Interview #3: Mary Chidiac
2.) When did you get started writing? What sparked your interest in sharing your work online?
A: Maybe this sounds cliché, but I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My family is super artsy, and we all write in one way or another. Anyways, I have always had ideas in my head for stories, and it was always something I was really proud of. I’m not sure exactly what sparked my interest in posting my work; I think it was a combination of factors for me. I wanted more feedback on my story and I had just gotten a big uplift from a friend, so that sort of gave me the confidence to share my story.
3.) I see from your bio you're from Canada and are an aerialist. Have you ever considered writing a novel centered around the aerialist community? Not everyone knows about them and it could be very interesting.
A: I haven’t! Though I think it could make for a great story! I’ve only been in the aerial/pole community for a short while, just under two years, so I’m not sure what angle I’d take in creating a novel around that world. That being said, I was a competitive figure skater growing up, so I might gravitate towards that simply because I know the world of skating a bit better. Maybe I could combine them in some way! Regardless, I think both could make good stories, they’ll probably be in the works in the future! My biggest caveat with the concept would be finding a way to make it original – I’d like to stay away from the 'coming back from an injury' or 'going to the Olympics' story. With skating specifically, I’d probably focus on the 'dark side' of the sport. Even though I love it, not all my memories of skating are necessarily positive. But the aerialist/pole community is so fantastic and supportive, and I’d love to bring that out in some way.
4.) How has your experience with Inkitt been? Anything you wish the site would add or fix and how does this experience compare with one from another site if you've been on one?
A: My experience on Inkitt has been super positive! It’s the first time I’ve really taken my writing seriously on a platform, so I can’t really speak to how it compares to others. I do wish they had a direct messenger though.
5.) Your novel Spirit of Fire is more of a realistic fantasy novel, would you say that's your favorite genre to read?
A: Sort of, I think. I’ve always imagined Spirit of Fire in a more realistic setting, and I think that’s just because of the books I surrounded myself with growing up. I love fantasy, like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Stardust, Lord of the Rings, the list goes on. Though I also LOVE dystopian fiction, like Hunger Games and Handmaids Tale. I think both genres sort of mixed together in my head, which is what contributed to the realistic fantasy setting of my story.
6.) Congratulations on uploading your first novel! It takes a lot of guts to do that. Do you have any advice for other authors just starting out or thinking about uploading their first novel?
A: Thank you! 😊 My advice is to trust your instincts. You have to go with what feels right to you; don’t let anyone push you to share it before you’re ready. It’s your novel, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I feel strongly about this just because of having an ex completely tear apart my work once when I wasn’t entirely ready to share my work with him. It really affected me, and I stopped writing for a month because I was so self conscious about everything. Don’t let anyone push you to that point. It’s your novel; it’s a piece of you in many ways. It’s a leap of faith in many ways, and it’s okay to feel nervous, but if you feel ready to post, go for it! It’s an individual decision for everyone, and that’s okay.
7.) After Spirit of Fire is complete, do you have any other novels you're thinking about uploading? If so, any sneak peeks you could give us?
A: I’m currently in the planning stages for a sequel to Spirit of Fire. It’s not super fleshed out yet, but I’m planning to focus on Saf’s parents and how their death ties into the plot of the first book. Also, she might lose her abilities for a bit, I haven’t decided yet. But expect more Saf and Coburn cuteness! I’ve also been thinking of doing a prequel type story focusing on Luna’s story, since there’s so much mystery surrounding her.
8.) What's your favorite part about writing in general? Anything you struggle with or think you could improve on?
A: It’s super therapeutic for me. I love how creative it is, how I can create an entire world with just words. It’s fascinating to me and I love it. It’s how I unwind at the end of the day and it really helps with my anxiety and stress. I would say I struggle the most with writing action scenes. I really have to think about what I’m doing with actiony things, otherwise it feels super stilted or too simplistic to me. And then I also struggle a bit with run on sentences, so I’m always looking out for those.
9.) What books and authors on Inkitt would you recommend?
A: I have to shoutout my lovely cousin @zanlexus. Her initial post was what made me rediscover Inkitt again, actually. But she has a great end of the world story on here, Seven, that I immensely enjoyed reading on here.
Also, @talonr17. As someone who gets squeamish with horror, I love every word of their writing. It’s so well written, and the horror is very tastefully done. I highly recommend Worms.
10.) Anything you specifically look for when you read or anything you enjoy reading about?
A: I look for unique concepts and strong, well developed characters. When cliches are integrated well, they work, but some cliches and story beats are way too overused in my opinion. As an example, the YA trope with the insanely toxic male love interest who is angry all the time and has a tragic past. I don’t mind the concept, especially when it’s integrated well, but it’s so overdone that I love it when stories deviate from this idea. I think that’s why I tried to make Coburn deviate from that trope in my own writing. I’m not sure. Anyways, I’m always looking for what makes a story different and unique – something that makes a story stand out, and a well written narrative.
11.) How do you deal with writer's block? Anything that helps better than others?
A: I draw. My ultimate goal is to have my story published with intermittent illustrations throughout, like old style fantasy books – like Lord of the Rings or Stardust. I’m currently learning how to use digital art, which has been fun. I’m really proud of the cover art I drew for of Spirit of Fire. If there’s a plot issue, I handwrite brainstorms to figure out how to fix it. For some reason, handwriting seems to help, I’m not sure why. Though sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself if taking a break. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m not purposely thinking about it.
12.) What's your favorite part about writing Spirit of Fire? Anything you feel like you need to fix?
A: I love writing dialogue. Especially between Saf and Coburn. They’re cute as hell, but their dynamic also flows quite naturally to me, which is nice. I really like switching perspectives too, which is something I was on the fence about initially. It just adds a whole other layer of depth to me. Saf’s voice is most similar to my own, so she’s easier to write in many respects, but Coburn can provide so much insight into situations that Saf can’t, and I love playing with that. I feel like I could fix my grammar and clean up a few scenes.
13.) Do you have any writing goals or Inkitt goals you have?
A: At the moment, not really. I think when I’m done my undergrad, I’ll really have the time to put my all into my story and take it a bit more seriously. And even though this is my first time really taking myself seriously on a writing platform, it’s still very much a hobby to me. I think my long-term goal is to get published, whether that be on Inkitt or elsewhere.
14.) Have you ever entered a user run book contest/award and if you haven't, why not?
A: I’m entered in the coalition awards at the moment! I think contests/awards are a great way to promote your story 😊
15.) Final thoughts?
A: I’m loving my time on Inkitt so far and getting feedback on my story! It’s really something that I put a lot of love into so I’m glad it’s doing so well on the platform. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me thus far. To all the writers out there, keep doing what you’re doing! I support you! <3