BirthMarked by Maria Violante‏

Well-traveled and uncoordinated, Maria Violante is the best-selling author of several books in the realm of speculative fiction--all of them crossovers that require hyphens in the genre description (see:
gladiator-dystopia-rom-sci-fi, shifter-western-historical, or gunslinger-mercenary-urban fantasy.)

She enjoys a well-roasted coffee, Bell's Winter White Ale, and lives in Michigan with her Chihuahua, Beau, also known as “Piggy Wiggy”.

Charlie Kale knows life isn't easy. But for the first time, this truck driver might have finally found her little piece of happiness. She's got it all—her big rig, friends, a great mentor, and a man about to join her on the road.

That is, until the good things in Charlie's life all fall apart, and she finds herself at the mercy of a sexy but mysterious gunman who claims to be a member of a secret order dedicated to fighting the supernatural monsters that filter over into our world.

She's given a choice—join up or die, and while the gunman might be insane, Charlie’s hell-bent on not dying.

Too bad it looks like that might not be an option.

Q) What inspired you to write this story? 
I was actually living on a semi-truck at the time. We would do a lot of runs at night, and for long stretches of the highway, the only vehicles you’d see were semis. Most of them are marked with the names of different companies, but some of them would have blank trucks and trailers, and I’d just think--I wonder what’s in there? They’re so much inspiration for the brain--truckers are mobile, isolated, discreet, and mostly travel at night--and it helps that they’ve long been called “knights of the road”. A secret order of monster-fighters could totally blend into that culture and not even be noticed.

I knew I wanted to write about a female protagonist, and one that was human, that I could actually relate to--and I really love Charlie for that reason. She’s normal--a little chubby, she’s had her share of man problems, and she doesn’t have her life all figured out yet, even though she’s in her late twenties. It’s a story about finding herself and her spine in the middle of an environment that is just choking with rigid rules and testosterone.

BirthMarked is also a homage to Jeff Malone, a real guy that went out of his way to make me feel welcome as soon as we met at a truckstop in Ontario. Right after I got off the truck and returned to “normal” life, I tried working on a few manuscripts that just weren’t working and just getting really frustrated. I was broke and had just gotten this job waitressing for this boss that was just really rude--and then I found out that my friend Jeff had had a heart attack and died behind the wheel, and I wasn’t going to able to go to his funeral. I just went into the kitchen, and I was trying to fill these peanut butter cups with this ice cream scoop, only I started crying--and they fired me on the spot.

I went home, and the book just stopped swirling around in thinky-space and settled into my fingers, and I knew I was ready. There are parts when I was writing it where I cried so hard--and then after it was done, I had to contact his widow for permission to use his name, and I was just petrified, but she was really touched and gave me her blessing and we cried for a while together. I think that’s why there’s so much feeling in the manuscript--tears and love and all sort of things that just seep out of the page, because they were real while I was writing them.

Q) How long did it take you to write? 
I keep records of my daily word count for each manuscript. It’s the only way for me to know I’m getting somewhere--especially as I have this habit of getting halfway through a manuscript, walking away, coming back six months later, and finishing it. So I can give you some exact numbers. The initial draft took roughly two months. First round of edits took another month. Second round of edits took three weeks. It was sent out to various publishers, most rejected, but one sent back a request for revisions. Those revisions took another three weeks. It was rejected again, but with a very nice letter. The revised version (admittedly much improved over the original version) was sent to another publisher, and immediately placed for publication (I think I heard back in three days.)

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing? 
I spent my whole life as an avid reader. When I was a kid, my mom would just drop me off at the library with some fabric shopping bags, and I’d come back with more books than I could carry. I hit the limit for books checked out at once a few times, and I’d take some out of the bag--always heartbreaking! Each book would last me two days at most. I imagine that was the easiest thing about raising me--library visits were free, easy, unlimited, and I was always happy to go.

The idea that I might be giving someone else even a fraction of that experience is profoundly moving. Even if I take one crappy hour of somebody’s day--say on a plane, a dentist’s office, stuck waiting for a bus that has broken down--and make it better--I mean, that’s enough to make you want to keep doing it forever.

With this most recent book, there was the chance to actually honor someone that has passed away. I’ve never been able to do something like that.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
There are days when it’s really hard--when I just hate it. I’m a profoundly lazy person by nature, and one with a lot of insecurities. Those two qualities can combine to make a snowstorm of doubt and self-loathing that make me just want to quit, but I’ve learned to just write through it. If I keep chipping away, word by word, eventually I’ll tunnel myself through to the surface and write something that I love or figure out something that has been stumping me. If I don’t, it’s time to turn to a new project for a while and let the current one simmer--and a lot of times, it just fixes itself when I’m not watching it.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
I’d be Emily Deschanel, so that I could play Dr. Temperance Brennan on Bones. I imagine that has to be the most fun, ever. (Plus, you know, Booth. Yep.)

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it? 
Gimme a second here. *rifles around a bit.* Okay, I think the oldest thing is a triple pack of brewer’s yeast. A while back, I got the idea in my head that I was going to make Amish friendship bread after seeing it on the internet. It’s this bread with this dough called a starter than you can “feed” with sugar and other stuff and it makes a bunch more dough that you give to friends, and then they feed it and distribute, etc. etc. When I actually mentioned to a bunch of my friends that I’d be doing this, all of them declined the bread--a lot of them having done it before. Apparently, it grows pretty fast, to the point of where eating it as a single person kind of becomes a burden.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I’ve got the rough draft for the sequel to BirthMarked just about finished (I mean, I think, but I pants stuff so who really knows--it feels almost done, though) and will be pounding through on that series until it’s done. Charlie is just such a great character that she’s kind of got a stranglehold on my attention, and I really want to see who she hooks up with in the end. (Yeah, I don’t really know either, although I’ve got my guess.)

I’ve got a fantasy series in the works that I’ve been calling the Bad Moon series about a girl that finds out she’s the Morrigan (Celtic battle goddess) incarnate and she’s got to deal with all of this fallout from that. I plan to publish the self-publish the entire series at once when it is finished (kind of a netflix experiment) so that one may be a while.

My novel Gambler’s Luck is currently over at Liquid Silver Books. It’s a historical western, but with shifters, and it didn't sell too well--I think mostly because the cover and the blurb came out without any mention of shifters, and so people were buying it, thinking it was a western, and then holy crap werewolf--the werewolves are having sex, help help!--and people that like shifter novels basically couldn’t find it. I was just going to give up on the whole series, but I've got this great idea for a novel that won’t leave me a lone--a Native American woman whose “husband” gets stuck after he shifts into this evil spirit form, and she’s got to track him down and shoot him . . . rambles incoherently for another half hour.

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