I have read two books by New Zealand author, Maree Anderson, ”Scent of a Man” and “Let Sleeping Demons Lie”. I loved them so I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to interview Maree for our blog. Maree, welcome to Authors_block!
Thanks for having me, Lisa. I’m thrilled to be a guest on your blog
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Maree (with two “ee”s coz my mum thought that would be easier to spell that way) Anderson. I’m a Kiwi—a New Zealander—and I’m addicted to the evil EFT trio (email, Facebook, Twitter). Just quietly, I’d also be addicted to reeeally good quality dark chocolate if I wasn’t on a diet to try’n pin down some food intolerances right now. Sigh. Choooooocolate. How I miss you! *sobs piteously*
I have a neurotic cat who’s far more famous than I am—she’s had a book written about her by her previous owner, and she even featured on the cover of a hardback edition. Plus, she’s named after the cat in a poem by Yeats. Hard to beat that, huh?
I’ve been writing for around nine years… OMG, nine years??? Scary! And one day I hope to be as famous as my cat.
Wow, 9 years! I know you have 5 books published with Red Sage Publishing: Even Demons Get The Blues, Let Sleeping Demons Lie, From The Ashes, Scent Of A Man, and Kat On A Hot Tin Roof (in the Secrets Volume 30 Desires Unleashed anthology.) Very impressive!
Yep, and I’ve recently independently published two paranormal romances: The Crystal Warrior and Ruby’s Dream (Crystal Warriors 2), plus a paranormal YA, Freaks of Greenfield High.
Now I’m even more impressed! What is your current project?
I currently have three projects underway—yeah, I’m a sucker for punishment. The first is another YA, Liminal, that recently placed 2nd in From The Heart Romance Writers “Golden Gateway” published author division. I had a full manuscript request from one of the judging editors, so I’m waiting to hear her verdict *gnaws nails*. Plus I’ve just finished edits for an old manuscript—a paranormal romance with a sci-fi twist called Lightning Rider—that I’m planning to publish in the next week or so. And I’ve just started rewriting the third Crystal Warrior story, Jade’s Choice. It’s currently in first person (heroine’s) point of view, so I need to give the hero, Malach, his own voice. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better *g*
Sounds like you are a pretty busy lady! What are your timelines for your current work?
Because I’m not currently writing for a specific publisher, I don’t have editor deadlines to worry about, so the only pressure is self-inflicted. And yanno what? That’s worse!
When I was under deadline, it was easier to justify long intense hours of writing to the exclusion of almost everything else. And once I was done, I could sooo justify taking a week off from writing to get my head back on straight. But now, every time I goof off, I feel guilty. Every time I ignore my kids or tell everyone they’re on their own dinner-wise tonight while I’m working, I feel guilty, too. And then there’s my slave-drive muse, who doesn’t believe that rewriting manuscripts is “real” writing, and is making my life a misery until I give in and start writing something new and shiny. Yep, it’s so much fun being an author *wry grin*
I know the feeling How long have you been writing and what originally triggered that decision?
I first started writing about nine months before my youngest started school. At that stage, the plan was that I’d go back to work part-time, so I figured it was my last chance to do something that inspired me, just for me, if that makes sense? I got this idea stuck in my head and when I started to dream scenes and characters, I figured I’d better write them down or I’d never get any sleep! Took me nine months to finish that first manuscript—a whopping 100,000+ word fantasy—and I loved every minute of the process. The thrill I felt when I typed The End…. Amazing. I was pretty much hooked from that point on.
Then someone asked me what scared me about taking the next step toward publication instead of leaving that manuscript to languish on my hard drive. I did some research and joined Romance Writers of New Zealand so I could enter the Clendon Award—a full manuscript contest for romance stories. I entered my manuscript just for the feedback from first round judges (who’re all romance readers), and was totally astonished when my manuscript finalled. I’ve been writing ever since.
Has it been easier or harder to get a story “idea” out of your head than you imagined?
Easier. But I think giving myself permission to challenge myself by writing a variety of genres has helped. I’m not trying to fit an idea into a genre: I take the idea and run with it. And if it isn’t working as, say, a 3rd person fantasy, I’ll stop after a few chapters and switch POV. Or even genres.
