Saturday, August 27, 2016

Author Spotlight: Maya Banks

Sometimes, it is nice to see a glimpse of the person behind the stories that we enjoy. All books have a note about the authors, but being the curious person that I am, I like to see beyond that introduction. It is amazing to get to know more about these creative souls that bring so much enjoyment and enrichment into our lives through their books.

In some ways, it was hard to decide who to start this feature of my blog with. There are so many wonderful authors out there who have written books that I thoroughly enjoy reading. I honestly didn't know who I would choose to write about first. Yet, in the midst of my thoughts, one name continually came to the forefront......Maya Banks.

My introduction to Maya's books was Colter's Woman, the first story in the Colter series. I had read books before that involved menage' relationships, but this one has always stood out for me. Yes, the story did contain the sex scenes, but they were secondary in my opinion. Like all of Maya's books, the relationships are always the central focus. She doesn't write sex scenes that are not a meaningful part of a relationship. Of all of her books that I have read, I have never rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh look. Those horny rabbits are at it again.”  IN her books, the sex and intimacy is written in a way that just flows naturally in the relationship of the couple.  The story made me feel like I knew the family. You just wanted to read more and I sought out the other books in the series. Even after Maya ended the series, though I totally understand her reasons, I will always long for another one to be written. I found that Maya endeared herself to me more because of her reasons to end the Colter series. She addressed the reason on her Facebook page. The main Colter family members from the original story, Adam, Ethan, Ryan, and Holly, that had endeared themselves to readers were getting older. Maya didn't want to have to write a story down the road that involved the death of any of them due to age or other reasons. In honesty, I wouldn't have wanted to read a story involving one of them dying and the rest dealing with the aftermath of grief. I loved that she ended it in a celebration of grandchildren and the joy and promises of the future for the entire Colter family. Throughout all the trials and tribulations the family went through in the series, the core remained that family is everything! A family, pulling together and joining forces, can overcome anything that life throws their way.

As the Colter series was ending, I found Maya's KGI series. Again, the series is based around a family that support each other. Like Holly Colter, Marlene Kelly, is a mother who is strong and very nurturing. She also shares the traits of gathering “chicks”, young adults who are in need of the love and support of a family, which are “adopted” into the family fold. Once Momma Kelly decides someone is one of her chicks, they are forever considered a member of the family. The KGI series is based upon the Kelly sons, who have formed their own Black Ops type organization. They take on jobs that others cannot do as well as side jobs for the government that the government doesn't want to deal with themselves. Many of the jobs involving the rescue of kidnap victims or hostage situations that span the globe. There is a definite military theme, but at the heart of the stories is a family that is so tightly connected that you just wish you were one of the many “chicks” that Momma Kelly includes.

Maya has written countless series and books over the years. She has stories for nearly any romance genre that you could name. She is truly gifted in her ability to create characters that engage you. You fall in love with the family members, even as you want to knock sense into some of the alpha males for the things that they say or do. Her female characters are strong, even in their fragility. While the women have a gentle side, when necessary they can be just as much of a badass as their men. The men are strong in their belief that they should be the protectors and providers of their women. They treat their women with honor and respect. They are proud of the careers and accomplishments of the women. They also take pride in the strength of the women. I have never found a simpering weak woman in Maya's stories. Even in stories where the woman is in a dangerous situation, she is never portrayed as being unable to help save herself. Each couple goes through a rough patch that would break many. They come out of it stronger than ever. Through series, such as the Colter's and the KGI books, Maya shows us what a family should be. They have their ups and downs, but when it comes down to it, family is everything. They support one another. They defend each other. No matter what storm life throws at them, the family weathers it together and comes out strong due to their tight family bonds.

Maya is active on social media. Her posts gives such a glimpse into her personality that I find refreshing. I've learned that she has issues with laptops. I've laughed as she tells of an experience with junebugs. I have cheered for her family as she talks of the accomplishments of her kids. I have witnessed first hand the generous spirit that she has and the total humility she expresses towards her readers and fans. Maya is the real deal. I see Maya as a real life Momma Kelly. She has the sweet spirit to nurture those close to her and the steel backbone to defend them when necessary.

If I were to write a bucket list of people that I would feel absolutely humbled to meet one day, Maya would be at the top of the list.  As a budding writer, I have to say that Maya is one of three authors that I admire over all others.  She writes a quality of story that I can only hope to someday reach.  She, along with Julie Ann Walker and Christine Feehan, set a high bar for me to work towards.

Thank you Maya for all the great stories that you share with us all. Through them, you teach us all what family is all about. Looking forward to many more titles to come in the future.