Interview with Julia Maiola
What made you want to be a writer?
I’m not sure if there was a defining moment in my life that made me realize it was something I wanted to do. I do know that I had wanted to be one since I learned how to write. I must’ve been in kindergarten when I learned the alphabet. Reading was something that came easily to me and I learned quickly. I loved stories. I loved being transported to other worlds, going back in time, going on adventures, and meeting all sorts of people. I still do. I think the understanding that writing would allow me to create my own stories was what was most appealing to me. Once I learned, I told myself that this was something I was going to pursue. And somehow I’ve stuck with it all this time. I hope my kindergarten self is proud.
Pictured are a couple of stories I wrote when I was really little. You can click on them to enlarge them. They’re hysterical! The first one doesn’t even have a proper ending; that’s the entire story on that one page! My parents saved almost everything that I wrote, whether it was for school or for fun.
How important has reading been to your writing?
It’s probably been the most important part. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can write well without reading. Just like musicians must study music by listening to compositions, and artists must study art by observing paintings, writers must study writing by reading. They must especially read the types of things that they are writing, whether that be books or magazines or newspapers.
Personally, I have always been an avid reader. In elementary school I would read the most advanced books, books meant for students in higher grade levels. And while other students would slowly sound out words while reading aloud and be encouraged to read faster, my teachers would, believe it or not, tell me to read slower. Reading so much has given me a sense of what makes books good (which I emulate in my writing) and what makes them bad (which I avoid). Of course, there is always room for improvement. There is always more to learn and practice to be had.
I am excited by the idea of being able to sit down and write a book of my own that I would enjoy reading. And as I write it feels the same as reading. Even though I’m the one recording what’s happening in the story, I’m just as eager as any reader to know what will happen next.
Has anything else driven you to create stories the way reading has?
While not to the extent that reading has, I think playing make-believe as a child has had a pretty large impact. I’d play with action figures, stuffed animals, and dolls like any kid. But I’d create these elaborate story lines and act them out with my action figures. Looking back now, this was writing without putting down any words. These stories would have a beginning, middle, and end. They’d have a conflict. The action figures would be dynamic characters and have complex relationships with each other. If reading is where my desire to write came from, then playing make-believe is what grew the necessary imagination.
What other activities do you enjoy?
I’m huge into gaming. I mostly play on an Xbox One (sorry PlayStation fans) but also have some games for PC. Some games have these amazing stories, characters, and visuals, and it’s so easy to become engrossed in them. I’m also a fan of eSports. Shoutout to the boys in blue (and girls) on Cloud9. Pictured are my gaming keyboard (which I also use for writing), mouse, mousepad, and XBox One controller.
This may seem strange to some people, but I’m a LEGO collector. The AFOL community (Adults Fans of LEGO) is enormous. There are some people with thousands of sets worth thousands of dollars. While that’s impressive, my collection is nothing like that. I only get a few sets a year and I mostly go after sets based on movies, like Marvel and Star Wars. LEGO City sets, too. Pictured is my favorite set, Kylo Ren’s command shuttle from The Force Awakens.
I love skateboarding but I’m so bad at it. I find it difficult to stay motivated. I tend to fluctuate in my skill level. I’ll get in the mood and practice every day for weeks and feel super confident, and then I’ll go a month without stepping on a board and be a complete newbie all over again when I finally do. I think skateboarding is 50% skill and 100% conquering fear. Clearly the fear has been winning. But maybe that’ll change eventually. Hopefully. Pictured are my three skateboards. The green one is just a cheap thing that can’t even roll straight, but the other two I put together myself with parts from reputable brands. I use the blue one the most. The picture can be enlarged.
What are your favorite video games?
I love open world type games, especially if they take place in history. My absolute favorite is Dishonored. Seriously, if you haven’t played it, go buy it right now. The Elder Scrolls and Assassin’s Creed are my top two and three. I do enjoy some competitive games, like Rocket League and Call of Duty, but I mostly play games to get lost in their worlds and stories. Pictured are the games I’ve spent the most time playing. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
What kinds of book and movies do you enjoy?
Books: Fantasy is my number one. My favorite subgenre of fantasy is grimdark. My number two is historical fiction. And I enjoy the odd science fiction once in a while. Time travel is the BEST. My favorite books and authors are always changing, but right now I’m into Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns, Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, and George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
Movies: Marvel. Star Wars. Harry Potter. LOTR. I’m adding “Doctor Who” and “Game of Thrones” to this list even though they’re TV shows.
Sounds like you’re a geek.
Better believe it.
What do you keep on your desk?
