Interview with Cleo Maxwell

What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a trilogy three children's novels set in New Zealand, two in the King Country and I haven't decided the setting for the third. While I wait for inspiration divine or otherwise I am trying to complete my Myroba series rhyming poetry set in outer space. So far I have completed five stories and they are the process of being loaded.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes it was a poem about a cheetah, called the "Unusual Cheetah". Probably written because my father refused to let me have a lion cub or any big cat which I considered completely unreasonable .
I was really keen on Joy Adamson's series on Elsa the lioness, Pippa the cheetah and Penny the leopard. I remember telling everyone when she died that she was murdered because she knew too much to be mauled to death by big cats- later it was revealed she was murdered which was some vindication.
What is your writing process?
I get an idea and if its rhyming poetry a line just comes to me, it can come anytime sometimes in the middle of the night, if I don't write it down or use the voice recorder to recorder I lose it.
My novel ideas have ranged from dreams to ideas from conversations I have had with people.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read "Carve her name with pride " by R.J Minney when I was at primary school. I was obsessed by the SOE and the fact Violette Szabo was executed for being a spy, I wanted to read every book written on the subject and find out more.
None of my relatives who had been returned soldiers spoke of their service so I read every second world war book I could lay my hands on.
The first real adult book I read was "Papillon" by Henri Charriere, we'd had a relief student teacher who had read us some of the book in class. My parents wouldn't let me get the book out of the library, as they felt it was unsuitable, so I read it at the library after school.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"Song of Songs," by Beverley Hughesdon, it is an amazing novel about an aristocrat's life as a nurse in World War One, not only is it is sobering but informative, it's a must read.
"P.S I love you," by Cecilia Aherne an amazing first novel. its really intuitive for someone so young.
"Mary Jones' Bible,"-it is the story of a little girl who saved for years to buy her first bible in 18th century Wales. A Bible is a luxury item and she has many setbacks. It's inspiring and uplifting.
"Born Free,' by Joy Adamson, the retraining of a domestic lion and its release into the wild. I love the way Elsa comes back remains in contact with the Adamson's.
"Reach for the Sky," by Paul Brickhill- I love the sheer bloody mindedness of Douglas Bader who is determined to fly despite losing both his legs in a flying accident.
I guess I like stories that inspire and uplift. But anything by Matthew Reilly would be my next favourite. I love the way he has an Australian hero and a New Zealand side kick and his stories in the jack west series are plausible. He also educates you.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything and everything. A mixture of books from Mills and Boon Romances, to thrillers, to murder mysteries, chick lit what ever looks good. I also love biographies and travel books, books on early aviation and the Wild West.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In a very small town where our main entertainment was the pictures on Saturday, we had one bookshop and a public library. Books were a way to have some amazing adventures and learn about things. I believe books should be fun, entertaining, informative and a way to escape loose yourself in fiction or non fiction. I discovered many fantastic authors who can so this and I hope my writing offers a mix of these adjectives.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
By creating a one stop shop so to speak. The Smashwords site is really user friendly and encouragers writers by having a free style guide, to market themselves creating profiles and offering helpful suggestions and hints. Its a great resource. Many thanks.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Its about a teenage girl who is staying with her grandfather and his sister and the resulting generation gap. Anise's grandfather describes as coming to "live with a curmudgeon and a termagant". Needless to say he presents her with a thesaurus on her arrival so she knows what they are talking about.
Anise's family has had a fixation with names and she describes herself as a 'fifth generation weed.' It is not only a coming of age book but it deals with understanding. The recognition of both generations that there is a place for everyone in today's world.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The process of turning imagination into reality. Fleshing out daydreams. When what you have been thinking of is finally represented how you wanted in hard copy. When people understand or laugh where they are supposed to when they read your book..
Describe your desk
I have three but I am using the kitchen table at the moment. I have thesaurus, atlas, history and reference books on hand. I write everything long hand first before it is typed. I have pens and exercise books full of my scribblings and half completed verses. It's certainly a work in progress.
When did you first start writing?
At school, I was shocked that my English teacher who petrified me realised one day I would be a writer. Then about fifteen years ago I joined a writing club in Hamilton on a whim and met a group of like minded people. Several of whom have gone on and have had books and stories published. I have been dabbling again recently with many of my efforts and hopefully you'll like them.
Published 2014-06-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.