internet or cable, and both she and her husband worked an insane number of hours.  They were also way out in the country.  Eventually, I just got really, really bored.  At some point, I wrote a short story as a way of just occupying myself, about a girl that fell in love with her car.  After I shut my laptop that day, I felt a deeper sense of peace than I had in a long time.  I wound up doing it the next day, and the next after that, just adding and adding and not really sure where this whole thing was going.  And suddenly, I had a novel, a really terrible, awful novel that will never see the light of day.  

But writing got me back on my feet.  It helped me get through my fear and depression (although I sometimes slip there) and back out into the real world, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Everything I write is in the realm of speculative fiction (stuff that ain’t real) and most of it blends several different genres together--romance, horror, fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction.  For example, the first thing I wrote that was published professionally was a kidnapping-rollicking adventure-western set in 1869 . . . but with werewolf shifters . . . that fall in love.  BirthMarked, my most recent work, is an Urban Fantasy quest story, but with a female truck driver as the protagonist, and with strong romantic threads.

Sometimes I really wish I could just write something normal.  :S

Do you write in different genres? 

Yes.

If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

I love science fiction.  I find that my voice really comes out there.  At the same time, though, there’s a smaller market for it than many other types of fiction.

Dark fantasy, like in the De la Roca Chronicles, comes pretty naturally to me.

I’ve got to say though, that urban fantasy is the most fun.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

You know, if you read a lot of Urban Fantasy, there are a lot of really strong, perfect female characters--assassins that are both smoking hot and brutally smart, with perfect marksmanship.  They also never need to sleep and generally have men falling all over them.  

I wanted Charlie to be different--actually, in a lot of ways, I wanted her to be like me, like an average woman--someone I could really root for.  She’s chubby, stubborn, often confused--but also good-hearted, fairly smart, and more adaptable and flexible than she gives herself credit for.  More than anything else, she wants to find out who she is and what she’s about, and she needs to discover both her spine and her bliss.

Actually, I’m pretty close to finishing the draft of the second book in the series, and I’ll tell you--Charlie just blows me away.  *Spoiler* For example, there is a section where the two male leads are fighting over her, and she’s really confused, and I thought, aw, this is Twilight, isn’t it--and then on the very next page, her voice just leaped up and surprised the crap out of me.  She tells both of them, in no uncertain terms, that she wasn’t choosing either one of them, and that she had more important things to worry about than a spat between two boys that wanted to bone her--and if they wanted to spend any more time in her company, they’d better get with the program.  I mean, she really makes your root for her.  *End spoiler.*

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

I spent several months on a semi-truck (a misguided romance that I still don’t regret) and I just loved it.  The rhythm of the day, the rocking of the cab, the roar and clatter of the engine--there are times when I wake up and really just miss it.  

Jeff Malone was a real person, one that was kind to me from the moment I stepped off of the running board and into an Ontario truckstop where he was having a vegetarian egg sandwich.  He died behind the steering wheel days after I returned home, and it was a real blow for me.  I wound up writing the story more or less to honor his memory.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I’m working on the sequel to BirthMarked, obviously--and then the book that follows that.  ^^  So I think it will wind up a trilogy, but heck, I never know.  I’ve also just recently had a flash of a character, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, with an extremely curious and scientific mind, but in a fantasy setting that’s terrified of magic and witchcraft.  Her story is really speaking to me and I’ll probably tackle her next.  

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’d have to say Philip Pullman is pretty amazing, because he writes books that speak to the same individual over a span of years.  As a kid, you’re like, oh, magic polar bears!  And then as a teenager, you’re like, angst and growing up!  And then finally you’re an adult, and the examination of theology hits you pretty hard.  I doubt any of my work works on that many levels.


Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

It really depends on the book.  For Gambler’s Luck, I did so much research I built a mini-library of western-related stuff.  I emailed railroad historians and consulted old maps and just generally drove myself and everyone around me insane.  For BirthMarked, I lived on a truck.  The De la Roca chronicles involved a fair amount of research into mythology and guns and you know what?  Yes, I tend to research.


