Name: Maya Starling
Where are you from: Zagreb, Croatia
A little about yourself (ie. your education, family life, etc):
Maya: I was born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia. Even though I have an MBA in Business, I ended up in the publishing industry; writing books and creating covers. That’s where my true passion lies. Now, I am a published author, and a cover designer with Panoptic Books Services. Married, and with a toddler, life keeps me plenty busy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Maya: On March 21st I published my second fantasy novel, Book Two in Dragons Awaken Trilogy; Dragon’s Prize. Most recently, the team I’m part of with Panoptic Book Services, contracted with Kace Tripp Publishing, along with the independent services we offer.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Maya: I’m a late bloomer when it comes to reading, and then writing. It wasn’t something I wanted to do since I was a kid because my family was never big on reading, but the passion grew inside me, and my wife was the one that introduced me to the world of reading. Fast forward a decade later. I was fresh out of university, unable to get a job because of the recession. Depression set in and I just lost myself in reading, mostly on Wattpad, which soon turned to editing for one of the authors there. Then, prompted by that author, I started writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Maya: About six years ago when I first wrote something with a beginning and an end, in my own setting, with my own characters.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Maya: I felt bad for the dragons. Why do they almost always have to be the bad guys? Why does the prince have to win the maiden? I wanted to read about the what if, so I wrote it. And also, a little secret: the maiden gets to save herself in the sequel. I wanted to give the dragon a chance at love and the maiden a chance to save herself.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Maya: I’m not sure. Not too simplistic, not too purple prose. I am still experimenting with styles on my short stories. But one this is sure, I’m a pantser.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Maya: It has a double meaning, and it just kind of came to me right from the start.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Maya: I didn’t think about a message when writing it, but I guess you could say the message would be not to judge people, to be brave, to take destiny into your own hands.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Maya: Since the book is a fantasy novel, there is little that is realistic. The setting was inspired by low magic fantasy worlds. Also, I think that some of the characters share some traits with some of my friends.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
Maya: There hasn’t really been a book that has really impacted my life, but there are a few that influenced my writing, and that I love to read:
Sharing Knife Trilogy by L.M.Bujold
Moirin Trilogy by Jacqueling Carey
Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky
After the Golden Age and Discord’s Apple by Carrie Vaughn
Lud-in-the-Mist byHope Mirrless
Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Maya: I love discovering new talent! Especially among the indie authors like
Emerald Delmara, Kim Fry, Poppy Reid and most recently M.A.Ray (totally hooked).
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Maya: There is not only one, but a group of fellow authors from PSG community and among them, my biggest cheerleaders have been Emerald Delmara and Kim Fry.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Maya: Yes! Would love to have that dream come true.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Maya: Maybe just some more polishing, but other than that, it’s one of my book babies and I love it just the way it is, flaws and all. I don’t think a book could ever be perfect and able to satisfy the needs of every reader.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Maya: It originated with writing fanfiction.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Maya: I have two WIPs, the third book to my trilogy, Dragons’ Queen, and a dark fantasy novel Vengeance Upturned.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Maya: At the moment, it’s finding the time to write with an occasional bout of self-doubt.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Maya: Not too far, only in my imagination.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Maya: I made the covers myself and now I make them for Panoptic Book Services as well.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Maya: Editing! Editing is a part of the writing process and I find that to be the hardest part. And not editing as I write.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Maya: I learned to take critique, and learned that I have to trust my instincts.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Maya: Aidan Turner, and someone younger but similar to Rose Byrne.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Maya: Just keep writing, no matter how bad you think it is. There will be good days, there will be bad days, but you will only get better the more words you put out. And read! Read your genre, learn from the masters, read with the intent of editing someone else’s work, because that is how you will learn what works and what doesn’t, but don’t be afraid to develop your own style.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Maya: Thank you for your loyalty and support. Thank you for believing me and giving the wind to my writing sail. And reviews please: 😉
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Maya: I have a couple lined up in my reader: Scream for me by Kim Fry, Hard Luck by M.A. Ray and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Maya: The first book I remember reading and that I liked reading it was The Jupiter Project.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Maya: Lately, my son. Toddlers are funny, and also exasperating, and when you combine it with lack of sleep … you get crying.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Maya: There is actually quite a few people I would love to meet, mostly from the publishing or entertainment industry.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Maya: Here slumbers Maya, the great dragon shaman now turned to stone.
P.S. she was awesome!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Maya: At the moment, only reading.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Maya: Mostly geeky stuff. Fantasy and sci-fi.
Fiona: Favorite foods/colors/music:
Maya: I really don’t have favorites when it comes to foods and music. But I do prefer deep purple or blue, but I mostly wear black.
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?
Maya: You can find me many places! If you like to read blogs, book reviews, free short stories and be up to date with new releases, follow me on www.mayastarling.com If you prefer the social media:
Links to my books can be found here:
Amazon Authors Pages
And, of course, you can check out the Panoptic Book Services site at https://www.panoptic-books.com/ as well.