Interview with Maya Jax, author of 'Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me'

Loving spy and mystery novels, Maya Jax entertained the idea of being a secret agent and started working at an embassy overseas while doing her master’s in international relations. During this time, she finished her first screenplay, an action/thriller about spies and nuclear weapons. She pitched it to a friend in Hollywood, who told her she had talent, but to never - ever - show anyone the script again. Realizing her love for writing was stronger than her desire to spy and fight crime, she attempted a second screenplay focusing on what she knew best -- trying to make it as a writer. The screenplay turned into a manuscript and the result was chick lit novel Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Maya. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me?

Escapades is my first time being published, so I’ve only been writing professionally since December, but the story line was inspired by my failed attempts at selling screenplays in Hollywood. I had always wanted to be a spy. James Bond, Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne, these are all people that I wanted as colleagues. My path started to go along that route, but on the way I wrote a screenplay about spies and nuclear weapons, then showed it to a friend in Hollywood. He hated the script, but encouraged me to keep writing. Soon after, I had an incident with a crazed The Devil Wears Prada fan that tuned me into chick lit. I’d never read anything in the genre before, but as soon as I finished Weisberger’s novel, I realized the voice in my head was more Becky Bloomwood than Batman. It inspired me to try writing chick lit and what came out eventually turned into Escapades.


Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

The title was the hardest part. It was very last minute. I wanted it to be playful, which is where Escapades came from, and touch on Lelaina’s weak points, so romantically challenged seemed to fit, but it took quite awhile to get there. For a long time the working title was The Diary of Lelaina Zane, but I thought that was too close to Bridget Jones.


Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I love chick lit, but most of the main characters have some kind of glamour in their life, when usually the struggle to become what you want is anything but glamorous. Escapades has the humor and style of a chick lit novel, but centers around life’s struggle to balance hope and expectations -- glamour-free.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Lipstick Ninja Press have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

I designed the cover myself. I saw the image of those cartoon legs and they made me think of Lelaina, cute but unsure, so it went from there. I’m really happy with how it turned out.


Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

I’ve handled most of the marketing on my own. We started with a field marketing campaign on launch day. Lelaina dresses as Catwoman in chapter one to get the attention of a Hollywood agent, so we had women dressed as super heroes handing out emery boards imprinted with the book’s info in Chicago, LA and New York. It was a great campaign, but since my book is available exclusively through online bookstores, I’m now concentrating only on virtual marketing.


Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Lelaina makes me think of a little sister to Bridget Jones. Both Bridget and Lelaina try really hard to make things work, usually ending in a comedy of disasters. But while Bridget is about self-improvement, Lelaina is about knowing when to give up on an unsuccessful career path if an easier road appears.


Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Lelaina wants to prove that someone has been illegally evicted from their apartment, so she’s climbing onto a dumpster in an alley to take pictures through a window for evidence.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I want to do a sequel and start right where Lelaina finishes in Escapades.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Maya. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Thank you! My website is www.mayajax.com and Escapades is available at major online book retailers, like Amazon and Kobo.
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