Maria Gibbs is the author of the newly released novel, A Boy from the Streets, about twins living separate lives, one of privilege and the other in poverty. Though this book is her first full-length novel, the British writer has three thought-provoking novelettes, all of which I’ve read and highly recommend: A Lifetime or a Season (A Woman’s Journey to Self-Awareness), As Dreams Are Made on, and The Storm Creature.
Intrigued by her writing, I wanted to find out more about the author and her work.
Hi Maria. Thank you for sitting down to answer a few questions. First off, I’d just like to say that I find your writing so creative and unique, and your descriptive language really pulls me in as a reader. Do you have a background in writing, or how did you get started?
Hello Dana, thank you for asking me to take part. Do I have a background in writing…erm not a formal one, no. Ever since I can remember I have loved to read and write. I used to read out loud the stories I had written to my school friends who were a rapt audience. There is nothing better than being able to lose yourself in another world whether that be of your own or someone else’s making. For reasons I won’t go into now I didn’t actually finish my high school education.
What was your inspiration for A Boy from the Streets, and can you tell me a little about the book?
A boy from the streets came about because I was researching what it would be like to be a foreign correspondent for one of my other WIP books. I bought Christina Lamb’s book, Small Wars Permitting: Despatches from Foreign Lands. While I was reading it I discovered to my intense horror that there were thousands, maybe millions of homeless children in Brazil. The authorities dealt with this problem by going out on killing sprees to keep the numbers down. When I had got over my initial shock a story took shape in my head and I started to write.
A Boy from the Streets is about orphaned twin babies. Jose is adopted into a life of luxury and Pedro is dumped onto the streets to face the horrors that entailed. Twelve years later the boys are reunited when Jose overhears his parents talking and finds out that he is adopted and has a twin. Upon hearing that his parents want to find his twin he fears that they want to swap him. He goes out looking for his twin and finds him. What follows shakes both of their worlds. To find out any more you will have to read it.
This new book is a bit of a departure from your normal genre, or at least it seems that way. Is there more grit and less fantasy in this one?
I don’t really stick to one genre. Although As Dreams Are Made on and The Storm Creature have a fantasy element about them, they are both different. A Lifetime doesn’t have a fantasy element about it being more of a journey of self-awareness for the main character. A Boy from the Streets definitely doesn’t have a fantasy element to it and yes, it is gritty.
Apart from A Boy from the Streets, there is a fairytale quality to your books, in particular, As Dreams Are Made on, and one recurring theme I see throughout your work is that the protagonist goes through hell emotionally, though there is a search for a resolution. What or who are some of your influences for this style?
Yes, the protagonists do seem to go through an emotional rollercoaster in my stories and maybe that is because I can relate to that personally.
As Dreams Are Made on is my favorite of your novelettes because I just love the message and the beauty of the story both in the details and overall. Yet before I read it, I was confused by the title. Can you explain this title to readers?
The name came to me after remembering that one line from the Shakespeare quote and on further exploration found this online:
“Prospero is making an analogy between the spirits, who seem like illusions, to life itself.
“The spirits can produce marvelous visions, but when they are done there is nothing left, and not even any sign that they ever were. Rather like a dream… something which can be fanciful or terrifying, but then you wake and it is gone.
“Prospero is suggesting that human lives are no different; a sentiment echoed by Hamlet in another work of Shakespeare’s. The suggestion is that people live their lives and then are gone, leaving no appreciable mark and eventually not even a memory of their existence. And arguably this may be so – even if we do remember a few figures in history, there are billions more who get no mention; it’s even likely that many of the ones we think we remember have little resemblance to the actual figure.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on refers to creating an illusion.
“The ‘sleep’ that rounds life is the sleep of death. An unending nap which gloomy Shakespeare characters often like to say awaits us all.”
It just seemed to sum up the essence of the book.
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be?
Sharon Penman and Enid Blyton.
Your books take place either in different eras, different realms or both. Do you ever wish you could have lived in another place or time, and if so, where or when?
Yes, I would have loved to have been around in Medieval England. I have always had a fascination with history and this time strikes a chord within.
Do you have a work-in-progress, and can you talk about what it is and when it might be released?
I have approximately forty work-in-progresses lol. I plan to do a spin off from A Boy from the Streets as one of the other characters has a story that needs to be told but the next one I plan to release is the first book I ever wrote. It took more years than I care to remember, and I left it on the back burner and am now polishing it with the knowledge I have from my previous releases. This one is a two-part series and is closest to my heart. Is this Love? llicit Love and their characters have been with me for so long that I almost feel that they are real LOL.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work full-time. When I’m not writing or working, I like to read, to craft, ride my motorbike and go to the gym.
Tell me something about yourself that might surprise your readers.
I love heavy Metal music.
Wow, that is surprising! There are obviously many layers to this author, much like her writing. I’d like to thank Maria for this chat, and if you’d like to check out her work, you can find it on Amazon. Click here.
D.M. Miller is the author of the interfaith “Heart” series as well as the poetry collection, Dandelion Fuzz and memoir, Half-Jew: Searching for Identity. The product of an interfaith marriage herself, Miller’s work explores the difficult themes of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, family, ancestry and love. See her books on Amazon.