Name: Maria Gibbs
Where are you from? I was born and bred in West London which is where I still live
A little about your self `i.e., your education Family life, etc.
I am very lucky in that I have amazing parents who gave my siblings and me everything we needed (not everything we wanted). Their love and support have seen us through so many hard times; they were always there even when we didn’t deserve it. I have one brother and one sister, and we are all close. They say you can’t choose your family, well I say I couldn’t have chosen better if I had tried. None of us are perfect, and we have our moments, but we will always be there for each other.
At an early age I became pregnant and left education (went off the rails) but despite their disappointment, my family were there for me. At the age of three years of age my son had a seizure and stopped breathing, he had to be resuscitated. Over the next year or so he was continually in and out of hospital and to cut a long story short was diagnosed (many years later) with Epilepsy, Brain Damage ( caused when he had Encephalitis), ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and behaviours on the Autistic Spectrum. I spent many years dealing with the challenges not only that he presented but that the services that were supposed to be there to help also threw at me. When my son, Mark, turned 19 years old, I had got him to a fairly good place in his life, he moved to a care home in Lincolnshire where he thrives, but he requires support all day and always will.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest news will have to be that I am on the verge of releasing a new short story. I had no plans to do this (deciding that longer pieces were more marketable) and only wrote another short for the UK Indie Festival anthology that I am taking part in. I sent it to a friend/fellow author who said that she thought I should publish as an e-book and let people know that it will also be available in print as part of a joint collection. The funny thing was that I had already seen the perfect cover for it from my cover designer JC Clarke.
I am also the spotlight author for the week of the 15th February in The Bookshop Bistro which is aimed at helping indie authors and for that week, ‘As Dreams are Made on.’ is reduced to 0.99 in all countries.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always written. As a child, I read voraciously and writing flowed on naturally. I remember writing at about eight years of age but it may have gone back even further. A good author makes the reader escape into a world of their making, and that is one of the reasons I love writing too, I can create these worlds, and the only limitation is what my brain can comprehend.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As I have always written, I suppose I have always considered myself to be a writer. When I sold the first copy of my short story would be when I considered myself to be an author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The inspiration for my first novel was something that happened in my life, but the book isn’t about my life, but it gave me the inspiration to write it. This book hasn’t been published as yet still needs some more polishing.
The short story I published came about after a talk I had with someone who suggested that while I am working on my edit on my novel I publish some short stories. I decided to give it a go but with no idea what I was going to write, I placed my finger on the keyboard and the words flowed.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
To be honest, I don’t overthink things like that, I write whatever wants to escape my brain but I don’t tend to analyse things like writing styles. I am very much an instinctive person.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles like editing are the bane of my life.
For ‘As Dreams are Made on.’ I pulled it from a Shakespeare quote that I stumbled upon which was apt for the story and I used it at the beginning of the book. I had a title in mind previously but this worked so well although I do wonder if some readers are confused by it.
“We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
Prospero, The Tempest
For ‘A Lifetime or a Season.’ I loved the quote about people being in your life for a lifetime, a season or a reason and again it just seemed to fit the story.
The short story I am about to publish is ‘The Storm Creature.’ that was the easiest one of all. It was a phrase I used in the book when I was writing it and when I read back through I knew I had the title there in front of me.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t set out to write books that pass on a message. I write for escapism but there does end up being a message in there. If you want to find out what they are, you’ll have to read them for yourself. Haha
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Each book is different, ‘As dreams’ is a paranormal fantasy, it is written from two perspectives Matty’s and her husband’s, Donald. Matty’s has no real claim to reality but Donald’s does. ‘
A Lifetime’ is a Contemporary woman’s short story, explores a woman’s journey to self-awareness as she learns her own value.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I don’t base my characters on anyone I know but occasionally I see a hint of someone I know in there. I do use very minor circumstances from my life.
In my novel, I used an experience I had when I went to visit Hever Castle one day, out of season and it was closed. I had a bit of an epiphany that day about a relationship and out of the despair of the day I found the courage to mend a precious friendship and realised it would work perfectly for one of my main characters.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I grew up with Enid Blyton and J.R.R Tolkien. Those two authors are phenomenal storytellers and if anyone can make you escape into a new world, it is them.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I love a wide range of books and authors: Sharon Penman, the earlier Barbara Erskine books, Tom Clancy but recently I have read a lot by fellow indie authors many of whom are fantastic but the one whose work excites me the most is an author called Sherri A. Wingler her books keep me awake as they really are unputdownable.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Sherri, as mentioned above, writes YA Paranormal, Rose English writes hauntingly beautiful love stories, Riley Froud writes comedy that has me LOL in public, Elaine Chiswick writes tasteful erotica/love, Jo Roderick writes a little bit of whatever he fancies and it works, Tanya Jones writes YA fantasy…I could go on, so many amazing new Indie authors who are hidden in the dusty realms of the Amazon rankings.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
As mentioned, I will shortly be releasing ‘The Storm Creature’ another short story which verges on the edges of paranormal.
