Our May line up of awesome authors includes:
Patricia Mann – May 2
Meredith Schorr – May 9
Mayra Calvani – May 15
I messed up in the scheduling of Author Interview Friday and now have a huge calendar to keep me organized! So, I’ve decided to answer my own interview questions. I hope you enjoy the interview!
What is your book’s genre/category?
A Decent Woman is historical fiction.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
A Decent Woman is a story of catastrophe and survival, choices and betrayal, the story of the midwife Ana and the women she befriends who find themselves pitted one against the other in male-dominated Puerto Rico at the turn of the century. It is a story of the bonding power of unlikely friendships that carries them through tragedy and betrayal, and the cost of living with dark secrets.
How did you come up with the title?
When I finished the first draft of the manuscript, I realized that the main themes of the story were decency and indecency. During a conversation with my children about integrity and strength of character, we agreed that most people in the world are decent and have good intentions. We spoke about how decent people are sometimes forced into indecent situations for reasons such as poverty, trauma and catastrophic events. My title was born from that conversation and also from one of the amazing books I used for my research-Imposing Decency by Dr. Eileen J. Findlay Suarez. Her book changed the ending of my story, making it more realistic and historically accurate. I am eternally grateful to Dr. Findlay!
What is the reason you wrote this book?
My novel began as a very detailed tribute and gift to my maternal grandmother on her 90th birthday. My family and friends loved the tribute and my then-husband encouraged me to write an outline. When he read the outline, he told me I had a book to write. So I did.
What is your favorite part of writing?
All of it! I can’t imagine doing anything else and I am blessed to write full time. I love creating new stories that introduce readers to Latina(o) and Caribbean characters, history and perhaps, places that are new to them. When I am writing, the outside world disappears and I enter the internal and external worlds of my characters. There is nothing I enjoy more than writing. Painting is a close second, however.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
I enjoy both the writing and the editing which most writers dread. The most challenging aspect has been accepting that a story is finished. I have this issue with painting, as well. I tend to worry that the writing or brush stroke can be improved upon. Chapter One of A Decent Woman was rewritten more than times than you can imagine! I’ll probably experience these challenges throughout my writing career as I’m tough on myself. I continue to learn to write better prose with each book I write and with every good book I read.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are so many, but the authors whose books I will buy without hesitation are Barbara Kingsolver, Arundhati Roy, Jack Remick, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Odilia Rivera Santos, Esmeralda Santiago, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
The most influential people in my life have been my mother and maternal grandparents, all born in Puerto Rico. I was born on the island and spent every summer with my family in my grandparent’s home in Ponce, our hometown. Before I headed to the US for college, my grandfather told me never to forget where I came from. I took his wise words to heart. I am blessed to have a very close-knit family and in Puerto Rico, even the wife of a very distant cousin is always considered family!
Favorite place to write?
In the winter months, I write at my dining room table where I have a great view of my side garden. In the summer, I love to write under the ancient grape arbor that shades my patio and at my weekend get-away on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
I began building my author platform in 2007 with writing a blog and joining social media sites. Social media is so important to the publishing process and it takes time. Every day, I learn of a new marketing angle or tips for selling books. I am learning to find a balance between keeping up social media and writing.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
Having an insane passion for the story and characters keeps me moving forward. You have to love your story because you could be reading and editing that manuscript for years! This might sound corny, but early on I visualized myself as a published author. I kept at it, made personal sacrifices and never gave up my dream.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
If you don’t write a blog, start one today and remember to comment on other’s blogs. Join social media sites and query as many literary agents as you can. The Writer’s Digest was a huge help in locating agents who represented my genre. Devour books on writing and attend writers conferences. Don’t give up, keep writing. I hate the thought of an untold story.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
Before I fell in love with writing books, I was an exhibiting artist for 20 years and facilitated many creativity groups using Julia Cameron’s seminal book, The Artist’s Way.
What’s next for you?
I’m thrilled to announce that Booktrope has accepted my second novel, Finding Gracia, for publication. I am currently writing the book that is based on the journey I took with my children on El Camino, the medieval pilgrimage route through Spain to Santiago de Compostela. I sure am glad I kept a journal on that trip!