Monday, 24 December 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Maria Hammarblad

STEPH: I don't know much about “Undercover.” What's it about?

MARIA: Undercover is a contemporary romance. It’s about Jenny Moore, whose life is pretty safe and a little boring. She dreams about adventure and being swept off her feet, and when this actually happens she gets more excitement than she ever wanted. If I may quote my friend Patty Froese, it’s about “dangerous men and the women who hold them back from the edge.”

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

MARIA: I always have problems with that question because I tend to write in little bursts of energy… The first draft came together fairly quickly, a matter of weeks, but since then I’ve re-written it a number of times. It took either a few weeks or a couple of years, depending on point of view.

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

MARIA: Quite a lot, actually. The book takes place in several countries, and I’ve been to most of them, but not to Russia and not to Mexico. When I looked at photos and talked to people who have visited these places, I realized my mental images were completely wrong. It’s a novel sprung out of my imagination, but I still wanted to get as much right as I can.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

MARIA: I think the cover artist did an amazing job conveying the feeling of the book, and I love this cover. It makes me think of spy movies and classic thrillers. My hero is a soldier -- and spy -- who has performed some horrific deeds. Love transforms him, and once he tries to fit into a normal way of life, he constantly has to put himself in harm’s way to protect those close to him. In my mind, that’s just what he does on the cover.

STEPH: Jenny is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

MARIA: Jenny is a romantic and naïve dreamer, and she’s so infatuated with the hero common sense goes right out the window. All of a sudden she puts up with things that would normally send her screaming and running in the other direction. Luckily, when put to the test, she also has a backbone of steel. When she sets out to do something, she’ll do it, and she’s strong enough to sort of the strangest situations, saving the day for both herself and him.

STEPH: What does Alexei find appealing about her?

MARIA: She’s kind, caring, and teaches him to appreciate the little things in life. He didn’t know how unhappy he was until he met her. He tries to explain the phenomenon to her in the book: "My life had been a black and white movie on a tiny little screen, and now it was full color IMAX with Dolby surround."

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

MARIA: Love conquers all. Definitely. They have to go through some horrible ordeals to stay together, but as long as they have each other, they’re okay.

STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?

MARIA: Everything. My head is quite a bizarre place, and my mind is always asking, “What if.” I can look at the vacuum cleaner and think, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if this thing could fly?” I sometimes see interesting people on my way to work or going to the store, and by the time I get home I have a complete story ready about them. It doesn’t even stop when I sleep. I often wake up in the middle of the night with a story burning on my eyelids.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

MARIA: I do. I have a Kindle Touch and I really like that it can read aloud. It took a while to get used to the voice, I thought it sounded kinda snarky at first, but now I just think it’s practical. I also love that it works in sunshine.

STEPH: Fun question: Do you put a star or an angel on the top of your Christmas tree?

MARIA: We have a silvery star. I bought it for my first apartment in Sweden and it’s been with me for well over twenty years. I bet it didn’t expect to end up in Florida. ☺

Book trailer link:

Review snippets:

"This book was riveting and just when you are sure you know what to expect, Hammarblad completely takes you by surprise with an incredible finale. Amazingly fun and enjoyable" -- Mrs. Michael, reader

"You easily connect with the characters and feel the tension of their various situations - You will be guessing at the outcome, which is very original! Well worth reading!" -- Robin Olsson, reader

Buy link:

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  1. Great interview. Love if. Book sounds great. Merry Christmas ladies.

  2. What a fun interview! Undercover is going on my TBR list. Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you and Merry Christmas! I'm a little late over here - I've been caught up in the holidays. =D