I am very pleased to introduce Mayra Calvani, author of “The Luthier’s Apprentice which comes out today! Congratulations!
We met through a mutual friend while living in Brussels, Belgium and bonded when Mayra joined a creativity group I facilitated based on the book, The Writing Life by Julia Cameron. We share Puerto Rican roots, a love of writing, classical music and great books. She is a good friend and over the years has become one of my writing mentors.
Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she resides in Brussels, Belgium.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Young adult fantasy.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Here’s a blurb:
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…
When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.
But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?
Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…
How did you come up with the title?
It just came to me in a flash, the way titles sometimes do come. I knew the title before I started writing the story.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
I wrote this book for Nanowrimo back in 2007. At that time, it was an experiment. I hadn’t participated in Nanowrimo before. It was an exciting, exhilarating experience, but I knew the manuscript needed a lot of editing and polishing, so I put it aside for a long time. Then I worked on it on and off as I worked on other projects. That’s why it took so long to publish it.
As far as the inspiration behind it…
I studied/played the violin for 5 years, and my daughter has been playing it for 8 years, so violin music has been a big part of my life for a long time. There’s something darkly mysterious about the violin, and I’m in awe of soloists who have the skill to master it. The making of the violin itself is fascinating to me as well. And, of course, I also love listening to violin music whenever I can. Naturally, violin music has been very influential in my writing. I just find it immensely inspiring. Besides The Luthier’s Apprentice, I have also written several children’s picture books related to the violin. Readers can learn about them here: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Creating something out of nothing. Sharing my imagination with readers. Getting paid to daydream. And nothing beats being able to work in your pajamas.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
The greatest challenge: keeping focused and not procrastinate. Keeping confident throughout the process and, like Steven Pressfield says in his fantastic book, Do the Work, “trusting the soup.”
Every book that I’ve written has been hard to write. Though writing is my life and in a way, like breathing, I have a love & hate relationship with it. First of all, the mechanics of the craft are always a challenge: constructing the plot, creating the characters, balancing all the elements, i.e. description, dialogue, narrative, symbolic imagery, etc. Then there’s the word choice and the agonizing over verbs, adjectives, adverbs.
Besides this, there’s the emotional aspect of the journey: struggling with the inner critic, bouts of self-doubt, writer’s block, irritability over not writing, dealing with negative criticism, remorse due to sacrificing time with family and friends, spending hours, days, months, years sitting at the computer without any assurance that the book will be read by enough people or earn enough money to make all that time worthwhile.
But as writers, we are artists, and the artist’s soul is an interesting, compulsive animal. Writing is our vocation, our drug, and we must have a regular fix or go insane.
At the end, after a good writing day which may happen while still experiencing all of the above, I’m sweetly exhausted and at peace.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Anne Rice, Tama Janowitz, Donna Tartt, Albert Camus, Kate Chopin.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
In my early teens, strong influences were Agatha Christie mysteries and Barbara Cartland romances. Also Harlequin contemporary romances.
In my twenties, strong influences were Tama Janowitz, Kate Chopin, and Albert Camus. Later on, Anne Rice and Donna Tartt.
Favorite place to write?
My little office, especially when I’m alone at home and everything is quiet. But, sometimes, when I have trouble concentrating, I go and work at a café.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
Oh boy. I could write a short book on the subject, but if I could narrow it down to two:
Be prepared to wait. A lot.
Having an agent does not guarantee a sale.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
Again, the same as with any other book: putting my big ego aside and “trusting the soup.”
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
Don’t let anyone interfere with your dreams or goals of becoming an author. No matter what anyone says. Do what you have to do to accomplish it. Learn the craft, take courses and/or workshops if you have to, join writer organizations and a critique group. Interact with like souls who actually understand the creative spirit. Above all, read a lot and write a lot, as often as you can. The longer you stay away from writing, the harder it is to get back to it. And the more you write, the better you get at it.
Where can we find your book?
Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; Kobo Books; OmniLit, and others.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I can speak Turkish.