For example, The Crystal Warrior started out as a 3rd person epic fantasy, and then three chapters in, I switched gears and rewrote it as a 1st person sexy paranormal romance. That story (then called Chalcedony’s Wulf) ended up winning the Clendon Award in 2006, which was a huge boost for me. But there was still something missing. Last year, I rewrote it as a 3rd person paranormal romance to give the hero, Wulf, his own voice, rather than readers only seeing him through Chalcedony’s eyes. And for me, that’s when the story really came to life.
Scent Of A Man, too, started out as something different—an alternate world historical fantasy. But when my Red Sage editor showed an interest in it and contracted it, it was extensively rewritten as an erotic romance, meaning the hero and heroine had to spend a lot more time together, and I had to lose a bunch of other POV characters. Basically that story was pulled apart and completely rewritten around the original premise and plot that I’d first envisioned.
Because I write adult and young adult stories, so if an idea I have for an adult story isn’t working for me and might work better as a young adult story, I have no problems switching it and seeing if it works better. For me, it’s all about being flexible. And I find so long as the story is “working”, it’s relatively easy to get it out of my head and onto the page. Whether the end result is publishable is quite another matter, of course!
As you have 8 books published, does writing get easier over time?
It’s never exactly easy. It’s a constantly morphing process.
I started out as a dedicated seat-of-the-pants writer, who believed plotting or outlining was too excruciating for words—like having your teeth pulled without an anaesthetic! I would envision the pivotal characters and an opening scene, know how I wanted the story to end, and had only the vaguest clue what was going to happen in between. Often the story would completely surprise me.
I’ve taught myself to plot and outline, because it’s helped me push through when I’ve had writers block, and also helped me write to a very tight deadline. Now I find my process is flexible. Sometimes it’s a hot mess of pantsering and plotting. For example I’m planning on writing a sequel to my first YA, Freaks of Greenfield High when I’ve finished my other projects. And I’ve jotted down a few scenes that have come to mind while I’ve been working on other things. So rather than a linear writing process, I can see myself writing a series of scenes, which I’ll move around until they feel “right”, and then writing to fill the gaps and link the scenes.
If I hadn’t decided to give plotting a go, and outlined a whole story despite hating every minute of the process, I’d never have written Kat On A Hot Tin Roof in four weeks flat, and had it contracted for Secrets 30. Incidentally, Kat became my first ever story in print, so I’d have missed out on that opportunity, too. Not to mention have a bare-chested Jimmy Thomas on the cover
My advice? Don’t get hung up on any one process. Be flexible—there’s that word again! Whatever works for the story you’re currently writing is your “process”… for that story. It doesn’t mean that’s how you’ll always write, or always should write. It’s just how you wrote that particular story.
Ummm yes, clears throat and grins, I did notice the bare-chested men on the covers… Now, where were we… What are your hopes/dreams/expectations for your writing career?
To earn enough money from my writing that I can finally help my poor long-suffering husband pay off the mortgage!
Seriously, though, I’d like to continue writing both adult romances and young adult stories. And I’d be over the moon if Liminal got picked up by a big-six publisher. Oh, and an agent would be great, too… if that’s not being too greedy.
Can you tell us a little about one of your characters?
Ever since I started reading Robert Heinlein, I’ve been a fan of strong female characters. And one of my favourite characters from my own books is Chalcedony from The Crystal Warrior.
When it comes to dating, Chalcey has been there, done that, and gotten heartily sick of douche-bags talking to her somewhat impressive cleavage. She figures she doesn’t need a guy to enable her. Her energies are far better employed in getting her new dance studio up and running. And besides, the dating stories her best friend regales her with on a weekly basis are enough to put the loneliest girl off men for a decade or three!
So what’s a modern day, mouthy, take-no-crap woman likely to do when a guy dressed like an ad for We Love Leather grabs her and kisses her like there’s no tomorrow? Why, smack him a good one, of course, all the while refusing to admit how much that kiss made her toes curl. And when he pursues her and she finally gives in and lets him seduce her, only to find she’s set in motion an irrevocable magical bonding process, boy, is she unimpressed. But despite all the odds piling up against her, and learning that she holds her crystal warrior’s life in her hands, no curses or dire consequences are gonna make her do anything she doesn’t want to do.
Which of your characters would you most/least invite to dinner, and why?
The character I’d least like to invite to dinner would be Nate from my sci-fi romance, From The Ashes. He’s very charming, but he’ll sell a girl into slavery without a qualm if it suited his purposes. Given that I’m not exactly Nate’s type, I’d be worried he’d spike my G&T and sell my house, my possessions and my husband and kids out from under me!
