Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Interview with the author of Behind the Hood Marita A. Hansen
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born and bred in New Zealand, but am currently living in Singapore, where I’ve been since December 2009. I will be returning home in 2013.
What are your hobbies?
I love sport, in particular soccer, running, and karate. I’m soccer mad, and am a youth coach and referee. My other hobbies are reading and art. I do all my book covers.
Do you have another job apart from writing?
I am an artist, but I’ve put it aside for the moment to concentrate on my books. I would prefer to be an author, and to keep art as a hobby rather than a job. When I was in New Zealand art was pretty much a full time thing. At one point, while doing a large commission, I was painting seven days a week. I am passionate about both my art and writing.
Can you describe the place where you write and the view?
I write from home. My view is of the gorgeous garden outside: Palm trees, Bougainvillea, bamboo and so forth.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
I write realistic fiction. Originally I did try my hand at YA fantasy, but I ended up putting it aside. When I first started writing “Behind the Hood” I intended on doing a fantasy based in Singapore. But the location for the story wasn’t working, so I moved it to one of my old neighbourhoods in New Zealand. As soon as I did that it rapidly morphed into realism. From there, I found that this genre was a lot easier to write and held more meaning for me. At the moment I’m also writing a spin-off series for “Behind the Hood” called “Graffiti Heaven,” which is set ten years earlier.
At some point you decided to self-publish. Can you tell us how that process developed?
I don’t like sending off submissions to agents. It’s absolutely horrible. They take way too long to reply, and a couple have wasted my time. This was one of the reasons why I decided to self-publish. Plus, when I took the plunge into self-publishing I thought I was returning home by the end of 2011. Due to this I was feeling the pressure of getting my book out there, because if I returned back to New Zealand without having done so I was worried “Behind the Hood” was going to languish in the depths of my computer unread. But, I did have it professionally edited, thus doing my best to get it up to publishable standards. And so far it has been well-received with some really good reviews both on Amazon and Goodreads.
How do you feel about self-publishing? What are the advantages, disadvantages, etc.?
At first I was nervous about self-publishing, because the hardest thing is marketing. Someone can have the best book in the world, but if people don’t know about it, it won’t get anyway. Self-published authors have to be persistent with marketing their books, getting it onto people’s blogs, participating in places like Goodreads, twittering, and joining in with the Facebook community. Writers’ websites are also important, along with forums. You also need to do talks at writing groups or bookstores. I’ve done a few of these and they went very well.
Are you in a network of Indie authors?
I’m a part of the Facebook group Writing Kindle Books.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
“Behind the Hood” went live on August 12, 2011. I felt nervous about it, because it’s a pretty full-on read and I was worried about how it would be received. I was also nervous about the formatting, but one person told me that there were no errors in relation to this. Additionally, the marketing side of things was daunting.
Can you tell us some background information on the book?
“Behind the Hood” is the first in a series. I will release “Behind the Tears” in November of this year, and so forth. The idea for “Behind the Hood” basically came from setting it in one of my old neighbourhoods in South Auckland, New Zealand. As soon as I had my character Maia walk past a gang, things just flowed and the story took on a life of its own. Plus, I did include things that were familiar, personalities, settings, etc. which was why it probably came so readily. But because I was new to this writing game, and was still persisting with the notion of going down the conventional route with publishing, “Behind the Hood” took fifteen months to complete.
What are your writing habits?
I go with the flow; I have no set number of words. I just write when it comes to me.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why?
Life I suppose. My experiences and what I see around me.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
Hopefully being able to support myself and my family from my books, as well as getting “Behind the Hood” turned into a television drama since the structure of the chapters are suited to this.
Synopsis, Review and Links to Behind the Hood
Life on the rough side of New Zealand. In this South Auckland neighbourhood where gang culture, drink, drugs, sex and violence is already a way of life, a vicious attack on a teenage girl sparks a ripple effect of revenge and fury. Live the carnage through multiple viewpoints as the tale unfolds to a bloody climax.
An Amazon Review:
INTENSE! I could probably leave my review at this one word and that would say it all. What a nerve wracking read. At first I thought there were going to be too many point of view characters for me to get involved emotionally, but they all tied back to each other perfectly. I had no problem keeping track of who was who and how they related back to each of the other characters. By the last three-quarters of the book I had the phones turned off and the Do Not Disturb sign hung on the door. I had to know what was going to happen and I didn't want any interruptions. Marita Hansen did not disappoint. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Links to Behind the Hood (Free sample available through Amazon’s look inside feature):