Monday, May 26, 2008

As promised, today I have debut author Maria Zannini with me, who has graciously agreed to submit to torture--Um, I mean do an interview!

J.K.: Hi Maria, before we start, let me tell my five readers how fabulous you are. *Aside: She’s fabulous guys, trust me.* Ok, so now I need to apologize for getting these questions to you at the very last minute. I promise, if the answers are lame and hokey, my readers will know that it is totally my fault. *Aside: It’s totally Maria’s fault.* So, let’s move along then, shall we?

J.K.: Touch of Fire is your first book. How did you feel on release day? Were you nervous about how readers would react to it?

MARIA.: Well, let’s see, release day was May 20. On that day, I was running a fever, my head was stuffed up and I was recovering from eye surgery. But I had a book coming out! So all in all, I was feeling pretty peachy!

J.K.: Oh sure, I’ll bet. But I guess it could be hard to see that first book if your eyes are glued shut.

MARIA.: It's probably for the best I was under the weather or someone would have had to tether me to the ground. There’s nothing like a first book. It’s like having your first kiss, your first chocolate, your first…well you get the idea.

J.K.: Mmm. Yes. Yes I do. Okay, mind’s out of the gutter now, I promise. So, how long have you been writing? What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create such compelling characters?

MARIA: Are your readers going to crucify me if I say it's only been about three years?

J.K.: Yes they will, but please go on.

MARIA: I was a graphic and fine artist my entire adult life. About three years ago, I was rattling about my house looking for something to do on a rainy day. I sat down and wrote my first science fiction short story. It finaled in the Writers of the Future Contest. By then the writing bug was fully entrenched in my bloodstream and I was hooked. I haven’t stopped learning (or writing) since.

J.K.: That’s great, Maria! So what do you feel is the most important thing that a first-time author should know?

MARIA: Oh, do you have a few hours? LOL! If I were to give only one piece of advice it would be to get your website and blog established long before you get published. You will not have time once that contract is signed. Trust me. When you sign on that dotted line, the time-space continuum warps and you will forever be trying to play catch-up.

J.K.: That’s great advice, and don’t I know how true it is. Good thing I have a little brother I was able to blackmail into doing my website for me. So what genre do you want to try your hand at but haven’t yet?

MARIA: I've never told anyone this, but I would love to try a YA historical. Maybe I'm the exception, but I would've loved to have read more historical novels when I was a kid.

J.K.: Woo hoo, we know something no one else knows yet! (ha ha ha Take that Maya Reynolds!) And what do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?

MARIA: I still want to sign with an agent even though I seem to have pretty good luck attracting editors. A good agent might relieve me of all the legwork I have to do in finding the right publishing house.

J.K.: Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

MARIA: Where are these glamorous authors? Tell me, please! I want to see how the other half lives. When it comes to writing, the most unglamorous thing I've done this past week is untangle my computer's cabling. Somehow I ended up with an extra cord and I have no idea where it goes. Good thing no one at my house is on life support.

J.K.: So now the important questions. What books are currently on your nightstand?

MARIA: I've been reading a lot of dry research material lately. The sequel to Touch Of Fire will deal with time travel and I've been taking notes on all the latest theories.

J.K.: Do you have a pesky day job?

MARIA: Yup. I'm the art director at a major communications corporation. In other words, I save the world from bad advertising.

J.K.: Oh, maybe you should have saved the world from that Sumo wrestler commercial for Subaru. Now, if you had to write yourself as a heroine, what kind of heroine would you be? What would you be named?

MARIA: Oh, I much prefer to stay on the sidelines wreaking havoc. I suffer from demi-god syndrome. Isn't that why we all become authors?

J.K.: Um, sure. I thought it was for all the free books from other authors, but whatever. If you were a world ruler and you were given a choice of 3 laws to enact, what would they be?

MARIA: There's only one law necessary. Maria is always right. At least that's what my husband says, and he's a man of impeccable logic.

J.K.: You're the heroine of your book, why do you fall in love with the hero?

MARIA: I love a confident man! If I were the heroine in my book, I would instantly be drawn to a man with a large…

JK: Hmmm.

MARIA: JK! Get your mind out of the gutter! Honestly. I thought this was a family blog.

JK: You started it. By the way, who said it was a family blog? I didn’t say that. (She turns to cute little five-year old boy child who is pulling on her leg asking for dinner as if he didn’t just eat four hours ago—‘Honey, why don’t you raid the cracker box and leave mommy alone for a few minutes to finish this, ‘kay?’)

Maria, thank you so much for being here. You’re my very first interview. Don’t tell anyone how awful it was, or how unorganized I am. And before we go, let us know what’s next for you.

MARIA: I'm so glad I was your first. Another round of virgins for all of us! Thank you so much for having me over! You were a gracious hostess and I loved the virtual wienies on a stick.

J.K.: Thanks! Next time leave some of them for the hostess, ‘kay?

Maria's Bio:
As relentless as a Rottweiler in a Chihuahua's body, she's interested in everything and everyone and loves to meet new people. Visit her often. The doctors say she's safe now. The rabies test came back negative.

Find me here:



Elyssa Papa said...

Great interview!

So, Maria, your book sounds awesome! I need to go get it--now!

Can you tell us more about your writing process?

How long did it take you to get published?

How did you hear the news you were first getting published? Can you tell us your call story?

