Mariam Kobras is a three-time Independent Publisher Award winning author living in Hamburg, Germany. Mariam kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.
What sort of books do you write?
I write contemporary fiction / modern romance / literary fiction. My novels are a mix of these, I’m afraid. They are love stories, but they aren’t what you’d expect from a “romance”: there’s rarely a happily-ever-after, no sex, no stereotypes. My stories are about people and their lives; how they manage to survive in a confusing world; how they chase their dreams and get them–or not–and what they learn from all that.
So…basically you could say that I write about ordinary people and pretty universal problems: love, loss, careers, dreams, nightmares, happiness, and death.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on Book Two in the Sunset Bay Series, which is a new project that I started after waving goodbye to the characters in my Stone Series (The Distant Shore, Under the Same Sun, Song of the Storm, Waiting for a Song, The Rosewood Guitar, The Sound of Falling Snow.)
The Sunset Bay books are set in a small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The heroine of these stories is a young woman called Liese Winter, who inherits a piece of land just outside of town. Unwittingly, she gets caught up in a feud between the townspeople and the owners of a nearby resort. Problems escalate when Liese finds out that the resort owners are a bit more than just her next-door neighbours.
The Sunset Bay series will lean a bit toward mystery. Those dark forests and the wild coast make such a great setting for that!
Have your always wanted to be a writer?
Difficult question! Yes–no–yes–no. But ultimately, yes. Obviously.
I wanted to be a writer when I was a teenager, but that’s not unusual. Don’t all girls want to write at that age? I think so. So–yes. I wanted to be a writer.
When I got older, went to university, got married, had my children, I didn’t even think about writing, or wanting to be a writer. There were too many other things going on in my life. You know what I’m talking about, right? The day-to-day life is too exhausting and all-consuming to even consider anything as involved and draining as writing.
But then, when my younger son turned fifteen, something miraculous happened.
The urge to write returned! It hadn’t gone away, it had only been dormant. and now, with time on my hands, with free time to spend any way I wanted, I began to write.
My first novel, The Distant Shore, spilled out of me as if someone had punctured a water-filled balloon. Writing was all I did. I got up at 5 AM—long before anyone else in the house—and wrote. After slapping together lunch for my guys, I wrote, often without eating myself. It was incredible. All those words, and they just poured out of me.
I think if my publisher, Buddhapuss Ink, hadn’t found me just after I’d crossed the 400,000 word line I’d still be writing that same novel.
But find me they did, and they made me whittle that monster of a novel down into something that could be published.
I love the validation and security of having a publisher. I love this particular publisher, because they’re just right for me. And I love writing for them.
Do you have any good advice for anyone wishing to pen their first novel?
Start, write, and finish. That’s all. Have the guts to begin, develop a writing routine that you can live with, and finish your project.
I think that’s actually the most important part: have the discipline to finish. Don’t start a new project before you’re done with the one you’re working on. I know this can be tough. But it’s really the only way to success. One finished novel will get you farther than ten half written manuscripts.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
No seriously, what’s spare time? Authors don’t have spare time. Either we’re busy writing, or we’re busy promoting, marketing, chatting with our publishers or writer friends, hanging out on twitter, Facebook, Goodreads…and if we’re not being an author doing all the things that come with the job, we’re playing around with new ideas, having lengthy discussions with our characters, taking in new settings, watching people…the world is our office!
Have any authors been an influence in your writing?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.
My reading is pretty eclectic. I love SciFi and fantasy for reading, but it’s not something I’d ever attempt to write. There are so many fantastic SciFi writers out there, with such wonderfully imaginative minds, I don’t think I’d ever be able to reach their level, let alone be better.
I really love China Mieville, Peter F. Hamilton, Lois McMaster Bujold…but I also love the works of Nagib Mahfuz, Marcel Proust, Sigrid Undset, John Galsworthy. And I’m a great fan of Vikram Seth and Margaret Atwood!
If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?
I’ve just spent a good fifteen minutes debating this with my husband and sons but the things they came up with—18yo: sneak into the girls’locker room at school, hubby: be present at a confidential political meeting—don’t appeal to me. Honestly.
So to be quite candid, I can’t think of anything that I’d like to do, being invisible.
I’m quite happy with the way things are right now. I don’t need invisibility at all.
You have been told you are only allowed to keep three possessions. Which would you choose?
Possessions, as in material things, right? We’re not talking family or cat? Because I’d always want to keep those first.
Okay, so material possessions. Hmm…nearly everything material is replaceable. I love my MacBook Pro a lot, but this is my second one, which means I replaced the first, and so this one can be replaced, too.
Let’s imagine I have to fly to the US (I live in Germany) on really short notice. What would I take? What would I need to take?
My passport (obviously!)
My MacBook (because it has everything I need on it: my projects, my favorite movies, my music collection, and all seven seasons of Doctor Who.)
My noise-canceling Bose headphones.
Some money wouldn’t be bad, either. Can I have four things?
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