In honor of Valentine's Day this week, I'm featuring a romance novel, THE DISTANT SHORE, the first in the STONE trilogy, by Mariam Kobras. Mariam is not only a fantastic writer, but a lovely, down-to-earth person. THE DISTANT SHORE has enjoyed a lot of success, and I wish Mariam the very best as she continues her journey as a writer.
The Distant Shore is a contemporary romance with a light twist of suspense.
There's nothing like finding a letter on your breakfast table informing you have a teenage son you knew nothing about, but that's what happens to international rock star, Jonathon Stone. He drops everything to find the boy, and his mother the girl he loved so many years ago who left him when his rock n roll life became too much for her to bear.
Seeing her is like falling in love all over again, and everything seems perfect, until someone sets out to destroy their idyllic life.
I also had a chance to ask Mariam some questions:
I see from your website that you were involved in theater production. Has this background influenced your writing, and can you tell us more about your journey toward writing full-time?
I used to teach theater and musicals at a local high school, it’s true. Most of our students were challenged in some way, and this was their first contact with any kind of theater or stage work. Some of them, when they started coming to my class, were on the point of being dismissed from school. They learned their own worth while rehearsing for a show. My mantra was always, “If you screw up in class, you have a problem. If you screw up here, the entire group has a problem, and it will be your fault. Think hard before you screw up.” It worked. They took on the responsibility, and learned they were capable of doing more than they thought. I was very proud of my students.
I have to tell you, I loved that job. I loved everything about it, every part of a production: the casting, the early rehearsal work when nothing would work, and then the stage when it all came together. And I really, really loved the show nights with the excitement and backstage drama, and when it was over, the pride in the kids’ faces at what they had achieved. That was the best.
Sadly, with a new administration the work conditions changed for me and I decided to leave.
Around that time, a publisher got in contact with me and offered a book deal. It worked out for me. I had written The Distant Shore during the many hours I spent supervising the detention room at that school, and I signed my contract with Buddhapuss Ink a few weeks after I left the school.
The theater work didn’t influence my writing. Rather, it was a useful experience to work with in my books, as they deal a lot with the stage, music, and theater productions. But not primarily. Primarily they are about people and their relationships.
It's wonderful how you were able to inspire so many students and help them find their worth. The musicals I was involved in did the exact same for me during my teenage years.
You're quite involved in social networking (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). How has this helped you network as a writer and what do you recommend for aspiring writers seeking an online presence?
I was involved in twitter and Facebook before I ever thought of writing a book, and I made many friends there. Last summer, I spent six weeks visiting some of them in the US, it was a fabulous time!
I also met my publisher on twitter!
Even though I’m the laziest blogger in the world, I think that as a writer you need to have a blog. You need a platform to put your writing out there, and that’s the easiest one to have and maintain.
You also need to spread the word about your writing, and were else would you be able to do it better than on twitter and Facebook!
Only please, when you meet another writer, an editor, agent or publisher on twitter (as you will, eventually), don’t push your novel or story in their faces. Make contact first. They really, really hate it when you are too obvious.
Oh, and don’t lock your twitter account. Don’t make people beg to follow you. Because they won’t, unless you’re Neil Gaiman. Seriously.
That's such a good lesson--writers and agents are people too, and should be treated as such.
THE DISTANT SHORE has been an instant hit. What inspired the story, and can you tell us more about other projects you're working on?
The Distant Shore is the first book in the Stone Trilogy. Book 2, Under the Same Sun, is written and in the publishing process right now. It will be released in September. I’m writing book 3, Song of the Storm, right now. It’s nearly half done, and I’m hoping it will be published in February 2013.
I’ve been discussing future plans with my publisher. I’m quite confident there will be a new book by the end of 2013. It will be a totally new project.
We’re also talking about collecting my haikus and putting them in a small book, together with some art that I love.
Haikus are great, but difficult to write. I'd love to read some of yours!
If you were stuck on a desert island, which two books would you choose to have with you, and why?
Only two? Wow, this is a tough one! Can I skip taking any books and take my MacBook instead, so I can write?
Ok, so you probably want to know my favorite books, right? Here’s a short list, and there are more than two. Yeah, yeah I know, I’m cheating.
Vikram Seth: A Suitable Boy
John Galsworthy: Forsyte Saga
Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Sean Jeter Naslund: Ahab’s Wife
And of course, Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings
I’ll stop now, before the lists goes on and on and on and on and on...
Thanks, Mariam, for agreeing to be interviewed! Thank you, Karen, the pleasure is all mine!
THE DISTANT SHORE is available now on Amazon.com, and be sure to keep an eye out for the upcomiong books in the STONE trilogy!