Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Author Interview: Maria Hammarblad
Born in Sweden in the early 1970's, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, "The Sun Book." They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother's horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.
As an adult Maria's creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.
Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I usually start with a pretty good idea of what should happen, but it never turns out like that. I write the beginning and the end, and the middle never becomes what I thought it would be.
All the time. I joke about having a bunch of imaginary people living in my head, and they often wake me up in the middle of the night to pitch ideas. Sometimes the intended couple hates each other, the heroine falls for the wrong man, and the bad guy wants to be good… It’s chaos in my brain, hahaha.
What is your favourite food?
I love Thai food. Unfortunately my husband hates it so we don’t have it often. I let my characters feast instead. Also, I can’t live without coffee. Without caffeine I’d slow to a crawl.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I hate getting out of bed, but once I’m up I work much better in the mornings. I like to potter about at night, but I’m not particularly productive at that time. I guess my body is a night owl but my mind an early bird, that’s not good, LOL! Hmm, maybe I ended up in the wrong body when I was born?
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I want to go to Siberia. That sounds really strange to a lot of people, but I have a mental image of a stunningly beautiful landscape and I want to go see what’s it like in real life. I also want to go back to Italy; I’ve been in northern Italy once and absolutely loved it.
Yes… I mostly write science fiction romance, but also some contemporary novels, and in these I usually send the characters travelling. I’m Swedish originally and have been around a lot of Europe before I moved to the US in 2008. I think the culture-mix seeps through in my writing. I also like to send my characters to more exotic places, where I haven’t been. I use it as an excuse to do research and stare at photos on my computer for hours.
Do you listen to music while writing?
If I’m alone I like to have the room quiet. This rarely happens, and I use noise-cancelling headphones with music to silence the world around me. It’s hard to write to the sound of Family Guy on TV!
My latest release was a self-published science fiction romance balancing on the edge of being a spoof. It’s called Embarkment 2577 and is a series of novellas about a girl ending up on a spaceship in the future. At least the first book shouldn’t be taken too seriously; I giggled when I wrote it. Most readers understand it’s written tongue-in-cheek when the heroine encounters a hologram of a rock star, but others don’t share my sense of humour and write angry e-mails. Some people seem to really love it, and others hate it.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
I have learned so much. As a few examples… When I started writing, I thought editing was mainly about spelling and getting the punctuation right. Now I know that’s the little part. I used to think getting published was the major hoop to jump through. Now I know marketing is the real needle eye. I have learned so much about style, voice, and point of view, and I’m still learning. The most important lesson for me has been to learn to network. Getting to know other authors, finding support, and learning from each other is invaluable. As with any profession, it takes time and practice.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I don’t know… I am who am I today because of past mistakes and every day is a learning experience. I mean, if I’d known everything I do today three years ago I would have done things differently, but I might say the same thing in another three years. LOL!
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
Christy Elkins and Gail R. Delaney. The former is a great author and a good friend who gently pushes me in the right direction. Every time I’m stuck, I turn to Christy. If I think my ideas suck or I can’t find the word that’s just right, I ask Christy.
Gail is… fantastic. She’s a writer, editor, and publisher, and she has taught me more than I can give her credit for if I type all day.
Keep writing! Try to get into a habit of writing every day, even if you don’t feel like it. It doesn’t have to be relevant to your current project, but write something.
It’s easy to give up, or to think the day isn’t right, the setting isn’t right, the coffee isn’t hot enough, or the sun is coming in wrong through the window. There’s always an excuse not to write, but just thinking about writing won’t make a book.
What are three words that describe you?
Optimistic, friendly, and talkative.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
My favourite book right now is Parallel by Christy Elkins. It is about a girl who dies and sees other versions of herself live out their lives. It’s thought provoking, and heart wrenching at times.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
My next book is called Flashback and will be published by Desert Breeze Publishing on June 21st.
Steve Petersen is a Very Troubled Man. Sole survivor of a Taliban POW camp he often thinks only parts of him returned; his sanity appears to have been left behind. He seeks solace in alcohol and drugs, but nothing helps block the images from his mind for more than minutes at a time, and he is trapped in horrifying flashbacks.
He is more than surprised when he wakes up in a bright and merry bedroom that turns out to belong to the widow Anna, a woman he has rudimentary memories of meeting. Knowing he should leave isn’t the same as doing it, and before he knows what’s happening, he finds himself pulled into a world with real life problems, such as folding laundry, and what’s for dinner.
Whiskey is no longer his first priority, and not being alone in his waking nightmare is a relief. That is, until Anna disappears. Steve finds himself forced to return to Afghanistan, a place where he’ll have to face both external enemies and himself.
List of previous books if any
Courage and Retribution – a Kidnapped prequel
Embarkment 2577 (Brand New World, High Gravity, and Adam & Eve)
The Goddess’s Saga
Upcoming in 2013:
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.