Mariam Kobras’ Stone Trilogy, a triad of novels that focus on the lives of rock musician Jon Stone and his lady love, Naomi, have won three IPPY awards. Now the author has written a prequel to the well-loved stories titled: Waiting for a Song, Naomi’s Story. The book is being launched today by Buddhapuss Ink LLC, and I am honored to host Mariam at the first stop on the Virtual Book Tour that celebrates its release.
Please welcome Mariam Kobras.
FRD: When you started writing, you weren’t even sure if you could write and publish one novel. Just a few years later, you’re a three-time IPPY-award winner with multiple novels out. How did you do it?
MK: Simple answer? I wrote on. Writing wasn’t my problem. I knew I could do it after writing a first draft of over 400K words for my first book, The Distant Shore. No worries, the published version is a decent 360 page book! Waiting for a Song, Naomi’s Story, is about that size too.
My problem was the time I needed to write—I was taking that time away from my family—and the validation that my writing was any good. Luckily, getting the one, solved the other for me. With a three-book deal from my publisher, and my first Independent Publisher Award, I had the validation, and making time to write wasn’t an indulgence anymore, but my job.
FRD: Has writing gotten easier for you with each book?
MK: Writing has never been hard for me. But I have to admit that writing this first prequel to the Stone Trilogy was a lot easier than writing the actual trilogy.
Waiting for a Song is a lot sweeter and lighter than any of the trilogy books. It tells the story of a young girl dreaming herself away and out of a life that’s well regulated and oppressive. She falls in love with a rock star much the same way we all did as teenagers; by listening to his records and reading glossy magazine articles about him. But her life changes radically when she writes some song lyrics for him and sends them off to an address in Los Angeles that she copied from the back of his album.
FRD: Is there anything specific about your writing or writing process that you feel has changed or improved?
MK: Yes, absolutely. I’ve learned to write my novels in such a way that they aren’t longer than 100K words (under gentle pressure from my publisher). It was a new experience for me that I could actually tell my entire story within a margin that someone else set.
Also, I never thought that I’d be able to write something other than Jon and Naomi novels! But I can, and it’s fun!
FRD: I understand that you’ve written prequels for both Naomi and Jon. Do you feel there will still be more to their story after the prequels are published?
MK: Maybe. I don’t really want to decide this just yet. For now, I’ve moved on to a new project. But there are always stories to tell about Jon and Naomi. They feel like family to me.
FRD: Your novels aren’t typical romances, yet your IPPY awards are in the “romance” category. Tell us why the books are categorized that way, and why they don’t exactly fit that description.
MK: I have no idea. The decision to categorize my Stone Trilogy and the prequels, Waiting for a Song and The Rosewood Guitar, as romances, was made by my publisher. And obviously they were right, the books are winning awards in that category!
My books don’t follow the usual formula for romance; there’s no happy-ever-after, there’s hardly any naked skin, and nothing explicit. I like to leave “that” part of a relationship where it belongs, behind closed doors. Jon and Naomi get married pretty soon in Book One of the trilogy, and the rest of the books are about their life together. The third book in the trilogy, Song of the Storm, takes my characters through the darkest possible day, 9/11 in Manhattan.
I guess my readers like to read about mature people overcoming huge obstacles to live their love. I don’t know. All I do is write. The rest just happens.
FRD: Do you think you’ll ever try something totally different than the novels you’ve been writing? I know you have one coming down the pike that is a bit more of a mystery.
MK: The new project is totally different indeed. It’s written in first person POV, and it has new characters, new settings, new themes. Yes, there’s a bit of mystery in it. The people in this project are a bit more down to earth than Jon and Naomi Stone, who are real artists: dramatic, very emotional, sentimental, sometimes even eccentric.
I have several books planned in this new series. Right now I’m working on the second, and developing ideas for the third.
FRD: Do you ever get frustrated when you’re writing a novel, or find yourself with “writer’s block?” What do you do to conquer those days or moments?
MK: How interesting, you’re the second to ask me about “writer’s block” today. No, I don’t believe in writer’s block, at least not for me. I think when you hit a wall, it’s your subconscious telling you that something is not right with your manuscript. I’ve been there, of course! In fact, I usually reach that point a third of the way into my books. That’s when I pull my hair in panic and howl, “It’s not coming together!!!” And my publisher, MaryChris Bradley, pats my shoulder, and tells me that everything will be fine. Which it is, in the end. But yes, after having written six books for Buddhapuss Ink now, I know how to quiet that inner panicky voice and find my path through the brambles.
FRD: I know you enjoy working with Buddhapuss Ink. Why do you like writing for a smaller, independent press?
MK: I don’t know how it would be to work for a big publisher, or any other publisher, for that matter, and I have no interest or inclination to find out. I’m perfectly happy where I am, with Buddhapuss Ink. I think they were tailor-made especially for me. How do I know that? Because working with them never feels like work. I’m having a blast! And I think that’s how it should be.
FRD: Tell us about MaryChris Bradley, the 30-year publishing veteran who heads up Buddhapuss.
MK: She’s the perfect publisher. She loves my writing and my books, and I love her editing. We communicate really well. It’s as if she slips into my head when she’s editing my books. I really have a hard time figuring out where my work stops and hers starts, it’s that seamless. I have no idea how it is for other authors working with other publishers, but I’m having the time of my life.
FRD: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, Mariam. I wish you the best with the launch of your latest book!
MK: Thank you very much for hosting me, Faye!
Note from the publisher: This was the first stop in Mariam’s Book Launch Blog Hop & Giveaway to celebrate the release of Waiting for a Song, Naomi’s Story. Don’t miss the next stop on June 5th on Tracy Lawson’s blog where Tracy will review Mariam’s new book!
GIVEAWAY: ONE LUCKY WINNER will receive a red leather journal with cream pages and a ribbon marker—like the one Naomi used when she wrote the lyrics that won Jon’s heart. To enter, just leave a comment below (US and Canada residents only please). Prize courtesy of Buddhapuss Ink LLC.