My good friend Wrighty, over at wrighty's Reads, and I just loved Maria's book so we asked her for an interview,not only did she say yes, but she is generously giving away a copy of her totally awesome book, Perfect on Paper. See end of interview for the rules.How fun is that!
K: Maria, first off I have to say I loved your book, especially since it was so humorous. Any book that makes me laugh out loud is a good one. Your character Waverly is named after a cracker as she points out a few times.How did you get the idea for that in the first place?
M: I'm so glad to hear that my book made you laugh out loud. It truly makes my day when someone tells me that, so thank you! As for Waverly's name, when I was in high school the stepmom of a girl on my soccer team had a baby and named her Waverly, and I loved the name,even though it always made me think of the cracker. It's also the name of a street in my hometown (Palo Alto, CA), although with a different spelling. To this day I've never heard it used again, except of course for Waverly Bryson,I wanted to give the main character of my book an unusual name that people would remember. But my friend Cheryl recently told me that she saw the name Waverly in some list of popular names for babies, so maybe I have started a trend! :)
W : Hi Maria, I'm so impressed with you taking a year off and going to Argentina to play soccer and write this book! How did you come to that decision?
M: Well I didn't really move to Argentina for a year to play soccer, what happened was I quit my job and went to Argentina by myself to travel for two weeks, and I ended up staying there for a year to play soccer. That may sound like the same thing, but it's actually quite different. It's amazing how much easier it is not to come back from another country than it is to move to another country!Then after I had been there for a couple months, one day I decided that if I was ever going to write the book I'd always thought about writing, that was the time. So I started writing and writing and writing, and eventually I had the first draft of what would become "Perfect on Paper."
K: How long were you thinking about writing a book in general and how long for this book in particular?
M: Hmm, good question. Before I went to Argentina I think I'd been kicking around the idea of writing a book for about three or maybe even four years, but I never had a concrete idea of what the plot would be. It was more that I had experienced so many funny things over the years that I thought it would be great to somehow weave them into a book. It wasn't until I actually sat down and finally said, OK I AM GOING TO WRITE A BOOK that I started thinking about the characters,the plot, etc. And once I started writing, a lot of it really took on a life of its own.
W: Waverly has a job in sports PR as you did for a few years. What other elements of the story are based on reality?
M: I guess the short answer to that question is that Waverly's life is like my life if my life were more exciting. The long answer is that many people who read "Perfect on Paper" want to know if my fiancé called off our wedding a couple weeks before? and to that I can thankfully say no, I have never even been engaged! But I thought that would be a good way to grab the reader's attention at the beginning of the book.
After that, the main plot is made up, but many of the supporting
elements along the way are based on reality,including, unfortunately,all of Waverly's bad dates, which were ripped straight from the headlines of my dating life, as well as the dating lives of some of mygood friends. So I didn't have to make those up at all!
As for her relationships, Waverly's friendship with McKenna is a lot
like my relationship with my friend Alison, whom I've known since the first week of college. She's very level-headed, and I'm always
freaking out, so she's great at calming me down and helping me look at the big picture. Waverly's other good friend Andie isn't really based anyone in particular,I guess you could say she's the friend I've always wished I had, someone who seriously doesn't care AT ALL about what anyone thinks about her. Sometimes I wish I could be more like that. Actually, I always wish I could be more like that!
Waverly's strained relationship with her single dad is made up too. My parents have been married for 45 years, and my dad is nothing like Waverly's dad. In fact, as my loyal and highly unpaid administrative assistant, it was he who sent you the copy of my book to review!
K: Is there a little or a lot of Maria in Waverly? For example; do you write greeting cards too?
M: My friends all say that reading "Perfect on Paper" is like
listening to me talk for 320 pages, so that should answer the
question! In many ways Waverly and I are very similar. For example, I tend to care too much about what other people of me and of what I'm doing with my life, and I' always making random observations like she does in the book and in the Honey notes. I also tend to stick my foot in my mouth when I get nervous because I can't think of the right thing to say. But in other ways we are very different. My family situation is a good example of that,I mentioned in the previous answer that my parents are happily married and extremely supportive of me, and I have two sisters and a brother who are awesome, as are their spouses and kids. Waverly sort of missed out on that, but I felt it made the story more interesting to have her as an only child with a less-than-perfect relationship with her dad. And while Waverly doesn't like sports, I play soccer five times a week. I love it!
