Marya Ashworth grew up on a ranch in Northern California. After college, she worked as an editor, in the movie business and in advertising and marketing. The first-time author lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and three dogs.
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Marya: I grew up listening to original fairy tales from my Russian mother and grandmother. Those tales inspired me to write stories of my own.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Marya: After college, I worked as an editor and kept journals. Three years ago, I wrote a fantasy for middle grade readers, and I'm now working on a sequel. I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Jacketflap and have attended many of their writing and marketing seminars.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Marya: I love reading, especially YA and middle grade fantasies, and books inspire my writing. I get really cranky when I don't have time to write!
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Marya: I tried for over 1 1/2 years to find an agent and although I received some very encouraging feedback, ultimately, I did not find one. Because book publishing was in a downturn, I decided to self-publish my first book.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Marya: I was sorry that I couldn't find a publisher for my book. At least by self-publishing, my book is out in the world and getting into the hands of readers. I've had many author readings at schools and libraries and kids really respond to my book, which is very rewarding.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Marya: I try to write for a few hours every day.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Marya: My idea for my book came to me and I was driven to write the story. My book addresses the issue of bullying in schools, and my heroine finds self-esteem, new friends and first love.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book Marigold?
Marya: A lonely thirteen-year-old girl moves from Ireland to a school in Washington State. Marigold is bullied by her classmates, her father is an absentee workaholic and her best friend is her horse.
While riding her horse deep into the forest, Marigold rescues a boy from dangerous banshees and discovers her ability to control things with her mind. This chance encounter leads her to a hidden Elven World where she meets new friends and her first love. When she is invited to attend ElvenAcademy, she begins her magical journey and her true nature is revealed.
But, Marigold uncovers an evil that threatens everything she has come to love. A wicked Elf and his banshees are controlling her father in a plot to destroy the real and magical world. With the help of her friends, Marigold must race against time to save her father and stop the diabolical plan.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Marya: I had many critique partners read my manuscript, including some younger readers.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Marya: I hope to inspire readers with Marigold's audacity and confidence to stand up for what is right. My book has been described as a "fantastical morality tale".
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Marya: I had an outline of all three books in the series, but with the grand vision in place, I just sat down and started writing.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Marya: In my sequel, my characters are travelling in England and Ireland at the beginning of the book. I had to interject some action scenes and more dialogue to keep it from sounding like a travelogue.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Marya: I can listen to classical music when I write, but get distracted by any music with words.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Marya: I think back to the wonderful stories from my grandmother.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Marya: I think that it is important to read a lot of books in the age group and genre, so that the word and dialogue are appropriate.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Marya: My own life was part of the inspiration for my heroine. I rode horses, took martial arts, etc... If only I had been an Elf!
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Marya: I adore Brandon Mull, Cinda Williams Chima and of course, J.K. Rowling. The complexity of their books, the intricate plots and their amazing imaginations humble me every day.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Marya: I try not to snack when I write, since I'm trying to keep my weight down. ;-} If I must, grapes are always good.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Marya: I am a jazz singer. I sing with several groups and perform at small local venues.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Marya: Keep writing and don't get discouraged!
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Marya: The sequel to Marigold, called Belladonna: Book Two of the Elven Chronicles.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Marya: My books can be ordered on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and ordered through independent bookstores.
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Marya: I am more proud of my book than anything I have ever done. I am leaving a legacy for readers for years to come.