Hey Miss Maria! I’m so glad you are taking a little time out of your day to hang out with me. Let’s start with a few easy questions.
When you are writing, what are you drinking? Water
Do you have any pets? No
Beach or mountains? Beach
PC or Mac? PC
What was the last book you read? I’m reading Corbin Manor
Now, let’s get into some more detail!
What author(s) has/have really influenced you? S.E. Hinton I didn’t read much when I was growing up, but The Outsiders was one book that I remembered reading and I enjoyed it very much.
When did you start writing? I started writing when I was in third grade. I wrote and illustrated short stories and comic strips. My teacher laminated all my work. I still have a comic strip I wrote and illustrated in third grade.
Why do you write? I write now to make a difference in people’s lives. My goal is to transform lives, to be inspiring and my greatest hope is that someone will become saved as a result of reading my works or at least experience a deeper relationship with God.
What does your family think of your writing? My family doesn’t understand my passion for writing or that it is a ministry. They think I spend far too much time on my authorship. I admit that I spend an enormous amount of time on promoting my writing more so than writing these days. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to show for it, so I understand where they are coming from. However, writing is a calling and God is faithful, so I must forge ahead.
How did you come up with the title for your book? There are a couple of unfortunate events that occurred in the main character’s life that are sort of repeat themselves. As a result, I kept thinking to myself, “not again!”
Share an excerpt from one of your stories (make sure to tell us which one and include a buy link).
Not Again: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733390413
This is a scene break in chapter 18 of the novel Not Again:
“Whip it” piped through the sound speakers as we rolled around the rink and Katie and Amy checked out the guys. Morgan didn’t seem particularly interested in meeting guys, but she played along with Amy and Katie.
I assumed they all knew that I couldn’t date because not one of them encouraged me to window shop. They, however, had a great time laughing and getting the attention of a few guys there who attended a different school. I watched the guys fly by my friends who seemed to be enjoying the excitement and conversation. They all were having fun, including Morgan, who swung around my way to chat. Morgan was always one to make sure nobody felt left out. I was enjoying the music when she rolled up to me.
“Hey, why don’t you join us?” Devo’s new wave song “Whip it” continued to play in the background. I loved the unique tempo created by the synthesizer, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums. The song was fun to sing, although I had no idea what the lyrics meant.
“I’m having fun skating solo. I need the exercise anyway,” I answered, figuring she might find that answer acceptable, because she and her entire family exercised constantly by participating in one sport or another.
“Okay, suit yourself,” she said, as she skated away. Katie and Amy were laughing with their new friends when one of them waved me over. I ignored the signal, certain the girls would create some story about my aloofness. The situation made me uncomfortable. Katie skated toward me.
“Hey, I know you’re not supposed to date and all, but one of those guys is interested in you.”
“That’s nice,” I stated tonelessly, avoiding her eyes.
She persisted, “He’s actually kinda cute. I think he might be your type too.”
Indignant, I replied, “Not interested. Nothing personal.” It did not feel right at all telling Avery that I couldn’t date, then coming here to flirt. Not to mention, inside I was cringing with fright and discomfort at the thought of You-Know-Who finding out. “I just want you to have fun,” she added sweetly. She’s really trying. I feel awful. Now, in more ways than one.
“I am having fun,” I insisted. “Don’t you worry. I am doing exactly what I want to. Thanks, Katie, for checking in.” I did my best to remain composed, hoping my performance was convincing.
“Okay, then.” Katie skated away, apparently satisfied with my answer, while Morgan skated toward me. Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” blared on the sound system. Rick Springfield. I think he’s a better singer than actor. Morgan looks super happy for some reason and she’s about to tell me why.
“Wow! That guy is really interested in you,” she declared, a little breathless. “He thinks you’re really pretty. He won’t stop talking about you.” He might think I’m pretty, but I feel ugly.
“Well, he’s barking up the wrong tree. Haven’t you heard?” I asked curiously and awaited a response.