As for the greeting cards, I did trademark the Honey notes idea and
would love to publish them, but that's not really my focus right now.But if any of your readers work in that business, please get in touch!
W: How does someone publish their own book, and how did you do yours specifically? (It's very well done!)
M: Thanks! At this point I think I could probably write an entire book on how to publish your own book, but the key is to get a professional cover and interior designer. I used Author Support (www.authorsupport.com), and they did a great job. As for the actual printing, I use Booksurge, which has been great too.
K: Excellent question, Wrighty. How many publishers did you approach before deciding to do it yourself and now that the book is out, are you going back to the same ones to see if they have re- thought their initial decision?
M: Oh man, answering this question brings up a lot of painful memories, to be honest. Lots of rejection! After I finished the first draft of the book I came back from Argentina and was lucky enough to sign with an agent pretty quickly. She told me my book was "the one" she'd been waiting on for years, and that mine was the funniest voice she'd heard in ages. She was pretty sure we'd get a two-book deal, so needless to say I was VERY excited. At that point everything sort of seemed like a dream come true. I thought maybe I would even be on Oprah!!
Then my agent shopped it to several major publishing houses (I think
about seven of them), and they all turned it down because they said
the market was too crowded and my book wouldn't stand out. Then my
agent fired me because she said she couldn't do anything more for me.Great. After that rejection, I cried for about three days, then spent about six months rewriting the book. Then I went to a writers conference and pitched it myself to three more publishing houses and four more agents, and they all said it sounded great and wanted to read it. So I was so excited again and sent it to all of them. After a couple months I finally heard back from all of them with more or less the same story I had heard the first time around: Great read. Great writing. Great dialogue, Great humor. Doesn't stand out enough for us to gamble on though-- sorry.
So then I finally did it all myself, and here we are now, and the book is receiving great reviews! So yes, in a couple months I plan to approach the publishers again and see what they think. Wish me luck!
W: What about an editor? Is it harder to find someone if you're self published or does it just depend on how much money you're willing to spend?
M: When I had an agent she gave me a lot of great feedback on how to tighten the book up, but I didn't have it professionally edited. But then again, I was an English major in college and am a professional writer (I have a writing business for technology companies at www.winksink.com), so that's what I do all day long anyway!
K:Will there be more adventures for Waverly soon or do you have a different book in mind?
M: A lot of people have asked me if I'm going to write a sequel. Everyone seems to want to know what happens to Waverly! I would LOVE to write another book, so we'll see. But first I have to get this one picked up by a publisher. So if your readers are interested in a sequel, please tell them to help spread the word about "Perfect on Paper" by writing reviews on Amazon, posting comments on my site http://mariamurnane.com/becoming a fan of the book on Facebook, and telling their friends about it! I would be very grateful?and so would my good friend Ms. Bryson.
W: What genre would you classify yourself as you continue writing your books? (there will be many, I'm sure of it)
M: I really hope you are right about that! As for genre, I guess you could say women's fiction? Some people say "Perfect on Paper" is classic chick lit, but others disagree because it's not at all about shopping and shoes, you know? So I'm not really sure. I usually just call it a romantic comedy. My first priority is the humor; I really love making people laugh!
K,W :Well, you sure made us laugh! Thanks, Maria. It was great having you visit with us. It's always interesting to see the thought processes that came before the book. We'll be checking your website mariamurnane.com to see the progress. We wish you much success.
M:Thank you thank you! I am really so grateful for your support.
Now for the giveaway: real easy
1. For one entry, comment on the interview
2. For a second entry, blog about the book contest and leave me a link, please.
3. For the third entry, become a follower
You can leave comments until 8:00 P.M. December 20th. Please be sure to leave me contact info. Winner will be notified via e mail.
Good Luck! Oops, forgot an important detail. Residents of US or if in Canada, since Carmen wondered, Maria would like the winner to post a review on Amazon. (Canandian winner only to review)Sorry about that. I did mention this is my first giveaway, didn't I?