Hey y’all – Welcome to the kick-off stop of the 12 Days of Christmas in July tour! This tour features The Coal Elf Chronicles by Maria DeVivo. To get this party started I’m going to be sharing an interview with Maria herself. Maria is not only an author, but a teacher, too. That basically makes her a superhero in my eyes. I loved her responses, so I hope you all do too! Be sure to stop by the Christmas in July event on Facebook July 25th!
Hey Maria! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. In case it isn’t obvious based on my previous raving about The Coal Elf here on Electively Paige – I’m a big fan.
Q: You have a truly unique, in my mind at least, idea with the Coal Elf series. Care to share a bit about how this series came to be?
I was teaching in NY, and it was time for our annual Christmas party. I bought a black velvet Santa Claus hat at Hot Topic to wear to the party (cause I’m kinda a goth kid myself). So when I got to class, my kids were saying, “Mrs. D! You look like a bad elf!” And I just sort of got into character and said, “Yea…and you’re all getting coal in your stocking this year!” Well, it was at that moment that something clicked. I thought about the legend of getting coal in your stocking and realized, there really ISN’T one. The ideas grew from there. Where does the coal come from if you’re bad? Who mines it? What is that elf’s life like? I wrote on a post it note “THE COAL ELF”, dated it 2004, and stuck it in a binder. It stayed there until 2010 when I actually sat down to write the tale!
Q: What advice would you give to any aspiring writers reading this interview?
THICK SKIN! You gotta have it, or you will not survive in this business. Be open to criticism even if it hurts or you don’t agree with it. Be open to change, too. If you are too married to your work, you will never flourish as an author. Editors have a job to do. Be receptive to their suggestions and willing to make compromises.
Q: If you could go back to the beginning of your publishing career and give yourself some advice based on what you know now, what would that be?
Don’t be in such a rush to get an agent and get published. Take your time, and do your research!
Q: Inquiring minds want to know – is there anything else in the works for after this series?
Yep! So, here’s what my writing schedule looks like: currently I’m working on the conclusion to The Coal Elf Chronicles. It’s called Above the Ash, and it should be completed by the end of the summer (not sure about release yet). I have 2 other series that I am working on, though. One is a zombie series (I’m 2 books into the trilogy) and one is an angel series (2 books into the trilogy, as well). Once Above the Ash is ready and good to go, I plan on shopping around my other series to agents.
Q: For those of us who are already fans, when can we expect the next book?
My goal is December 2017 the latest, but that’s all dependent upon how my publisher wants to roll. I haven’t signed a contract yet for it yet, so until that happens, I can’t really say anything for certain.
Q: Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I write three days a week, for roughly 5 hours a day. I have to write an outline the night before. I have to re-read the last 3 pages of the previous chapter before I write. I have to check Facebook and emails before I start writing, and if I don’t start at 9am, I feel like the day is wasted. Iced coffee gets me through. Lots of it. I never edit while I write or else I would get hung up on every sentence. ☺ I have serious OCD!
Q: Do you outline your books before writing, or do you go with the flow? Somewhere in between?
The outline is kind of in between. Sometimes I write general bullet points of where the plot is heading or what I want to accomplish in the chapter. Sometimes I actually write out the conversations that happen in my head as word for word dialog between characters. The other 3rd is fill-in-the-blanks when I’m actually sitting down in front of the computer.
Q: Do you prefer silence while writing, or do you need some background noise?
Silencio, por favor! My poor husband was on vacation for a week and it just so happened to fall into a week where I had planned to write for 2 days. Needless to say, he got a lot of leisurely reading done in the house because I would have gone ballistic if he was watching TV or playing video games. ☺
Q: If you were trapped on an island, which fictional book character(not one of your own) would you want with you? Be sure to let us know what book they are from and why you’d want them!
Jack from Lord of the Flies. He’s badass and has a good sense of survival. Evil to the core, but a force to be reckoned with.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell potential readers of your books?
The Coal Elf is dark, so if you’re used to the puppy dogs and rainbows that come with the holidays, you might be in for a fright. However, if you like twisted, if you like the dark, if you’re interested in seeing Christmas through ash-covered glasses, you just might enjoy the ride! ☺
Thank you so much for having me, Paige!
Maria DeVivo is a New York native who has had a lifelong love affair with “the pen.” A graduate of St. John’s University with a BA in English Literature, she has a passion for all things mystical and mythological. She has taught 7th grade Language Arts since 2000.
Having grown up in a large Irish/Italian family (where Maria is the oldest child, and of course, the wisest) the mystery and wonder surrounding the holidays were a main staple of her upbringing. At the age of seven, when her mother finally admitted “the truth” to her, she has become somewhat of a “Santa-phile”, an obsession that has rooted its way into every fiber of her being. Maria is one of those people who cries when Santa makes His grand appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Coupled with an obsession for all things dark and demented, her debut novel, The Coal Elf, was born.
Maria now lives in Florida with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Morgan. When not teaching or writing or running around after her daughter, she enjoys drinking iced coffee, watching horror movies, and playing video games.