by M.A. Wilder
Today I’m so excited to have M.A. Wilder here with us. Mrs. Wilder is the author of The Té-Trad Tale, the first being published in March of 2013 and the conclusion was published this past February.
Lillian: Thank you for being here today, Mrs. Wilder!
M.A: Thank you for having me!
Lillian: So who is M.A. Wilder? You know, like what do you do when you’re not out writing amazing things?
M.A. (smiles): Well, I’m a 20-something-year-old stay at home mom. I live in New York, where I was born and raised, with my husband and our two-year-old son. I have a degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in math and science, and I have a degree in Women’s Studies. My food pyramid consists primarily of snack foods. I spend most of my free time reading and watching TV. Baseball is the only sport I love. And to quote one of my favorite memes, “I’m outdoorsy in that I like reading on the beach.”
Lillian (laughing): That’s my kind of outdoorsy! And a two-year-old? You must be superwoman! Where do you find the time to write?
M.A. (sighs): I don’t sleep. I’m still learning to balance family and work, so it’s a bit of a struggle. But I get the most amount of work done late at night when the house is quiet and my son is asleep. I mean, it’s unfortunate (shrugs) but something’s gotta give.
Lillian: What author or book influenced you growing up?
M.A.: My biggest influence growing up was the Harry Potter series. The release of the books and movies spanned my entire tween and teen years, right on into my twenties. I’ve enjoyed many different works over the years, but HP was probably my most consistent influence.
Lillian: (squeals) Me too! I loved HP! (deep breaths) Okay, sorry ’bout that. . . . What inspired you to become a writer?
M.A.: I was actually in the middle of completing my master’s degree in Library and Information Science when I went into early labor with my son. His prematurity required a lot of attention and still does, so my priorities changed. I eventually decided to become an author instead of a librarian, and I dedicated myself to writing a series. I completed my first novel, Armored, last year.
Lillian: Speaking of Armored, it was such a unique book! Where do you get your ideas from?
M.A.: The short answer: everywhere. I allow myself to be inspired by any and everything. I ask a lot of “what ifs” to get the ball rolling. And then I basically try to write the kind of story I would want to read while allowing my imagination to run wild!
Lillian: Well, I’m glad you do! The imagery in your books is stunning! I wish I could go to Traterra . . . (blushing). Sorry I’m fangirling a bit! Is there anything in your series that is based on real-life events, or is it purely imagination?
M.A.: I wish I could say I’ve been to an alien planet full of supernatural creatures and beasties, but it wouldn’t be true. I would also like to say that my stories are pure imagination, but that wouldn’t be true either. In order for a story to feel real and captivating, there has to be an undercurrent of honesty, little bits of truth and life, because that’s something every reader can relate to. There aren’t any specific events in the series that happened in my real life. However, there are little bits of me in every character that I think allow for a level of reality and a great deal of connectivity between the reader and the story.
Lillian (nodding): Beckit and Tameka are easily relatable to me, best friends who if one jumps the other jumps with them. I loved that! One of my favorite scenes from the first book is where Tameka goes with Beckit on this wild adventure, even though she thinks the stalker is going to kill them! What was your favorite part or character to write?
M.A.: Ahh, that’s a toughy! Like picking my favorite child. Then again, I only have one child, so maybe that’s not the best analogy. Honestly, though, I had several favorite parts, but ultimately I think I enjoyed writing certain interactions more than others. Whether dramatic or romantic, the scenes between Beckit and Aaron were my absolute favorite scenes to write. I also loved writing Tameka.
Lillian: (sighs dreamily) Aaron . . . and Beckit are perfect! I loved them and all of their arguments (laughs). If you could go back and do it all over again, is there anything you would change about The Té-Trad Tale?
M.A.: Nope. The Té-trad Tale was my first series, so I learned a lot along the way. But most of what I learned concerned the writing process. And because I was a first time author, the lack of external pressures allowed me to write from a really genuine place. Looking back, I feel comfortable enough with the series to say that I told the story I wanted to tell.
Lillian: Well, I can honestly say I enjoyed every word and would love to see more from Traterra. My favorite character was Xoe, though we saw little of him. Is there a character or theme you would like to go back to?
M.A.: Yes! I left so many untold stories back in Traterra, and at the top of that list is probably Linnie’s story.
