Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marta Szemik - Two Halves

Marta Szemik is with us today to tell us about her book Two Halves.

Where do you currently live?
Small town of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.

Tell us a little bit about your life.
Most of my day is simple, but busy. My schedule revolves around the kids, their activities, school, homework, writing, cooking. And, I’m grateful my hubby does most of the cleaning. One consistency, every morning is a cup of coffee and 10-15 minutes to myself before the kids wake up. This means no making lunches or finishing chores. Just 10-15 minutes of quiet to gather my thoughts.

When did you first start writing?
I learned how to write in grade 1, but I don’t think that’s what you meant :) My writing career began very suddenly in March 2009. After being inspired, I woke up in the morning, sat down at the computer and decided I would write a novel. From the first word, I knew I would finish. I was certain I would finish. There was nothing else I’d ever wanted more that day than to finish the novel and that drive kept me going until today. The difference is that I not only want to write, I need to write.

What was your very first story about?
Honestly, I don’t remember. But I’ve been a story teller for a long time. I think this has a lot to do with growing up in a country where there weren’t too many toys so kids had to satisfy themselves with playing with sticks, grass, rocks and mud, as well as telling stories.

Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
Yes, I’ve written a bit in a different genre and only showed it to hubby. He likes it. Perhaps it will be the next step?

Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
A lot of the stuff I write about is what I’d like to experience. Like zipping through the rainforest in the Amazon, swimming in a turquoise pond no one else has ever swam in, or what I call vortexing. In my novel some can travel great distances through a vortex in a matter of minutes (but the novel has nothing to do with science fiction).

Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
J.R.R. Tolkien. The world created in The Lord of the Rings has me gasping each time I read it. As a reader you feel like you’re right there with the characters. That’s what I strive to do as well.

What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I have an Honours BA in Economics (Financial Analysis). On top of that, securities courses, financial management diploma, real estate licence, appraisal courses and a Pilates Instructor certification. I think I’ve been looking to find what I love for a while and I wished I’d figured I’m better at using the right side of my brain (creative) than the left (logic). That’s not to say I’m not logical or bad at those other jobs!

How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
It depends on the work, its setting and general concept. If it’s pure fiction, the great thing is that you can make your own worlds. I am working on another novel (or four) that will require me to travel to one of the hotels in NY. Anything that’s real in the novels needs to be researched thoroughly.

Who is your favorite literary character?
Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit.

Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
At this time it’s a shapeshifter named Xander. I liked him so much, I let him hijack my novella. He completely took over and I had to write what he wanted me to. To the point, when I felt some scenes were too ‘risqué’, he wouldn’t let me delete them. I left the scenes in, because it was him. Anything different would have been a lie.

If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
Dreams Do Come True.

Tell us about your featured book.
Two Halves is my debut novel. It’s about half-breed vampires (the only two in the world) accepting their destiny to save the human, vampire and warlock species from a demonic takeover and ultimately extinction. Gosh, that sounds darker than it is. The story evolves as the main character Sarah, learns about her vampiric side, one she has denied since birth, suppressing her instincts with serums. It’s a coming of age story but instead of transitioning to adulthood, she transitions from the human world to a half-breed world, which are not as different as she thought they were.

Why did you write that?
I was inspired by Stephenie Meyer. After seeing Twilight, I researched the author, read her biography and felt connected. The next morning I sat down to write a novel. From the first word I knew I would finish. I didn’t know how long it would take me, but I knew I would finish.

Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
I hope my characters stay with you for as long as they have stayed with me.

Where is the one place you’ve traveled where you’ve felt most like you fit in?
Disney in Florida. It was the one place that brought out the kid in me. Loved it and felt very comfortable there. But to steal Dorothy’s line, there’s no place like home.

What activity or hobby, besides writing, do you find most enjoyable?
Skiing, absolutely skiing.

What was your favorite childhood toy?
Didn’t have many, so instead of a toy, I’d have to say my hamster. I loved my hamster over all the toys.

What is your most valued personal possession in life? Who gave it to you?
My wedding band. And of course, my husband gave it to me.

If you lost the ability to see every color but one, which one would it be?
Black, because if I remember correctly from science, black contains all the colours so I’d hope to be able to separate them within the black and see after all. (This is the nerd in me talking)

How do you treat people you’re not fond of?
Kill them with politeness and sarcasm. I love sarcasm and I’m way too good at it.

What is hiding in your closet as we speak?
You don’t want to know, because I don’t even know. But I’m sure it rhymes with ‘tess’. I hate closets. I need them closed at night, and it’s not because of monsters. It’s just something I’d always had to do.

What do you see as your greatest achievement?
My kids. Nothing will ever be better. Second to my kids, my published books.

What, to you, is absolutely wrong?
Not saying ‘excuse me’ after burping and when someone doesn’t give up their seat for the elderly.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
When you’re having bad day, think, “even this shall pass.”

If you had to explain the concept of “love” to someone who’s never heard of it before, how would you?
An eighty year old couple strolling through a park, holding hands.

What about “hate?”
Too dark to describe that one, but it has something to do with not respecting someone else’s life.

You’ve decided to buy an exotic pet, what do you go for?
Monkey, because of Pippi Longstocking. I loved her witty monkey.

What do you classify as an “Adventure?”
Trying something I’d never done before.

If you could learn one new thing instantly, what would it be?
Sign language.

Finish this sentence. “I sometimes find it hard to…”
Open up to others in fear I will not be accepted. This is when I am thankful for the internet and social media. It’s easier to express myself in writing than in person.

Our very special thanks to Marta for being so generous with her time. Her book can be found below, where your cursor should be...clicking.

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