Maria Espinosa is the author of five novels, including Longing, which won an American Award, two collections of poetry, one of which was praised by Anais Nin as being “very sincere and direct and rich in feeling” and a critically acclaimed translation of George Sand’s novel, Lélia. The 2010 recipient of a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, she has taught creative writing and contemporary literature at New College of California and English as a Second Language at City College of San Francisco. Her most recent novel, Suburban Souls, was published in 2020 by Tailwinds Press. She lives in New Mexico and has one daughter. Over to Maria..
1.What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name is Maria Espinosa ( nee Paula Cronbach.) My former husband was Chilean. I began publishing after we married and kept his name.. As for Maria, I had long felt an affinity with the name, as it if it had been mine long ago. I grew up in a Long Island suburb outside of Manhattan, lived most of my adult life in California, and moved to New Mexico nine years ago.
2. Do you write in fact or fiction and in what genre?
I write mostly fiction but also poetry and non-fiction. The novels have been categorized as “literary fiction.” However, I think that’s an arbitrary distinction, only recently created by publicists—for instance, how would you classify a Dickens novel?
3. Are you traditionally or self-published and which route do you consider best?
Traditionally published, except for two poetry chapbooks. I think self-publishing requires a great deal of work, confidence, and courage. Writers such as Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, and Proust self-published, and they gave the world so much.
4. What’s your work schedule when you are writing?
My best working hours are in the morning, with a midday break, and then again in the afternoon. I work six or seven days a week when possible—many more hours during the final stages of a manuscript.
5. What advice would you give budding writers?
Write with honesty and with boldness. Stick to a writing schedule, but when you stumble, rise up and walk on.
6. Who/What are your favorite authors/books?
When I was twelve or thirteen I fell in love with Tolstoy and with Thomas Wolfe (the Wolfe of the Thirties who wrote Look Homeward Angel).
Anais Nin has been a strong influence. I first read a slim volume of her stories, Under a Glass Bell, in the Fifties, before she was well known. She was the first woman writer I encountered who I felt wrote truly in a woman’s voice. A few other favorites, among many, are Gwen Edelman and the French writer Annie Ernaux. I love the writings of James Baldwin and Bernard Malamud. These are authors I can read over and over, responding to voice and style, which convey so much more than individual words.
7. Are you a plotter or a pantster?
My stories all have begun with a visual image which contains compelling emotional power. Then I flesh out the image with more fully drawn characters and with plot. Character drives the plot.
8. What helps you focus?
The first time I was able to slow my mind down enough and expand from flashing images, emotions, thoughts into words was on the island of Rhodes in Greece. I was 21 years old. Free from outside pressures, I was able to create a disciplined structure. I wrote from 9 to noon, took a midday break to swim, eat delicious fried fish at a beachside restaurant, and lie in the sun, then wrote from 3 to 6. I had rented a room with a Greek family. The woman, approving my work, brought me plates of figs. It was idyllic!
Mornings still work best, with a break, and then writing in the afternoon. Long walks also help.
- How long did it take you to write your books?
My novels go through countless drafts. Each one has taken years. Stories have gone much more quickly. Poems are usually written in one sitting, then revised.
- Where can we find your books”
My books are on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and Powells, as well as on the Trailwinds Press website.
You can read more about Maria on her website: www.mariaespinosa.com and on Wikipedia.
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