I’m thrilled to have Piper Maitland on the blog today! Piper is the author of the upcoming Acquainted With the Night (my review), and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions! There’s also a copy of the book up for grabs, so be sure to check the giveaway details at the end of the post! Also, before you go, be sure to click on the banner to see all of her tour stops!
Please welcome Piper to the blog!
Piper, your brand new vampire novel, Acquainted With the Night will be out later this month (Nov. 29th), and you’ve already published numerous novels under the name Michael Lee West. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
I grew up with southern cooks and storytellers, so the urge to spin a tale was always with me. But my mother thought writing was a crazy idea, so I ended up getting a BS in nursing. This was thirty five years ago. While I was a student nurse, I cobbled together stories in an airless closet under the staircase and pinned my rejection slips on the wall. We’re talking floor-to-ceiling wallpaper here. Some of the slips had tiny indentions in the paper, as if the editor had stabbed them over and over with a sharp pencil, or maybe a butcher knife.
The free wallpaper continued for a decade. Poems were published in small, not-very-literary places. One story was published by First for Women in the late 1980s. One Mother’s Day, my eldest son wrote me a letter: To my Mom. I’ve never seen anybody work harder than you and get nowhere. But I love ya.
It was a long, hard road. I didn’t have a PhD in literature. I didn’t know any writers. If I saw an infinitive, I gleefully split it. I thought a plot had something to do with gardening, as in a “plot” of land. But I kept going. I got up at dawn to write so my avocation wouldn’t interfere with family life, and I stayed up late. I joined a writing group. The members were spread out all over the country, and we communicated via snail mail. Somehow I kept going. My first novel was published in 1990. I was 38 years old. Like my mama says, I was the opposite of an overnight sensation. Now I’m 58. I just finished my ninth book. I no longer work in a closet, however I don’t have an office. I have a laptop, and I roam around the house. If the weather isn’t too grim, I like to sit outside with a legal pad.
Would you tell us a little about Acquainted With the Night?
In the winter of 2008, I got a little burned out by the writing business. So I decided to write what I wanted (and I assumed it wouldn’t be published). I got the idea for AWTN while driving to the grocery with my younger son, who is a biochemist. My husband chimed in—he’s a physician. Caro and Jude were created in the Publix bakery. I bought chocolate, came home, and started writing. And I regained my joy of writing. I didn’t have an outline; I just started with a character named Caro Clifford. Her story began in London and quickly moved to Sofia, Bulgaria. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to work on that book!
What made you decide on vampires as your subject for this series, as opposed to other supernatural creatures?
When I was a little girl, I’d stay up to watch vampire movies on The Late, Late Show. I’d get so scared, I’d holler for my daddy to walk me to my bedroom. I even swiped my mother’s garlic pods and put them around my neck. Boy, did I ever get in trouble when my mother needed those pods.
So no one in my family was shocked when I wrote a vampire novel. Not happy, mind you, just not surprised.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
My mother introduced me to Louisa May Alcott. I liked what she brought home from the library: Intern by Dr. X, Valley of the Dolls, Princess Daisy, Rebecca. I love all kinds of fiction. In the past few years, I’ve gotten hooked on the Tudor period.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Margaret Campbell Barnes
What is one of your most unusual writing quirks?
I write first drafts on yellow legal pads. When I revise, I print the manuscript, grab a blue Flair pen, and go to bed with the papers spread all around me—and assorted Yorkshire Terriers.
What was your favorite part of writing Acquainted With the Night?
I enjoyed the chase scenes, the love scenes, and the science of vampirism.
When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
You’ll find me in the kitchen. I love to cook!
In your bio, it says you live on a farm in Tennessee. What do you love most about it?
I was a die-hard city girl (not quite Eva Gabor with her Yorkies in Green Acres, but almost), and I wasn’t happy about moving to the country. Now, I can’t imagine why I balked. I love the rolling hills and the big sky. I love the peaceable feeling of gathering eggs. I learned how to nurse weak kids and to bottle-feed lambs. Every single day, no matter what I’m doing, I wait for sunset. Farm life is a decorating style that embraces dirt and worn, much-loved objects. The animals are our pets. I’ve had kids in my dining room on Christmas Eve. One locked herself in the truck and we had to call OnStar to unlock the door.
If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
A farm in the Cotswolds.
Is there any advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Never give up, have a strong work ethic, join organizations such as RWA and Sisters in Crime, sign up for workshops. Develop a tough hide but never become cynical—be hopeful. Always keep learning and pushing yourself. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Publishers are looking for new writers—you might be that writer.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
A Teeny Bit of Trouble will be published in April 2012. It’s the sequel to Gone With a Handsomer Man (southern mystery series).
Thanks for having me!
Keep up with Piper: Website | Twitter | Blog
1. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Acquainted With the Night by Piper Maitland to 1 winner.
2. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.
3. To enter, please leave a comment or question for Piper with your email address (if you put your email address in the form, it’s not necessary to include it in the body of your comment). Following the blog is not necessary, but is ALWAYS appreciated.
4. If you follow this blog (via GFC or Facebook) please let me know in a SEPARATE COMMENT and I’ll give you ONE extra entry.
5. Giveaway ENDS 11/22/11
6. Giveaway book generously provided by Penguin.