ZA Maxfield Interview

Today I'd like to welcome author ZA Maxfield to Fallen Angel Reviews. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us today ZA.
Thank you! It's such a great site!

Tell us about your latest book. What's the title and when will it be released?
My latest book release is The Pharaoh's Concubine, and that one just came out from Samhain Publishing on 1/11/11 which I thought was kind of auspicious.

When did you first start writing? What made you want to become a writer?
I don't think there was ever a time when I didn't want to be a writer. Words were kind of like building blocks to me as a kid, I really enjoyed messing with them, writing stories, silly poetry, or plays. What made it happen when I finally committed to it was peer pressure from my kids. They double-dog dared me to try to get a book written and published and everyone knows you can't take that lying down.

What satisfies you about your writing?
I think that sometimes there's a sense, when I go back and read something, that I really did it right. Usually it's a sentence or two that I'll look and think, where the hell did that come from? Writing seems to me to be part serendipity, part skill, part dumb luck, part hard work and perseverance. All those things go into a book, into anything I write. But sometimes I look at a piece and I realize that -maybe-a paragraph or two exceeds my expectations. Sometimes I don't recognize it as something I might have written at all. That's cool when that happens. I often talk about having occasional moments of great adequacy… LOL That's what makes writing worth it!

How did you celebrate selling your first book?
I celebrated my first book by hiding in my bedroom with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. I was SO nervous. I blogged at the time about that first-book feeling; it's as if you've cobbled together bits of your dirty laundry and have draped it from the balcony of your house for everyone to gawk at. I'm never comfortable when a new book comes out. I usually suffer from quite a bit of anxiety about new releases.

Almost every author at some point or another suffers from writer's block. Have you ever had that problem? How do you deal with it?
I guess one way is denial. I think a writer can only be blocked if they have their heart set on writing something they're happy about. I just figure some days are better than others. I maybe won't write anything I like, but I can't be blocked if I just keep writing. So if it's my day to write crap, I write crap. That's why there's a delete button. :D

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think the most surprising thing is books are interactive in the sense that readers bring far more to the table than I ever imagined. I had a theater arts teacher who used to admonish us to "Refer to the text" when we had questions about characterization, or whatever, in a play. The idea is you would find what you needed to know because the author put it there. Conversely, you will not find it if he or she didn't want it included. But writing romance is a completely different animal. Readers are so much a part of the equation that if thirteen people read my book it's like I've written thirteen different books. Readers talk to me about things, both good and bad, that I had no idea were there. It's kind of humbling in a way but also kind of exciting.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted and when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
You can't know how much that means to an author. That acceptance letter is such a defining, Sally Fields, they like me, they really like me moment. At the same time, you're trying not to let it go to your head. I was just numb, I think it didn't hit me for a long time. That cover… the fact that Ann Caine was going to do my first cover? Holy cow! Dream comes true…

What can your fans look forward to in the next six months from you?
I have two coming out, one is All Stirred Up, the sequel to Stirring Up Trouble. This one features the twin brother of the character in the first book. That one is mostly, like Stirring, a comic romp. I like to take two smart sexy characters and put them together so they can argue for forty thousand words or so… That's always fun. The second is undergoing a title change, but suffice it to say it's a comic novel about a young piano prodigy, a forensic accountant, and a couple of ghosts.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
I think every writer needs four things. 1. A computer. It is so easy these days! I started writing on a manual typewriter when I was a kid, making carbon copies, tearing out paper when it had too many mistakes.
2. The Internet. The web can get you things you used to have to travel for, and a lot of research that used to require hours in the library can be accomplished on line. On the flip side, it's a time sink.
3. I think you need to have a sense of humor, both about the work and about yourself, and
4. The most important thing: a way to turn the writer off, so you can enjoy your life and your family and friends while it's all happening instead of letting life pass you by, and having to write later about regrets.

What book has influenced your life the most?
This one's easy, An Innocent Wayfaring by Marchette Chute. Before I read that, I was a hit and miss reader. I didn't know you could read for real pleasure. That you could find a book that makes your heart soar. An astute librarian gave me that book, my first historical romance (Young Adult), and I realized that books could take you to amazing places. You could immerse yourself in them and it was like a drug. From then on reading became a pure unrestrained passion.

That was a gift, and while I can't quite remember that librarian's name, her face is etched in my memory and I think of her often and with love. That book started me on a course that helped me define myself in about a million different ways. All the books I've read since add up to make me what I am today.

It's the book that made me a reader.

What would you consider your most interesting quirk?
I don't like to make left turns without a signal, so I often make three right turns. This causes much amusement now that the kids are getting to the age when they're thinking about driving.

If you had a warning label, what would it say?
I'd like to think of myself as Pandora's box, I might be full of all kinds of bad things but there's hope. So maybe, "Approach with caution but handle with care?"

Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your works?
My website and my blog, where I talk about the work and other things that interest me.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just want to thank all the folks who have read my books and followed along as I've groped my way around out here. I enjoy each and every time I have the opportunity to interact, thank for your support, you can contact me here.

Thanks for everything!

Thank you for spending time with us today ZA!
Thank you so much for having me!

Interviewed by: Tammy