First, a bit about Maria:
Maria DeVivo is a New York native who has had a lifelong love affair with "the pen." A graduate of St. John's University with a BA in English Literature, she has a passion for all things mystical and mythological. She has taught 7th grade Language Arts since 2000.
Having grown up in a large Irish/Italian family (where Maria is the oldest child, and of course, the wisest) the mystery and wonder surrounding the holidays were a main staple of her upbringing. At the age of seven, when her mother finally admitted "the truth" to her, she has become somewhat of a "Santa-phile", an obsession that has rooted its way into every fiber of her being. Maria is one of those people who cries when Santa makes His grand appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Maria now lives in Florida with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Morgan. When not teaching or writing or running around after her daughter, she enjoys drinking iced coffee, watching horror movies, and playing video games.
Why did you pick to write books for YA readers?
It’s something that I relate to on a daily basis. As a 7th grade English teacher—15 years and counting!—I’m exposed to all kinds of YA lit. It just felt like a natural thing for me to do.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Mom, teacher, wife. My life is pretty jam packed. I love photography and digital editing. I’ll play a video game with my husband now and then. Scrapbooking. When I’m not writing, I’m always plotting, so there’s always bits and pieces of stories consuming my brain.
Tell us about The Coal Elf and how the story came to be.
The Coal Elf came about in 2004 when I was teaching at a Catholic school in NY. My 7th graders were having their Christmas party, and I wore a black velvet Santa Claus hat. They all said that I looked like a bad elf, and I replied that I was going to bring them coal in their stocking! It clicked from there. There was a legend about coal in naughty kids’ stockings, but I wanted to explore that story further. Thus, The Coal Elf was born!
Here's a peek at The Coal Elf:
Then there’s Sturd: a power-hungry, twisted elf with a checkered past and a serious grudge against Ember. Slowly but surely, his maniacal tendencies are revealed, leaving Ember with the sacred “Naughty List” literally in her lap.
When a mysterious illness threatens to decimate elves both Above and Underground, Ember is thrust into a journey that will see her confront the literal and figurative demons of her past and lead her to the head of the North Pole himself.
Yes! Santa is real. But this isn’t your childhood Christmas tale!
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I’m currently working on three series right now – all planned trilogies. Can’t really say much about plot lines and all that, but they involve elves, zombies, and angels.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I plan to finish out my three trilogies. With work and everything else in my life, I’m pretty much dedicated to one novel a year, so the next 4 years are set in stone for me. After that, I have ideas to branch out in different territories. Might dabble in some MG, and I have an adult thriller that’s been poking at the back of my brain that I just might have pay attention to!
What advice do you have for other authors?
Thick skin. Grow one and wear it proudly. If you want to seriously get anywhere in this business and you don’t have one, you are in for a RUDE awakening. Be humble. Be open to suggestions.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I recently signed the contract to the sequel of The Coal Elf! :)
Remember, Santa is ALWAYS watching!
Where can readers find you and your books?
Official COAL ELF Trailer
Barnes and Noble