Maria: I do as much research as is needed for the story. I don’t research for months and months in advance and then sit down and write. I start the story and when I encounter something that I don’t know about like picking a lock, I put brackets in the text like this: [insert lock picking details here]. Then when I need a break from writing, I’ll do the research. I try and do as much hands on research as possible. For my books, I’ve learned how to blow glass, ride a horse, and fence. But I also draw on my experience. I’ve been doing karate since I was in college, and the poison tasting is from years of listening to my husband talk about his work. I consider everything I do fodder for my writing. :)
What's the best part of being an author?
Maria: My readers. They have been so supportive and excited about my books and are quite motivating. I love hearing about how my stories have inspired them. I enjoy meeting them and some of them will fly to see me or drive over 12 hours one way just to see me, that’s unbelievable. It’s very heartening. And it was totally unexpected. Yes, I expected people to read my books, but I didn’t expect to make this special connection with them.
From Trella’s rigid environment (in Inside series) to Sitia’s lush forests and vast deserts (in the Study and Glass series), your novels are filled with vivid, beautifully imagined worlds—where do you find your inspiration? Do you draw from places you know?
Maria: I enjoy traveling and when I’m in a new place, I take notes. As for Trella’s world of pipes, I dreamed that one. And I think it’s from when I was younger and helping my father with his heating and air conditioning business on the weekends – crawling around all that ductwork must have made an impression.
Each of your heroines has endured and overcome some kind of physical violence to not just survive, but flourish. It’s an incredibly inspiring message for young women. Was this something you always set out to focus on, or something you just really love writing about?
Maria: I don’t focus on it, but I’ll admit, I can’t stand passive, helpless heroines. I’ve always been independent and made a point of learning how to defend myself and learned how to solve problems. I made sure I graduated college with a degree that I knew I could get a good-paying job with. And that does translate into my fiction. If my heroine’s life’s in danger, then I might have her rescued the first time, but she’s going to learn how to defend herself so she can take care of the problem the second time. I’ve gotten many emails from young women telling me they signed up for karate or self-defense classes after reading one of my books and that’s fantastic! I love hearing that!
Last one! What's your funniest (or weirdest) moment as an author? Any crazed fans?
Maria: No crazed fans, but I did have one lady who thought I believed in real magic. We had a nice conversation about it, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her my books were fiction (she didn’t buy any). A few times, people have told me rather personal things which they shouldn’t be divulging. One of the funnier things, I had a book store employee who hand sold many copies of my books so I told him he was one of my book commandos. He thought it was cool, but his boss teased him about it, so I mail him a squirt gun so he could have revenge on his boss.
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