So let's begin with Mariam introducing herself before the real interrogation starts.
Hello, my name is Mariam Kobras, I’m a sixty-year-old grandmother from Hamburg, Germany. Before I became a writer I taught theatre at a local high school.
I love chicken soup and coconut cream pie, lunches with my publisher, Criminal Minds and Battlestar Galactica, walks on the beach, and my baby grandson. I adore hanging out with my family, and a good cup of coffee.
Travelling and visiting my friends in Canada and the US also ranks high on my list and I can’t wait to go again! Actually, I’m always ready to travel. I want to see Iceland, and the huge waves in Nazare, Portugal, and I want to drive the length of the Pacific Coast Highway in the US.(funny you should mention that...DD and I did that in
Just the usual boring stuff!
Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
I loved teaching, but I gave it up to concentrate on writing. That was seven years ago. I still miss the bustle of the teachers’ lounge, and working with the kids, but I’m too old teach and write. Or at least I feel too old for it.
I maintain a steady writing schedule, most of the time.
Before I started teaching, I managed an American football team here in Germany, and a number of other crazy things… I’m the typical soccer mom in many ways.
When did you start writing?
In 2009. Remember how I told you about that theatre class? Well, I also supervised the detention room. There were hours when everyone was behaving and the room was empty. My hubby had given me a laptop for Christmas, so I sat in that empty room and wrote. I was new to twitter then, and the people I met asked me what I did besides tweet… and I told them I was writing a novel. A couple of them asked to read it, and because of their encouragement, I just kept writing.Oh that's such a cool thing to hear - I love when social media lets people share the positive!
Then one day I opened twitter to find a publisher following me. It was Buddhapuss. We started chatting, and eventually they asked to see my book. Shortly after that I signed my first book deal.
The Distant Shore was released in January 2012. Since then we’ve released four more books in the Stone Series. I think I there will be one more but it’s still simmering and not quite ready to be written.
What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
My grandson. He’s ten months old now, and just starting to stand up.
I never wanted to be a grandmother, and I kept telling my older son and his wife that they had lots of time to become parents. They did take their time and did a good deal of travelling before they decided to have a family.
Everything changed when I held that baby in my arms. It’s so hard to describe. There was this huge, warm wave of love that washed over me, and and amazing sense of perfection. This was what I’d been born for. This little child made my life complete. Suddenly, my life made sense. I had come full circle. There will be more grandchildren, of that I’m certain, especially since my younger son and his fiancé want children too. But I don’t think anything will ever surpass that glorious moment of truth.
So many things make me smile.
Yesterday, on my way to babysit my grandson, I saw the first geese of spring fly overhead. They were calling to one another, their formation was nearly perfect, and I stood in the middle of the street and stared and smiled.
A good cup of coffee nearly always makes me smile. I had the best cup of coffee ever at a Cuban restaurant in Orlando, Florida.
And this cat makes me smile. A friend in Scotland adopted him from the shelter a couple of months ago, and we watched as he transformed from a thin, raggedy creature into this king of a cat! Look at this face!
(wait, that four things! oh OK I'll let it go as the cat is cute)
Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?
I had a cat for nearly seventeen years. His name was The Pig because he had these pink ears and nose when we rescued him from the gutter (yes, literally), and that’s the name that stuck.
The Pig used to go everywhere I went. He lay on my desk when I was working, he sat on my shoulder when I was in the kitchen cooking, and if there was chicken on the dinner menu he’d circle the table, walking from one shoulder to the next. I loved him very much, and I still miss him. There’s a hole in my heart where he used to live.
I’m thinking of getting another cat, but I know there will never be another like him.
Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
I really had to think about this one.
Truth is, I don’t have any one favourite writer. Can I cheat and offer a short list?
I really love Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy), but I also really like N.K. Jemisin and her Inheritance Trilogy (it’s fantasy, and amazing, and beautifully written!). Robertson Davies has been a favourite since university, where our literature prof from Vancouver introduced us to his books. I love them all!
I read widely, from Nobel Prize winning literature to Stephen King and Jan Karon.
Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
Right now I’m reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. He’s the author of Cloud Atlas, which was made into a really beautiful movie. Next on my list is N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon.
Where do you do most of your writing?
Wherever I am! I’ve discovered a secret. The writing doesn't happen when you’re in a particular space, it happens when you’re in a particular space in your novel. If the story pulls you in, it doesn’t matter where you are, you’ll write.
I’ve done writing all over the place: my desk, the couch in the living room with the TV running or the kid playing Tomb Raider, in waiting areas at airports, at my publisher’s dining-room table, at a friend’s house in Texas, her greyhound lying across my lap. On the ferry from Tsawwassen to Vancouver Island, on the plane from Frankfurt to New York.
Most of my writing though does happen at my desk.
Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
My Stone Series (The Distant Shore is the first book in this series) is the story of Jon Stone, a rock star getting on in age, and his long lost love, Naomi Carlsson.(Naomi, great name...just saying)
For more than sixteen years Jon has wondered why Naomi left him without a single word of explanation or even saying goodbye. He is on the brink of depression and alcoholism when he one day receives a letter from a teenage son he knew nothing about. He drops everything to travel halfway across the world to find his son, and his long lost love.
I’ve often been asked if there’s a real rock star who inspired me to create Jon Stone, but there isn’t a single person that he’s based on. If you insist though, I’ll probably say, Bruce Springsteen.
Jon is, after so many years of being a star, is polished and well-mannered. He knows how to wear a tux, but deep down he’s still the same New York City boy who set out so long ago to make his fortune in Hollywood.
I have to admit that I fell in love with this man, partly because music is so deeply woven into his soul. There are only are two things that really matter to Jon: his music, and his family.
What is your favourite biscuit?
Shortbread! Not fancy shortbread, just the plain Walkers stuff. Yum!
Tea or Coffee?
Always coffee. Unless it’s organic orange/ginger tea, but I’ll only drink that at night.
In the film of your life who would play you?
Oh gosh–I have no idea, and I can’t think of a single actor who looks like me.
If colour and heritage don’t matter—either Judy Dench or Helen Mirren. I look nothing like them, but I admire them greatly. Is that a good enough reason? Or Maggie Smith! I adore Maggie Smith.
If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why?
This question may well be the reason why it took me forever to get around to doing this interview. I HAVE NO IDEA!!!
A cat and a willow? Then those pussy willows would really grow kittens! haha, fuzzy!
Find out more about Mariam, and follow her on social media on her blog, Facebook page or twitter
And obviously buy her books! (she needs to get some more shortbread)