Interview with Maya Banks

Jen: Readers, please help me welcome Maya Banks to Book Talk this week. Maya, will you please share a short bio with us?
Maya: I live in Texas with my husband and three children. We’re outdoorsy people and love to hunt and fish or spend a day at the lake hanging out in the boat. Or at the beach. We also love to travel. We just returned from a trip to Scotland which was a blast. I’m a very off the beaten path person and try to avoid the well trodden roads 🙂

Jen: Tell us about newest releases and where they are available.
Maya: I just released Sweet Persuasion from Berkley Heat and The Tycoon’s Secret Affair is now available through eharlequin and will be available in stores everywhere August 12th. Sweet Persuasion is the second book in my Sweet series at Berkley. Book 3, Sweet Seduction, releases this October and book 4, Sweet Temptation, releases next April. You can find blurbs, covers and excerpts for all my releases at my website.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Maya: I wrote countless really long ass novels in junior high and high school. I still have those old notebooks and if I need a good laugh, all I have to do is pull them out. I took a break for real life for awhile but I still wrote stories in my head. Finally after my third child was born, I decided that I may as well make money doing something I loved and I really liked the idea of being my own boss and setting my own hours. A couple of years later I sold to an epublisher and a NY publisher within two months of each other. I’ve been writing furiously ever since!

Jen: How does your family handle the time that you write? Are they supportive or disruptive?
Maya: I think in the very beginning, the idea of making a career out of writing was a nebulous cloud to my husband. He’s a very black and white kind of guy. To him you go to school get a degree, get another degree then you go to work. It’s almost like you perform steps A, B, and C and this will happen. With writing, you can perform steps A through Z flawlessly and there is still no guarantee you’ll “get the job.” It was a bit mind boggling to him that I’d put in so many hours and get absolutely nothing in return for so long. Until I reminded him it was a lot like getting a college degree. You go to school for four years and bust your ass and when you “graduate” you start drawing a salary when you land the job. That first contract was my “graduation.”

Nowdays everyone is great and really supportive. The kids know when I tell them I need to hole up and write that they aren’t to bother me unless there is fire or blood, and my husband will actually teasingly nag me when he catches me screwing around on email or twitter and say something like “shouldn’t you be writing?” Which immediately guilts me into closing the browser.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Maya: Sarcastic, emotional, fun.

Jen: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to your experience? If so, how?
Maya: Hmm I don’t know if it’s changed so much as it’s been refined. The bare bones have always been there. My voice hasn’t changed but the presentation has gotten better. It’s tighter and more succinct.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Maya: I really have no idea. Most of the time they pick me. I’m super picky about names. It has to be just the right one and I’ll anguish over them until just the right one pops out at me.

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?
Maya: Everything about romance appeals to me. I love sigh stories. I love romance and love. I’m a literary snob. I won’t read a non romance book.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Maya: The most challenging aspect is writing when I don’t feel like writing. Making myself get the word count when I’d rather do anything but write. The easiest is just the fact that I’m actually getting paid to do something I love more than anything else. It still boggles my mind.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Maya: Reader emails

Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of your first book?
Maya: You know, I don’t really remember. I was on vacation when I signed with my agent and sold the book the day following my return so I was pretty wiped and in the middle of a mountain of laundry. I know I squealed a lot and squeezed my husband repeatedly. I know we went out to eat but the rest is sort of a blur. These days I make it a point to celebrate every single contract. I don’t want that feeling to ever get old. Whether it’s my first book or my 50th I don’t ever want to take it for granted.

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one that you identify most with?
Maya: I have lots of favorite characters and I can’t really say I identify with them because I try not to write people who are anything like me. I’m the most boring person in the world and if I ever got autobiographical, I’d put my readers to sleep. Some of my favorite characters I’ve written are Tyana from Into the Mist, Manny and Jules from Long Road Home, Ethan and Rachel from The Darkest Hour, Reggie from Be With Me, Micah from the Sweet series.

Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Maya: Wow, definitely this year. This has been the most awesome year and it’s only half over. I just sold my 11th book this year and it started with a historical trilogy I sold to Ballantine.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Maya: I certainly don’t have as much free time as I used to but when I’m not working, we go to the lake, or the beach. We travel. Take long drives. And I love to curl up with my Kindle.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Maya: More of the same 🙂 Lots of writing. Lots and lots! I launch a new series with Berkley in 2010. My Kelly series which is action adventurish/romantic suspense and then in 2011 I’ll release my Scottish Medieval trilogy with Ballantine. I’ll also publish a new miniseries with Silhouette Desire in summer of 2011. So I’m definitely looking forward to a fun couple of years 🙂

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Maya: oh lots of places. My website of course, www.mayabanks.com and also at the Writeminded Blog, www.writemindedblog.com and the Writeminded Readers Yahoo Group at groups.yahoo.com/group/writeminded_readers and you can also look me up on twitter. My user name there is Maya_banks

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Maya: What’s the number one thing you look at when thinking of buying a book? Is it the cover? Author name? Blurb? For me it all rests on the blurb. An author doesn’t get a free pass from me just because I’ve liked past books *g* The blurb still has to hook me for each and every book.

Jen: Thank you Maya for taking time from your busy schedule to drop in on Book Talk. Readers, Maya is giving away copies of Sweet Persuasion and The Tycoon’s Secret Affair to two lucky commenters. To enter the contest, answer Maya’s question or ask one of her. Then you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com to let us know that you want to enter the drawing. If you do not do both steps, you will not be entered in the drawing. The contest is open to everyone and the winner will be drawn on Thursday, July 23 around 5pm PST.