Blog Tour | THE PATHS WE CHOOSE by Maria Hollis: Author Q&A

Hi everyone! If you’ve been following any of my social media for a while, you’d know I was a huge fan of THE MELODY OF YOU AND ME when I read it back in January. So when I saw sign-ups for the blog tour for it’s sequel, THE PATHS WE CHOOSE, I just knew I had to join! Today is April 6th, which is the release day for TPWC! Whilst it can be read as a standalone, I do highly recommend you read TMOYAM as well! Thank you so much Maria Hollis for providing me with an ARC of THE PATHS WE CHOOSE for this blog tour and for an honest review! You can find my review here.

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Q&A

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to write Lillac Town?

I always knew I liked creating stories and wanted to publish someday, but it took me a long time to realize that I could call myself a writer just because of that. We tend to idealize this idea that there’s a right way to be a writer or how to publish something, but there isn’t. If you write and you love what you do, you’re a writer. I’ve been learning that in the last year and now I’m starting to accept it as it is.

I guess Lillac Town happened because I wanted to tell stories about young girls who like girls where I could see myself and my friends. There’s many wonderful New Adults out there but none of them are exactly my experience so I decided to try it out. My friends encouraged me a lot to publish them and I did it. It started really as just a few cheesy Femslash romances that I was going to write for my friends, and now there are more people starting to love these stories too. It’s awesome.

If you could co-write a book with anybody, who would you write with and what would the book be about?

Guinever and Libertad, also known as GL Tomas. I definitely decided to venture into NA because of their book F*THS. It’s one of my favourites of this genre. We started to talk with each other last year and without their help, I wouldn’t be writing like I am right now. It’d be a dream to create something with them. I’m such a huge fan of everything they do.

We could collaborate with some ideas about more Latina girls falling in love. Who knows? I may even send them some prompts but i think they may do this even better than me.

What is your writing process like? Do you have any weird writing habits?

My first draft is always a mess. This is how first drafts should be. I write down anything I want, without caring about grammar or pacing or anything. My outline is already quite detailed so I write the scenes without looking back until I have the full story done. After this, I go back and rewrite everything and then I edit before sending it to my betas. We go back and forth many times until I get tired enough and believe that it’s the best I can do for the story. Somewhere along the last drafts, I find a way to fall in love with the story all over again. That’s how I know a book is ready to be published.

I don’t think I have any weird writing habits. Usually, I just sit down on my desk at home and blast some music that fits the story. I can’t write without music because I tend to get distracted easily.

Both THE MELODY OF YOU AND ME and THE PATHS WE CHOOSE are f/f novellas with a diverse cast. What does diversity and representation in literature mean to you?

I’ve been in the book community for a few years now and I learned a lot through other people’s reviews and changed my way of reading books. In the last two or three years I decided to start reading more diverse books by marginalized authors to help me open my eyes to my own prejudices and misconceptions. It started just as a need I felt to find myself as a woman who isn’t straight and now is so much more than that. The world around me is diverse and I believe my stories should reflect that.

What I didn’t know before is that I wasn’t listening or really seeing our differences and how different our voices can be. We should not use this colourblind idea that we’re all the same, something propagated a lot in Latin America. In my experience, people here choose to close their eyes to racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and many problems in our society. As an intersectional feminist it is my duty to be aware of my privileges as a white and cis woman, to know how to use my privilege to bring awareness.

Everyone should have the chance to see themselves in books and other medias. And everyone should have the chance to write their own stories. I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it, diversity is not about one person sitting down and writing everyone’s story, but about everyone having the chance to tell these stories.

I hope that people read my books and believe that they can write their own. And that they can belong to any stories. It’s what;s happened to me. I read books where women would fall in love with other women and I believed I should write about my experiences too. What I learned is that I should make my books inclusive but I’m definitely not going to write everyone’s story. That’s why supporting other authors is such an important thing to do. Our work as many communities becomes richer when we are all fighting to give space for each different voice.

I think it all comes to knowing your limits. Every time I start a new story I look into my characters and try to see: is this outside my limits? Am I crossing a line? Am I telling a story that isn’t mine to tell? And from that, I try to see what I can work with or what I’ll have to leave to someone else.

