Questions to ask an Author - Maya Linnell
If you’re a writer and you live in Australia, then you probably have heard of Maya Linnell.
Maya is a blogger for Romance Writers Australia (Kiss and Tell), winner of multiple ribbons for her baked goods and the author of Wildflower Ridge as well as the soon to be released Bottlebrush Creek, among other things (many, many other things!).
Maya is an author’s champion. The woman for whom the phrase “There is enough cake for us all” personifies. I first met Maya when she cheerfully and kindly offered to make herself available for anxious newbies to the RWA conference and first time pitchers to practice on. We skyped and she was so kind and reassuring that I left that conversation feeling as if I had made a friend, as well as received some really useful feedback about pitching. It was so lovely to have her to connect with at the conference and again, when I was blown away at her public speaking skills during her authors talk at my local library.
I loved her debut novel, Wildflower Ridge and am waiting with open arms and eyes for the moment she even hints at a release date for her second, Bottlebrush Creek.
Without further ado, please welcome Maya Linnell.
What made you choose the genre you write in?
My Dad built a career as a photo-journalist around a love of motorbikes, finding a niche in covering bike-related stories around the world for motorcycle magazines, and his encouragement to write what I know stuck with me, hence the rural romance genre! I’ve lived and worked in small country towns most of my life, so I know first-hand how special close-knit communities can be. As a rural journalist I wrote many newspaper articles about farmers – both men and women - who worked the land to put food on our tables, facing challenges big and small, like weather, farm safety issues, rural isolation, succession planning and the country-city divide. I also wanted to celebrate the joys of country living, the simple pleasures of hand-rearing a lamb, collecting fresh eggs for dinner and the scents and sights I often take for granted.
I feel it’s a genre I could happily write in for many years to come. Luckily for me, there’s great potential for heart-warming storylines in rural romance – who doesn’t love a handsome hero bottle-feeding a little calf or a city-girl who returns to her country roots? And close-knit communities, where everyone keeps an eye on one another, are also ripe with drama!
How long did it take you to write your first book?
I started writing Wildflower Ridge in late 2016. It took 18 months to write and redraft, whilst studying online at Writers Studio Australia,until I felt it was good enough to start pitching.
How long did it take you to get your first book published?
I started pitching my manuscript in March 2018 and received a contract offer from Allen & Unwin in July 2018. It was a surreal experience, and I was so delighted when my manuscript was so warmly received. Having a background in journalism, a regular blog and an established social media platform was a big bonus.
The best writing tip you ever received?
There’s loads of great advice and encouragement atour fingertips, but I especially loved this quote from Robert McKee. I wrote it on a post-it note, stuck it to my computer, and referred to it many times to stop myself sending my work out into the world before it was in prime condition.
“Secure writers don't sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until it’s as ready as possible” – Robert McKee.
Any advice for the unpublished/querying author?
Research, research, research! There are so many fantastic resources out there for aspiring writers, from blogs and podcasts to craft books and writing courses. Listening to interviews with established authors was a huge help for me, and I highly recommend podcasts like ‘Talking Aussie Books’ by Claudine Tinellis, ‘Writes4Women’ by Pamela Cook and Kel Butler, ‘The First Time’ with Katherine Collette and Kate Mildenhall, ‘Write with Love’ by Sarah Williams and ‘So You Want to Be A Writer’ by Valerie Khoo and Al Tait. I also attended dozens of author talks as part of the research process, and continue to, as there’s something to be learned from every writer, no matter what their genre.
Who is your inspiration in the writing world?
Many, many writers pop into mind - I’d hate to leave anyone out - but I’ve been so inspired and uplifted by the generous Aussie writers who freely share their tips with aspiring authors. They are the BEST!
There have been a handful of established writers (particularly women from Romance Writers Australia) who steered me in the right direction, offered encouragement, congratulations, warnings and advice along the way. I highly recommend RWA to anyone writing anything remotely romance-related.
Thanks for having me Ava, and your strong support of Wildflower Ridge. I love hearing from readers and fellow writers!
Find Maya online for a regular serve of country living, baking, books and gardening
You can purchase Maya's debut novel here: Wildflower Ridge