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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Author Interview: Maria Hammarblad





About the Author:

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 novels, Maria writes screenplays and has won several awards. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I often come up with an idea for the beginning and the end, and write those. Then, I think I have a plan for everything that happens in between, but it changes as a write.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

All the time. Some are cooperative, but most are feisty. Some don’t like each other even though they’re supposed to, some don’t like what I have planned for them, and some wake me up in the middle of the night with great ideas for their story. Imaginary people can be quite lively, haha!

What is your favourite food?

I don’t eat mammals and I prefer completely vegetarian food. I don’t know if I have a favourite food – it kinda changes. Does coffee count as food? If it does, I’ll go with coffee. Caffeine is good for you. Well, maybe not, but it helps.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Left to my own devices I’m a night owl. My dogs don’t like that schedule, so they make sure I get up fairly early every morning. My youngest dog jumps into bed and pokes me with his little paw until I wake up. It’s so cute I can’t get mad with him.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I want to go to Siberia. In the summertime, not in winter… I’ve seen so many travel documentaries from Siberia and it seems so beautiful and different.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Absolutely. In my contemporary books, the characters usually travel. Not always voluntarily… In Undercover they go to Russia, Italy, and Mexico. In my upcoming novel Flashback parts of the story takes place in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I wish I could go to all these places and see them for myself, but since that often isn’t possible, I research the best I can through travel journals and photos.

In Undercover, the heroine ends up in a city far up north in Russia called Severodvinsk. I picked it randomly because I liked the name, and once I started reading about it, it was perfect. I found a blog from a girl who grew up there, and she said the city was closed for decades because of their navy base and its research. Inhabitants were not allowed to leave, and no one could visit. Tickles my imagination. I’d love to go see what it really looks like.

Do you listen to music while writing?

Usually, yes. My husband loves to watch TV. He watches sitcoms and Family Guy, and I can’t concentrate to that auditory background. I plop on my headphones and drown it out. Right now I’m on a 80s nostalgia kick and for the past couple of months I’ve been listening to Erasure, Communards, and bands like that.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

I have a new release coming up soon: June 21. It’s called Flashback, and I’m really excited about this book. It is about a war veteran who was a prisoner of war in the Middle East. He was tortured, and even though he was physically rescued he suffers horrible flashbacks of pain and violence. As much as he tries, he can’t re-adapt to everyday life.

He meets a girl, and against better judgment, he attempts to make this new relationship work. Unfortunately, the war isn’t quite done with him, and it will be a bumpy ride.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

I have learned so much. When I started out, I self published a couple of books. Back then I thought they were pretty good. Now I know they weren’t ready at all. I used to think editing was about checking spelling, skipped words, and making sure all commas were in the right places. Now I know a good copy editor is priceless. My editor makes my thoughts seem coherent, she helps my text get the right flow and pacing, and I couldn’t do it without her. When this year is over I will have published twelve books, and I still learn more about writing every day.

Is there anything you would do differently?

If I could restart with the knowledge I have today, absolutely. Unfortunately, if I went back in time to do it all again I’d probably end up with the same knowledge I had back then, and blunder into the very same mistakes. Today, I write in a much more active voice, I’m much more careful with my point of view, and I have learned to delete many unnecessary words and phrases.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

My editors and my writer friends. The list could go on and on, but to mention a few: Christy Elkins, Gail Delaney, Carolyn Boyles, Patty Froese, Lynette Endicott… They’re all great writers, and have taught me different portions of the craft. I am particularly grateful to Christy Elkins, because she inspires me to keep working and to keep doing it better every time.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Hang in there and keep writing. Technology today gives writers many great opportunities that weren’t available just a few years ago. If you’re serious about writing, look up a few author groups on Facebook and make friends. This is a great way to find people who know the ups and downs of the industry, who can give good advice, help find beta readers, and so on.

What are three words that describe you?

Happy, Creative, Tenacious

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

It’s hard to pick just one. I love “Parallel” by Christy Elkins. It’s a fantastic book. Chris J. Randolph is an excellent writer who weaves in a good portion of humour in his works.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

Here is the blurb for Flashback, TBR June 21.

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

Kidnapped – science fiction romance

Undercover – contemporary romance

Courage and Retribution – a science fiction romance novella

Embarkment 2577 is a series of science fiction romance:

Brand New World

High Gravity

Adam and Eve

The Goddess’s Saga is a series of science fiction romance:

Touch of the Goddess

Wrath of the Goddess

Return of the Goddess

To be released this year:

Flashback – contemporary romance, June 21

Operation Earth – science fiction romance, August 11

A Shadow of a Man – science fiction romance, November 1

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.

Website: http://www.hammarblad.com

Blog: http://www.scifiromance.info

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad

Twitter: @mariahammarblad

Undercover
by Maria Hammarblad
Genre: Romantic suspense


Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61252-216-6
ASIN: B0098TGWTW
Word Count: 77000
Cover Artist: Gwen Phifer
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/YePFbRgPP9o
Amazon

Book Description:

When Jenny Moore meets Alexei Roshenko, it's love at first sight. The tall, dark and handsome stranger appears to be the answer to every romantic fantasy any woman ever had. There is however more to him than meets the eye, and a dark and violent past is catching up with him. When Jenny decides to follow him back to Russia, she gets entangled in a web of deceit and secrets beyond her wildest imagination.



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