I had the honor to share a table of contents with Maria Alexander in Sins of the Sirens: Fourteen Tales of Dark Desire way back in 2008. She wrote such lovely, decadent stories that I was completely awed by her.
Maria Alexander’s short dark fiction and poetry has been in publication since 1999. Her debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Her first YA novel, Snowed, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel, and was nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel in mystery writing. When she’s not wielding a bladed weapon, she’s being outrageously spooky or writing Doctor Who filk. She lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats, a Jewish Christmas caroler, and a purse called Trog. Want more? Visit her website at www.mariaalexander.net.
Here’s the summary of Snowed: Book 1 in Maria’s Bloodline of Yule Trilogy:
Charity Jones is a 16-year-old engineering genius who’s much-bullied for being biracial and a skeptic at her conservative school in Oak County, California. Everything changes when Charity’s social worker mother brings home a sweet teen runaway named Aidan to foster for the holidays. Matched in every way, Charity and Aidan quickly fall in love. But it seems he’s not the only new arrival: Charity soon finds the brutally slain corpse of her worst bully and she gets hard, haunting evidence that the killer is stalking Oak County. As she and her Skeptics Club investigate this death and others, they find at every turn the mystery only grows darker and more deadly. One thing’s for certain: there’s a bloody battle coming this holiday season that will change their lives — and human history — forever. Will they be ready?
Shivers! Let’s ask Maria some questions.
Did something in the real world inspire Snowed?
Snowed was inspired by a 1200-word flash fiction piece I wrote nearly 20 years ago called “Coming Home.” The story has been reprinted numerous times over the years. My friends at Disney helped me record an audio version for Pseudopod, and Women-in-Theater of Los Angeles produced it as a one-act play. I knew the story had much more potential as a full-fledged novel. It just took me some time to decide how best to expand it.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
I love every scene where Aidan hints at who he really is. Eventually, though, probably the most thrilling scene is when Aidan confesses who he is to Charity. And he doesn’t tell her, but rather shows her. My girl Charity keeps her cool — mostly because she’s a skeptic. I love those scenes because that’s where my sense of humor and imagination really get to dance.
What was your writing process like as you wrote Snowed?
It’s hard to imagine, but I thought early on that I was writing a sweet YA book about a super smart girl who falls in love (and trouble) with an abused boy with a surprising lineage. I had the broad strokes of an outline and dove right in. But when I started actually writing the book, someone wound up brutally murdered in Chapter 5. I knew it was right for the story, which meant I had to rethink the entire plot. Why I ever thought I wouldn’t be writing a book that was totally lights out is anyone’s guess.
In the end, it was one of the most joyous experiences of my life. I loved writing from a teen’s perspective. I was able to reach back to the emotions and dreams of my own adolescence to have a lot of empathy for teens today.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
Two things happened that sort of go hand in hand. First and best of course was winning the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a YA Novel. The book was also nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel, which is given out by the World Mystery Convention. I was deeply thrilled that this cross-genre book was recognized in both genres.
Getting fan mail from teens was amazing, too. YA is a great genre.
What do you have planned next?
Snowed was Book 1 in the Bloodline of Yule Trilogy. Book 2 is called Snowbound, which will be out September 8, 2018 from Ghede Press. I’m also currently working on a historical YA thriller with a magical twist. It’s about a real person named Julie d’Aubigny aka La Maupin, one of the deadliest blades in France, if not all of Europe, during the 17th century. But I’m starting when she’s 16 years old — just as she’s discovering that she’s both a badass and bisexual. As a demonic creature is killing the children of France, Julie must use her sword, wits, and gender-bending wiles to conquer the evil that seeks to destroy both her and her country. Magic is illegal, and so is dueling, but that won’t stop La Maupin.
Loren’s note: Doesn’t the La Maupin book sound amazing? Cannot wait!
You can pick up Snowed, winner of the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel, or Mr. Wicker, winner of the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, at Amazon or wherever you like to order books. Watch for Maria’s new novels on Amazon or wherever books are sold.