I don’t recall the exact moment I connected with poet and author, Maria Haskins. All I know is she has been extremely supportive of my work, and when I dug a bit deeper, I was not surprised to learn how talented she is.
For the past couple of months, we have both read for The Word Count Podcast, and it’s made me appreciate Maria’s stories and writing style.
I’m very happy to offer Maria a forum to share of herself and her books on Eden’s Exchange.
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Welcome Maria! Let’s start with a personal question. Tell readers about your greatest extravagance.
Probably books and food. I buy books all the time, though luckily these days a lot of them are ebooks so they’re not as expensive as they once were. Plus, I enter any and all sweepstakes and giveaways for book that I like to fuel my habit! I also love food, and cooking (at least most days), so buying a good steak, prawns, maybe some nice beer to go with it, that’s another way I like to spend money. Oh, and going out for a nice cocktail. There’s a place called Pourhouse in Vancouver that is just awesome for that.
Books and food are high on my list too. Do you have a motto you live by?
As a writer, my mantra is from Karen Blixen: “Write a little every day, without hope, without despair.” That works for me.
I love that. What makes you laugh, and I mean, REALLY laugh?
My kids, on good days…ha! They can be a handful, for sure, but they do make me laugh too. And funny movies: stuff like Galaxy Quest, for example. That movie really makes me laugh.
How about one thing you want to do before you die?
Travel more. I traveled quite a bit when I was younger, and I’d love to revisit some places with my kids, like Egypt, Greece, Portugal and Spain. And I’d also love to go traveling farther afield: Australia and Japan are high on my list of places I’d love to go.
We have so much in common. I also love travel. 🙂 Let’s talk about your writing. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere and nowhere, or that’s what it feels like. When writing prose, I write mainly science fiction and fantasy, and some story ideas just seem to pop out of nowhere. They especially seem to pop into my head when I’m walking the dog. Recently I had one idea that came from a very specific source: it was sparked by some Halloween artwork posted online by artist Helle Gade. It was this evocative image, with bats flying through the branches of a tree. The bats looked as though they were sort of forming from the smoke, and that image triggered a story. The story still isn’t totally final, so I can’t share it yet, but it was one of the clearest moments of inspiration I’ve had in a very long time.
How fascinating. I’ve worked with Helle Gade, so I’m familiar with her original photographs. What motivates you to write?
I don’t know. It’s something I do because I feel an inner need to do it. I’ve been writing since I was a child, and I can’t stop. For a few years I had terrible writer’s block, and only moved through it slowly and with great difficulty. Blogging and taking courses in technical writing helped me get out of it. Once I got into fiction writing again full speed, it felt so good and I realized how much I’d missed it and how important it is to me.
Name some of your favorite authors and books, and why you like them.
Ursula K. LeGuin is one of my all-time favourite authors. I love her beautiful prose, and her characters: they’re often kind of ornery and difficult, and I like that. Her book ‘The Tombs of Atuan’ has really stuck with me since I first read it as a teenager: it’s strange, dark, and full of magic. Just the way I like my stories! A recent favourite is Kai Ashante Wilson. He writes this blend of fantasy and science fiction that really appeals to me. His prose is just mind-blowing: beautiful, enigmatic, and addictive. Plus he writes fantastic dialogue. I highly recommend his novella ‘The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps’, and his short story ‘The Devil In America’.
I must pick them up. Let’s talk craft. Do you outline, plot and structure, or do you just sit down and write?
I plot things a bit in my head, but mostly I just write and see what the heck happens. I also jot down messy notes anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes they are so messy I can barely read them myself… Most of my story-planning is done while walking the dog in the mornings.
When do you find time to write?
I tend to write while my kids are in school. During that time I have my desk to myself and I try to get as much done as possible. Then I write again after they’re in bed.
What is your best advice for new authors?
The best advice is the same old, same old: read a lot and write a lot. Last year, I read an excellent post online by Rebecca Faith Heyman. She discussed how important it is to read extensively in order to make yourself a better writer, and to understand what stories are already out there from other writers. The quote that stuck with me was: “Bow to the masters, acknowledge your peers, and blaze a trail for yourself armed with the knowledge of what has come before.” Read the classics, read your peers, and then go and do the best you can with your own style and voice.
Great advice, especially about reading as much as you can. Are you working on another book now?
Right now I’m working on several science fiction and fantasy short stories. Two of them will be included in an upcoming ‘Mind’s Eye’ anthology. And a few of the stories I’m working on, either just in my mind or on the computer, are connected to an idea for a book that I’ve had for a long time. I’m kind of writing my way towards that by exploring this world and these characters in short fiction first.
Excellent, looking forward to it. Tell us about your latest publication.
