[Interview #6] - Maria Warren: After writing for 20 years, I've learnt you need thick skin for this
Joining me today is Maria Warren, who has writing stories for fun for 20 years! She writes on multiple platforms and on Goodnovel, author of My Pretend Marriage to the Vampire Billionaire along with other stories. Her experience and knowledge on books and the webnovel/literary industry will be valuable to young authors who are practicing their craft and aiming write as well as Maria!
For previous interviews with authors, please click here .
By Alex N.
September 22, 2020
Alex: So when did you start writing?
Maria: I started writing all the way back in December of 1999. I really enjoyed the anime Sailor Moon but it wasn't licensed past the second season. So I got into reading fanfics but couldn't find anything I liked. Instead I started writing my own stories. Sailor Moon Crossovers to be precise.
I wrote fanfics for years and it really helped me in being able to create plots but didn't do much for character or world building. So I decided to challenge myself a few years back and wrote my first original story.
Alex: How did that first original story go?
Maria: I tried it out on Wattpad of all placed and it was a young adult novel. It bombed, but I learned a lot from the process. I looked at what my problems were and started to work on them with immersing myself in the craft of writing. I wanted to do more than entertain I wanted to be a story teller where you feel regret when you reach the end of the book. Almost 2 years ago I found my first mobile platform and decided to write an original again. Original intention was to write something steamy and make money to edit the young adult novel.
If anyone ever wants an ego check, check out scribophile. It's a serious community and their feedback is just as serious. You need to have thick skin to be a writer and between scrib and fanfictions trolls telling me I need to kill myself, I managed to grow one.
Alex: Even though its been years since those early days, do you still get criticism sometimes where you feel its justified and its an area where you need to improve on?
Maria: Not enough of it, so when I finish a story I hire an editor for a developmental edit so I can craft a stronger story for myself and my readers. The only complaints I see lately is I need to update faster.
Alex: Really? How many books are you writing at the moment?
Maria: 8, yeah it’s a lot and I regret to say that. I have to applaud my fellow writer Mel Dixon she’s managed to stick with just one. I have 8 ongoing books and 29 ideas waiting in the wings.
Alex: How do you keep all that info in your head? Do you fear you might forget some important fact?
Maria: My ideas are just paragraphs. I have examples written down and I take those later and stretch them into full fledged stories. Additionally, all those ideas are on my ideas folder in my discord. As for keeping everything straight I’ve made bare bone skeletons of where I want each story to go or major plot points to hit on post it notes. I found this great app suggested by an author youtuber, and its been great at keeping me organized.
Alex: Do you have any writing habits then?
Maria: On weekends I can have really productive days. The most I wrote in a day was 13,960 words, I am striving to break that record one day. I always sit at my gaming PC. Its just more natural there and prime time writing for me is when my kids go to bed. I’m opposite of my best friend Jane Knight she’s a morning bird and I’m just a night owl.
If I feel I can’t write, I put my headphones on and pull up my anime hype playlist. Super energetic anime openings just help the words flow. I don’t get why it works but it does every time.
Another writing tool I use is 4thewords: its literally a writing RPG and it makes sure I do the bare minimum of 444 words a day although I'm looking forward to when I can produce min of 3k a day again.
Alex: And how long have you known Jane Knight? I interviewed her a couple of weeks ago and she is also a very good author.
Maria: Our husband's are gaming buddies and we found out each other was pregnant when we were about to have our 2nd kids. We left messages through them at first, but we had a playdate after both our kids were born and just instantly bonded. We talk every single day since then and that was 4 years ago.
Alex: Have you considered co-authoring a book with her? I’m presuming you two help each other a lot i.e advice, etc.
Maria: Yes, and we will be writing a dragon book in the future. If I can slow down with having so many books at once. I'm very fortunate. We storyboard and workshop with each other constantly. Between her and Pesha, I've probably outlined about 15 of those 29 ideas.
Alex: Though you have been writing for a long time, what do you find the most annoying aspect of writing? 2nd draft? Challenging scenes?
Maria: The most annoying aspect is when I get interrupted from the kids or my hubby when I'm in the flow. I love writing I love drafting, and I’m even learning to love editing. Beyond interruptions its coming up with an ending.
Starting a story is always easy but it’s the endings when you work the hardest, at least for me. While I always tell myself I can always edit it and improve it, I want it to be good!
Alex: Do you find writing endings hard as you are trying to avoid a cliché storyline?
Maria: Not hard rather I want them to be earned. I don’t want any deus ex machinas or everything just falling neatly in place. There has to be stakes and consequences and the main character can't end up in the same position they started in. Clichés don’t worry me. I take those all the time and twist them to my own ends.
Alex: On Goodnovel, your books all have the vampire/werewolf and supernatural involved. Do you write other genres or is this your favorite?
Maria: I write paranormal reverse harem stories. I don’t have enough +18 scenes to be classified erotica but I do go into a lot detailed. No shyness with details here. Paranormal and supernatural is my favorite genre of all its what all my ideas revolve around.
Alex: Due to experience in writing, have you gone into publishing yet? I presume between yourself, Jane Knight, Pesha, etc: You help each other out a lot?
Maria: Not yet, personally I'm not ready I want to go through a few different drafts before I’m ready to take that huge leap. And we do. I always tell anyone if they want help just contact me. I don’t have time to read entire books, but I can usually squeeze some time in for workshopping. I don’t mind helping as long as the person can take critical advice and actually wants to improve. I'm big on improving. I once heard someone say that there is no such thing as perfect progress. All of it is imperfect. But as long as you keep striving and keep working towards your goal you'll always make it there. Just lots of hard work and dedication needed. We’re always sharing videos.
Alex: Who are some of your favorite authors? And out of all them, who would you like to meet?
Maria: Rick Riordan is top of my list. It might be middle grade but I’m just in love with all the research and work he’s done on his universe. After that I'd go with Jane Knight. Reading her stories is addicting and I can’t seem to stop. Brandon Mull is another favorite even though he’s another middle grade author his world building inspired me.
And the one I would like to meet is Brandon Sanderson because he’s such a master at his craft at writing The Wheel of Time.
Alex: The web fiction industry has a lot more female authors than male authors, why do you think that is?
Maria: This is only when it comes to romance. For other genres there are more male authors for sure. But with web fiction: romance is the most loved genre by far. I think a lot of guys are more critical of web fiction as well and have less interest in it.
Alex: Do you have any advice for authors who want to write as well as you?
Maria: Write and write as much as you can. The more you write the better you get. Also always listen to feedback, not all of it might be valuable and it could end up being a troll, but be a professional in how you deal with it. Don't be afraid to write garbage either. You have to write something before you can improve it. And don’t just write when you're inspired, rather write as much as you can whether you feel like it or not. Thank you.
Below are some writing resources recommended by Maria Warren, hopefully those links can help you to become a better author!