Who designed the cover of your latest book?

James Caldwell does most of the covers for Taliesin Publishing, along with Georgia Woods.  They really do a magnificent job, don’t they?

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I’ve written eight books now, seven that have found their way into publication one way or another (not counting novelettes and short stories), and there are a few constants that hold true day in and day out.

1.) Writing books, more than anything, is about ritual.  It’s having a time of day, everyday, where you sit down and add a little bit more.  If you can do that, you can be a novelist.

2.) Thinking is not writing.  Neither is plotting, although plotting is good.  Writing is writing.

3.) If something really stymies you, go write something else.  It’s okay, don’t feel guilty or like you’re giving up.  Sometimes things resolve themselves when you’re not looking at them.

4.) Get a good editor.  If you can’t, submit to a bunch of small houses until one rejects you with comments.  (Large houses never give you comments.)  Read those comments.  They are the best thing that has ever happened to you as a writer.

5.) Learn your craft.  The world is choking with wanna-be writers, but ninety percent of them are too lazy to learn the basics of grammar and sentence composition.  Of those, another ninety percent can’t sit down and make that time every day for a book.  And of those, another ninety percent don’t ever bother to learn the basics of plot, characterization, theme, or structure.  It’s not hard.  You just have to do it.  

6.)  Write more books.  Your first book will suck.  Your second a little less.  Some people believe in honing the first book into a masterpiece; I don’t.  I honestly believe that a person who has written ten books will write a better book than a person who was written one, no matter how long that one spends, unless that ten-book person was checked out mentally the whole dang time.

7.)  Writing is faith.  It’s complete and total faith in yourself, in your ability to finish this monster of a story, to edit it, to bounce back when it’s rejected and write another one, until you eventually write something good.  So few things in our life require us to have that kind of faith in ourselves, but there is a benefit that you may not realize, a brass ring to grab--if you can do it, if you can make it through the novel and to the next one, your whole life will change.  You will see yourself differently, as someone more capable, more accomplished.  You will understand better how little changes accumulate into big ones, and then the tasks in front of you that seemed so impossible magically break down into gradual parts.  

Don’t get me wrong.  There are hard days.  There are days when you cry, when you give up, when nothing works and everything sucks.  Write through them to the days when the words magically arrange themselves on paper, and back and forth again, until you understand that everything besides the effort itself is temporary.  That it doesn’t matter if you had a good writing day or a bad one, that the point is that you had a writing day at all, and that is a victory, because with enough of those back to back, the book will be done, come hell or high water.

Wow . . . I think I went a little nuts with that last question.






BirthMarked
The Markers, Book 1
Maria Violante

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Taliesin Publishing

Date of Publication:  10/03/2013

ISBN: 978-1-62916-008-5
ASIN:

Word Count:  ~60,000


BN     Omnilit

Book Description:

Charlie Kale knows life isn't easy. But for the first time, this truck driver might have finally found her little piece of happiness. She's got it all—her big rig, friends, a great mentor, and a man about to join her on the road.

That is, until the good things in Charlie's life all fall apart, and she finds herself at the mercy of a sexy but mysterious gunman who claims to be a member of a secret order dedicated to fighting the supernatural monsters that filter over into our world.

She's given a choice—join up or die, and while the gunman might be insane, Charlie’s hell-bent on not dying.

Too bad it looks like that might not be an option.

About the Author:

Well-traveled and uncoordinated, Maria Violante is the best-selling author of several books in the realm of speculative fiction--all of them crossovers that require hyphens in the genre description (see:
gladiator-dystopia-rom-sci-fi, shifter-western-historical, or gunslinger-mercenary-urban fantasy.)

She enjoys a well-roasted coffee, Bell's Winter White Ale, and lives in Michigan with her Chihuahua, Beau, also known as “Piggy Wiggy”.


@violanteauthor




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