Hello, friends! I’m so excited today to share my recent interview with successful indie author Allison Maruska. Allison writes YA urban fantasy and adult mystery/ suspense stories. Her debut novel, The Fourth Descendent, has been on Amazon bestseller lists since shortly after its release in February of 2015. Since then she has released a YA urban fantasy, a YA trilogy, and most recently a standalone sequel to her debut novel. So, without further ado, here’s Allison:
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Why?
I think on some level I always wanted to be a writer. I’d write unnecessarily long answers to questions in school assignments, for example. I won an essay contest in sixth grade. But officially, I didn’t decide to write novels until I figured out a story for characters that had been floating around in my head. That was about five years ago. I honestly hadn’t considered writing books before that.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Wherever I am! Ha. I do most of my writing at the Starbucks next door to where my kids have Taekwondo practice almost every day of the week. I’m planning to give a couple of paperbacks of my newest book to the baristas, since I basically wrote the whole thing there.
You’ve already published several books. How much time do you spend writing each week, and how do you find a balance between writing and managing the rest of life?
I think the dedicated writing time that my kids’ schedule offers is a big help. In the month or so before Taekwondo tournaments, it’s about 12 hours a week. That’s just putting words on the page. I edit, do critiques, and manage social media whenever it fits, like in the hour between picking up my youngest and my oldest.
What inspired your decision to publish independently? What have been some of the pros and cons?
A writing partner gave me the necessary nudge. I had a YA book with a publisher that was moving very slowly, and while that was going through its process, I had an adult mystery going through the critique group and was getting good feedback. I decided to share it with betas and they loved it, so with the guidance of the nudge-giving writing partner, I published it on my own. It did much better than I could have imagined. As for pros, I like to keep the control over book details and marketing – I don’t need anyone’s permission to run a promotion. A con would be exposure and distribution. It’s just tougher to get an indie book into stores and libraries.
Well, you’ve certainly done well publishing independently! Share with us a bit about your latest book, The Seventh Seed. Where did you get the idea for it?
The initial idea was an independent event. I’m a certified tutor in a local elementary school, and one year a fifth grader lost her father in a car accident. That was sad, of course, but here’s the weird part – he was with two other men, and one of them disappeared. I thought that would be an intriguing way to start a story. What happened to the third man? Maybe he was running from something…
My decision to tie that to the standalone sequel of The Fourth Descendant came later. At the risk of spoiling anything, I’ll say no more.
What do you hope readers take away from your work?
I want my stories to make readers think. My characters discuss social or moral issues that I hope will stick for readers and maybe lead them to deeper discussions with other readers. I certainly hope my books are an escape, but I hope something good lingers after “the end.”
Now that The Seventh Seed is out, what project are you working on?
I’ve actually ventured into a totally new targeted age and genre – a middle-grade novel that’s a parody of the Aladdin story. It takes place in a low-income elementary school basically identical to the one where I work. The genie analog is the ghost of a janitor.
Ha, ha, I love it! I’m sure middle grade students will too. How can readers connect with you and find your books?
And I’m on these platforms probably more than I should be:
Thank you so much, Allison, for taking the time to share with us! Best of luck with your latest writing project!
Images used by permission of Allison Maruska. Header image from pexels.com, CC0 license.