Author Interview: Mariah Avix

Today my guest is Mariah Avix, the lovely voice behind 600 Seconds Saga. I discovered this exciting project on Twitter and had my dark, ecological dystopia turned into a haunting and emotional podcast by Mariah.  We’re going to talk about stories, 600 Seconds Saga and Mariah’s own writing.

Welcome Mariah, thanks for visiting Ink, maps and Macarons.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk a little about the projects I’m working on and to share a little with you.

1.How did the idea of 600 Seconds Saga come to you? I find podcast a very special and interesting format, how and why did you choose this form?

There is a tremendous amount of amazing flash fiction written by fantastic authors I love to read, and on the other side I kept hearing people say they wanted to read more but didn’t have a lot of time. I considered just standing, mouth agape pointing at the phenomenal fast fiction with one hand and the “I don’t have a lot of time” people with the other, but it didn’t seem like a great way to get my point across. So, I went for a podcast.

2.What do you look for in a story when selecting stories for publication?

I look for something that makes me pause. Something that I can’t stop reading. Something that makes me say something aloud while I’m reading it. I consider sci-fi and fantasy to be a huge tent, there is very little that doesn’t fit under the tent for me. (Except horror, it does, but I’m a total horror wimp! Sorry horror authors, I’m glad you’re out there but I need to sleep at night and you’re all way, way to good at what you do.)

Right now, I’m really looking for voices we haven’t heard from enough, views that are underrepresented, stories that aren’t being told everywhere.

3. Is your civil job also recording and/or literature related or is it in a completely different domain?

I do audio recordings in my day job a bit as well, but it’s not literature, it’s the boring sort of read customer service kinds of scripts job. It’s nice to get away to something very creative and different at the end of the day. But I also get to bring the audio skills I learn at work to the microphone at home, and as I’ve started to do even more work with the podcast and narration I’ve started to bring some of those skills back to the office too.

4. You’re not just helping writers getting their work out there, you’re a writer yourself. What kind of stories do you enjoy writing?

I love writing stories about messing with your head. Or stories that mess with your head. Or stories about the head being messed with. Many of my characters spend time wondering if what they are experiencing is real, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, sometimes we never really quite know for sure. All of our best stories happen in our brains, that’s where we use patterns to connect random events and create amazing tales. Grand mythos, tiny personal tales, and everything in between.

Mostly that means sci-fi and fantasy, I like the space between urban fantasy and sci-fi. Though when I write flash fiction I’m happy to go anywhere in the multiverse.

5. What are the challenges in making a podcast? What are the good things that make it worthwhile?

Saying no to amazing stories! I hate it. But I don’t want to do a story that I can’t make shine because my skills aren’t there or because it isn’t a great choice for my format. I have said no to really incredible stories because I can’t do them justice and that is a challenge.

Every hard moment and flubbed sentence is worth it when I get an email from an author who is hearing their work brought to life for the first time, and they have the opportunity to be blown away by their own work the way I was, the way the listeners will be. Everything is worth it for that moment.

6. Which writers inspire you?

Writers who are funny. I try to be funny, and I think I am but…I also know I’m kind of an acquired taste, I’m just waiting for someone else to acquire it. Authors who write work and inject sly subtle humor, or who can make me actually laugh out loud are the ones who make me want to go back to my keyboard. Even though I don’t write humor, I still am absolutely inspired by it.

7. What are you currently working on and what is it about?

I always have a few flash fiction pieces in progress, right now one about heading into the deep woods to die is sitting on my desk waiting for me to come back to it.

The big project I’m working on is a rewrite of a fantasy novella that is a part of my Smoke Jumpers series. I have the first novella in that series coming out this summer. The one I’m working on has a bitchy main character that I’ve been struggling with. The beta readers didn’t like how bitchy she was so I’m trying to pull that back, but I also kind of want to make it more, make it more, make her angrier and louder and bitchier. So, I keep rewriting and rewriting a few key scenes. At some point, I think I need to let it go and send it on to the world, but I’m not there yet.

8. What is the hardest and easiest thing about being an author?

The easiest thing might be the writing. It’s certainly hard work, but for me it’s a very doable hard work. I can sit down again and again, I can work a piece over and over until I feel good or scrap it and move forward. I can see forward progress. I can count the number of words and feel like I have control over how much better I get, how much I practice, how much I learn.

The hardest thing is the talking about it. The marketing. The reaching out. The this. You (Fanni) have been incredibly kind and I’ve had quite a few interactions that had all been nothing but completely positive. And I still wrote the email asking if it would be possible to be interviewed and deleted it, and wrote it, and deleted it, and then talked to a friend who gave me an exasperated and encouraging go for it! And then I finally sent it. Expecting people to want to know about me or what I do or anything is weird. And I hope I’m not alone in that. (If I’m alone don’t tell me!) But I know that I really enjoy reading about other author’s experiences and what they do and where they are, so share

9. For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks, traditional paper/hard back books or audiobooks?

Audiobooks, first and foremost! I am so much more likely to read something if I can listen to it. If not that then ebooks. I haven’t bought a physical book in…a long time. I don’t even really have a bookshelf in my home anymore. I love being able to be reading or listening to anything and no one knows, it’s a secret. I love being able to switch, or at least know that I can switch. I love/hate that when it is 2 am and I finish a book and there is another in a series I can just push a button and BAM! There is it and I don’t even have to stop reading. And that’s why I’ve banned myself from reading ebooks during the week. I have and will stay up all night, I have to get up and go to work, so just no reading on work nights anymore.

10. Where do you see publishing going in the future?

Publishing in general? That’s a big question. But I like big questions! I think that it will continue to broaden in scope and I think we are already seeing this. People won’t just write novels (not that they ever have) but it will continue to expand into all the available space. I think we’ll see more…stories written in code. Tiny trails of things across different media. A twitter account here, a slack channel, a subreddit, and a novel, but you won’t know everything unless you see all of them. Those kinds of complex multilayered multichannel stories are a huge challenge to write, but I think that there will continue to be new authors taking on those challenges and running with it.

I think we’ll also see more audio books, more short format and variable length, as we aren’t limited as much by big publishing houses length requirements and as readers ask for different things we’ll see more variety in length and format as well.

Thank you very much for stopping by and good luck with your writing and running 600 Seconds Saga!

Author Bio:
Mariah Avix is the creator of 600 Second Saga. A space for developing authors to explore the realms of science fiction and fantasy in 10 minutes or less every week.
Mariah writes magical tales of how technology will change our world, and technologically laced tales of magic, that probably isn’t real.
She is currently working on a series of novellas about shapeshifters who fight wildfires, a trilogy about a woman who refuses to admit that she has the M word (magic), and endless flash fiction.
When she’s not writing she walks along the rivers and parks throughout her city looking for inspiration.
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