Long and Short Reviews welcomes Maria Hammarblad, whose latest release Kidnapped is now available. Maria will give a download of Kidnapped to one lucky commenter.
She uses a pen name, but it was more an accident than by design.
"I got married and thought that changing my author name would confuse everyone. Unfortunately, my original name is kind of confusing too," she admitted with a laugh, "but it's uncommon. Hopefully, it's weird enough for people to remember it."
Maria has always wanted to make books and has also had an obsession with pens and paper.
"I was hopeless as a child - I drew on everything," she confessed. "My mom taught me to read very early and I didn't have the motor skills necessary to form readable letters, so I made her staple papers together into booklets that I drew in. I must have made hundreds of books with the sun and the moon. When I became a little older, I scribbled incomprehensible science fiction stories in notebooks and forced my friends to read them. It continued from there."
Apart from writing books, when Maria was younger she wanted to do all kinds of thing and has checked several of them off her list. She wanted to work with computers and did for many years, until she got bored with it. She thought musicians were cool, and her parents told her she'd never be able to do it—an irresistible combination, so she played bass in three rock bands for a while. She also watched a lot of science fiction and wanted to be an astronaut so she could go into space. That she hasn't quite gotten figured out, so she does the next best thing—she writes about it.
The author of eight books, Maria told me that Kidnapped is her favorite so far, but she's also very fond of The Goddess's Saga, a series of science fiction romance sprinkled with mythology. There are three novels with the same characters available, and it's also available as a collection volume.
"I have material in my head for another book in the series, but this far I haven’t had time to write it," she said.
She's currently working on some edits for her next release, Undercover, a romantic thriller that will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in September.
Maria told me that she has a very hard time naming characters, places, languages, and books.
"Kidnapped contains an alien language, and when I needed a name for it I almost turned my brain inside out. When I was about ready to give up and write around it so I wouldn't have to name it, my eyes fell on a packet with chips, and I thought, 'Stax. Good enough. Let's call it Stax.' Same thing with the books. I have to brainstorm and start writing random words on a paper. 'She's abducted… No good, sounds like little green men doing unmentionable things… Taken… Lost… Kidnapped… Hey, Kidnapped, that's not too bad."
I asked her to describe her writing space and she laughed.
"I don't really have one - I write everywhere. Ideas come in the most peculiar places. Sometimes I have to pull the car over and write on my phone to make sure I don't forget anything. I wrote most of Kidnapped sitting in bed at nights scribbling on my iPod, and then I e-mailed it to my computer and put it all together. I like to sit outside and write. Sometimes I drive to the beach and sit in my car with my feet out the window, Lately I haven't had enough time to go anywhere, so I've mostly been sitting on the sofa with my laptop, the dogs, and a mug of coffee."
"Are you a plotter or a pantser?" I asked.
"I fall somewhere in between, I guess I’m a plotster. I usually have an outline either written down or in my head, but my characters definitely have lives of their own, and the story lines sometimes twist in ways I would never have expected when I started the book. Sometimes characters just don’t like each other, even though they should."
Since Maria writes mostly science fiction romance, she wanted to not only appeal to readers who have never picked up a science fiction book in their lives, but she doesn't want to disappoint readers who are familiar with the genre—those readers who are usually technologically savvy and have a good idea of what's possible and what isn't. So, she enrolled in a college course in Astrobiology.
"The things I write evidently aren’t real, and any science in the book is sprinkled with a good dose of imagination," she said, "but it needs to be somewhat plausible."
Some die-hard science fiction fans have told her that she writes "Space Opera" and not "Science Fiction."
"I hadn’t even heard the word Space Opera before," she said. I still haven’t figured out what it’s supposed to be; it’s probably a cultural difference. I’m sure a science fiction writer is supposed to have a scientific approach to building worlds, but I’m more interested in the story itself."
When it comes to world-building, Maria admitted that, in theory, she should probably sit down with pens and paper and map out her worlds, their geological features and the major species on each, their technological advances, favorite foods, plants, pets. "It just sounds so boring," she told me. "To me, the pirates lurking behind that little moon about to attack the heroine’s spaceship are much more interesting. I make stuff up as I go. I sometimes toss in some actual science – in Touch of the Goddess the heroine discusses how the shape of shorelines affects ocean streams – but it’s a bare minimum. I believe both my readers and I are more interested in what happens than how the moon they’re on can be big enough to maintain an atmosphere."
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Write. It sounds like funny advice to a writer, but if you wait for that perfect day when you have peace and quiet, time, a good cup of coffee, a perfect pen, and inspiration, odds are you'll be waiting for a long time. Make room for writing in your schedule, and keep at it even if you don't feel like it.
Once you get further along and want to submit your masterpiece to agents or publishers, my best advice is, 'Don't give up.' There will be rejection letters. That doesn't mean your story is bad. I got a rejection letter for another person's book once. Ignore it, get up, and try again."
About the Author:
As an adult, she managed to always incorporate writing in her work and made a living by creating user manuals and documentations for computer systems. Not until the year 2000 did she find what would be her professional home at SSAB Swedish Steel, where she worked with logistics for the better part of a decade.
During 2008 she felt that it was time for a change, and promptly enrolled in college and relocated to Florida. This change of lifestyle gave her the peace of mind and time she needed to pursue her interest in writing fiction. Today she lives in the Tampa Bay area with her husband Mike and their rescue dogs Boo, Bonnie, and Topper.
Find the authors online at:
It's a late winter night when Patricia Risden heads home in her car, on a road she's driven many times before. She doesn't have a care in the world, that is, until a man appears from nowhere, right in front of her.
The next thing she knows is being a prisoner of the unscrupulous Alliance Commander Travis 152; an intimidating man who demands information and complete cooperation. Travis soon realizes his mistake; Tricia doesn't know anything, and she is incapable of even getting a glass of water from the ship's computer.
Infamous for being a ruthless executioner, conditioned since childhood to feel nothing besides fear and pain, he still deems her harmless, and finds enough pity for the lost young woman to let her out of the cell; a decision that will change both their lives forever.