This week’s podcast guest is Maria Lewis, a journalist and urban fantasy author, based in Sydney. Who’s Afraid? is her debut novel and the first in a five-part supernatural series from Little Brown Books UK/Hachette Australia. The sequel, Who’s Afraid Too? is due out in January 2017. A journalist for over a decade, she works on nightly news program The Feed on SBS. She is also the host and producer of the Eff Yeah Film & Feminism podcast.
During the interview, I chat with Maria about the serious health scare that motivated her to take her writing more seriously as well as the decision to make Who’s Afraid? a series instead of a standalone book. She also reveals her journey to publication which involved six months of writing, six years of waiting to find a publisher and over 120 (yep, 120) drafts!
For anyone who is interested in writing genre fiction or looking to get an agent, this podcast interview will be hugely valuable. Not only does Maria go into great detail about how she signed with her agent, Alex Adsett, she also reveals how a piece of writing advice from best-selling author, Matthew Reilly, helped her in her book journey.
Who is Maria?
Maria Lewis got her start covering police rounds in a newsroom as a teenager and has been working as a professional journalist for the past 10 years. A former reporter at The Daily Telegraph, she also wrote about all things film and entertainment related as the Showbusiness Reporter for The Daily Mail. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Empire Magazine, WHO Weekly, Huffington Post, The Sunday Telegraph, News.com.au and SBS, to name but a few.
Maria can often be found spending much money on comics, watching horror movies at stupid hours, inhaling books on modern feminist theory (aka anything Roxane Gay touches) and holding on to the one belief she has had since she was five: that unicorns exist.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- How a health scare prompted her to take her writing more seriously.
- Why she always saw Who’s Afraid? as a series.
- How long it took her to write it and get published.
- The hilarious story of how she met and signed with her agent.
- How her journalism career has influenced her creative writing.
- How author Matthew Reilly gave her the advice that would change the course of her publishing journey.
- Her views on the common misconception that to be a ‘strong female character’ you have to have masculine traits, like physical strength.
- How she was asked to consider changing her name to gender neutral pen name, for example, M.L. Lewis.
- Her tips on how to sustain a career as an author.
Also mentioned in this episode:
- Vanessa and I talk about the various ways we try to squeeze more reading into our lives, including how we find out about new books.
- Vanessa uses Goodreads to track her what books she is reading, while I use Audible, an online membership service that allows you to download and listen to audiobooks on the go.
- We discuss this article, 13 Tricks That Will Help You Read More Books, from Entrepreneur.com
- We also reference a great new reading initiative called Books on the Rail, which encourages commuters on Melbourne’s metro system to read, share and return books they find on trains, trams and buses. Check out their Instagram and Twitter for more.
- Vanessa talks about the Little Free Library Movement. A postbox-style book exchange that encourages children to read and share literature.
- She also refers to Cheryl Akle’s Better Reading Online Book Club. Stay tuned for Vanessa’s interview with Cheryl in an upcoming podcast episode.
Connect with Maria:
Connect with Vanessa and I
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