Maria Giakoumatos Takes a Midnight Waltz

Maria Giakoumatos

Maria Giakoumatos has been interested in all things spooky since she was too small to ride the fun roller coasters in amusement parks. She probably would have become a paranormal investigator if she wasn’t afraid of the dark, so she settled for just writing about spirits. Her family often took her to church as a child, so that may explain some things. When she isn’t writing her wacky stories, Maria spends her free time playing piano, video games, watching horror movies, and exploring spooky locations. She currently lives in Renton, Washington, with her partner and little parrot named Rowley.



Amazon author page:

Link to my book Midnight Waltz on Amazon and blurb:

5 Minutes with Maria Giakoumatos

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Yes! My name is Maria, I was born and raised in the Seattle, WA area by Greek immigrants. They took me to church every Sunday when I was a little kid, where I learned there’s nothing scarier than the Devil and going to Hell. So naturally I became obsessed with demons, ghosts, exorcism, and here we are today. Along with spooky stuff, I was always a storyteller and tried making my own books since before I could write.

I’d just make colorful scribbles and make up characters for who they represented. Like I had this blue line named Straight Line, and he would go to school and hang out with Yellow Circle. Eventually, the two interests merged and 20 years later or so, I became a published horror writer. I’ve been playing piano since I was 4, so my interest in romantic era music definitely blended into my books. Outside of my writing world, I really like Pokémon and birds. Especially bird Pokémon. I have a parrot named Rowley and he is the cutest and best little dude ever.

Which one of your characters would you least like to meet in real life?

From Midnight Waltz, probably Rundull. He’s sadistic and merciless and can turn into a creepy shadow monster. No thanks. From the next book in the series Adagio for the Fallen, probably Sander. He’s a narcissist, misogynist, and manipulative. So, really, the villains. But I guess that’s why they are villains.

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

As I mentioned, going to church for sure. My family is Orthodox Christian, pretty similar to Catholicism, so lots of classic Christian beliefs and imagery. I also watched a lot of anime growing up, and I’ve been told that my books have a very “anime-ish” vibe. Especially since a lot of the anime I watched, there were characters that used Buddhist and Shinto inspired powers to fight, so I thought it’d be cool to have characters that similarly used Christian inspired exorcism powers. The musical themes are from my love for romantic era music. I’ve been playing piano since I was four, so that wove its way in. And then, of course, just whatever is going on in my life. Personal struggles, the political climate around me, or even things as simple as funny interactions with friends. 

The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?

To me, “horror” is anything that has the primary intention to shock, scare, or disturb the reader/viewer. I definitely feel that it’s regarded as less “classy” as other genres. It’s why you pretty much never see horror movies nominated for big awards, like Oscars. A lot of people think it’s just mindless violence, gore, and wickedness, but it’s so much more. Lots of horror goes to such extremes to portray a message that the world might not ready to experience outside of a fictional lens.

For example, stories like Dracula portray an older man preying on a young woman, but people in the Victorian era weren’t ready to openly talk about manipulative relationships, sexual violence, etc. It was more acceptable to make the man a monster and “sex” is drinking blood. We see similar things in sci-fi/horror in the 50s/60s, with aliens as parallels for Communists, foreign invaders—things people at the time were terrified of. 

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years? 

There’s been a rise in horror movies using webcams/zoom since the pandemic, which I’ve found to be a fun spin. I can definitely see more horror about loss of rights and autonomy, especially with vulnerable populations – immigrants, queer communities, even pregnant woman with the debates on abortion. I think we haven’t seen a ton of it yet since it’s maybe too real and too personal. I can also see more horror focusing on AI becoming too powerful. Which we’ve kind of already had sprinkled around, but I can see it becoming even more prevalent. 

Given the dark, violent and at times grotesque nature of the horror genre why do you think so many people enjoy reading it? 

I think it’s fun to be scared when you know you’re in a safe space! Like obviously I would hate to be chased by a chainsaw-wielding murderer or see a creepy demonic monster eat a person’s head in real life, but it’s fun to read about when you know it isn’t real. It gives an adrenaline rush, makes your heartbeat fast, gives you the shivers – it gives you a chance to experience emotions and feelings that you otherwise wouldn’t get to experience safely. I also think that many of us have a dark curiosity about violent and grotesque things, whether or not we want to admit it. I grew up in a time where it was “cool” amongst the edgy kids to watch really gory snuff videos on sketchy websites. While that’s totally too far for lots of people, I think horror satisfies that curiosity without anyone really getting hurt. 

What, if anything, is currently missing from the horror genre?

Biblically accurate angels. Like the ones with all the eyeballs and wings. Demons are afraid of them! I feel like I haven’t really come across any in movies or books, other than, y’know. . . The Bible. 

What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off? 

I guess I wouldn’t consider him new, he’s got several books in his series, but J.P. Barnett is such a great dude. He’s such a talented writer, active in our local horror writers’ communities, and is super helpful. He’s given me so many tips, I’m forever grateful to him! Go read his Lorestalker series right now!

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

One time a guy bought my book knowing I was a new author, and then he came up to me at a convention and said, “Since you are a new author, I expected your book to suck. But it didn’t suck.” I also had a young girl, probably around 12, come up to me with a finished copy of my book loaded with sticky notes on her thoughts and theories. She was really shy to talk to me, so her mom approached me first. It was so sweet! I think that girl put more thought into my book than I did!

