Meet my featured author for February, Maryann Weston





Introducing Australian author Maryann Weston


About Maryann Weston


M.R. Weston (Maryann Weston) is a professional writer, training initially as a journalist and editor. She grew up on a farm in Australia and learnt early that the best adventures in life are the ones you seek out and follow.

She has made it her mission to follow her dreams, including writing novels, and has combined her love of adventure and new horizons with a vivid imagination and ability to tell a good story.

Maryann has a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and is also a qualified teacher and counsellor, with a Graduate Diploma in Education and a Diploma of Community Services.

She currently works as a journalist, editor and public relations professional and is a mum to three boys. She lives with her family in rural NSW, Australia

Featured book:



Shadowscape - The Stevie Vegas Chronicles:


Stevie Vegas is just your average 12 year old school kid living in suburban Valley Dale, with a passion for skateboarding. He thinks his life is pretty normal...that's until he discovers he's an Illuminator with extra-ordinary mind powers.
Then the Shadowcasters arrive and he's forced into a battle as ancient as time itself, one that pits Illuminator against Shadowcaster: lightbringers against demons.
Stevie Vegas must find a way to steal the source of the Shadowcasters' power, the cursed stones. Only then will he have the advantage in the fight for his life…
Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is the first book in a trilogy. The second novel is Dawn of the Shadowcasters and will be published by Lodestone Books on 30 May 2014.
Maryann will be working on the final book in the trilogy, Luminous, in 2014.

Welcome Maryann,

What inspires you to write?

I’ve been writing since I was a young girl – my first ‘novel’ at 9 years of age was an adventure story written on pieces of lined paper, illustrated by my school friend and stapled together for everyone to read. After I left school I studied English Literature and Journalism, and then wrote for newspapers so I could make a professional career in writing. Since then I have edited a newspaper, been a communications manager for government and now edit and write for an online magazine and a print magazine. While I have been writing, editing and communicating for a living, I’ve never given up on my dream of writing novels for a living. I have three novels now either published, about to be published or going into production, so I’m on my way to at least giving that lifelong dream a chance. 

Describe your writing schedule and your writing environment?    
             
I’m a mum to three boys and, with my husband Eric, we have a busy home life. I tend to sit in a quiet corner of the family room and write while they come and go around me. In this way, I don’t isolate myself from the family.
I have a busy day job in editing, public relations and journalism, so I write at night and on weekends. I also write in my holidays.
I also grab any solitary time I can to write – when my family are out playing sports or at work and I’m the only one at home. Bliss. I particularly like writing on a grey, overcast day, sitting by the window with a view. I tend to get lost in the clouds...and my imagination.


How long does it take you to write a book?      

   
About 3-4 months generally. I entered National Novel Writing Month in 2013 and wrote my adult novel ‘Belonging Places’ in one month. It was a real experience to push myself like this, and it opened up my creative side with such intensity that the product, my novel, is quite rich. I’m really happy with it. It’s just been edited, and it’s back now with me for sign off. I’ll, hopefully, have this out in the next few months.
I wrote my first published young adult novel Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles in about 6 months and its sequel Dawn of the Shadowcasters in about 4 months. Dawn of the Shadowcasters will be published by Lodestone Books (a division of John Hunt Publishing) on 30 May 2014.
I’m hoping to write the final book in this series, Luminous, early this year.

What part of writing your books do you enjoy most, and why?

I love developing the characters, but I have to say I enjoy developing the plot. That saying that truth is stranger than fiction is so...well, true. I like to bring my own life experiences and observations to my fiction writing. I like to put the twists and turns into the plot, so that the story is fast paced and an interesting read. Sometimes these twists and turns also take me by surprise, particularly when something totally unexpected happens. The other aspect I enjoy is creating an atmosphere through dialogue: tension, surprise and yes, humour too.

What was the hardest aspect of writing your first book? 

I have two other unpublished manuscripts gathering dust on my shelves. That was before I wrote Shadowscape. I think by the time I wrote Shadowscape I’d experimented and honed my craft. I had learned how to bring characterisation, sense of place, plot and dialogue together so that the story flowed smoothly. When I was writing Shadowscape I deliberately revisited everything I’d learnt about manuscript writing, self editing and critiquing, and applied that. I remember rewriting parts of the manuscript and knowing that it was better off for the edit.
I think the hardest aspect of writing any of my books is the time factor. With a busy day job and a growing family, time to write is limited. But I make the most of the time I have because it’s what I love to do.  

 
How do you overcome the daily obstacles that could stand in the way of your writing schedule? 