J.K. Coi said...

Hi Ely, great question!
Oh and Maria, since you're a graphic designer by trade, does that mean you design and manage your own website?

Amy Ruttan said...

Great interview and congrats on the debut.

Lindsey said...

Awesome blog, you two! Wow, May has launched some great debut authors - congrats to both of you.

Everyone should definitely check out Maria's site and blog - they have all sorts of great info for writers.

Maria, you've had a lot of contest success. As another contest season gears up, any tips to share?

Anonymous said...

I just need to go out and get her book.

Great interviewing questions especially for a "family" website. LOL!!

Tiffany Clare said...

Great Interview...

Why only demi-god status? Why not the big kahuna? :)

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Damn it, Blogger ate my clever comment. Since I just put together a new computer, there is always an extra cord. I have several I've saved---I don't know why. So don't worry, Maria! Congrats on the release---and hope you've completely recovered from you indisposition. Off to check your site! And JK, you have a future in sassy journalism!

Tessa Dare said...

Congrats again, Maria! And great interview, JK. :)

I've been fortunate enough to read Touch of Fire, and it is awesome. Maria is such a skilled storyteller - not only is her worldbuilding inventive and rich, she's so expert at revealing it naturally. Seriously, no matter what genre you write in, the first few chapters of ToF are a fabulous example of how to integrate worldbuilding and backstory without slowing the story or boring the reader.

Without giving any spoilers, I would if Maria could tell us how she came up with her unique futuristic setting?

Maria Zannini said...

Oh wow! What a great welcome, you guys. I'm touched!

It took me a while to get over here. For some reason the page wouldn't come up. I wonder if it had to do with that extra computer cable I disconnected.

OK, let's go down the line.

Elyssa: My writing process is very simple. I start with a blurb and build the story from there. Once I've locked onto the main premise the rest just flows. (But this reminds me to blog about process some more. I haven't done that in a while.)

I've published nonfiction for a while, but Touch of Fire was my first full length novel. It's been a pretty fast ride so far. I didn't expect any success for several more years.

Ref: call story
I feel terrible admitting this but when I saw the email from the editor, I didn't open it right away. I was certain it was going to be a nice thanks, but no thanks. When I finally did open it, I had to read it twice. I didn't even do a happy dance. I was in too much shock!

Maria Zannini said...

JK: I do design and manage my own website. I taught myself Dreamweaver--an agonizing experience because there are so many ways to screw up. But I keep my pages simple. I want people to find what they're looking for without a lot of fuss.

A webpage should reflect the writing and I hope mine does.

Maria Zannini said...

Amy, Lindsay: Thanks for posting!

Ref: Contests
I think I finaled in every contest I've ever entered, and sometimes I win.

My advice for what it's worth is to follow the directions exactly. I will fudge on queries, synopses and packages, but never on contests.

I also sign up to Contest Alert, a Yahoo site that sends you all the latest romance contests and winners. It's a really helpful site.

Maria Zannini said...

Anonymous: I should've known JK was trouble. Why do I never listen to my Spidey sense? LOL!

Maria Zannini said...

Tiffany: Oh, demi-god is okay for now. I haven't mastered walking on water yet. When I do, I'll ask for a promotion.

Maria Zannini said...

Maggie: We have a whole box of PC cables. You hate to throw them away, but I'll be damned if I know what they're for.

Ref: Sassy JK
She does, doesn't she? I'm going to have to watch that girl.

Thanks for stopping by!

J.K. Coi said...

He he he

Maria Zannini said...

Tessa, darlin', you are everywhere! LOL. I'm so glad to see you here!

Ref: Touch of Fire world building
I think I'm most proud of the world building for this book. And I think it's the part most people get the biggest kick from.

Once I figured out my time frame, I researched what would actually survive an apocalypse and how society changes over centuries. I had a blast fusing social mores and well known 21st century icons and reintroducing them to this future world.

If this book does well, you can expect more from future Earth. I think there's a lot of potential for this series.

J.K. Coi said...

Maria, I read Touch of Fire over the weekend, and I too am amazed by the world building. You really did a fabulous job!

Can you tell us about your next book? Is it a sequel for Touch of Fire or something altogether new?

Maria Zannini said...

There are two books in the boiler right now. I'm editing a paranormal historical with pirates and ghosts and werewolves.

I'd like to think the world building is pretty good in that one too. I took some of the tired old myths and gave them some interesting tweaks.

The sequel for Touch of Fire is in outline right now. There is time travel involved and I'm thinking there might be more humor in this book. There will still be serious situations, but I'd like to throw in some funny episodes for balance.

Right now, I'm trying to come up with a good segue to bring our heroes back to the future. That's where all that 'dry' research comes in again. (grin)

J.K. Coi said...

A historical with pirates ghosts and werewolves eh? I'd like to see that one.

And I can't wait for a sequel to Touch of Fire. If you need something to bring them back to the future, a Delorian always works well enough *g*

Shelley Munro said...

Congrats on your debut release, Maria. I love your cover. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Shelley!

Cover art is something I can talk about forever. Anne Caine, the arist who created the cover is brilliant and she was so good at capturing what I was looking for.

I was very pleased with the end result.

Kaz Augustin said...

I'll agree with everyone else here (there's nothing like originality, and this is nothing like originality!) and say that was a terrific interview! Enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks to you both.