Maria Ingrande Mora (they/she) is a content designer and a brunch enthusiast. Her love languages are snacks, queer joy, and live music. A graduate of the University of Florida, Maria lives near a wetlands preserve with two cats, two children, and two billion mosquitoes. She can often be found writing at her stand-up desk, surrounded by house plants. Unless the cats have destroyed them.
I had the opportunity to interview Maria, which you can read below.
CW: Discussion of mental illness (specifically depression and anxiety)
First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m a genderqueer Floridian trying to survive their state’s authoritarian regime and stay in love with the beautiful place they call home. I’m the parent of two teens and the author of two queer books for young people.
The Immeasurable Depth of You follows extremely online Brynn as she’s banished to Florida to spend the summer with her estranged dad on a houseboat with no internet access.
It’s a story for and about teens who are living with mental illness. It’s a story of self-acceptance in the face of the negative self-talk that so often becomes an indelible part of the lives of young people with anxiety, depression, and other diagnoses. It’s also a little bit spooky and a little bit funny!
As an author, what drew you to the art of storytelling, specifically young adult fiction and speculative fiction?
I was a precocious reader as a young person. I found a lot of comfort and companionship in books. While it was a long journey to get there, it was also a natural journey to contribute my own stories to young people needing a moment of escape.
I am very drawn to speculative fiction in all forms. Stepping slightly outside of our world allows for so many creative ways to hone in on the ways we connect with others and with ourselves.
Growing up, were there any stories in which you felt touched by/ or reflected in, in terms of personal identity? If not or if so, how do you think this personally affected you as a writer?
Weetzie Bat had a huge influence on me as a teen. I remember reading it cover to cover in the bathtub, refilling the water every time it got cold. It was one of the first unabashedly queer and magical stories I read as a young person, and it let me recalibrate what fiction could be.
As a writer, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration in general?
I feel like I’m one giant mishmash of creative influences because I’m so drawn to stories in any form. I’ve fallen in love with fictional characters my whole life, and their worlds and narratives have consistently inspired me to tell stories that make people feel things. Big, huge emotions can be so satisfying when they’re contained by the safe constraints of a story.
What are some of your favorite elements of writing? What do you consider some of the most frustrating and/or difficult?
I love whatever part of writing I’m not currently doing. When I’m drafting, I’m longing to revise. When I’m revising, I’m longing to start a new draft. That friction is part of what keeps the creative process exciting to someone like me (a person with ADHD).
Every once in a while, I get in such a deep flow that I feel like I’m experiencing the story first-hand. This often involves sort of weeping over my keyboard. Those are my favorite moments. I hope those transformative moments exist for the reader, too.
Aside from your work, what are some things you would want others to know about you?
I’m in my 40s and I’m still on an ongoing, evolving journey of self-discovery. Life doesn’t stop being exciting when you hit a certain milestone age. And you’re never locked into one label or identity.
What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but that you wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?
What Florida animal are you most scared of?
Definitely water snakes. While I’m also VERY scared of alligators, the whole thing where snakes can swim at the surface or under the surface makes them profoundly terrifying to me. I become nearly catatonic with fear. If the snakes ever figure this out I’m done for.
What advice might you have to give for aspiring artists?
Don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you’re an artist.
Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?
On Free Comic Book Day, you can check out my comics debut, Ranger Academy! It’s an all-ages story that you don’t need to be a Power Rangers fan to get into. I hope you’ll check it out.
Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?
I just finished She Who Became the Sun and I’m just haunted by how beautiful and perfect it was. I cannot wait for the sequel. Time to suffer!