And the character I’d most like to invite to dinner would be my teenage cyborg, Jay, from Freaks of Greenfield High. Jay can cook like a dream, so I’d be providing the ingredients and she’d be the chef *g*
What is the best thing about writing?
Re-reading a scene you wrote the day before and going, “Damn, that’s really good! How the hell did I write that?”
What do you find the most challenging?
Balancing promo and social media and family time with writing time.
Many people who read our blog are new writers. What are some of the key things you have learnt about the writer’s journey you can share with us?
- Read lots. And lots. And lots.
- Get into the habit of writing regularly, even if you’re not in the mood.
- You can’t edit a blank page, so turn off that inner-editor (heinous beyotch that she is) and just write!
- Hone your craft and do the research. These days, there’s no excuse not to know how to apply basic formatting to your manuscript present it in a professional manner. When I started out, I copied formatting from books. Then I joined a writers group and got pointers on what to do and what not to do from the members. There’s a wealth of information on the internet, too—Google can be your friend!
- Same applies with sending queries to agents and editors. They all have differing requirements, like the length of the excerpt and the synopsis, how they want it formatted, how they want it sent (e.g. embedded in the email, attached as a Word document, snail-mail with a SASE). And yes, that’s a PITA, but why wouldn’t you want to give your submission the best chance to be read and taken seriously? If you’re submitting your work with the intention of getting published, you need to be professional. And that means adhering to the agency or publishing company submission guidelines .
- Rejection is part of the journey. What matters is how you deal with it. Curling into a ball and hiding under the duvet and vowing never to write another word as long as you live is perfectly fine… so long as when you run out of tissues, you crawl out, plant bum in seat, and start writing another query/submission/story.
Great advice! What helps you get into the writing “zone” e.g. music, chocolate (oh no, wait, that’s me…) ?
I can’t listen to music when I write. It’s too distracting for me, as I keep singing along to the lyrics. Worse, if I don’t know the song, I stop typing to listen to the words! So I prefer quiet—well as quiet as you can get when you have teens playing music and video games in the house. To get me in the zone for writing, I generally grab cereal and a coffee and take them back to bed, and spend half an hour precariously juggling aforementioned breakfast and a book. Then I head into my office, clear my emails, and open up the manuscript.
Do you have any funny writing quirks?
I’m often still in my pjs at 3pm, so I have to grab a shower and get dressed, then hurriedly make the bed before my kids get home from school. I’ve been caught out by couriers coming to the door numerous times… and my son bringing his friends home more times than I care to admit. Goodness knows what their parents think. Ooops.
How do you mentally flick between work/life into the world of your imagination?
Sometimes I don’t! Sometimes my head is so full of my “world” that I’m either majorly distracted or practically incoherent. I’ll say things to my kids like, “Will you unstack the… the… the… thing that cleans the dishes?” And I won’t even recall that I asked them to do something only five minutes ago, and this is actually the third time I’ve mentioned it in the past half hour. (Cue lots of teenage-type eye-rolling.)
I write full time, though, so for the most part the world of my imagination is my work.
Lisa’s asked me to mention a bit about my books why people should read them. And as I suck at that kind of thing, and like most authors, I’d secretly like to fall on my knees and grovel till you’re so embarrassed you buy my books just to shut me up, I figured I’d cheat and list the teaser for each of my books instead.
The Crystal Warrior
She’s a dancer, and the most important thing in her life right now is the success of her new dance studio. He’s an alien Crystal Warrior with one big-ass curse hanging over him. In a moment of weakness she lets him seduce her. Now they’re magically bonded and his life is in her hands.
Ruby’s Dream (Crystal Warriors 2):
She’s a plus-sized woman with sub-zero self esteem. He’s a Crystal Warrior, and the gods’ gift to women. But for a chance at the Happy Ever After they both deserve, they must learn that appearances can be deceiving… and pass the Crystal Guardian’s test before time runs out for them both.
Freaks of Greenfield High:
When a teenage cyborg is forced to hide out at a small-town high school, the unthinkable happens: she falls in love.