I have ‘Is this Love?’ my long-suffering novel which is waiting for me to finish it and the sequel is partly written
I have another book which is time slip/paranormal that is three quarters finished
A novel about Brazilian Orphans who are separated as babies which is nearing the end of the first draft
A thriller about a Barrister who becomes the victim of a stalker, first draft written minus a bit more research
I also have about three of four in early stages.
Eek, I need more time!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Other authors, those that are supportive have been amazingly so. There is a wonderful community feel amongst those who don’t just slam their work in your face and run for the hills at the idea of supporting others. It was such a revelation to realise a lot of what I was feeling was normal in this community.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes certainly, I would love to think I would be able to make it a career one day but for the time being a 40 hour a week jobs supports me and I can indulge my passion for writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No not in the latest at the moment. My previous short stories have had some fabulous feedback but the readers seem to want more and for those, I can see a way of making novels with the shorts as a prequel. This recent short story was never meant to be long due to it being for a joint anthology but I do know that I want to go back and do a spin off eventually but I wouldn’t change what is already there.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Always been there, as natural as breathing.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Yes I would love to, this is an expert from the beginning of ‘The Storm Creature.’ it hasn’t been through the editing process yet so please forgive any and all mistakes:
The rain danced against the pane of glass, wild and wicked until the tempo changed and it curled and writhed into a beautiful, sensual rhythm. Fingers, a palm and then a face pressed against the wet glass. Lucy screamed, a sound that if it were a few decibels higher would have splintered the glass into a million pieces. Long nails scraped painfully followed by an insistent tapping.
“Go away!” Lucy shouted, but the noise continued as though the figure hadn’t heard.
Lightning illuminated the sky highlighting the crazed woman who stood outside, sodden to the skin, black hair plastered to her face and hanging limply over her shoulders.
“One, two, three.” Lucy screamed again as thunder rumbled overhead tearing the sky asunder with its noise.
The constant tapping abated, Lucy with a braveness she didn’t feel edged towards the window. She knew it was too much to believe that she had gone. Maybe she was at one of the other windows or doors. They were all bolted, but Lucy knew that it was just an illusion of safety as that creature could walk through walls if she wanted to.
Lucy labelled her ‘Creature’ or ‘She’ in her head because to attach her name to the presence outside was too much to bear. Adele’s figure twirled in the lashing rain; a huge bang followed another flash of lightning. Adele laughed and spun, her arms waving like an Indian goddess as though she too possessed as many limbs. The elements created a music that only Adele heard as her body swayed in time to the rhythm. The thunder and lightning that petrified Lucy should have had the same effect on Adele but she revelled in it. The louder the bangs, the faster she spun until Lucy felt dizzy watching her. Lucy collapsed on the sofa burying her head in her hands as she sobbed.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I love the process of writing; the words flow naturally. I don’t have too much of an issue, if I am stuck on where one of the books is going I simply move to one of the others and I pick up easily where I left off. I quite like having a range of different WIPs.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Sharon Penman, her attention to detail is exceptional, her ability to bring historical events to life in your mind and hold your interest throughout. I never tire of re-reading her books.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t travel concerning the books but I will be heading to Yorkshire in July for the Indie event I mentioned earlier but this will be the first event I have attended.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The amazing JC Clarke from The Graphics Shed. For £45.00, you get an e-book cover, full wrap cover for a printed book, promotional pictures and extras. She is so easy to work with, not happy until you are. It is a pleasure to work with her.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The editorial process.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
What I learned more was about the process itself and I am still learning I think we will always be learning.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Persevere, don’t be disheartened it is a marathon, not a race. Make contact with other authors online, not to sell your books but to build a network of friends and people who understand you. Promote their work when you can, helping them sell theirs can be as rewarding as selling your own. The good ones will return the favour and from there you will generate some sales and exposure.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I would be more than happy to talk to anyone who has read my books and wanted to ask me anything.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I wish I did but, unfortunately, no I don’t
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
What makes me laugh, Riley Froud’s writing, The Last Leg programme, specifically Adam Hills who is hilarious, the banter I have at work.
What makes me cry is cruelty, neglect, abuse. When I see the suffering of others especially children, the elderly, disabled or animals it breaks my heart.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Tom Hardy, actor, because he is gorgeous (I’m not shallow much!)
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Never gave up, never gave in.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Yes, I love crafting, art, sewing, woodwork (love power tools). I also love speed, I ride a motorbike, love jet skis and horses but don’t have enough money to make them regular hobbies.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of television programmes anymore but do love The Last Leg
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music Food –
Food – My mum’s rice meat loaf, homemade burgers or my own salmon salad
Colour -aqua the colour of the Caribbean Sea
Music – rock and heavy metal, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Guns ’N’ Roses, Iron Maiden.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes I have a website, I admittedly blog very little on there, not enough hours in the day to do everything
US Amazon author page:
UK Amazon author page:
Global Link for ‘As Dreams are Made on.’
Global Link for ‘A Lifetime or a Season.’
Thank you Fiona for these fantastic questions.