We are very excited to be able to share this interview we did with Maria Ashworth. Maria is the author of Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four which can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Fatherville: Hello Maria, and welcome to Fatherville. To start things off could you please tell our readers what motivated you to write this book on blended families?
Maria Ashworth: I divorced after 18 years of marriage. While dating I met a man that had five children ranging at the time between, 2-19 year olds. My two kids (at the time 8 & 9) didn’t mind me dating. They adored him. He proposed and of course I said yes. When I decided to marry him I made sure my kids liked him. That is the first priority when you marry someone that’s not their biological parent. I never thought about how blending the two sets of children would fair. I didn’t think merging the two would be an issue. When my daughter (8 yo) realized that his kids were going to be spending a lot of overnights at our house she took issue with the change. She didn’t want to share her bathroom, her toys, her time, her food and especially her mother.
As a former educator, I believed a good book could stir conversation about having new siblings. I visited libraries and bookstores looking for books that would help with the transition. They had books on divorced families, spending the weekend at mommy or daddy’s house, or living in two houses. There were no books that touched on the subject of blending children. I had always had a knack for writing so I thought why not give it a try. it began with a young girl who finds out her mother is getting remarried. She has to welcome new siblings, Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four. She tries to get rid of them. She eventually realizes that their is something special about each one of these boys and the benefits of her new blended family. Basically, my daughter’s story. My daughter thought I was pretty cool making a story about her and the situation. So in 2007 the story was born.
FV: What are some of the unique challenges that you have experienced with blending two families together?
MA: One challenge was being a step-parent. I think for both of us. The oldest children had lived a good amount of years with their biological mom. Then there was the second wife. I think I had reaped the rewards (sarcasm here) for that marriage. The older children thought I’d mimic the second wife’s behavior. In time they grew to see my qualities and that I wan’t looking to replace anyone. The second challenge is taking on the role as parent. My husband had and still has a difficult time taking on the parent role to my children. He feels they have a dad. My belief is he is the male role model who lives with them full time so he needs to step in and take on the role of parent. I was able to do it with his younger ones but it was difficult for me to do this with his older children. The third challenge is taking sides. I don’t think we mean to do it but it’s a protection. Blood is thicker than water type of thing. It’s like being on a ship. Sometimes my husband feels like I have him dangling on the life raft instead of on the ship. My kids and I had a routine for so long we would sometimes forget to include. The other part of the defense mode is throwing up your kids vs my kids. I like to stick with the one kid and he likes to compare his and mine. This is something we’re working on.
FV: Writing a book is a process—a journey–what surprised you during the process of writing this book?
MA: That you don’t just write a book and stick it on a book shelf. It’s a long process. Like I said earlier, this blended family STORY was born in 2007. Then there was revision after revision. Then rejection, rejection, rejection. I had been told that it wasn’t marketable. My thought was over 60% of families are blended today how is it not marketable? Then I was told by an editor how dare I take a serious situation and make light of it. My thought was how do you take a serious situation and get kids to relate to it? I wanted it to be light enough so they could see deeper into the meaning of family, acceptance, and getting along.
FV: What are some of your favorite parenting sites? Tell us what parenting books are on your reading list.
MA: My kids are now 19 & 20. His kids, 11-31. I am a grandparent to three girls and a boy on the way. My reading list is less on parenting and more on what I love to write, picture books. I’m adding to my collection for the grandkids. A few classics are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Rikki Tikki Tembo, Runaway Bunny and of course anything Dr. Suess.
FV: What, in your opinion, are some of the biggest challenges parents face today when it comes to raising sons and/or daughters?
MA: Keeping your kids away from drugs. It’s insane how accessible these are today. To have them surround themselves with good people. I believe you are who you hang with. Teaching them to respect their elders and people’s property. To learn to be humble and kind to one another. To put down the electronic and talk. Social media is killing our upcoming generation.
FV: Growing up–who were a few of your childhood heroes?
MA: My sister’s second grade teacher who became my teaching mentor who taught me to believe that if I put my mind to it I can do anything. My Nana, who never knew she was teaching me everything about being a superb baker.
FV: Maria, aside from the fact that you are an accomplished author, what would you say are your biggest accomplishments to date? What are you most proud of?
MA: My biggest accomplishment are my BA in Education, being able to buy my home on my own and publishing my first book. I’m most proud of my children. They are my legacy.
FV: Tell us a little bit more about yourself. Your passions, hobbies, and goals for the future.
MA: I’m active in the community by volunteering as President of the Friends of the Maud Marks Library in Katy, Texas and Public Relations Director with the Houston Writers Guild in Houston. To enhance my writing, I’m a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Houston Writers Guild. Some of my work has received recognition by being nominated as finalists in several contests. I’ve published a handful of short stories in contests, literary magazines and an anthology. When I’m not writing I like to dig in the garden and de-stress at to the gym. I am addicted to dragonflies and ice cream (not at the same time).
FV: You have a brand new book coming out in August 2016 entitled, My Big Tree? Tell us a little more about this book and who is the intended audience?
MA: My Big Tree is about a little bluebird who thinks she has found the perfect tree to nest in. Soon everyone thinks it’s the best. She doesn’t care to share her tree so decides to find a new one. The bluebird soon discovers something is missing and maybe having favorite tree is not what is most important in life. It is a concept picture book where young readers will be entertained by its story through counting, colors and learn about friendship.
FV: Is there anything coming up in the future with your writing career?
MA: Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four will be made into a theatre production for spring 2017, with Katy Visual And Performing Arts in Katy, Texas. I recently signed a contract with Clear Fork Publishing for my picture books. I am excited to work with them in their new Imprint Spork. We will both be debuting in August.
FV: Thank you very much for talking with us and sharing a bit more about both of your books. We wish you all the very best.
For more information about Maria and her book check out the following resources:
Youtube Book Trailer:
On the Web: HomeTweet