“Heard what?” Morgan questioned curiously.
“That I can’t date.” That should do it. Then maybe they will leave me alone.
Morgan raised her chin up, “So, it’s true then?” My mind returned to the singer wanting Jessie’s girl.
“Yup!” I replied hearing my emotional disconnection. Morgan squinted, “Bummer. What happened?”
“Nothing really,” I stated flatly.
With tenderness in her eyes and a sweetness in her voice, Morgan persisted, “Christina, it’s me. Morgan. You can tell me. You know I don’t gossip.”
I got choked up. “I know. It’s just hard for me to talk about.” Don’t spill.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to pry or push too hard . . . ,” Morgan stated soothingly.
“It’s okay,” I assured her.
“Look, I’m not interested in those guys,” she assured me. “We can hang out. I think Amy likes the guy that likes you anyway,” she stated with a charming grin.
Taken aback I blurted, “What is it with her?” Amy and I apparently share the same taste in boys.
“What do you mean?” asked Morgan puzzled.
“Oh, never mind,” I replied, isolating myself while also keeping myself from hurting Amy with my words.
Thankfully, Morgan blew my comment off. She was always understanding that way. I could be myself around her—terse or soft, she could handle it.
We skated around the rink while listening to “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and the guy she mentioned kept his eye on me.
Meanwhile, some younger boys were acting silly in the middle of the rink. They were amusing. I chortled, so they hammed it up. They were pretending to hit each other as stated in the song overhead. Perfect timing for some comic relief.
Morgan couldn’t resist laughing with me while watching them. “Oh, my gosh, now they’re flirting with you, too,” she said humored.
“Yeah, they should realize that they don’t have a chance in heaven,” I asserted. She laughed more, understanding my humor.
“You are too much. Since when do you lead little kids on?” she inquired.
“I’m not. I genuinely thought they were funny—that’s all.” She smiled a snarky grin, which made me titter. My giggling made her laugh. So, for the next two minutes we were in stitches and chortled at how silly we looked trying not to fall while howling with laughter. It was a much-needed silly cycle and what nights out with friends were for.
The cute boy that Amy liked skated slowly past me. It seemed like he wanted to talk. His friends hung back with Amy and Katie. My heart pounded. Not a confrontation. Please.
For several years I had experience turning boys down, but I hated doing it.
“Hey, Christina, you wanna skate with me?” he asked quite smoothly. Great, Katie and Amy told new cute guy my name and he’s apparently not shy. Now what?
“Uh, she’s got to come with me,” Morgan said, her eyes bulging, sending the clear message, ‘Follow my lead.’ Rescued. Man, she’s quick on her feet. She headed toward the bathroom.
Morgan wasn’t the type who needed an escort to the bathroom, unlike Amy.
Fortunately, the music followed us, and the song “I Can’t Go for That” by Hall and Oates helped sooth my nerves.
“Thanks!” I said gratefully, once we were safe and sound in the bathroom.
“No problem. I really have to go anyway,” she confessed with a giggle and another snarky grin.
“Me too! Good timing! You saved my butt!” What a relief in more ways than one!
After getting out of the stall, she approached me, “Look, Christina, I know it’s not my business, but you haven’t been acting like yourself all night. I heard about you and Avery. Is there anything you want to talk about?” She was always so genuine.
“No, I’m good,” I said, aiming to appear relaxed and at peace.
Morgan wasn’t buying it. “No, you’re not. Christina, you know I go to Pennsford Swim Club—the same pool that Avery goes to. He is moping around like a lost puppy dog. What happened between you two?”
“I can’t talk about it.” I really can’t talk about it.
Morgan persisted, “Christina, I’m your friend. You can trust me.”
“I know. It’s not you. You have to believe me.” I didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship in any way, but I knew I couldn’t tell her about what was really bothering me.
“Then tell me what happened,” she insisted.