I make sure I’m organised. That family responsibilities and chores are taken care of early in the evening, so I can have at least 3 hours writing before bed. It’s the same on the weekend. Organisation is the key, and I have been known to turn down a social engagement to sit in front of the laptop instead!

What do you feel makes a successful writer? 

Definitely being a good storyteller. We are a society that is fascinated by stories, whether they are real or fiction and a good story will get people in. Having the ability to write well is the other side of the equation.
The other success factor is persistence. I have found that if you want to make a career in writing and publishing it takes hard work and persistence. I read a great post by author Dean Wesley Smith http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=860 on what it takes to be a successful indie publisher. It’s a great article and really inspired me, and the bottom line is persistence and getting the books out there. It is quite simple really: Write, promote, publish, write, promote publish and write some more...
It does take hard work and persistence to be a successful writer, but if that’s your ‘purpose’, to share your stories, then it’s worth it.     

What is the best piece of writing advice you have every received?

Writing creatively will always trump writing intellectually. I agree. I try not to over-analyse when I’m writing and let my intuition, visual thinking and life experience guide me. The creativity is what satisfies me.

What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

Keep at it. Don’t give up. The publishing world is changing daily and there are a lot of opportunities for writers. If you believe in yourself and your book, don’t sit around waiting for a traditional publisher to tell you you’re good enough. Become a publisher yourself and see your writing come to life, and be the driving force behind that.
But do get a good editor before you publish. It’s important to bring the most professional product you can to the market when it’s time to publish.         
  
What do you feel makes a good book?   

I love a good sense of place, but equally strong characters and the relationships between these characters. Now we are heading into plot. Plot is everything.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just discovered American author Dean Koontz whose novels have been described as suspense thrillers. I’m reading Odd Apocalypse and really enjoying the unusual plot.

What is your favourite book and author, and why?
Existential writer Albert Camus because he has a way of speaking the truth, and showing the reader the sometimes absurd in life. Although he has long since passed away, I get the feeling had I ever met him, we would have been like-minded.

What authors have inspired you in your writing career to date?

Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Harper Lee, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Rodden, Jean Paul Sartre, Virginia Woolfe, Scott F Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Jack Kérouac, the Bronte sisters, JK Rowlings, DH Lawrence Рmy tastes and influencers are quite varied but then life is full of variety too.

Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is an awesome title how did you come up with the title and had you decided to write a trilogy before writing the first book?

Shadowscape - The Stevie Vegas Chronicles was always going to be the first book in a trilogy. I came up with the name with a friend after describing the Shadowcasters (demons). I felt there were 3 parts to any trouble we get into in life – whether that is coming up against an adversary or a challenging life event – we meet our trouble and fight against it, then our trouble might get the better of us, and finally we learn to face it, learn from it and eventually conquer it. That is essentially what Stevie Vegas does in Shadowscape (Book 1), meets and fights against the Shadowcasters; the second novel Dawn of the Shadowcasters is where the Shadowcasters have the upper hand; and finally Luminous (Book 3) where Stevie comes into his own power.

As I said Dawn of the Shadowcasters is out on 30 May 2014 through Lodestone Books and I’ll be working on the final book in the trilogy, Luminous, in 2014.


Can you share with us your three favourite lines from the book?


  “Your fear of the unknown creates the anxiety you currently feel Stevie Vegas, yet there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” 

     He felt himself drawn into the dark pools of the stranger’s eyes, into the blackness of them. At the end of a long, dark tunnel he saw a white shimmering light which glowed so brightly Stevie immediately looked away. “That is your core power Stevie Vegas.”

 Stevie skated up to him his face barely an inch away from Barron’s. “I don’t lay down that easily. One more trick and the winner is decided.”

Are any of your characters based on people you know, or who you have met in the past?

Shadowscape is a fast-paced, adventure fantasy for young adult readers. It was written for my son when he was 12 years of age, and an avid skateboarder then. The main character of Stevie Vegas is very much modelled on him. He is also a very intuitive boy, like Stevie.

Have you ever considered writing in other genres?

Yes. Absolutely. I have written Belonging Places which is an adult women’s literature book, and I have an idea for an adult paranormal/thriller brewing which I hope to write at the end of this year. I’m a teller of stories regardless of the genre.

What can we expect to see from you during 2014?

Writing and plenty of it. The third book in the Stevie Vegas trilogy, and an adult book. Two new novels at least. There are also my unpublished manuscripts that might also get a revisit if I have time.

Where can we find more information about you and your books? 


 Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles is available from:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadowscape

For more about Maryann or to contact her on social media:

Twitter: @MaryannWeston
I would like to thank Maryann for her time and I wish her every success with the trilogy.
Please comment below to show your support.

Sarah Jane