Name: Maria Vickers
Where are you from: I’m a Navy brat that grew up in different places, but after my dad retired, we moved to Waco. I still consider Texas my home, however, I’m currently living just outside of St. Louis, MO.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc: I have a MBA in Global Management and grew up in the Navy. My dad retired from the military when I was 13, and we moved to Texas. I used to hate Texas, but it has become the place I call home. I have two sisters and one brother. They are all married, and I’m still single. My older sister has three boys and my brother is celebrating the birth of his first child, another boy. I was working on my psychology degree when I started to run into some health issues and it was put on the backburner.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Currently I’m working on my first M/M gay romance, titled By the Book. It is about a teacher and his former student falling in love and the issues they face. So far, the feedback from my beta readers has been amazing. I also recently released my second book in my Love Seekers Series, Redeemed. The Love Seekers Series has been cathartic for me and I love writing those characters. The final book should be released at the end of the year, but before that is written, I’m going to try my hand at writing a Rom-Com.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was a kid. I can remember being six or seven and turning on the typewriter my parents had in the office. They asked what I was doing and I said I was writing a book. I always loved writing and had a passion for it. After high school, I took a break because life got in the way. In 2010, I became very sick and disabled. My younger sister recommended I start writing again to give me something to do. I started with fanfiction, and as soon as I started, I didn’t want to stop. My readers on there were the ones that convinced me to start publishing. I wasn’t going to, but I figured why not. And now it’s turned something amazing for me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer even as a kid. I wanted to write and would think up crazy stories. I remember telling my little sister one time that I was a fairy princess and that I had been switched at birth. She believed me until she talked to my parents. LOL.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My readers on Fanfiction.net inspired me to write my first book, Another Chance. They pushed me to publish period. And I’m so happy I did. Another Chance is going through re-edits because I’ve learned a lot since I hit publish on that book, but that book will always be special to me.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know if I have a particular writing style. My books tend to be very character driven and pull at the heart strings. I like to keep the characters realistic and put them in real life situations. That said, I think I’m constantly growing and learning new things.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
With all of my books, I try to pick a title that encompasses the book. For example, in Redeemed, Chad and Rayne had their issues and dark past, they needed to find Redemption for themselves and others. In my upcoming release, By the Book, not only is it a play on the fact that it involves a teacher and former student of his, but they have self-imposed rules that they are trying to follow. They have to follow them, or write a new set of rules to follow.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My biggest message is to be true to yourself. In By the Book, Sam and Josh have to hold onto their beliefs, even if it goes against what everyone else thinks. They take hold and remember who they are. It’s not always easy, but you can’t find happiness unless you do.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think I put a little of myself in all of my books. In By the Book, it was about learning who I am, but more than that, there are people who say if you’re gay it’s because you chose it, or that you can’t have a real committed relationship. I believe anyone can no matter who you love. In Redeemed and Exposed, those are my stories. Emma in Exposed is based on me and my journey with becoming disabled. In Redeemed, I tackled the people who have disliked me without knowing me, simply because I’m different, I use a walker. Rayne is based on those people who told me I brought this on myself or that I needed to hide myself away. Yes, those people do exist.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t know if any books influenced me per se. I remember reading Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography and thinking it would have been amazing to meet this woman. Other than that, I try to learn a little bit about writing style and the way an author weaves their words together from all of the books I read. However, the people that influenced me most were my high school Creative Writing teacher, Mrs. Shelton, and my high school English teacher, Mrs. Adair. They helped to really shape and mold my writing, and I still look back on their lessons and try to apply them.
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?
New authors that have grasped my interest are Shana Vanterpool, Z.B. Heller, Kindle Alexander, A.L. Wood, and J.C. Santo. Each one of them is able to pull me into their story. I can relate to their characters or understand them on some level. My favorite author is Julie Garwood. I’ve read her books since high school. I love how she can describe the situation so perfectly, it’s like your there. In her FBI series, she seamlessly blends the romance with the suspense and intrigue. I’ve always looked up to her as one of those authors I can learn from.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I think the biggest entity that supported me before anyone else, outside of my family, are my readers on Fanfiction. Some even crossed over and followed me into the book world and have grown with me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do see writing as a career, but I also see it as an escape. After I got sick in 2010, I was lost. I didn’t know what I was doing because suddenly, I couldn’t work. I was in a deep, dark hole of my own making. Writing helped to pull me out. I still can’t work, but I can write. It may take me longer than most, but I can write and share my imagination. Writing has been my saving grace and helped me to cope with my disease.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I wouldn’t change anything about Redeemed or By the Book. I think they are both good and I’m proud of them.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t really remember why I suddenly wanted to start writing. I know I had been telling stories before I got the itch, but I think it might have been an episode of Sesame Street as odd as that sounds.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here is a brief excerpt from Redeemed. Copyright 2017, Maria Vickers.