What drew you to writing romance? Will you be writing books from other genres (e.g. fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) in the future?

The funny thing is that I never wrote romance until a few years ago. Romance used to bore me to death before I started reading f/f, and more important since I started writing f/f fanfic. Then I couldn’t stop anymore because I absolutely love romcoms and retelling that change it up to a more diverse set of characters and relationships.

I have many stories in different genres in my drafts, including mainly paranormal stories. That’s the genre that I guess I’m more used to and that you guys can wait from me in the next years. I love stories with vampires, ghosts and wolves.

Another thing I like to write is apocalyptic worlds where people are just trying to survive everyday life after the war is over. Character driven books are my favourite.

What is a book you believe every teen should have in their library?

That’s such a hard question to answer because every teen is so different from each other. I remember reading THE BOOK THIEF when I was sixteen and feeling like my life was never going to be the same so I guess this is a special one for me.

Also, I’m going to list here a few books I wish I had in my library when I was a teen (among many, many others):

What Hogwarts houses would the characters from Lillac Town belong in?

I’m so glad you asked me this! I’ve been preparing my answer since the first novella.

  • Lily- Slytherin (With Gryffindor dashes. She’s that kid that comes from a rich and famous Slytherin family but only hangs out with students from the other houses.)
  • Mayte- Hufflepuff (And proud! Both Mayte and Chris have this loyalty and patience that bonds them in a deep friendship.)
  • Chris- Hufflepuff
  • Josie- Ravenclaw (She’s the Ravenclaw that spends half of her time lost in books and the other half trying to be friends with all the students.)
  • Karen- Ravenclaw (Both Karen and Hope have dashes of Hufflepuff but their strong nerd tendencies make me believe they’d fit perfectly into Ravenclaw.)
  • Hope- Ravenclaw
  • Anika- Gryffindor (She’s very attached to her family, especially her older sisters. The student that has a family tradition in the house already.)
Which character in Lillac Town do you relate to most and why?

I have traits from each one of my characters but I’m a total Lily. When I was writing I didn’t think much about it, but now that people are starting to read the story and send me reviews, I’m feeling a little more conscious of how people perceive her. Words burst out of my mouth before I can even think much of them, and my honest doesn’t have limits. It’s not always a good thing.

Would you rather never be able to read again or never be able to write again?

Never be able to write again. As much as I love writing, I don’t think I’d be able to live without the amazing stories other people tell. I’m an active beta reader and some days i love it just as much as writing so I guess I’d still be able to do what I love!

Do you have any tips for young writers wishing to be published?

I’m probably not the best person to give advice since I’m still figuring so many things out as a young writer. When I see other people on Twitter talking about their books I always have this feeling that they’re already doing so much better than me. The stories I used to write when I was a teen were terrible and I’m glad I took the time to mature as a person and to find out what I really wanted to get published.

My advice would be to believe in yourself. To believe that there are people who want to read what you’re writing. Many writers come tell me they aren’t sure if they should publish something or if their books would ever matter and I have to tell them that they do. Because you’re all so incredibly talent already. There isn’t a moment where you’re going to look at your work and think that your writing is completely flawless. A beautiful thing about being a writer is to always aim for the better. Every new work you write down is going to be better. I love looking back at what I wrote even just a few months ago and notice how different it looks.

More than an advice for writers I think this is an advice also for readers but remember to send as much love as you can to the people who write stories you love. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a short fanfic someone wrote in their free time or a best seller book, every writer has insecurities and self-doubts. I think our work would be so much easier if our jobs were more valued. Because most of the times what’s standing between writing and publishing is just a little encouragement from someone.

Do what you love, surround yourself with wonderful betas and people who’ll support you all the way through this process. Be ready for a lot of work but also know that there will be many good things coming for you.

There we have it! Thank you so much M. Hollis for answering my questions! I hope you had as much fun answering the questions as I did reading through your answers.

If you haven’t already added THE MELODY OF YOU AND ME + THE PATHS WE CHOOSE to your Goodreads, do it ASAP! These books are some of my favourite NA books and they deserve so much more hype!

Thanks for reading!

until next time
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