We had the good fortune of connecting with Maria Illich and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Maria, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I spent my formative years constantly moving. I’ve lived in the country, in small towns, in the suburbs, and in large cities. I’ve called the desert, the forest, the mountains, and the plains home. Such varied settings awoke in me an awareness of how the universal underpins the unique. I remember being five years old, gazing out the window of a plane, and marveling at how the individual fields merged into an immense tapestry. This memory highlights my passion for metaphor, perspective, and pattern. As I weave worlds with words, I am mindful of how the numinous unites, defines, and refines the stardust we call home.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
More than taking pen to paper (or pressing letters on a keyboard), writing requires discipline, practice, and perseverance. Finding time to write when one teaches middle school English requires flexibility. I usually write in the evening and on the weekend, but grading and lesson preparation often gobble my time. It took me years to complete The Morcant Twins and the Curse of the Griseum because I started writing it while earning a master’s degree in education, teaching full time, and raising a child. My husband, Greg, edited the battle scene, and my daughter Katherine (a graduate of HSPVA here in Houston and The Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver) illustrated its cover. Katherine also illustrated my children’s book, The Legend of the Ladybug, which won a national book award. I treasure my family’s support and input. Feedback nourishes and encourages my growth as a writer. For this reason, I belong to a writer’s circle sponsored by Catholic Literary Arts. Every month, we gather and workshop each other’s writing. Through this fellowship, I’ve honed my skills and connected with kindred spirits who view writing as a sacred vocation through which one plumbs the heart, engages the conscience, and broadens the soul.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Houston and its outlying areas contain a plethora of places to visit. My ideal itinerary includes a day at NASA (rockets and other space memorabilia, Mission Control, and a touchable moon rock), several museums (the Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, the Museum of Natural Science, the Holocaust Museum, and the Lone Star Flight Museum), sacred spaces (Annunciation Catholic Church, the Rothko Chapel, the Chapel of St. Basil and the meditation labyrinth at the University of S. Thomas, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel), Galveston (the Bishop’s Palace, the Strand Historic District, the Bryan Museum, and the beach), the outdoors (the Houston Arboretum and Nature Area, Waugh Drive Bat Colony, and the Big Thicket), and places to eat (Shrimp N Stuff in Galveston, Kim Sun Restaurant, the Original Napoli by Papa Zack, Los Tios on Beechnut, The Teahouse Tapioca and Tea, and Fadi’s Meyerland Mediterranean Grill.) The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank my husband, Greg, and daughter, Katherine, for their support of my writing. I also want to acknowledge Lesley Clinton, Sarah Cortez, and Herman Sutter, award-winning writers whose insights have helped me evolve exponentially. Finally, I thank Robert Simon at Zetabella Publishing and Cathy Garcia-Prats at Bosco Publishing for bringing my visions to fruition.

Website: https://mariaillich.com

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-illich-b5773b94/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maria.k.illich

Image Credits
Greg Illich (pictures of me) & Katherine Illich (book covers)

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