|Click on image to purchase from Amazon|
Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I'm Maria E. Andreu and I'm the author of The Secret Side of Empty, a contemporary YA fiction novel in which the main character is an undocumented immigrant.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I've always loved writing. I have this wonderful diary from when I was 12 in which I wrote, "Most of all I want to be a writer." I suppose I grew to like it because it was a way to always feel free.
Your first novel draws upon your own experiences, where does the line sit between fact and fiction? And how did you decide where to draw that line?
The Secret Side of Empty is totally fictional, but I like to say that a lot of the feelings are the same. So, for example, when M.T. (the main character) feels excluded, the circumstances that cause her to feel like that are fictional. But her experience of it is very similar to mine.
Deciding where to draw the line was a very interesting process. At first it was hard. Then there came this magical point where it was as if the characters were deciding what needed to happen. I know it sounds kooky but it's totally true. It stopped being my book and became theirs.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
So many! Queen Elizabeth I comes to mind, this amazing woman showing her stuff in an era in which women weren't supposed to lead and be tough. But I bet some of the coolest people in history are those whose names we don't even know.
What is your favourite song lyric?
I tend to go for the dark and moody lyrics. They captivate and haunt me. There's this 90s song "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers. I can listen to that over and over again. "There's got to be an opening somewhere here in front of me through this maze of ugliness and greed." I actually think life is awesome, but I've definitely felt at times like I've been stuck in a maze of ugliness and greed. And that's actually really valuable as a writer, being able to tap that.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I love it all. The feeling of flow, when the words are just passing through you onto the screen. I love going back to re-read something later and falling in love again, thinking, "Yeah, I totally remember how I felt and what I was trying to say here." But I love the rest of it too, the blocks, the problems, the angsty life of the writer. It's an exquisite kind of torture.
And the most challenging?
I wish I could find more time to write. When I'm on I'm really on. I can write thousands of words a day. But then it shuts off. I like to say I am a sprinter, not a marathoner. That's a challenge when writing a novel.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm halfway through my second novel about a girl who falls for the wrong guy. Social media mayhem ensues.
Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The Secret Side of Empty is a YA novel about M.T., a high school senior whose life seems as normal as all her friends', except she's got a secret: she's an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. As the end of high school draws near, she sees her life unraveling and her options dwindling and she must find her strength to create the kind of life she wants for herself. You can read more and add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...
You can also find more background, a playlist, character info and more at http://MariaEAndreu.com