Maria Gibbs is the author of the newly released novel, A Boy from the Streets, about twins living separate lives, one of privilege and the other in poverty. Though this book is her first full-length novel, the British writer has three thought-provoking novelettes, all of which I’ve read and highly recommend: A Lifetime or a Season (A Woman’s Journey to Self-Awareness), As Dreams Are Made on, and The Storm Creature.
Intrigued by her writing, I wanted to find out more about the author and her work.
Hi Maria. Thank you for sitting down to answer a few questions. First off, I’d just like to say that I find your writing so creative and unique, and your descriptive language really pulls me in as a reader. Do you have a background in writing, or how did you get started?
Hello Dana, thank you for asking me to take part. Do I have a background in writing…erm not a formal one, no. Ever since I can remember I have loved to read and write. I used to read out loud the stories I had written to my school friends who were a rapt audience. There is nothing better than being able to lose yourself in another world whether that be of your own or someone else’s making. For reasons I won’t go into now I didn’t actually finish my high school education.
What was your inspiration for A Boy from the Streets, and can you tell me a little about the book?
A boy from the streets came about because I was researching what it would be like to be a foreign correspondent for one of my other WIP books. I bought Christina Lamb’s book, Small Wars Permitting: Despatches from Foreign Lands. While I was reading it I discovered to my intense horror that there were thousands, maybe millions of homeless children in Brazil. The authorities dealt with this problem by going out on killing sprees to keep the numbers down. When I had got over my initial shock a story took shape in my head and I started to write.
A Boy from the Streets is about orphaned twin babies. Jose is adopted into a life of luxury and Pedro is dumped onto the streets to face the horrors that entailed. Twelve years later the boys are reunited when Jose overhears his parents talking and finds out that he is adopted and has a twin. Upon hearing that his parents want to find his twin he fears that they want to swap him. He goes out looking for his twin and finds him. What follows shakes both of their worlds. To find out any more you will have to read it.
This new book is a bit of a departure from your normal genre, or at least it seems that way. Is there more grit and less fantasy in this one?
I don’t really stick to one genre. Although As Dreams Are Made on and The Storm Creature have a fantasy element about them, they are both different. A Lifetime doesn’t have a fantasy element about it being more of a journey of self-awareness for the main character. A Boy from the Streetsdefinitely doesn’t have a fantasy element to it and yes, it is gritty.
Apart from A Boy from the Streets, there is a fairytale quality to your books, in particular, As Dreams Are Made on, and one recurring theme I see throughout your work is that the protagonist goes through hell emotionally, though there is a search for a resolution. What or who are some of your influences for this style?
Yes, the protagonists do seem to go through an emotional rollercoaster in my stories and maybe that is because I can relate to that personally.
As Dreams Are Made on is my favorite of your novelettes because I just love the message and the beauty of the story both in the details and overall. Yet before I read it, I was confused by the title. Can you explain this title to readers?
The name came to me after remembering that one line from the Shakespeare quote and on further exploration found this online:
“Prospero is making an analogy between the spirits, who seem like illusions, to life itself.
“The spirits can produce marvelous visions, but when they are done there is nothing left, and not even any sign that they ever were. Rather like a dream… something which can be fanciful or terrifying, but then you wake and it is gone.
“Prospero is suggesting that human lives are no different; a sentiment echoed by Hamlet in another work of Shakespeare’s. The suggestion is that people live their lives and then are gone, leaving no appreciable mark and eventually not even a memory of their existence. And arguably this may be so – even if we do remember a few figures in history, there are billions more who get no mention; it’s even likely that many of the ones we think we remember have little resemblance to the actual figure.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on refers to creating an illusion.
“The ‘sleep’ that rounds life is the sleep of death. An unending nap which gloomy Shakespeare characters often like to say awaits us all.”
It just seemed to sum up the essence of the book.
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be?
Sharon Penman and Enid Blyton.
Your books take place either in different eras, different realms or both. Do you ever wish you could have lived in another place or time, and if so, where or when?
Yes, I would have loved to have been around in Medieval England. I have always had a fascination with history and this time strikes a chord within.
Do you have a work-in-progress, and can you talk about what it is and when it might be released?
