Welcome to The Intuitive Storyteller blog’s inaugural writer interview! This Writer Wednesday, in observance of Black History Month, and in celebration of Black creatives, the spotlight shines on indie author Maria Anderson.
A quick note:
During this interview, you might note that many of the questions include the word “we” as if “we” asked them. Well, we did. This detail is meant to include you, my dear reader, and I do hope you enjoy each interview published to this blog!
Additionally, please note that each interview answer is the author's own words and the interviews in The Intuitive Storyteller blog are intended for informational and educational purposes only.
Maria Anderson was born and raised in Boston, MA. Her faith is her foundation and her family is her motivation. She is a foodie who loves trying new restaurants, food trucks or anywhere with a good taco! Maria loves to travel, especially to warmer climates that have drinks with umbrellas, and she loves spending time with friends and family making memories and living life to the fullest. Maria also owns an event planning business, Center of Attention, where she celebrates life’s most precious moments and makes her clients the center of attention on their special day.
Maria currently lives in Florida with her husband and son. The Other Side of Fear and Bridging the Gap are available on Amazon. Book three of the trilogy, Arriving at Grace, is releasing spring of 2022.
About Maria Anderson's Books
The Other Side of Fear
Renee hasn’t been home to Boston in over 15 years. For her, memories of her hometown are overgrown with a forest encumbered by hurtful family secrets, so when she left for college, she had no plans of ever returning.
Today, Renee is a married professional with two kids of her own, a son named Alex and a daughter named London. When Alex announces a family tree school project and needs to know more about his mother’s family lineage, Renee fears having to face her past.
As time and coincidence would have it, and not long before Alex’s project is due, Renee’s husband, James, invites her and the kids to join him on a business trip… to where else? Boston.
With her family in tow, how will Renee navigate the inevitable revisiting of her painful past and face her long-avoided fears?
The Other Side of Fear is the first installment of The Other Side of Fear trilogy.
Bridging the Gap
Renee is back in Atlanta and has successfully faced her fears around the loss of her mother, Virginia. Now, she has an enthusiastic therapist who is helping her to “bridge the gap” in her relationship with Allen, her estranged brother. After finding the nerve to call Allen and ask him to talk, he and his family have invited Renee and her crew to their home in Memphis. Renee is hopeful that she and her brother can come to an understanding about their shared past, and maybe even salvage their relationship. But then there’s Derrick. Virginia’s other son. And no matter what her therapist says, Renee has no intention of bridging anything with him. With her family by her side, how will Renee manage the canyon of emotions shaped by time, misperceptions, and deep-rooted hurt? Bridging the Gap is the second installment of The Other Side of Fear trilogy.
And now, the interview:
Maria, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I think I fell in love with writing in college. I remember not stressing over papers or creative writing assignments. Telling the story was so easy to me. When I was in grad school, I would literally wait until the morning papers were due to start writing them. It would stress out my then-boyfriend, now-husband, but for me it wasn’t a big deal.
Tell us about the person(s) or event(s) that inspired you to write your latest work.
My latest work is the completion to my first published piece, The Other Side of Fear. To explain how I landed here, I have to respect where I started. My main character, Renee, had a story that needed to be told and she chose me to tell it. People have asked if I am Renee—an author never tells—just kidding. I am pieces of Renee. So are some of my friends and family members.
What is your favorite genre to write and why do these types of stories appeal to you?
Fiction because I am not doing the historical research needed to do non-fiction properly [laughs]. I love fiction that has a touch of reality and something that I can relate to. So I guess I write what I read.
Do you have a furry familiar? Tell us about them!
My furry baby, Pollux, crossed the Rainbow Bridge almost three years ago. When I used to type my grad school papers, he would sit on my feet and cried until I would pick him up and put him on my lap. He wasn’t around when I started The Other Side of Fear but I imagine that he would have been on my lap or snuggled next to me for the entire project.
Tell us about your writing schedule and/or a ritual that is necessary for establishing and sustaining your writing mood and endurance.
I am a night owl; I do my best thinking between 10:00 pm and midnight. It’s crazy because I am up super early. But this is the time when all of my other “responsibilities” are done and I can lose myself in a different space mentally and focus on my work. Music is my muse; having it play in the background helps me to work and stay focused.
Why do you write? How does the act of storytelling affect you?
Storytelling is emotional to me. I write for the same reason that I read: to provide people with a sense of familiarity, connection, and understanding. There is someone out there who totally understands Renee because they’ve walked a day in her shoes. That’s who I write for.
Think about yourself back when you first started writing. If you could travel back in time, what would you say to that version of you (about the writing process, publishing, the world, etc.) that might help prepare them for today?
I would give myself the same advice my best friend gave me: write for myself, no one else. Don’t worry about how people will interpret your writing. Trust in your story and tell it from your perspective. Those who you’re worried about offending probably won’t read it anyway [laughs].
What are your recommendations for fueling your writing energy and promoting inspiration?
Give yourself grace and time. Set realistic timelines and celebrate the wins no matter how “small.” Every word you write is a victory! Don’t look for the world to celebrate you; make sure you show them how it should be done.
Don’t look for the world to celebrate you; make sure you show them how it should be done. —Maria Anderson
How intuitive are you and does your intuition affect your writing?
Hmph, that’s a great question. I think so. Yes, the more I think of it, I definitely am [intuitive]. I use it to translate how my characters are feeling, things they may say in response to what’s happening around them. The intuition jumps out when I’m busy doing something else and then all of a sudden I have a flood of ideas.
Tell us about your long-term writing and publishing goals.
My goal for every book is to make it longer, more detailed, and different from the last. I eventually would love to see my books in bookstores. And when we have a handle on the pandemic, I would love to do in-person sessions.
For what or whom are you most grateful right now and why?
This is always so hard for me because I don’t want to leave anyone out. I am honestly grateful to my husband. I know that’s so cliché but true. He has been there with me at some of the hardest moments of my life. He’s helped me face things that I never thought I was strong enough to face. He makes me laugh, he holds me when I cry and he’s truly my better half. We are the best thing that came out of Mirage nightclub 14 years ago [laughs].
Besides writing, what activities bring you joy?
Spending time with my family, finding new places to eat, the beach and, of course, reading. Making memories with my loved ones, whether it’s just my family or spending time with our godkids, or best friend and her family. These are the things that make my heart full.
Which book are you reading right now?
Will by Will Smith
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Scars We Choose, Book Two by A. Lee Hughes
Fill in the blank: Magic is...
Magic is real.
Stay connected with Maria Anderson! Here’s where you can find her:
Next Magic Monday, you can look forward to another celebration of Black creatives through the second installment in my Tarot Stories series: The Magician. In this tarot story, I honor poetry magicians Maya Angelou, Amanda Gorman, Langston Hughes, and r.h. Sin.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Publishing Company, LLC, an editing and design service that helps indie writers grow in their craft and achieve their self-publishing goals. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.