Today I’m interviewing Maria Bradley, author of the Only Human series. Maria is eight hours different from me so I boarded my virtual plan for a red-eye flight to Manchester, England. There is nothing like snuggling down for a peaceful sleep on your own virtual plane and wake refreshed in another country!
We touched down in Manchester on a sunny spring morning. I had a virtual car waiting for me, complete with morning tea for two. We’re going to pick up Maria and spend the day at the lovely Fletcher Moss Park. It has to be one of the prettiest botanical displays in the Manchester area!
I had her two books with me: Only Human and The Blood Wars: Crystal Secret. These are stories of a human girl who lives in a vampire world and must conceal her humanness to survive. Interesting, huh!
Our ride to the park takes only a few short moments as there is nothing faster than a virtual car. There is barely enough time to drink a cup of tea! Between here and there Maria tells me a bit about herself.
“I have always wanted to be a writer but have never really had the confidence to do it before now. Not that I’m in any way confident now, it’s just that I’ve realized that time is running out and my children are of an age where they can look after themselves to a certain degree.
“I have worked as a Finance Clerk, Merchandiser, Sales Assistant, and Carer; more recently I’ve worked with special needs children and young adults. I love them all and continue to volunteer, but my real passion is for writing.
“Writing a story opens up a world which is entirely controlled by the writer; it can be happy or sad, down-to-earth or mystical, heart-warming or terrifying. It is the most exciting and captivating use of time and is full of possibilities. A good story consumes the reader absolutely and leaves them bereft when they get to the end. I have read many stories like this and I hope that one day my stories will have the same effect. That is when I will feel that I have succeeded as an Author.
“Many writers take their characters with them wherever they go and I’m no exception. To explore their personalities and their reactions to certain situations I imagine them in various scenarios throughout my day. The more rounded the character, the more believable the person is within the story. Your characters must be as real to you as you want your reader to believe in them
“Now that I have finally ‘bitten the bullet’ and dived into the writing world, I can’t see myself doing anything else. I would say to any aspiring Author, and in fact, to everybody who is too shy or lacks the confidence to try and achieve their dreams, ‘Go For it! Don’t waste any time worrying if you are good enough or worry about what anyone else thinks, just do it now, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!’”
We arrive at the park and get out to stroll. It is absolutely gorgeous on the trails and I struggle to keep my mind on my interview questions. “What experience do you want for your readers?“
“I want the real world to completely disappear from their minds, so that they believe that my characters are real people, creatures or bloodsucking evildoers! My favourite books, and The Founders by Holly Barbo is one of them, transport me to another dimension, and give me relief with their escapism; gas bills, overflowing ironing piles, and my children’s questionable table manners cease to exist!
“Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?”
“In my first book Four’s A Crowd Teen/Sci Fi, Chairman is a real life lovable, upper class tramp I once knew in another life.
“With the Only Human Series, Aecia has many character traits similar to my daughters in that she is funny without realizing it, even when she is in life-threatening situations. One instance, when Aecia has been captured and is being taken to the Vampire Palace Laboratory for interrogation, all she can think of is how devastatingly attractive her captor Elder ‘Cato’ is, and how God has wrapped up evil in a beautiful and irresistible package. She yearns to resist him all the way to a live grenade and explode the living daylights out of him! My daughter has a similar conflict of emotions with her Math teacher! Maybe not quite as violently dramatic and murderous! My son’s personalities come into play with ‘Garok’ who is Aecia’s love/hate boyfriend, and Bill (adorably yet ugly, tiny, and failed clone result of the vampire experiments). Bill and the other ‘Watchers’ are crazy clever, loyal, brave and with an acerbic wit. The ugly part is, of course, nothing like my boys, but the intelligence, adorable and comedic traits are my boys through and through! And NO, I am not biased! “
“What are your most significant challenges when you write?”
“Persuading someone else to make the dinner! Trust me, it’s so hard to get a few hours with no distractions so that I can travel into my own world and be with my characters! You need tunnel vision, as a writer, in order to create a believable, interesting and captivating setting, and be able to get your readers empathizing with your heroines and heroes.
“Another challenge for me is the promotion and marketing aspect of being a published writer. With no experience I naively presumed that somehow, some way, the world would just know that I had written a book? I have improved with that lately simply because I now have a solid group of Authors whom I am privileged to call my colleagues and friends. Their expert advice has given me confidence, knowledge and incentive to put myself out there! You my have heard of them Holly? 😉 Indie YA Books? Coolest website for teen and young adult reading enthusiasts EVER!”
I grin. It’s always nice to have my books recognized. I hadn’t been aware she had read any. I had, of course, heard of the FaceBook group Indie YA Books which focuses on great indie published books in the YA category. “Tell us about your most recent release.”
“The Blood Wars – Crystal Secret is Number 2 in the Only Human Series, and Aecia’s refuge on her Uncle’s island is discovered by the Vampires. Her Uncle Kasen has been captured and the Elder’s mind tricks have opened a doorway into his mind revealing the secrets within. Aecia is once again on the run with her party of Watchers, rescued clones, rebels and Vampire sympathizers, and now she is about to discover that she is so much more than Only Human!”
I slip the books that I’ve been holding back into my messenger bag. There is a pretty spot on the trail that has a bench. I had brought some acorns for the wild critters and we watch a red squirrel argue with a jay over the nutty treat. Maria and I can’t help but laugh at their antics.
“So when were you last involved in a real-life punch-up?”
“Ooooh, without doubt, my favourite question! I was 12 years old, my sister was 14 and a curly haired beauty. On the park, she was the big attraction with the pubescent boys brigade, and one day I heard her screaming when I was studying frogs in the park’s pond. Pure instinct obliterated fear and common sense, and I raced over to find her pinned down by three teenage lads who had the strangest way of trying to appear attractive to her. I launched in with my brand new trainers and kicked and punched all three protagonists like a disabled Ninja. In the ensuing chaos I accidentally kicked my sister too, right in the head! As we staggered home together, she could barely see, and between sobs, she uttered the words I will never forget when she said “Next time I’m in trouble, I don’t care what kind, please, please don’t help me Maria.” Ooops!”
The squirrel chases the jay who blithely flies away with an acorn. While that uneven chase is going on I continue with my next question. “What do you want to be when you grow up? “
Without any hesitation Maria answers,“Harry Potter!”
I grin then change topic directions. “Do you believe in a deity?”
Maria gestures to the beautiful gardens around us.“Absolutely! The intricacies of a car are a complete mystery to me but I wouldn’t say it appeared from thin air, and nobody had designed it? How much more complex are we, and our world, and nobody designed us? Even if we evolved from one cell into a billion other things, who created the first cell?”
“Do you laugh at your own jokes?”
“Nobody else does, so yeah, all the time! My humour will not be extinguished!!”
We finish our leisurely walk and get back in the car. Maria signs her books for me which was an unexpected treat. I hate to say good-bye to this fun woman but my virtual plane beeps my phone that it’s ready for takeoff. I give Maria a hug and depart for the airport. If you want to read Maria Bradley’s books go to these links to find them.