Jay’s a cyborg who looks just like normal teenage girl. She’s super-strong, super-smart, and she can even appear to grow and age like a human. When a covert organization intent on using Jay as a weapon comes after her, she needs to find a place where she can blend in. Greenfield High seems perfect… except that the boys all think she’s totally hot and keep hitting on her, and she has no clue how to handle the attention. Who knew high school could be so perilous? To add to her confusion she’s evolving – experiencing human emotions for the first time. And when she encounters ex-jock-turned-outcast Tyler, he sends her logical brain into a spin. She’s just starting to get the hang of this girlfriend/boyfriend thing when her pursuers track her down. Now’s sooo not the time for a cyborg to fall in love and get all emotional!
Kat On A Hot Tin Roof:
Workaholic architect, Jace Burton, inadvertently flashes Kat Meyer, who later turns up at a crucial meeting…and seduces him in the bathroom. She’s one of the designers vying to impress him. And boy, is he impressed to discover her prowling his house—naked. Kat has no clue what’s causing her nocturnal wanderings. And when Jace discovers she’s the victim of a zodiac curse, will he fight to keep her, or run for the hills?
Scent Of A Man:
The one woman who can resist him is the only woman he’s ever wanted.
Joseph is a highborn Anglian noble living in a harshly religious society where the Council and their clerics enforce chastity, and women are oppressed and treated as chattel. Overnight, Joseph undergoes a rare transformation and becomes a Scentinel, a man who exudes powerful sexual pheromones that make him irresistible to females. His people believe he is evil and will execute him on sight. He’s on the run, starving and desperate. He has nothing more to lose–or so he believes.
From The Ashes:
From the ashes a hero will rise….
Calista’s a freelance space courier recovering from a disastrous marriage during which her ex sold her as a slave. Sure, she’s emotionally damaged, but you should see the state of her ex! Asher’s her “cargo”, the mouthwateringly gorgeous Phoenixae alien who accidentally hatched from the egg she was transporting, and had no choice but to obey a genetic imperative to form a mental bond with her.
(For buy links, and to read reviews and an excerpt, please visit:
Let Sleeping Demons Lie:
Kitten vs Lion–a match made in Hell!
Naamah’s been stripped of everything—her demonic powers, her memories and her clothes—and dumped in a savage wilderness. She believes she is human and has no idea that non-humans even exist—just as well, considering she’s got a phobic fear of Lycans… and the man who finds her is a Lion shape-shifter.
Even Demons Get The Blues:
When demons fall in love, there’s Hell to pay.
Rezon was the Demon King’s lieutenant for four thousand years but even the most badass Demon in Hell gets jaded, so Rez joined the Beguilers. Only trouble is now he’s been beguiled by Leisa, a tormented human woman who’s captured his heart.
For links, and to read reviews and excerpts from my books, please visit the Books page of my website http://www.mareeanderson.com/books
The Crystal Warrior: http://www.TheCrystalWarrior.com
Ruby’s Dream: http://www.RubysDream.com
Freaks of Greenfield High: http://www.FreaksofGreenfieldHigh.com
Kat On A Hot Tin Roof: http://www.mareeanderson.com/books/secrets-vol-30-kat-on-a-hot-tin-roof
Scent Of A Man: http://www.mareeanderson.com/books/scent-of-a-man
From The Ashes: http://www.mareeanderson.com/books/from-the-ashes
Let Sleeping Demons Lie: http://www.mareeanderson.com/books/let-sleeping-demons-lie
Even Demons Get The Blues: http://www.mareeanderson.com/books/even-demons-get-the-blues
To find out more about Maree, you can find her lurking here:
Facebook Author page: http://www.facebook.com/MareeAndersonAuthor
Group blog: http://www.writersgonewild.blogspot.com
Maree has kindly offered to giveaway a copy of *one* of her e-books:
- Even Demons Get The Blues
- Let Sleeping Demons Lie
- From The Ashes
- Scent Of A Man
- The Crystal Warrior
- Ruby’s Dream
- Freaks of Greenfield High
Plus you can also win an electronic copy of the Jan 29th release of Lightning Rider.
To enter: Leave a comment telling us which book you would like from the list (along with Lightning Rider), and leave your email address if it’s not already linked on your comment. Alternatively, if you win, you can send me a direct message on twitter @lisaflaus with your email address.
We will draw the winner on Friday, 10th of February
Maree, thank you very much for sharing your time with us and kindly doing a giveaway. I love the book covers and descriptions so I posted them all up. They are so beautiful and intriguing, I don’t know which one to read next
Until next time everyone,
Lisa & Amber