To my right is a couple of notebooks, one for The Red Flag and one for my science fiction work-in-progress. On top of them is a mini notebook that contains my to-do lists. To my left is a lamp that my dad gifted me. I also keep a picture of my baby nephew, a tech-deck, and a Rubik’s cube (which I can solve in 3 minutes and am learning to get faster). And then something to drink, usually water, sometimes tea, and also a pack of bubble gum which I always forget is there. You can click on the picture to enlarge it.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Classic rock is boss. Aerosmith, Foreigner, and Bon Jovi are some of my favorites, as well as Italian classics. I enjoy the 60s, 70s, and 80s. My favorite song is “Honor for All” by John and Daniel Licht. This is the song that plays during the credits of Dishonored. Don’t listen to it if you’re planning on playing Dishonored for the first time. You’ll ruin the experience if you do.
There are only two musicals that I can say I’m a fan of: The Phantom of the Opera and The Greatest Showman. The songs in both of these are awesome. You can take my word for it as I don’t usually like musicals. I loved them so much I bought their CDs.
Now, although I’ve listed all of this music and listen to it on a regular basis, I cannot write with music playing. When I write, it has to be dead silent or I can’t concentrate. Once in a while I’ll put on some atmospheric soundtrack from video games, but even then it has to be on low and only when I’m planning or writing quick, short drafts. If I’m going to have a productive writing session where I write a few hundred words in one sitting, then it needs to be silent.
Do you outline before you write?
I outline as much as I can before I write. I usually have the entire story mapped out. And I continue to outline even throughout my writing. Notebooks are my best friends. I even have mini ones that fit in my coat pockets so I can take them everywhere with me. Can you guess what my favorite color is?
How do you get your ideas?
It’s hard to explain, but basically, just from living and letting my mind wander. Watching movies, reading books, playing video games, and especially learning about history all play a large part. My mind tends to linger on things that I’ve heard or seen if I find them interesting enough. I’ll daydream about it or think about it. It might be days, weeks, or months later when something might start to form. If it’s been months, then what I’ll be thinking is nothing like the original movie or book that started me on this train of thought. Whatever I’m thinking, though, it’ll sort of play out like a movie in my head. Which ones I write down will depend on whether or not I recognize it as such. Sometimes, it’ll just be sudden, like, “Whoa, I have a great idea for a story.” Or it’ll be more gradual, like, “Hey, I think this might make a good story.”
Is your family supportive of your writing?
My family is very supportive, and I’m very grateful. I’ll give them updates on my progress here and there and especially let them know when I’ve started something new or am finishing something up. But I don’t tell them much about the content of what I’m writing, not until I’m well into it. They don’t read anything until at least the first draft is done, unless I need help with a scene or a sentence. Or a word. But they always share my enthusiasm and are willing to help where they can. Even my extended family is supportive, sharing writing articles with me and asking how the writing is coming. My closest friends get the brunt of it. They’re the ones I spill everything to and ask the most for help. If they’re tired of always hearing about it, they don’t show it. Guys, if you’re reading this, sorry, but also thank you. My family and my friends are probably my greatest blessing.
Do you have any pets?
I have one orange cat named Jack. He knows some dog tricks; sit, spin, shake, lay down. He’s very talkative. Seriously, you can have full-on conversations with him and he’ll look you right in the eye and respond to everything you say. When he’s not talking he’s sleeping. But when he sleeps, he purrs very loudly. Or he snores. So really he’s never silent. And he follows me everywhere. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Luckily, during the day he sleeps in my bedroom instead of in the room where I write, which means I can write without his snoring disturbing me.
Do you write full-time?
It sure feels like I do. There’s always something I’m working on. Even if I’m not actually writing, there’s always something writing-related that needs to be done, whether that’s researching, outlining, updating social media, or making business inquiries. This takes up a lot of time. Hours. And even if I’m not doing physical work, I’m always thinking about what I will write. The stories are always playing out in my head. Scenes are constantly developing. So in that sense, yes, it is full-time, and the amount of time I put in every day is certainly full-time. But officially, no, I’m not a full-time writer. I have a part-time managerial job at an ice cream shop.
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I’d love to be able to go full-time without having to wonder how I will pay the bills. It’s not too much of a worry at this point in my life. I recently graduated from college one semester early, so I have some time to figure it out still.
My number one goal is to be read. I want people to read my books and enjoy them enough to come back for more. There’s really no way to measure this goal. I don’t have a number of people that I want to read my work. I just want it to be as high a number as possible. This is why I’d like to encourage everyone who has read my work to share it with your friends and family. If you have a paperback, let them borrow it. Donate copies to your local library. If you have an ebook or audiobook edition, loan it to your friends and family. When I look at my sales history, I don’t see each number as a purchase. I see each number as a person. And the higher that number, the higher the amount of people that I know are reading my work, the more encouraged I become to keep working at my passion. To write more, to learn more, and to please the readers more.
Last updated January 2019