Today author Maria Andreu visits The Hiding Spot to chat about her upcoming release, The Secret Side of Empty. Read on to learn more about Maria, including the book that made her realize her own book wanted to be YA, her favorite word (introverts unite!), and road that lead her to her final title: The Secret Side of Empty.
Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
Nothing stands out as particularly tough. As for easy… I did love writing the scenes between the main character and her boyfriend. She goes through some tough times, so giving her those moments of first love was wonderful. Plus it was nice to tap into that feeling and remember how great it feels to fall in love for the first time.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The novel’s title changed. For as long as I was working on it (about 5 years) its working title was Illegal. I sold it as that and was sure that was its title. I was pretty attached to it, actually. Then, a couple of months after selling it we discovered that there was another YA novel with that title. It broke my heart. But then, almost as if by magic, The Secret Side of Empty just popped into my head. I loved it immediately. It works on a lot of levels. I was one of the lucky ones… my publisher really respected my wishes and they went with the alternative I suggested. Now I couldn’t imagine the title being anything but what it is.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
It’s impossible to narrow it down to one. I always loved to “hide” in books, and I’ve had hundreds that have been meaningful or have stayed with me. Isaac Asimov stands out as a favorite of my teen years. I will read anything Jon Krakauer writes. I love Harry Potter, of course, and really got into the Matched series. As far as inspiration for my book, in retrospect I can say that I was inspired by books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Glass Castle. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is the book that made me realize that my book wanted to be a YA novel. It has a very special place in my heart.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
I’ve always tried to stay in “writer-friendly” fields like marketing. I’ve been just adequate enough at those to stay afloat. But, honestly, writing is the only thing I’ve ever done which has made me feel like I can fly. The only thing that has shaped my writing has been writing and more writing. That said, I have a ton of interesting stories from my work life which will one day make it into my books and stories.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
So many! Just in this moment the one that popped up was the word, “Solitude.” There is something so breezy and quiet about it and regal about it. It’s not loneliness, it’s being alone and happy. A great state for writing.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
I share that feeling of books as a personal escape. I love that feeling about 50 pages into a good book when you realize you’re invested in what happens to the characters, that they are part of your experience now. That’s awesome.
Other than books I’d have to say I find peace and a “hiding spot” in my garden. There is something so magical about putting seeds and roots in the ground and having them sprout up in greenery and flowers. I am planting a butterfly garden right now and I spend hours thinking about it and researching the best plants to put in it. As a matter of fact, I’m looking into buying a butterfly house, a “hiding spot” for butterflies. I think as someone who likes to find safe little hidey holes, it’s nice to provide that for others as well.
Come to think of it, that’s one of the things that’s cool about writing… giving others what you love yourself.
It’s the story of a teen girl that is American in every way except for in one very important way: on paper. She was brought to the U.S. as a baby without proper documentation, so she’s “illegal.” As the end of the safe haven of her high school days draw near, she faces an uncertain future. Full of humor and frustration and love, The Secret Side of Emptyspeaks to the part in all of us that has felt excluded or has had a secret too scary to share. What M.T., the main character, finally discovers is the strength of the human spirit and the power that’s unleashed when you finally live the truth.