New Career Directions – A New Interview With Mariam Kobras – Award Winning Author Of The Stone Trilogy
Today on WiseWolf Talking we have the great pleasure of presenting another interview with award-winning novelist, Mariam Kobras. Mariam is the author of the Stone Trilogy and the first book in the series, “The Distant Shore”, won the 2012 IPPY Bronze Medal for Romance. Guess what? She won a silver IPPY medal with her second novel, “Under the Same Sun” in 2013. The third book, “Song of the Storm”, has just been published! You can find our earlier interview at this link.
Since our last interview with you in October 2012 things seem to have moved on a lot for you – can you give us a quick up-date please.
Oh gosh, let me think for a moment.
In October 2012 my second book, Under the Same Sun was released and I began writing The Rosewood Guitar, which I finished this March. It will be published in spring 2014. It’s the story of young Jon (before Naomi) and his way to fame.
In April this year, Under the Same Sun won the Silver Ippy Medal, and I began working on Waiting for a Song, the companion book to The Rosewood Guitar. It’s Naomi’s journal of the months before she meets Jon for the first time.
Now we’re releasing Song of the Storm, the conclusion of the Stone Trilogy.
I know – a lot of book titles, and maybe a bit confusing. But we’re moving very fast, my publisher and I. With a bit of luck there will be six Stone Series books published by the end of 2014. Which means, six books in three years.
I clearly don’t do a lot except write books.
You are now publishing the third book in your Stone Trilogy – would you like to tell us a little about it please?
Song of the Storm was, at least so far, the most difficult book for me to write.
The main part of the story revolves around Jon and Naomi finally finding calm waters. They have just finished a world tour with Jon’s band and are settling into the house in Brooklyn that Naomi gave Jon as a wedding present. They are busy staging a Broadway musical they wrote together, are expecting a baby, and Naomi has begun writing a novel. So there’s a lot going on, but all of it is really good, and feels like they are seeing their dreams for their life together coming true.
But looks can be deceiving, and life has another twist in the road for the Stone’s, but this one they will share with thousands of other New Yorkers.
When I was in New York City two years ago, visiting friends, we drove all over Manhattan. You can see the new Freedom Tower from nearly everywhere. It’s huge, and at that time, it was like a tall, black finger reaching for the clouds.
One day, driving down to Battery Park, I asked my friends where they’d been when the World Trade Center was attacked. Their answers were shocking, painful, startling. These were people I love, and they’d been there. I could see the memories and the pain on their faces as they talked to me.
I have my own memories of that day. Everyone has a memory of that day. It’s one of those days you will never forget. Ask anyone and they’ll be able to tell you where they were that day, who they were with, and what they were doing.
When I first told my publisher that I wanted to include 9/11 in the conclusion of the trilogy, she wasn’t crazy about the idea but we talked for a while, and then she said, “Do it. I trust you.”
So I made the Stones and their friends and families live through that day: some watch from far away, some are there, and others see it happen from Brooklyn.
My friends’ stories are the stories my characters tell. Some of them almost verbatim.
Many congratulations on your second Independent Publisher’s Book Award. What difference do you think winning such an award makes to your career as a writer?
Thank you! I love those heavy medals, they have spots of honor over my desk.
The IPPY Award is an important award, a big thing if you’re published by a relatively small house. For the publisher, it means prestige and the confirmation that they’ve signed the right author, I think.
For me as an author, on a very personal level, it means security. Winning those two awards for my first two books means I’m on the right path. I can go on writing the way I do. It’s a kind of validation I guess you’d say.
And it made my publisher very happy!
How is life different now to how it was, say, two years ago before you published your first book?
The one thing that’s very important to me is that my own attitude toward my writing has changed. Back then I was working on my first novel, The Distant Shore, and I felt like a thief: I was stealing time from my family, my household, from what I felt I should be doing. I kept apologizing to my family for not having lunch ready on time, or not having ironed their shirts. My husband was actually very relaxed and cool about it. He never doubted for one moment that I’d find a publisher.
