Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! Today Maria Haskins is sharing some of her short stories and poetry with us.
My name is Maria Haskins. I’m a mom, wife, writer, Swedish-Canadian, and translator. I was born and raised in Sweden, but moved to British Columbia, Canada in the early 1990s. Right now, I’m located just outside Vancouver with two kids, a husband, and a very large black dog.
My first books were written in Swedish. The first one, a collection of poetry, was published in 1989 when I was too young to understand how young I was. It took me a long time to become comfortable with the idea of writing and publishing my work in English, but in 2015 I took the leap and self-published ODIN’S EYE, a collection of science fiction short stories; and CUTS & COLLECTED POEMS 1989-2015, a collection of poetry.
In 2016 I have a science fiction / alternative history short story coming out in the anthology ‘Alternate Earths’ from Inklings Press, and two short stories set to be published in the anthology ‘People Are Strange’ in the Mind’s Eye Series.
Connect with the Author
About the Book
Eight broadcasts from alternate dimensions.
Twelve science fiction short stories. Twelve glimpses of the future. Twelve visions of outer space, and the inner workings of the human mind.
Cuts & Collected Poems 1989-2015
‘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.
Keep reading for an interview with the author:
Do you have a “day job”? If so, what do you do?
I’m also a certified translator, translating between Swedish and English. I was born and grew up in Sweden, and have lived in Canada since the 1990s, so both languages are very familiar to me.
What genres do you write?
I write mainly speculative fiction right now: science fiction and fantasy with some horror thrown in occasionally. I also write poetry.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?
Actually, my new short story that will appear in the anthology ‘Tales From Alternate Earths’ (Inklings Press) is a bit of an experiment. It’s an anthology of alternate history fiction, which is something I had never written before. I’ve always loved reading alternate history stories, because of the way writers can play around with real events and characters and introduce fantasy elements as well. ‘Shards of Heaven’, which I read recently, by Michael Livingston really captured my interest and was part of the inspiration behind trying my hand at this genre.
What authors/books have most influenced you?
Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ made a massive and lasting impression on me as a young teenager. So definitely that, but also Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing. Her book ‘The Tombs of Atuan’ is one of my all-time favourites: I love her writing style and the way she handles both science fiction and fantasy, so she is definitely a huge inspiration for me as a writer.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a basic piece of advice but very useful: to schedule my writing, to do it on a regular basis. I struggled with a long period of writer’s block (and only got out of it a couple of years ago), and what got me out of it was to almost force myself to sit down and write. Once I did that, and once the writing started to flow again, then the habit of writing fuels itself. I don’t think you necessarily have to write every single day, but I do think it’s good to have a routine. At least that has worked for me!
What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?
I love hiking in the woods, I love cooking and I love traveling. I wish I could do more traveling. I did a lot of traveling when I was younger, and would love to go on more trips around the world, maybe with my kids! It’s been years since I visited Greece for example, and I’d love to go back there.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?
Oh, wow. So hard to pick! ‘The Lord of the Rings’, which I’ll count as one book for the purposes of this. Also Alan Garner’s ‘Red Shift’, Umberto Eco’s ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’, Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘The Tombs of Atuan’, and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Dumas.
What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?
I’ve read and re-read The Lord of the Rings so many times I don’t even know how many times I’ve read that trilogy now… Same thing with Umberto Eco’s book ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ – I have read that one innumerable times and I always find new things to love about it.
How many books do you have on your “to read” list? What are some of them?
Oh my goodness, so many that it would take me months if not years to read through them all, even if I did nothing but reading all day! Some of the ones I’m particularly looking forward to are Angela Slatter’s debut novel ‘Vigil’, ‘Who Fears Death’ by Nnedi Okorafor, and ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke.
Are you a pantser or outliner?
Definitely a pantser. I might take notes while I’m writing, and have a general “outline” in my head, but the main part of my writing is done in the heat of writing. And then the big job is revising the ideas and the raw writing from the first drafts into something readable!
Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre? Tell us about it.
I had one idea for a short story that came to when I looked at this Halloween illustration by artist and poet Helle Gade. It was a really cool picture with bats in a tree seeming to form out of or turn into smoke, and for some reason that image just sparked this entire dark, twisted tale in my mind. That story is still unpublished, but I love it to bits. I also get story ideas while walking the dog a lot, or when I’m driving (which is kind of distracting).
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on a lot of short fiction stories, mainly science fiction and fantasy, and I also have two ideas for novels (or maybe they will turn out to be novellas) that I am kicking around in my head. Both of those ideas for novels have grown out of short stories that I’ve written.
Do you have any advice for other authors?
Just the old wisdom to read a lot. Read the classics in your genre (and other genres), but also read new up and coming authors and see what people around you are writing. Not to copy them or anything like that, just to be aware of what’s going on in the “book universe” around you and maybe find new ideas and inspiration there.