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.
Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me is about the struggle to become a writer in a world of successful professionals. Heroine Lelaina Zane graduated from law school three years ago and headed straight for LA to try making it as a screenwriter. So far, she only has three years waitressing experience and a ton of rejection letters. She finally thinks she’s on the verge of her big break, when she’s called back to her hometown because her dad has fallen ill. It’s a fast and funny (well, I hope it is!) read about balancing life and expectations.
Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?
This is my first.
Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
I think the hardest part was feeling like it was finished. You really want to be done, but it always feels like there’s more you can do. As for writer’s block, going to the gym or taking a shower usually helps me. Vacations are the ultimate cure, but if I went on holidays every time I was stuck then I couldn’t afford to feed or clothe myself.
Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
I’m surprised by the number of guys that have read it, and that liked it enough to email me about it.
Q: What is your daily writing routine?
I write best very early in the morning or late at night, so I’ll get up early and write a few hours before going to work, and then write again before bed. I also constantly write notes on scrap paper. My purse is full of gum wrappers covered in notes. I was recently going through airport security, and the guard who checked my purse was horrified by the mess of wrappers. She gave me a ten-minute lecture on cleanliness.
Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
My website says that I perform Broadway musicals in the privacy of my home, and that’s not really a lie. I find singing and dancing very relaxing. Anyone that’s lived with me may disagree about the relaxing part.
Q: What book changed your life?
When I first moved back to my hometown for a life change, I walked into a major bookstore. One of the employees came up to me and grabbed my hand. I didn’t say a word, but she said that she knew a book I would love. She led me over to a bargain bin and dug out the last hardcover copy of The Devil Wears Prada. It had been out for over a year, so I have no idea why this woman zeroed in on me, or how she knew I hadn’t read it. Without even asking if I wanted it, she walked me over to the till and handed me over to the cashier. The whole interaction seemed like something that was supposed to be happening, so I bought it and read the whole book that night. It was the first chick lit I ever read, and as I read, I kept thinking this is me! I can do this! I wish I knew who that woman was. I would love to thank her. I never saw her again. She was like some kind of mirage.
Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
It Really Happened This Way
Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
I wouldn’t say I’m a klutz, but I do have a talent for getting myself into some pretty ridiculous situations, which were the inspiration for a few of Lelaina’s mishaps. However, some of my own situations just don’t translate onto the page. There was a scene with a three-foot fish that really happened at a preschool where I worked, but no matter how I wrote it, it just didn’t seem possible, so I had to cut it.
Thank you for this interview Maya. I wish you much success on your latest release, Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me!