“Not in here. I hate hanging out in bathrooms. It smells awful.” It smelled of stale cigarettes, urine and mildew.
“Alright, let’s go.” I skated to a secluded corner of the rolling rink. Morgan followed and waited patiently for me to say something. Anything.
When I couldn’t find my words, she initiated, “Christina, I have never seen you like this. You seem so scared and sad all at the same time.” Morgan impressed me with her astute observation. Was it that obvious to everyone? I guessed not. Morgan was always keenly perceptive. I should have known better than to go out with her. She and I were even closer than Katie and I.
“I am sad—sad that I had to break it off with Avery,” I finally admitted.
“I’m so sorry. Why aren’t you allowed to date?”
“I don’t know. I’m just not.” At that moment, “You Make My Dreams Come True” came on.
“Did something happen between you and Avery that your parents found out about?” she pried. I hope other people didn’t come to that conclusion. I never even thought of that.
Aghast, I jerked backward and crinkled my face, “No, nothing like that at all.”
“Then, I guess I don’t understand. How come you never said you weren’t allowed to date before?”
“Because I was never interested in anyone before, so it never came up.” At least that part was true.
Convinced with my answer, Morgan shook her head and replied empathetically, “Oh. Man, that’s too bad. What about group dates?”
“No, absolutely not.” I didn’t want to take any chances. Not with You-Know-Who. I already knew what he was capable of.
“What if we ran into some guys that we knew, or met some, like tonight?”
“Nope. That’s why I avoided those guys.” I really hate this. The lies. The deception. I have no life. Why did he have to take everything away? I started to choke up.
“How would your parents know?”
“They wouldn’t, but I would and I don’t want to deceive them.” I knew Morgan would respect my decision to be obedient to my parents because she was even more of a Goody Two-shoes than I was.
“Well, you wouldn’t believe how pathetic Avery has been. I have never seen him like this. The girls are swooning all around him. He’s trying to be polite, but you can tell that his heart is broken.” I started to cry. “Oh, Christina, I’m so sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but I am worried.” She put her hand on my back as an attempt to comfort me.
“It’s okay,” I waved her off. I nodded, but I couldn’t manage any more words. My heart ached so deeply. When will I be able to start living a normal life?
After giving me some time to return to equilibrium, she continued, “Can I ask you a question?” I nodded. “So, what would happen if your parents found out you dated someone?” I shook my head. I started to shake, thinking about what that jackalope would do if he found out that I told someone what he had done. “Oh my God, you’re shaking. Christina, are you okay?” I was hysterical. “Okay, okay. Calm down. It’s okay. You’ll be okay.” Morgan enfolded me in a comforting hug. “I’ll call my dad to come pick us up.”
The song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang filled the room. The music seemed too loud now . . . Knowing my friends, I couldn’t leave. I had to stick it out. Girls didn’t have short memories when it came to things like this. I don’t need any unnecessary conversations about me which might lead to future inquiries, and the ultimate discovery of the cause of my distress. I had to make the most of it. I refused to let Jackalope win this one.
“No, don’t. Not yet,” I said louder, and more fervently, than I intended. She took one look at my face and knew I did not mean to be offensive. “I don’t want to be a wet blanket on this fun night,” I insisted in a softer tone. I tried to control my breathing. I needed to pull myself together quickly. I couldn’t risk spilling my guts because of all the attention I was getting. A flash of cutting myself passed through my mind. I bit my lip and squeezed my eyes shut.
“All right then. Just let me know when you’re ready to leave, okay?” she wrapped her words in a loving tone that oozed comfort and stability. I nodded. “Do you need to go back to the bathroom?” I nodded again and tried to hide my nose leakage.
We skated to the bathroom in silence. I washed my face and blew my nose immediately. I looked horrible. My nose was red, my eyes were blood shot and my eyelids were swollen; it was obvious that I had been crying. We skated back out and sat in the seats outside the rink following its perimeter. Eventually, Katie and Amy found us. A new song broke through, “The Boy From New York City.” “What’s the matter?” Katie asked.