I have approximately forty work-in-progresses lol. I plan to do a spin off from A Boy from the Streets as one of the other characters has a story that needs to be told but the next one I plan to release is the first book I ever wrote. It took more years than I care to remember, and I left it on the back burner and am now polishing it with the knowledge I have from my previous releases. This one is a two-part series and is closest to my heart. Is this Love?llicit Love and their characters have been with me for so long that I almost feel that they are real LOL.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work full-time. When I’m not writing or working, I like to read, to craft, ride my motorbike and go to the gym.
Tell me something about yourself that might surprise your readers.
I love heavy Metal music.
Wow, that is surprising! There are obviously many layers to this author, much like her writing. I’d like to thank Maria for this chat, and if you’d like to check out her work, you can find it on Amazon. Click here.
D.M. Miller is the author of the interfaith “Heart” series as well as the poetry collection, Dandelion Fuzz and memoir, Half-Jew: Searching for Identity. The product of an interfaith marriage herself, Miller’s work explores the difficult themes of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, family, ancestry and love. See her books on Amazon.
Author Interview – Questions by Elaine Chissick
Chissick Chat, part six, with Maria Gibbs
February 25, 2017
Welcome to part six of the Chissick Chat Blog!
Hello, Maria Gibbs, a British author from London who writes wherever her stories take her. Welcome to my blog. Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself and your books?
Hi I’m Maria Gibbs and I write anything that comes into my head. I don’t read or write in genres so find it hard to categorise them unless they are really obvious. For sales purposes though I have had to do that so here goes:
As Dreams are Made on is a Paranormal Romance/timeslip/Love/adult fairytale
A Lifetime or a Season is Contemporary Women’s Fiction with a smidgeon of romance
The Storm Creature is a Psychological Thriller
Coming soon is A Boy from the Streets which I think will be classified as an Urban Thriller/Crime.
I also have a two-part book which will be purely Love and a number of other books in various stages of progress.
About me: I love writing, reading, adrenalin speed activities like riding my motorbike, jet-ski (not mine!) horse riding but I also like more sedate activities like crafting. I like sewing, cross-stitch, working with wood and power tools. I like keeping my brain active, I can’t stand boredom.
What, or who, inspires you?
My first inspiration was Enid Blyton who taught me the love of the written word and how you can be transported to another world by the clever use of 26 letters. Later inspirations came in the guise of Sharon Penman, Barbara Erskine, Tom Clancy, Susan Howatch, M.M Kaye, Sergeanne Golon, Victoria Holt (in all three pseudonyms) & Philippa Gregory as well as many others.
Do you enjoy reading the same genre as the one you write in?
I read anything that shouts out “Read Me”
Has any of your research taken you to an unusual place?
Not physically no.
What are you working on at the moment?
‘A Boy from the Streets’ is having the red pen treatment by my editor and as soon as that is back I will be finishing ‘Is this Love?’ Written but needs another edit by me and the sequel ‘Illicit Love’ which is almost finished but need to do a bit more research and piece together what I already have. I also have a three quarters finished thriller and a half finished fantasy/time-slip and about 30 others in various stages. I have more ideas than time and money (editorial costs-although mine is really reasonable) unfortunately.
What are your future writing plans?
Just keep doing what I’m doing and finished that TBW (To be written) list.
Is there anything you don’t like about writing/being an author?
I hate doing blurbs, I struggle as it doesn’t come naturally to me as my writing does and marketing. I used to hate editing but have got used to that. With marketing I have no idea what I am doing and no time to learn what I should to be more successful. Having said that I have come a long way in the two years since I first self-published and feel proud of my achievements to date.
Quick Fire Questions …
Tea or coffee? Coffee (although cup of tea with breakfast)
Sweet snack or savoury snack? Both
Real book or ebook? Love real book but e-book is so much more practical
Cinema or DVD? Either (not too fussed on movies – take them or leave them)
Cat or dog? Dog
Weepie or action movie? Action
And to Finish, What is your favourite …
Food? My mum’s homemade rice meat loaf or homemade burgers
Drink? Pepsi if I’m naughty or water if I’m good (alcohol wine or brandy)
Movie? The Shawshank Redemption (love this one)
Book? Too many
Colour? Aqua (the colour of the Caribbean sea)
Saying/Proverb? Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)
Song? No favourite – depends on mood
Pudding/dessert? Pavlova, anything salted caramel
Many thanks for taking part.
Maria will be at the Indie Lit Fest on 26th August in Bradford, UK. For more details of the event, please see my home page. (I’ll be there too!)
