Monday, November 4, 2013

Interview with Maria Violante about BirthMarked

Please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.
My name is Maria Violante.  I write urban fantasy, fantasy, and science fiction--generally with romantic elements.  I’m published through both Liquid Silver Books and Taliesin Publishing, and I also have some self-published works out as well.  Everything I write is under my real name.
Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.
BirthMarked is a twist on Urban Fantasy, about a female truck driver named Charlie that flips her truck after seeing a monster, and winds up being inducted into an all-male order of monster fighters.  It’s a tough gig, though--the men are abrasive and less than welcoming, and there are clues that somebody might be happier with her dead than alive.  She can’t really trust anyone.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?
BirthMarked is partially a homage to Jeff Malone, a real guy that went out of his way to make me feel welcome as soon as we met at a truckstop in Ontario.  A lot of the details of the character mimic the way he was in actual life--like how he was always wearing a fedora.  He was an older gentleman, always classy, although with a wicked sense of humor.  He was always proud to show me pictures of his wife and home on his cell phone, and he’d tell stories about the ducks or the dogs or any old thing.  I tried to capture some of that in his character.
Right after I got off the truck and returned to “normal” life, I tried “working” on a few manuscripts that just weren’t working and I was just getting really frustrated.  I was broke and had just gotten this job waitressing for this boss that was just really rude--and then I found out that my friend Jeff had had a heart attack and died behind the wheel, and I wasn’t going to able to go to his funeral.  I just went into the kitchen, and I was trying to fill these peanut butter cups with this ice cream scoop, only I started crying--and they fired me on the spot.
I went home, and the book just stopped swirling around in thinky-space and settled into my fingers, and I knew I was ready.  There are parts when I was writing it where I cried so hard--and then after it was done, I had to contact his widow for permission to use his name, and I was just petrified, but she was really touched and gave me her blessing and we cried for a while together.  I think that’s why there’s so much feeling in the manuscript--tears and love and all sort of things that just seep out of the page, because they were real while I was writing them.
Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?
I didn’t use to think so, but BirthMarked is my seventh book published (hold on, I need a minute to process that one), and there are some definite themes that connect across almost all of my work.  I want readers to see female heroines that are less than perfect--especially in their physical appearance or their level of confidence--but still manage to figure out who they are and what they want out of life.  I like heroines that are driven by curiosity (this is going to be a lot bigger of a theme in a future series I have planned) and that learn to trust themselves and their own observations of the world.  I write a lot about women in male-dominated professions (trucker, superhero, bounty-hunter).
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
I have traveled quite a bit, even managing to live in a few different countries, but I still have no sense of direction.  It’s awful--and painfully cliche--but I literally get lost around my home all of the time, and we’re talking about an area that I’ve lived in for years and years.  GPS was the most amazing thing to happen to me, ever.
When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?
I’m a huge foodie, and lately I’ve been learning to cook a lot more--and I have a big thing for convenience/easy cooking that’s also healthy (I lately figured out you could make a whole chicken in a crock pot, and that totally rocked my world.)  I love to travel--I’ve lived in both Asia and South America,.
Which series do you wish you had written?
First choice would be the His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.  As a child, they fascinated me with the wild, adventurous storytelling and heart-capturing characters.  As an adult, I’m blown away by all of the deeper meanings and implications.
Second choice would be the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King.  I don’t really read horror anymore, but King’s venture into a fantasy hero-quest is dark and twisted and wonderfully imagined.  I really found myself rooting for the characters.
Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?
I have two books planned that I will eventually get around to.  One is a YA-type novel about a curious girl with a great scientific mind, but in the fantasy setting.  The other is a science fiction novel that has been simmering in the back of my mind for years.  I will get to them both eventually.
Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?
So far, it’s Charlie Kale from BirthMarked--she’s just so flawed and good-hearted and her evolution through the series (spoiler!) is really cool.  Then again, I have a soft spot for Merry, the madame of the house in Gambler’s Luck.  She’s just hilarious and plucky.
If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?
Let’s ask our characters what they think.

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The Markers, Book 1
Maria Violante

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Taliesin Publishing

Date of Publication:  10/03/2013

ISBN: 978-1-62916-008-5

Word Count:  ~60,000

BN     Omnilit

Book Description:

Charlie Kale knows life isn't easy. But for the first time, this truck driver might have finally found her little piece of happiness. She's got it all—her big rig, friends, a great mentor, and a man about to join her on the road.

That is, until the good things in Charlie's life all fall apart, and she finds herself at the mercy of a sexy but mysterious gunman who claims to be a member of a secret order dedicated to fighting the supernatural monsters that filter over into our world.

She's given a choice—join up or die, and while the gunman might be insane, Charlie’s hell-bent on not dying.

Too bad it looks like that might not be an option.

About the Author:

Well-traveled and uncoordinated, Maria Violante is the best-selling author of several books in the realm of speculative fiction--all of them crossovers that require hyphens in the genre description (see:
gladiator-dystopia-rom-sci-fi, shifter-western-historical, or gunslinger-mercenary-urban fantasy.)

She enjoys a well-roasted coffee, Bell's Winter White Ale, and lives in Michigan with her Chihuahua, Beau, also known as “Piggy Wiggy”.


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