I gave her an offhand wave. “Nothing. I’m fine now, really,” I assured them. I wanted to be invisible.
“Christina, that guy is like one hundred percent mesmerized by you,” Amy informed me.
Hearing the lyrics describe this tall, fine-looking guy didn’t help the matter at hand.
“He doesn’t even know me,” I stated in disbelief. I knew I sounded defensive, but I found it very difficult to respond pleasantly.
“Try telling him that,” Amy guffawed.
“You did,” Katie asserted to Amy. We all dissolved into laughter. It felt so good to let go a little.
“Amy, maybe you need to start playing hard to get,” Morgan suggested jokingly. Again, the lyrics were taunting me . . .
Cute guy started to skate over. Seriously, this song is killing me, the timing is almost too coincidental . . .
“Everything all right?” He looked right at me. “You okay? I didn’t mean to upset you.” Wow, he is brave. I was impressed. And he was super cute. Totally my type. Katie didn’t exaggerate. Morgan began to say something.
“No, it’s okay,” I said, motioning her off while nodding to indicate my gratitude, “I should handle this.” I figured I’d give it a shot. I was feeling stronger and a bit refreshed now. I stood up and the boy followed me as we skated onto the rink. I stopped along the edge of the railing at the perimeter. “I’m sorry, I don’t even know your name,” I started.
“Kevin. It’s Kevin.” This is getting ridiculous. As I heard The Manhattan Transfer sing, chills were running down my spine. I don’t even want to think about kissing. Don’t go there. Reluctantly, the song transported me back to Avery making me feel so fine when his lips were on mine. Snap out of it, Christina!
“I should be the one to tell you, Kevin. I’m not allowed to date—at all. I’m not even supposed to be talking to guys like this. I don’t want to lead you on; I don’t want you to think that I’m playing hard to get or something because I’m not. I am very flattered, yet upset, that my friends dragged me out here knowing I can’t date. I don’t think they understand what a big deal this is for me and how much I hate it. Look, I don’t want to waste your time. You seem like a really nice guy and all,” my voice diminished.
“No, it’s cool. I get it. Thanks for telling me. We can be friends, right?”
“Sure,” I said with a smile. Saying no to that seemed like too much, and frankly, a little crazy. I knew that I would probably never run into him again. I decided to take that chance. Will this song ever end with its lyrical jabs?
“Can I have your number?” he asked as a last-ditch effort. He was nothing if not persistent. And cute!
“No, I’d be in serious trouble for that, but do you come here most Friday nights?” I felt bad, so I tried to make up for it.
“A lot of them.”
“Then, I’ll try to come here more often. In the meantime, maybe my parents will get cooler and change their minds.” I am getting too good at lying. I started to feel sick to my stomach from being deceitful, but I quickly argued that it was the right thing to do.
Kevin skated away and Morgan gracefully skated toward me. I’m so over “The Boy From New York City.”
“What was that all about?” Morgan asked. “Another One Bites the Dust” began to entertain us.
“Just explaining myself,” I replied smugly.
“Boy, you’re good.”
“Too much practice as of late,” I averred sadly.
“Guess so.” She sounded impressed.
A few minutes later, Katie and Amy skated toward me. “What in the world did you say to him?” Katie asked. How apropos is this song? Too funny!
“I told him the truth, that’s all,” I answered. Not really, but it will have to do.
“He said you were really great about it. ‘Very cool’ were his exact words,” Katie informed me.
“He said it was the nicest let down he ever heard, and I don’t think he’s been turned down much, if at all. What in the world did you say?” Amy requested.
With a demure smile and a wink, I teased “I can’t give you guys all my secrets.”
I enjoyed being lighthearted for a change, as life had been so agonizing. We all chuckled and ended the evening on a happier and brighter note, the way it used it to be before the unmentionable.