“Young man, this is a wedding, not a funeral.”
“P-Pardon me?” I stammered, flabbergasted. Who the hell was this woman?
“Oh my. Where are you from?”
It was the same reaction I had from several people. While I had lived in the States since my childhood, a slight British accent lingered. “U.S. by way of London. Could you repeat what you said?”
Patting my arm, she said, “You look like you are either going to commit murder, hide a body, or your best friend just died.”
“What?” I blinked, trying to wrap my head around what this little old woman said. “Who are you?” Clenching my fists, I hoped and prayed for patience while I at the same time demanded answers from her. It wasn’t her fault. The poor woman probably felt confused or maybe had one too many to drink, but I couldn’t help my annoyance. I should be keeping an eye on Rayne, and this woman, prevented it with idle chit chat.
“That’s my name. I’m Grace. I met Bryan when he flew in to see Emma one day. We had the pleasure of sitting next to each other on the plane. When he told me his story, I simply knew they would get married. So I put him on my bucket list and told him I would be here for the wedding. Imagine my delight when he actually remembered me and sent me an invitation. Do you know that I made my flight arrangements right after I opened the envelope? It’s true. They are such a lovely couple. My husband, Bert, would have thought so too. He might have been a gruff Navy man, but he was a closet romantic. I think you might be too.”
“And why would you think that?”
“I can tell. There is just something about you,” she answered me with a grin and a wink.
Shaking my head, I tried to clear it in order to process her side of this odd conversation, however, I could not stop myself from looking at this weird woman as if she had two heads. “Grace?” I stopped after that question. My head spun, and I was only able to really grasp one fact and hold onto it with both hands: her name.
“Are you slow, dear? Did you drink too much?” She patted my arm again, gazing up at me with what I could only describe as sympathy.
Slow? What the fuck was this woman saying? “Look…” What did she say her name was again? Apparently, I had let go of that factoid as soon as she asked about my mental capabilities.
“Right. Grace. Look, Grace, I appreciate your concern—”
“I’m not concerned.”
Only the manners that had been engrained into me as a child prevented me from rolling my eyes at this old broad, and the temptation to run my hand over my face in frustration had me once again clenching my fists at my sides. “You’re not concerned,” I repeated. Crap! I really did sound slow.
“No, I can tell your feelings run deep and your heart is in the right place.” Her voice became almost melodic as she giggled.
Had she noticed how much I wanted to put Rayne in her place? Or had she noticed how my eyes would periodically drift over to the bride in those moments my brain lost the battle to my heart? “They are,” was the only thing I could say because regardless of which one she was referencing, they were both true. As much as I wanted to wring Rayne’s neck, I still cared about Emma. Everything I did was to make sure she never had to stress about Rayne and her particular brand of hate ever again.
“Don’t worry. She has a lot to learn, but when Rayne finally figures it out, a new world will open for her, and you’ll be right there.”
“Maybe to kick her ass…uh pardon me.” My face started to burn scarlet all because I cussed in front of an old woman.
And just for you, here is an unedited excerpt from By the Book. Copyright 2017, Maria Vickers. Tentative release date is 6/14.
With some lingering trepidation, I got out of my car and took a sweeping glance of my old neighborhood before I slowly placed one foot in front of the other and forced myself to go home. That short trip from the car to the door, shuffling up the cracked walkway that lead to the house, gave me more anxiety than anything I’d dealt with at FSU.
One more deep breath when I reached the porch, and I opened the door to step inside, and stopped with only one foot in, frozen in my tracks. Across the living room, in the kitchen, leaning against the island, stood the one man I had been trying to get away from.