Now that I do have a publisher (Buddhapuss Ink) and see my books wining awards,it’s a lot easier to take that time to write. I’ve made it my job. It’s what I do: I’m an author. Life here at home has subtly changed: chores are more evenly distributed, and I don’t feel guilty anymore if lunch is late now and then.
That’s the most important change for me: I’ve accepted that I’m a professional at what I do.
Outside of writing what do you really enjoy doing? Do you have any non-writing ambitions?
Goodness, no. I’ve written three books in two years. Actually, three and a half, besides doing everything else that comes with this job, like guest blogging, promoting, marketing, blog hopping, tweeting and so on. There’s not a lot of room for anything else.
I like to knit, and I love watching some TV shows, like Criminal Minds, Law & Order, Bones. I’m also an avid Trekkie, and we own the Battlestar Galactica complete seasons box.
And I love traveling! The past two years I’ve been to the US twice, to visit my publisher and Facebook and twitter friends. It’s a great experience, traveling on my own. I never knew I was capable of doing that.
Your writing is loved by many different kinds of people all over the world but who do think your typical reader might be?
My typical reader is female, between twenty-five and ninety (or older), and generally well read. There are some men who really enjoy my books. A male friend from NYC said the other day that he’d “rather read Kobras than Tolkien” which is a staggering compliment.
I know I’ve disappointed some readers who bought my books and expected more steaminess, since they are labeled as “Contemporary Romance”.
Do you remember the movie “Sleepless in Seattle”? It was called one of the most romantic movies of all times, and there wasn’t even a kiss in it, let alone naked skin.
So yes, it’s possible to write romance and leave the bedroom to the reader’s imagination.
Do you keep your readers in mind when you write and what difference does that make to your writing?
I do keep my readers in mind, but I write where the stories take me.
There’s an old writers’ rule: write to please yourself. If you start writing to please readers you’re lost. I believe that to be true. To write your best you need to write with passion, make your own blood sing. If you can do that, readers will feel it.
I know I write best when I’m very happy, when my world is at peace.
When I’ve just had a lovely chat with my publisher, or listened to an inspiring piece of music. Twice now I have started writing novels on the couch in living rooms of friends, once in Washington DC and once in Jersey City.
You hear lots of writers talk about writer’s block. What keeps your creative juices flowing – what is your secret?
Writer’s block. There’s no such thing as writer’s block.
Let me rephrase that: I believe when you get stuck, your instinct is trying to tell you something. Either the story is going in a wrong direction, you picked the wrong format – whatever. Writer’s block is when you get bored with your own writing, and that’s a sure sign that others will find it boring, too. Go back two steps. Have the guts to delete a paragraph, a chapter, or all that you’ve written, and start again.
It’s only words. There are more where those came from.
When I get to that spot, I step away from the writing. Let it stew for a couple of days. I don’t even actively think about it. Sometimes I talk to my editor about it, and she often comes up with questions or ideas that will solve the problem for me.
The most important thing is to trust your instincts. Your subconscious knows better than your brain.
I suspect many of your female readers may feel just a little in love with your hero, Jon Stone, can you tell us a little about how you came to create him?
No, I won’t. That is one secret I’ll keep forever and ever. Not even my publisher and editor know about that.
That is disappointing but I understand! Now that your trilogy is complete, what are your future plans as a writer and how would you like things to develop?
As I mentioned before I’ve finished a new Stone Series book, called The Rosewood Guitar, Jon’s Story. Right now I’m working on Naomi’s story—Waiting for a Song.
After that, I’ll return to the older Stones and continue their story. After living through 9/11 they retreat to Canada, where Naomi’s family lives.
Each of them has their own demon to battle:
where does the music and inspiration go when the soul is shattered?
I plan to write seven books about the Stones. What will happen after that I don’t know. One thing is certain though: I’m definitely not done with the Stones just yet, and I’m not thinking of switching publishers. I’m very happy where I am.
I want to thank you, Wendy, for hosting me today. I’ve enjoyed doing this interview with you. Thanks too to my readers, I hope we can share many more happy hours together in the future.
Thank you Mariam – you are a great subject for an interview and I love your books
This was the fourth stop on Mariam’s Blog Hop. For a chance to win a copy of her book, or other great prizes, please check the Buddhapus Ink blog.