Upon reflection, a little later that evening, I laid in bed feeling spent and somewhat normal—like a regular teenager. I assumed it was due to all the drama. Even though I was an emotional wreck at the rink, it was worth it to go in the end. My friends helped me more than they will ever truly know. The tune “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters, ran through my head as I dozed off into a rare, but much needed, peaceful slumber.
How does your faith influence your writing? My faith is why I write. My debut novel is a young adult Christian romance novel which is sprinkled with scripture. I want to be able to reach the youth, so they may live an abundant Christian life.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories? I hope readers will come to know Christ through my writing. If they already know Christ, then my goal is that they gain a much deeper relationship with Christ.
And I save the best two for last:
What is your dream writing space and do you have it already? As long as I’m comfortable and it’s relatively quiet, I can write anywhere. I don’t really have a designated spot where I work anymore. I wrote my manuscript in a nook in my basement once my grade school age kids went to bed. Surprisingly, I never once experienced writer’s block writing my debut novel.
Where would you go, for how long, and what would you work on if you received an all-expenses-paid writer’s retreat? Since I have never been on a writer’s retreat, I really have no idea where I would go. I would be fine as long as it was a beneficial time of learning and getting to know fellow authors. I would work on my sequel as I keep having one distraction after another that has prevented me from sitting down to complete it.
Blurb for the book you want to highlight today:
Book description/blurb for Not Again
Christina De Rosa holds a potentially deadly secret that threatens to get out. As an innocent young teenager, Christina survives a terrifying detailed sexual assault that destroys her self-worth and trust.
In her daily struggle, Christina searches for ways to keep her torment at bay, so she can function as a “normal” teenager. Meanwhile, Christina’s spiritual journey leads her down a path causing conflict within, as she’s riddled with guilt and shame.
A chance encounter with her longtime, hot crush, Avery Evans, sparks a fire in Christina that she can’t extinguish. As the sweet, loving, knight in shining armor he readily portrays, Avery offers the safety and security that Christina craves.
In her quest for internal peace, Christina must make a decision. Will she give her heart, body and soul to the super popular, Avery Evans?
Will Christina’s nightmares become all-consuming or will her discoveries lead her to a renewed way of life?
Find out if true love triumphs in this edgy, faith-based young adult page-tuner, set in the 1980s.
*Not Again is NOT your typical Christian coming-of-age story. Fierce faith doesn’t come without a fight. Prepare for heartache, self-harm, traumatic events, real romance, and actual scripture in these pages.
Maria T. Henriksen is the author of Not Again, a young adult Christian romance novel. She is working on the sequel, Not Again, The Fallout, to be published in 2021.
She is a devotion writer for VineWords: Devotions and More, and a contributing author to Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships (VineWords Publishing) scheduled to be published the end of August 2020.
Maria hosts her own blog, Maria’s Ministry, and she manages her own Facebook ministry group consisting of contributors from the writing and Christian communities called Maria’s Muses: Inspirational, Christian & Close-to-the-Heart Readers.
Maria graduated from Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s in Communications/Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Psychology. Maria has experience in graphic arts, finance, banking, health, fitness, and beauty. She currently works as a substitute teacher of all grades and disciplines.
As a wife for over two decades, Maria considers herself blessed. She and her husband are the proud parents of twin boy/girl teenagers. In her spare time, she runs, creates graphics, and enjoys reading and family activities. Maria’s greatest desire is for lives to be transformed through her inspirational writings.
Where can we find you online?
Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/mariathenriksen
New subscribers receive a FREE relaxation audio download. 🧘♀️
Thank you for spending time with me today! It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog and getting this interview with you. Do you have any final words for our readers? I do. I have two book trailers for Not Again that share a song that was co-written by a talented teenager named Sandy Jorgensen and myself. Here they are: https://www.mariathenriksen.com/book-trailers