We stared at each other, both too shocked to move. I pulled my other foot inside and dropped the bag in my hand. It landed with a loud thud. Yes, Imperial was probably one of the smallest towns around. Yes, Sam lived in the same small town and taught at the local high school, but that did not mean I expected to see him in my house, standing in my mother’s kitchen. If I managed to run into him, I would have sworn it would have be around town or at a restaurant, not here.
Neither of us broke eye contact. I hadn’t seen him in three years, but right now, it felt as if that time had not separated us. All I could think about was the letter I wrote him, the one I shoved in his hands after graduation had come to a close. I left for Florida the next day. Had he read it? I wanted to know, and yet, at the same time, I wanted to pretend I was never that bold.
Much like the house, he hadn’t changed. His white t-shirt pulled tight across his chest, and I could see his tattoos disappearing underneath his sleeves. The tattoos covered one arm completely, while the other one only had a half-sleeve. I also knew that he had ink that covered his back and one leg. There was something sexy about a man covered in color. Actually, it was only this man. Others with tattoos did nothing for me. It was only Sam.
In my dreams, I could picture it all so clearly. The colorful swirls of pictures flowed over his skin from his upper back to his ankles, his skin alive with vivid color. I’d dreamed of kissing every inch of paint.
Samuel Cayden appeared as if my magic in my life as a sophomore. This was the man I had been thinking about yesterday, the reason I pushed Jacob away. And now he stood less than fifty feet from me.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The biggest challenge for me in writing, is writing. Due to my health issues, I have to take a lot of breaks and can’t stare at a computer screen for too long, but I manage and push through to finish the book. I also hate editing. I wish I only had to write. LOL.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
So far I haven’t had to travel much in regards to my books besides the book signings I sign up for. But I do like to do my research, so I may do some more traveling in the future.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All of my covers except for Another Chance, have been designed by T.E. Black Designs. She is amazing!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing is making sure my words flow and come across. Thankfully, I have a great team of beta readers who give me plenty of feedback.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think I learn a little bit more with each book I write. Maybe it’s about myself or about the process. In this one, I learned I can push myself and write something completely different than I have before.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
This is a hard question. LOL. If it was By the Book, the models on the cover are also my muses, so they could play their characters. But if it’s the Love Seekers Series, I think Victor Webster for Bryan and Chris Hemsworth for Chad.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I think my advice will be the same that many others have given. Read a lot. You can learn a lot from what you read. But I’ll add, don’t limit yourself. Push your boundaries and keep plugging away at it. I label myself as a romance author because no matter how much I try to take it out, romance always slips in. I’m a romantic at heart. But other than that, I don’t label myself. I write contemporary, new adult, suspense, thriller, and gay M/M romance. If it’s romance, I’m going to try it. I’ll also say this, don’t write because you think you are going to get rich quick. You more than likely won’t. Write because it’s your passion, and if you do, your readers will follow.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to thank all of my readers for their support. I really don’t know where I would be without them. My readers have been amazing, and the people in my Love Seekers group have been amazing. They share my promos and help me when I’m having a bad day. I love them all.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Ruin Me by Shana Vanterpool. She always tugs at my heart strings. I needed tissue.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think it was my mom reading Winnie the Pooh to me or it might have been The Giving Tree. Not sure.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m a huge sap. So almost anything can do it.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Katherine Hepburn. She seemed like an interesting person and I loved her autobiography, Me.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
On my headstone, I’d want, “She lived and followed her dreams.” I think that is fitting for me because every day is a struggle, but I’m still here and I’m following my dreams.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Other hobbies I have are blogging about books, reading, painting, and designing teasers and graphics for friends.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love old movies, but I also like to watch Murder She Wrote, Big Bang Theory, different anime, and Hallmark movies.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite food is Chinese (real stuff). My Chinese grandmother passed down some of her recipes to me, so these are my favorite. There is a local restaurant here named Thai Rama that is a close second. LOL. My favorite color is pink, followed by aqua and black. My favorite music is country, but my favorite singer of all time is Bing Crosby.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I think if I didn’t write and could do something, I’d be in psychiatry. I find it fascinating how the mind works.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here are my links to stalk me. I’m still working on getting an actual website up and running.
Join the Love Seekers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1362108480474447/
Here are my books:
Another Chance: http://a.co/aagTvwU
Exposed (Book One of the Love Seekers Series): http://a.co/fQAdVt6
Redeemed (Book Two of the Love Seekers Series): http://a.co/7vZZpCi
By the Book: Coming soon