~ Maria Hollis is the author of the self-published Lillac Town series, The Melody of You and Me and The Paths We Choose. Maria Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.

I reviewed The Melody of You and Me last year, and couldn’t wait for the next novella in the series. Luckily for me (and you!) Maria just revealed the cover for The Paths We Choose yesterday, but I had another review planned, so she graciously agreed to do an interview with me today! I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Maria! If you want to get to know her even better, follow her on Twitter: @heychips!

Q: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Stop caring so much what others say about your work. I think we are so eagerly to know what people think of what we write, but sometimes you need to step away from it. Learn how much is criticism that you need to absorb to become a better writer and person, and how much is not written for you as the writer. I’m a believer that you need to leave fandom space for fandom. Be as careful and thoughtful as you can with your work, but know what you can’t have control over it after you send it to the world.

Q: What inspired you to write the Lillac Town series?

A: I decide to write this series because my friends who don’t speak Portuguese kept asking me to read my stuff. Besides fanfic, I had only written in my native language my whole life. There were a few things that pushed me to write and publish this: 1) I wanted stories that would make my friends happy. Stories where we could all see ourselves. 2) New Adult about women falling in love with other women are not as many as the ones for M/F or M/M couples. And some of the ones that exist don’t fit my reality. 3) The encouragement from many friends, both authors and readers, who told me I should publish my stories.

So basically, I felt inspired to write about situations I have lived and that my friends have lived. From that, it was easy to create stories about girls in their 20’s that are trying to figure out life, love and friendships.

What’s your favorite emoji?

A: The eyes emoji. You can use it for everything.

Where do you like to read? What do you need for a good long reading session?

A: I read mostly on my computer. The best way for me to read for a long time is to have music on and just lay down on my bed with my laptop.

What are your top 3 book recommendations for people?

A: This depends so much on what people are looking for! But books that really touched me in my life are When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson, Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

What authors are auto-buys for you?

A: I tend to care more about the story than who’s writing, but some of my favorites are GL Tomas, Siera Maley, Ella Lyons, Clarisse David, Malinda Lo, and Tess Sharpe.

Have you always wanted to be writer or is this a recent development in your life?

A: Being a writer is what I always wanted. But people will tell you that’s not easy or that you can’t do it. I’ve been writing consciously of my desire to be published since I was around eleven or twelve. There was a brief moment in college where I didn’t have time or motivation to write and now that I’m finally out of these miserable years, I’m doing it most of my time. It was like having to relearn all the steps to write a full story again.

I can’t see myself doing anything else that isn’t involved with writing or the literary world.

What does your writing space look like? (Can be a photo or a description)

A: It’s just my desk at home with my laptop and all my books around me. I need to be alone and quiet here to be able to concentrate.

What is your favorite description of your books?

A: Most people tend to describe the Lillac Town series as the fluffiest, cheesiest stories for girls who like girls. And that it helped them understand that they are not alone in feeling so lost at the beginning of their adult life. I’m flattered every time! I’m writing these novellas to make people happy so I always feel giddy when others tell me how they could see themselves in my characters. I want readers to feel like they belong. That their stories matter too. And maybe even inspire some other writers to tell cute stories like this too for LGBT characters. We need all of them.

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