I am thrilled to be hosting my dear friend and crit partner Maya Blake here today.
Maya is a thirty-something romance writer whose life-long dream of writing romance finally came to true last year when her debut novel, Hostage to Love, was published by The Wild Rose Press. She lives in England with her radio producer husband, two munchkins and more books than she has room for!
Romy: What made you decide to write?
Maya: I never made a firm decision to write. I’ve loved reading since I could remember, starting with Nancy Drew and Famous Five when I was about nine or ten. But it wasn’t until my older sister introduced me to the world of Mills & Boon a few years later that I really fell in love with books. I penned my first novel at 13, but life got in the way and although I never stopped reading, it wasn’t until five years ago that I decided to try writing again.
Romy: What do you do when your characters decide to do something you hadn’t planned on?
Maya: Frankly, I love it when that happens! It shows the characters are in control and want to tell their story their way and not the way I want to manipulate them. That said, I give them only so much leeway before I try to reign them in, lol!
Romy: Describe your perfect writing “habitat” (the place you do your best writing).
Maya: Umm…*mumbles here* my bedroom. Because I ride a desk for long hours every day, the last thing I want to do when I get home and open my laptop is to sit down at another desk (that feels too much like work, lol). So last year I bought myself a lapdesk, which I use in bed with plump pillows cushioning my legs and back.
Romy: I have the same issue with desks, but as the TV is in the bedroom I find I get very little done there! How do you block out the rest of the world when you’re writing?
Maya: With two small children and a talkative husband (bless him), blocking out the world completely isn’t really an option when writing, so it’s a good thing I don’t mind a bit of background noise. But if it all gets too much, the headphones go on and the door stays firmly closed.
Romy: When is your next book due out, and what’s it about?
Maya: I have several books that I’m hoping to get published sooner, but none that are contracted as yet. I’m working with two editors at Harlequin at the moment, so watch this space! I’m also currently working on two short stories, one set on a cruise ship and another involving a heroine who is a free-diver exploring the Blue Hole in Belize.
Romy: Knowing your work, I’m sure it won’t be long before you make another sale. I can’t wait to get a sneak peek at those short stories too! Have you experienced writer’s block? And if so, how did you cure it?
Maya: I think all writers have experienced a block in one way or another. For me it hasn’t been so much a block as a reluctance to let go of my characters. I get too attached and subconsciously don’t want to type “The End” because that would mean letting them go. I’ve found though that setting writing challenges, either self-imposed or with my CPs, helps the process along.
Romy: What author inspires you?
Maya: Quite a few, since I read so widely but since I’m aiming for the Harlequin stable, I’d go with Michelle Reid, India Grey and Lucy Monroe.
Romy: What inspired you to write your first book?
Maya: Years ago, I read somewhere that if you’re a reading a book and you start to anticipate the arc of story or imagine where the book could take you, then you can probably write. TBH, I didn’t take that advice very seriously, but then I heard it again, and again, I thought it might have some merit. Of course, buoyed by my teenage attempts (which my mother has kept incidentally!) I decided to give it a go and my first manuscript (which shall probably never see the light of day) was born. Two more attempts later, Hostage To Love was written.
Romy: How much of the book is realistic?
Maya: The idea for Hostage To Love came from my husband, who’s a broadcast journalist/producer. He was telling me about the real life situation of blood diamonds being sold for weapons and rebels soldiers kidnapping foreigners for ransom in the Congo and other parts of Africa. That sparked the idea of my heroine being kidnapped by rebel soldiers and her hero, an ex-Marine, riding to the rescue! It was very fun researching Marines, fighter jets and guerilla warfare, which was way out of my comfort zone!
Romy: It’s very exciting when writers push the boundaries and leave their comfort zones. I strongly believe that’s when the best writing happens. Do you see writing as a career?
Maya: Absolutely! Nothing would make me happier than to be given the opportunity write full-time. While I pursue that dream I aim to write, write, write, learn the craft, submit faster and hope for a little luck.
Romy: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Maya: That sometimes words just appear in front of me without my consciously thinking about it. It’s like my fingers are a vessel for my subconscious and every now and then surprisingly magical words appear that send goose bumps down my spine.
Romy: If you could go on a date with any one of your heroes, which one would it be and why?
Maya: That would have to be Henry Cavill. Why? Er, have you seen his man? Is he not the yummiest of yummy men? A god made flesh? A fine specimen of manhood?
Romy: Mmmm. He is seriously gorgeous. [Fanning myself]. Now where were we? Let’s talk happy endings. In your books, do your stories have one?
Maya: Always. Real life is oftentimes so fraught with heartache and misery that I can’t NOT give my characters a happy ending. Misery lit is for others to write. For me and my characters there will ALWAYS be a happy ending!
Romy: Last question: love at first sight. Is it possible?
Maya: Without a shadow of a doubt. Although I haven’t personally experienced it since my husband turned up nine hours late to our first meeting, I was more ticked off at first sight, lol!
Thank you for having me here today, Rae, it’s been a pleasure!
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If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Hostage to Love, plus an amazing nine other books, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post, or any of the other participating blogs. For more details, click here.