Lillian (excited): Does that mean . . . ya know (raises eyebrow suggestively) maybe more Xoe too?
M.A. (laughing): Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that poh iverstánts have a huge tendency to fall for their erones . . .
Lillian (giggling): Such a tease! Now that The Té-trad Tale is finished, are you working on anything new?
M.A.: I hate to say it, but I’m not working on anything at the moment. The unfortunate truth is that the sales don’t seem to reflect the overwhelmingly positive reader reaction, so I may not be able to continue writing. But regardless of what happens in the future, I am truly grateful for all of the support I have received so far. And I want to take this moment to say thank you to all of the Té-Trad fans!
Lillian (pouting): I hate to hear that! Just remember Agatha Christie’s first novel never made it past publishers. It wasn’t until after WWI that she got a novel published, and then it was the third one she’d written. So don’t give up! I love your writing style and would love to see more! Sorry ’bout the side note, back to the interview. What would you say is some of the hardest criticism you’ve dealt with?
M.A.: Ha! How much time do you have? Just kidding. Maybe. Seriously, though, I’ve discovered that I didn’t know what criticism was until I became a published author. Like I said, the majority of the reactions to the series have been positive. However, there have been a few harsh criticisms. In Anne Lamott’s book on writing entitled Bird by Bird, she addresses the issue of critiquing someone’s work, stating that honesty is totally commendable, but “you don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it, too.” And let’s just say that in the past year I’ve encountered a couple of chop-happy people. On the flip side, one of the best compliments I’ve received was Armored’s very first review, which happened to be from a teen in the UK. Her words were genuine, and I found them to be quite encouraging during a time when I was receiving tough feedback from a couple of bloggers. The reader’s name is Freya, and I used her words as motivation to continue writing the series. Which is why I dedicated the second book in the series to her!
Lillian: Yay Freya! See people, authors do read what we write!! Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers?
M.A.: Create a daily word count schedule, and stick to it. Writing a novel can seem like an impossible task. But once you realize that it’s just a numbers game, the end result seems much more feasible. If you decide to write X number of words a day, with some simple math you’ll be able to mark the date on your calendar for when your novel will be complete. And that date can provide a great deal of motivation!
Lillian: Good advice! You’ll never finish if you don’t set a goal. Now for the hard, in-depth questions. You ready?
M.A.: (sits up straight) Ready!
Lillian: (deadpans) Favorite color?
Lillian: Favorite movie?
M.A.: The Dark Knight
Lillian: Favorite TV show?
M.A.: Ah! There are way too many to name just one! I love watching TV almost as much as I love reading. I’m a big fan of sitcoms and reality TV, but the shows I’m most enjoying at the moment are scripted dramas. Specifically The Walking Dead, Scandal, and Teen Wolf, just to name a few.
Lillian: Favorite place to write?
M.A.: My bedroom.
Lillian: If you had to choose just one book, what would it be?
M.A.: One? Did you say one? Again, that would be like picking my favorite child. Okay, bad analogy, but still. I appreciate outstanding writing in various formats, including novels, graphic novels, plays, and even TV shows. Because of this, some of my favorite books aren’t even books. But if I had to swear on a Holy Bible and Channing Tatum’s abs and only choose one, I would say Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Lillian: Last question and the most important question of the entire interview. This question was asked to me when I was interviewing for a pediatric oncology job, and the two people interviewing me (Karen and Lawana) told me my answer would determine if I was hired or not. So M.A., what brand of cereal best describes you and why?
M.A.: You’re a pediatric oncology nurse? I believe you meant to say you’re a superhero! I practically lived in the hospital the first few months after my son was born, and I quickly learned that the only people more amazing than N.I.C.U. nurses were the nurses working in pediatric oncology. So I’d like to say thank you for all of the amazing work that you do!
Lillian: (blushing, mumbles humbly) Thank you . . .
M.A. (smiles): You’re welcome. Now, as for the cereal, I’d have to go with Cocoa Krispies because I’m sweet, but my stories snap, crackle, and pop. Ba-dum-bum-ching!
Lillian (laughing): Well, that’s all the questions I have for you today. Thank you again so much for being here!!
M.A: Again, thank you for having me, and thank you for supporting my series!
Please go check out The Té-trad Tale series, on sale now at Amazon.com.
Come back tomorrow for my review of Conquered, the final installment of The Té-trad Tale!