Z. A. Maxfield is a fifth generation native of Los Angeles, although she now lives in the O.C. She started writing in 2006 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four manages to find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can do if you completely give up housework.”
CC: What gets you in the mood to write?
ZAM: Haha. This question makes me laugh because in one of the first books I ever wrote, The Long Way Home, Kevin teases his friend Connor about how he gets in the mood to receive psychic visions. He tells Connor he has to be in a dark room with no smells. He has to be naked and touching himself. And of course Connor is just a nice, gullible boy, and he falls for it.
This is not how I write.
For me, writing started out like risky–yet delightful and safe–sex. Like something I didn’t have to get in the mood for, at all. I was in a dating phase with writing! I couldn’t wait to sit down to work.
In fact, in the beginning writing was very good to me. It made me feel things I never felt before, PLUS at that point, writing was actively seductive, trying to be my one and only. Writing wanted to push every other pastime—unimportant things like work, school, husbands, and kids off the stage. Writing wanted to bask in the limelight like the bloated egomaniac it is, acting all entitled and stuff.
We had to cool things off for a bit. I wanted commitment. Writing wanted to play the field. And still, every so often, writing just grabbed me and I would beg it not to let go.
Because that’s what writing is.
Writing is that super toxic man or woman I just can’t help loving with all my dysfunctional heart.
So I’d write all the time. I’d write so much I hurt my back, which caused me to walk hunched over like the question mark at the end of the sentence, “Is a career in writing in your stars?”
By then, I had my doubts about whether things would last between us.
Then, I got published! And I know that sounds like a good thing, and it is, of course it is. But what I didn’t realize is now I’m married to writing. I am expected to put out, and it’s not like anyone worries about whether I’m in the mood or not. Writing and I have a gentleman’s agreement that sometimes I’ll suck it up, for writing’s sake. I’ll pencil writing in, every day, whether I’m fluffed or not, and sometimes—don’t tell writing—but I fake it.
That sounds bad, but inevitably, I get back in the mood and that’s when I edit. So that fake writegasm I had–the one where I typed, “Oh, oh, oh.” but I know the reader is going to know I wasn’t feeling it—will be “fixed in post,” as they say in the movies.
CC: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you when you were writing a book?
ZAM: When I got my first contract from Loose Id, I told my son’s teacher because she’s a professional poet and we’d talked about our writerly aspirations. She was someone who could understand how excited I was. However, the Principal of my kids’s elementary school overheard us, and she was thrilled, she even asked if I to schedule an “Author Day.” O.o
I had to tell her that my book, Crossing Borders was erotic New Adult romance and therefore, it was beyond the kids’ reading level. That could have been an embarrassing conversation, but to her credit, even in highly conservative Orange County California, she was genuinely delighted for me and championed my career from the beginning. I saw her at the hair salon quite recently, and her son is now a bestselling author with a hot indie career.
CC: Is there a genre you haven’t written, but would like to explore?
ZAM: Ah. Y’all know I want to be Karin Slaughter when I grow up, right? I want to write that kind of character-driven, gritty, thriller with an overarching romantic subplot. Or I would love to write the kind of insightful literary women’s fiction Joan Didion writes.
Or I think sometimes, maybe I want to go the quasi non-fiction humor route and be like Erma Bombeck. Write essays. I’d like to explore everything!
CC: What has been the best review of one of your books?
ZAM: This is bang! on my mind because I got a compliment about St. Nacho’s yesterday. When I wrote the St. Nacho’s book series, I envisioned creating a place to which people would feel a heart-connection. I must have done it, because I get the comment, “Oh, how I wish there were a real St. Nacho’s, because I’ve wanted to move there since I read the books,” quite often.
You can’t know what that means to an author who mostly spends her time sitting behind a computer, trying to connect with people she doesn’t know. I feel very grateful to have that connection through my stories, and I never take it for granted!
CC: What is your favorite quote?
ZAM: This is a tough one, because my favorite quote is often attributed to Gandhi. It does sound like something he would say, but as far as I know, historians have not found the critical primary source for when he actually said it.
When you attribute something to someone who did not say it, you change history, you write over the past and make it murky, and we all know historians hate that. Some of my best friends are historians
I’ll go along and attribute the quote to Gandhi, just in case he did say it, with the caveat I can’t be certain it ever happened<———–Beware! Those words right there? Will kill historians if used incorrectly. Hopefully with that disclaimer, the historians will keep their Inadequate Primary Source Guns on safety.
I’ll bet you didn’t know historians had Inadequate Primary Source Guns. I was a History major for five minutes and I got one. They made me sign a confidentiality agreement, but then I dropped out. So now, not only do I own an historian’s official weapon, I’m free to divulge its arcane magical secrets.
My favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Were coming into the home stretch, only three more before GRL, and I’ll post my experiences the week after. But, stop by next week when we get a peek into the life of JR Barten.