May 17, 2013

Q&A with Faith A. Rice-Mills, author of Identified: The Maya Price Story

It's my pleasure today to welcome Faith A. Rice Mills, author of Identified: The Maya Price Story. I reviewed Identified here. Go check it out, but first, say hi to Faith!

Faith A. Rice-Mills is the author of Identified: The Maya Price Story and a handful of short stories. She moonlights as a Spanish teacher, but has wanted to be a writer since she wrote the poem “The Jackowhipp’s Wail” as an eight-year-old. Her writer’s spirit resides somewhere between Narnia and Mount Doom, but her physical body lives in Texas with her family. Besides writing, she loves reading (and will take recommendations!), yoga, coloring with her daughter, and watching Parks and Recreation with her husband. She dislikes snakes, the word “literally,” and teaching double object pronouns in Spanish. She is currently working on Burdened, the second book in The Maya Price Story series and is writing whatever short story she has to get out of her brain.

What or who inspired you to begin writing in first place?
I have always had stories, floating around in my brain. They come and go but, sometimes, I am able to get them down on paper. As a kid, I wrote a lot of stories and poems. I have a poem that I wrote as an eight-year-old on the way back from the doctor’s office. It’s called “The Jackowhipp’s Wail.”

I actually had the idea for Identified in 2004, but never really sat down to write it. Then, after I gave birth to my daughter in 2010, I told myself, “You better write this freaking book or you’ll never do it. I mean, you already have one kid, what’s going to happen after two? ” So, I guess you could say I’ve had always ideas for stories, but having a child (as well as the prospect of turning 30) inspired me to write Identified.

Of course, I have the most amazing family and friends in the world.  The have always believed I could write a book, have inspired me, and have been with me every step of the way. (How cheesy does that sound?  But it’s true).  

What is the most important thing that you learned on your way to publication?
I am a self-published writer, so my experience is a little different than those who are traditionally published. When you are a self-published writer, you kind of have to be a jack-of-all-trades. You have to know a little bit about not only writing, but editing, formatting books, cover art, distribution, copyright laws, public relations, marketing, etc. etc. But! The most important person for an indie author to know is a good editor. Here is an example of why you need a good editor:  my main characters,who are half-human and half-onyx, are called shifters.  If I happen to leave out the “f” in the word shifter, it sounds like the most superhuman ability they have is a talent for diarrhea. Sometimes I don’t catch stuff like that, but a good editor will.    

Who are your favorite writers/books?

Ok, so get ready for the craziest mash-up of favorite books you’ve ever seen. (I studied Spanish and Latin American literature for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, so some of the titles/authors may be unfamiliar. But, they are amazing! Everyone should read them!)

So here’s the list: San Manuel Bueno, Mártir (Saint Manuel the Martyr) by Miguel de Unamuno, Crónica de Muerte Anunciada(Chronicle of a Death Foretold) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Aura by Carlos Fuentes,  Pedro Páramo  by Juan Rulfo ,The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by  Judith Viorst, Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald,Holes by Louis Sachar, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 1984 by George Orwell, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and, for a few non-fiction favorites, Freakonomics by Stephen Levitt, Gang Leader for a Day  by Genome by Matt Ridley, Sudir Alladi Venkatesh and Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenriech 

(I don’t even think that’s all of them.)

Can I also include Paul Simon (Simon and Garfunkel) as one of my favorite writers?   What about Wesley Shultz (The Lumineers) ? 

What are you currently working on?

I am working on the second book in The Maya Price Story series, Burdened: The Maya Price Story. I also will write short stories as they come to me. Sometimes, I write them for contests, sometimes I write them for funsies. Two of them, “Gus” and “Stay,” are on my blog under “Short Stories.” 

If you could one of your characters' abilities, which one would it be and why? (I thought that collecting sounds was so cool!)
Oh  man, I don’t even know. I don’t think I would want the psychic powers that Selima has, or the ability to manipulate physical pain or feeling, like Paige. I could probably use the whole sense of smell thing. My husband accuses me of smelling odors that are nonexistent. I smell freaking everything. Seriously.  I wish I could make some of those odors disappear. Also, I’d really like to have Leonas’ power of speaking to animals. I really want to ask my dog Simon (named for Paul Simon) why he insists on pooping on the kitchen floor every time it rains outside.  
Spoiler alert!:  There will be other abilities revealed in Burdened: The Maya Price Story,    

Amazon | Goodreads 
Maya Price is a typical eighteen-year-old girl without many worries. Her biggest problems include getting ready to leave her hometown for college, figuring out how to avoid her ever-so-strange stepmother and trying to muddle though her feelings for her best friend, Pete. Yet, one of her last nights in her hometown, she and Pete are in a car accident. A stranger pulls Maya from the accident, leaving Pete behind, and takes her out of this world and into another dimension. Maya soon discovers that she has been taken to a dimension called Leets by a group of people that call themselves shifters. Shifters are of mixed human and onyx blood and have various abilities. These shifters are able to travel between dimensions, control the four elements (fire, earth, wind, water) and the five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste). Their leader, Victoria, informs Maya that she, too, is a shifter and that she must choose to join them or risk being sought out by their greatest enemy, a shifter named Leonas. Maya joins Victoria and her ragtag group of rebel shifters at a training camp called Level One. he is teamed up with a group of seven other shifters, including a streetsmart girl named Luz, who is especially adept at controlling fire, her twin sister Espy, and a nervous boy named Lamar, who can manipulate sound better than any other shifter. Together, Maya’s team trains for the battles that will soon be inevitable. However, Maya soon learns that her purpose is not to just move the earth or send water flying into the air. There are rumors of a hidden prophecy and that the prophecy mentions Maya by name. Supposedly, the prophecy says that Maya will one day have to choose a side and will be essential in bringing her chosen ally to power...
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