My latest published book is a collection of poetry, ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989-2015’. It’s one new collection of poetry, and three old collections of poetry (previously published in Sweden) that I’ve translated from the original Swedish into English. I’ve also recently published one of my science fiction short stories as a stand-alone ebook: ‘Lost And Found’. It’s one of my favourite short stories that I’ve written, and I thought it was a good one to put out there as a freebie.
Lost and Found is a FREE science fiction short story.
|Somewhere in the vast depths of space, a mission has gone horribly wrong. Now a woman is trapped all alone on an alien planet with nothing but her pain and her harrowing memories. At least, she thought she was alone…
Lost And Found is a chilling and evocative science fiction short story from Maria Haskins’ book ODIN’S EYE.
|Twelve science fiction short stories. Twelve glimpses of the future. Twelve visions of outer space, and the inner workings of the human mind.
These evocative science fiction short stories follow twelve individuals in a distant, or maybe not so distant, future. Each character is facing a challenge or choice that will change the course of their life, and might also affect the fate of humanity itself.
Inspired by past and present science fiction masters like Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Isaac Asimov, these short stories explore a future where space travel, cloning, genetic manipulation, and other technological advances have changed the world, but maybe not humanity itself. With a sharp focus on human strengths and frailties, Odin’s Eye explores both outer space, and the inner workings of the human mind.
Let’s turn our attention back to Cuts & Collected Poems. What inspired you to write this collection?
Looking back, I can see that it was inspired by how my life changed when I became a mom. A lot of it is inspired by my kids, really. There are poems in this collection that touch on birth, life, death, and everything in between.
These are all important milestones, so I can understand how they inspired you. How did you publish the book?
I self-published this collection of poetry. The hardest part of that process was really translating my old collections of poetry from Swedish to English. I’m a certified translator, I was born in Sweden and I’ve lived in Canada since the 1990s, so in many ways I’ve got all the qualifications needed, but translating poetry is a losing game. You can never quite get it exactly the way it was in the original language. It was a rewarding experience ultimately, but also difficult. ‘Cuts’, the new collection of poems I wrote, was written in English, so that was easier. But it was also the first time I’d published and written poetry in English (I stuck to Swedish for my writing for a very long time), so it was a different kind of challenge. In the end, I was quite happy with the result.
Available in print on ~ CreateSpace
|‘Cuts’ is Maria Haskins’ first collection of poetry written in English. Also included in this book are her three previously published and very well-received collections of poetry: ‘Blå’ (‘Blue’), ‘Honung’ (‘Honey’), and ‘Den tredje’ (‘The Third’). All three have been translated from the original Swedish to English by the author, and are available in English for the very first time.|
Why do you think this collection will appeal to readers?
I hope that they can find something in my poems that connects to them and their lives. I know that’s why I read poetry myself: that feeling of “that’s it, that’s what it feels like”. It’s always a thrill to find a poem that puts into words something that you’re feeling or thinking, but in an unexpected way.
I agree. Poetry informs real life in a way that is different than prose. How long did it take you to write this book?
My new collection of poems – ‘Cuts’ – which is included in this collection has been a work in progress for about 13 years. So a very long time. I worked on it every now and then even during the time when it was very difficult for me to write anything, and in a way, it’s a distillate of my experiences since my kids were born.
You’ve put a lot of yourself into this collection, Maria. Thirteen years is a long time to devote to something, and I admire you for it.
Let’s finish with a fun lightning round!
Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to? Maui. I love that place. And Egypt. I traveled there in the late 1980s and would love to go back, but the political situation makes that pretty difficult right now.
Name a food you can eat everyday. Fresh bread. And cheese.
Salty or sweet? Salty!
Cat/dog/other pet? We have a wonderful dog, but I love cats as well. Right now I identify as a dog person, though!
Favorite style of music? Rock and roll, with a side order of blues.
Name something you cannot go a day without. Tea. You can take away my coffee, but not my tea!
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
If you read a book and you like it, review it! Leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon, or just tell everyone about it. It means a lot to authors.
I agree! Honest reviews are difficult to come by, and it’s always greatly appreciated. Thanks again for sharing of yourself Maria. I’m really happy to know you.
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Connect to Maria
Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and translator with a passion for science fiction and fantasy. She was born and grew up in Sweden, but moved to Canada in the early 1990s and now lives just outside Vancouver on Canada’s west coast with a husband, two kids, and a large black dog. Her English language debut ‘Odin’s Eye’ – a collection of science fiction short-stories – was published in March, 2015. Her book ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015’ – a collection of poetry – was released on November 9, 2015. It includes both new poems written in English, and her own translations of her previously published Swedish poetry. Maria debuted as a writer in 1989, and has had several books published in Sweden, including books of poetry, a novel, and short stories.