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Transitional scenes for me. Like, when I know what happens in a scene, and I know what happens in the next action scene, but connecting the two and keeping it interesting as characters get from point A to point B can sometimes be a challenge. 

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

Pedophilia. Even if it was a villain or really evil character, pedophilia is just too effed up and unforgivable. Obviously there’s lots of horror about messed up stuff, there are lots of rape-and-revenge stories, but leave the kids out of it. 

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?

I think I’ve become more confident and open to suggestions and criticism. It can feel like a personal attack at first when people tell you that certain scenes don’t work or just aren’t that strong. I used to be really shy about sharing my work because I felt like I was exposing this vulnerable part of my soul. And I am, all of us writers are, but we can’t improve if we don’t share. Connecting with other authors has given me lots of confidence, advice, and motivation to continue crafting my best work.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

Write now, edit later. It’s easy to want to edit and fix things as I go, but it slows me down so much. I try my best to just write and not go back until, at the very least, the chapter is finished. I was also told to research later, not while writing. I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted going down internet rabbit holes just from going, “I just need to fact check this ONE thing.” 

Which of your characters is your favourite?

Probably Emily. She’s just so sassy and unapologetically herself and I love that. She also has a lot of trauma to work through, and shaping her to grow past it is just so rewarding to write. She’s also been with me the longest. I made her up when I was maybe 10? She’s always been a gothy undead girl, but she used to be very timid and sweet. But as I got older and Midnight Waltz became a thing, I found it funnier to spice up her attitude.

Which of your books best represents you?

All of them. They are literally my brain children and collections of my interests, experiences, feelings, all that good stuff. I tell people that reading my books is like hanging out with me for 300 pages. But if I have to pick, my second one, Adagio for the Fallen. While I don’t base characters off myself or actual people, the high school alt kid vibes definitely align with how I grew up. A few of the random conversations are ones that I did have with friends, and I would totally sneak extra makeup and hairspray on in the bathroom when I got to school. I was also one of the emo anime girls that casually wore cat ears. It was a time. 

Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us? 

My favorite passages are the big spooky reveals, and those are all spoilers! My second favorites are the silly parts, so here’s a silly bit: 

Seizing one of the platform boots, Emily chucked it at Anita, hitting her on the side of her head. Anita’s grip on Karin loosened and she tumbled to her side.

“Holy crap!” Anthony cried. “Did you just knock her out with a freaking boot?” 

“I… I think so,” Emily muttered, peering over at Anita’s motionless body. “I am surprised I actually hit her.”

That was from a battle in a Hot Topic. 

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

The last book I finished writing was the 3rd book in my Infernal Symphony series. It’s the direct sequel to books 1 and 2, which happen on the same timeline. It was fun to have characters from both books interact with each other! The next book I’m working on is the 4th and final book in the series.

If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?

People making silly decisions. Like splitting up, opening “that door.” It just feels lazy to make characters foolish to advance the plot.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I recently finished You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce and loved it. The writing feels really personal and engaging and pulls you in write away. I definitely recommend if you want imaginary friend meets Slender Man vibes. As for disappoint, that’s hard for me to say a specific title.

I can’t even remember the title if you asked me, but I remember reading this book that I thought was gonna be really cool about an angel and these demons who were hunting her. But then it turned out to be a love story, and the demon was all hunky and not evil and in love with the angel, and it had a happy ending. I don’t like romance or happy endings (in horror), so it really did not appeal to me. I also didn’t notice there was a shirtless buff guy in the background of the cover, so I guess that’s on me for being blind. 

What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

No one has yet to ask me which Pokémon my characters would have and that’s kind of a bummer. What, you’re asking? I’m so glad! So you would assume Emily would have a dark or ghost Pokémon by default, but I think she’d have a Venomoth. She likes to collect butterflies, and I think she’d be all about using attacks like poison and sleep powder, and moths have some spooky appeal. Anthony, I could see having a ground Pokémon, since he’s the one most “grounded” emotionally. Maybe a Sandshrew that evolves into a Sandslash by the end of book 1. Olivia would have an Eevee since she’s pretty and popular, but a bit uncertain on her future and path she wants to take in life. I’ll stop there because I could go on and on about this. 

Midnight Waltz (The Infernal Symphony Book 1) by Maria Giakoumatos

Midnight Waltz (The Infernal Symphony Book 1) by Maria Giakoumatos

To protect his new friend, Anthony joins Eden to fight against Lucifer’s Disciples’ bloodthirsty demons and save Emily’s soul—but can he save her from the demons of her dark past?

Over one hundred years after Emily Mavro’s gruesome death, her corpse remains youthful and intact, resting in the abandoned Mavro Manor. On the night of the full moon, she rises from her slumber at midnight in search of a soul to replace the one stolen from her.

When Anthony’s friends drag him along on their adventure to explore Mavro Manor, for a night of spooky fun, things take an unexpected turn when he finds Emily awake in her room.

Eden, an eccentric group of demon-fighting paranormal investigators, takes the case—but so does Lucifer’s Disciples, the cult of dark mages holding Emily’s soul captive for their mysterious schemes.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a dark, thrilling tale in the first book of the “Infernal Symphony” series of horror/dark paranormal fantasy novels.

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  • Jim Mcleod

    Jim "The Don" Mcleod has been reading horror for over 35 years, and reviewing horror for over 16 years. When he is not spending his time promoting the horror genre, he is either annoying his family or mucking about with his two dogs Casper and Molly.

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