Author Interview – Questions compiled by Fiona McVie
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.’
Author Interview – Questions compiled by A.D.Ellis
- Tell us about your most embarrassing moment. (Book related or not)
I’m sure I have more than enough of those but the one that springs to mind is the most recent. I work in a motorcycle training school as an office manager, until recently the students who came to do their CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) courses sat in my office/classroom. I was chatting with some colleagues prior to the class starting. Someone meantioned a previous student who thought the course would only take a few hours, I piped up with “You think that’s bad, I had someone who came in the other day who wanted to book in at 4pm!” Without boring you senseless with work-related information, the course generally lasts for a whole day. The course started; I was sat at my desk tapping away on my laptop. I happened to glance up and noticed one of the students. With a sinking feeling, I realised that he was the guy I had been describing a few minutes ago to my colleagues. It was the only time in my life when I wished that Morton Harket would put a hand out of the screen and pull me into the laptop (For anyone who doesn’t understand that reference- UTUBE Take on Me by A-ha)
2. How would you spend your “perfect day”?
My perfect day would be spent sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean with a book/Kindle in my hand. A ride on a horse or a jet-ski, maybe a bit of sailing followed by a nice leisurely meal a few glasses of wine and time to write.
3. Be honest, do people you know ever make it into your books?
I don’t think I ever knowingly put anyone I know into my books, but I do sometimes discover a little bit of someone in there. I realised that one male character in my WIP novel was a mix between a guy I used to date years ago and a character out of a book/film from many years ago but it wasn’t intentional.
4. Aside from writing, what are your hobbies?
Obviously writing is up the top of the list. I love listening to music and jogging. I am now the proud owner of a Honda motorbike and enjoy riding that although I suppose at the moment it is used more for commuting. If I had the time, money, etc… it would be horse-riding, jet-skiing and sailing. I used to horse ride every week but life got in the way as it inevitably does and now all three of those pursuits are limited to being a holiday indulgence.
5. What are your bad habits?
Gosh, bad habits…do I have any? Maybe too many to list so I will limit myself to two; I am terribly untidy, I don’t necessarily like a mess but there always seems to be something better to do than tidy up! The second one I will admit to is that I am one of those annoying people who interrupts you when you speak. I cringe as I am doing it but by then it is too late and the words are out.
6. Lightning round:
a. Paper back or ebook? Paperback is better but ebook more convenient
b. Socks or bare feet? Bare feet
c. Tea or coffee? Coffee
d. Dogs or cats? Dogs
e. Beach or mountains? Beach, but I do love mountains too
f. Butter or margarine? Butter
g. Cash or credit? Credit
h. Gum or mint? Mint
i. Summer or winter? Summer
Amazon Page: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/profile
As Dreams are Made on http://mybook.to/As-Dreams
Matty Taylor: a beautiful young woman is starting out in her new life with her husband. Plagued by visions that seem all too real she seeks advice from the Gypsy at the local fair.
Donald Taylor: cannot believe his luck when Matty agrees to marry him. A methodical, down to earth, man who requires irrefutable evidence to believe in the existence of anything.
Thomas Trevelyan: Enigmatic and exciting but with an agenda of his own.
Matty is pulled from her life in the 21st Century into a frightening dream world where Thomas Trevelyan rescues her from a crowd of angry peasants and spirits her off to his secluded house in the woods.
Frightened when he cannot wake Matty from her sleep Donald has to start challenging the way he thinks in order to get her back.
If Thomas can win her heart, he will be a step closer to obtaining the ultimate prize but he has to contend with the echoes of her real life endeavouring to lure her home.
Two men lay claim to her love but who will be the victor in this love triangle.
A lifetime or a Season http://mybook.to/A-lifetime
Athena finds herself in the wet and windy South Coast of England as she tries to forget the enigmatic man who ignited her dreams.
Roberto seems determined to hold her at arm’s length but can’t seem to set her free once and for all.
Having lived in the shadows of her self-centred mother, Athena struggles to find her true identity.
A Lifetime or a Season is a journey of personal discovery for Athena as she takes an independent step into the unknown in order to achieve a life-long dream.
Will she find the love that she is searching for with Roberto or will the sacrifice be too much?
Check A.D Ellis out on her website http://adellisauthor.webs.com/apps/blog/show/43375893-meet-maria-gibbs