Author Interview: Maria Catalina Vergara

It’s my great pleasure to welcome M.C.V. Egan to The Writing Life.

M.C.V. Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Vergara Egan. Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. From a very young age, she became obsessed with the story of her maternal grandfather, Cesar Agustin Castillo–mostly the story of how he died.

She spent her childhood in Mexico. When her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. in the early 1970s, she moved with her entire family to the United States. Catalina was already fluent in English, as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There she won the English award, despite being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977.

She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France, at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (the Swedish kind, not the football player kind), Catalina moved to Sweden where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish businesspeople. She then returned to the USA, where she has lived ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.

Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son who, together with their five-pound Chihuahua, makes her feel like a full-time mother. Although she would not call herself an astrologer she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in the subject M.C.V. Egan’s new series DEFINING WAYS uses Astrology and othe Metaphysical tools http://www.thebridgeofdeaths.com

MCVEgan

Welcome, Maria!

What is your book’s genre/category?

The Bridge of Deaths is cross-genre. It is primarily Historical, based on a real 1939 plane crash in Denmark. My maternal grandfather lost his life on that plane 20 years before I was born. I am not a trained historian or researcher, so the original version is fiction, basically a history book with over 200 footnotes with a fictional narrative weaving the storyline. The revised edition incorporated all the data into the narrative, to have the format of a novel, but it is the same book.

I used traditional and untraditional methods for my research, the combination of traditional archival materials and untraditional use of psychics and past lives make the book also Metaphysical. The main characters Bill and Maggie have a nice love story.

The short answer is; Pre WW II historical, Metaphysical, Romance and Mystery.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

On August 15th, 1939, an English passenger plane from British Airways Ltd. crashed in Danish waters between the towns of Nykøbing Falster and Vordingborg. There were five casualties reported; two executives from Standard Oil of New Jersey (one was my grandfather), a German corporate lawyer, an English member of Parliament, and a crew member on the plane. There was one survivor; the pilot.

Just two weeks before, Hitler had invaded Poland. With the world at the brink of war, the manner in which this incident was investigated left much open to doubt. The jurisdiction battle between the two towns and the newly formed Danish secret police created an atmosphere of intrigue and distrust.

The Bridge of Deaths is a love story and a mystery. Fictional characters travel through the world of past life regressions and information acquired from psychics as well as archives and historical sources to solve “one of those mysteries that never get solved.”

It is very strongly based on true events and real people, The Bridge of Deaths is the culmination of 18 years of sifting through conventional and unconventional sources in Denmark, England, Mexico and the United States. The story finds a way to help the reader feel that s/he is also sifting through data and forming their own conclusions. The British Airways LTD plane the G-AESY, was a Lockheed Electra 10A like Amelia Earhart’s.

COVER FOR MCV THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS

How did you come up with the title? 

In 2002 while researching in Denmark, I visited the site of the crash with a group of Danish people. A good friend whom I have known for years, an archivist, who was so kind as to place an advert on a local newspaper, found the daughters of the diver who retrieved the bodies and helped salvage the plane as well as other extraordinary sources.

My friend told her that The Bridge, Storstrombroen was a landmark, ithe “last leg” on the drive to her grandparents to celebrate holidays and family gatherings. A policeman accompanying us said there was no joy on or around that bridge. He described how after my grandfather’s plane crashed, so many others fell in those waters. It was used by the Germans after the occupation of Denmark to shoot down allied planes on their way to bomb Berlin. He also explained that in 2002 it had become a popular bridge for people to commit suicide; my original title was going to be The Bridge of Secrets, but the chill of all the deaths in the location made me chose THE BRIDGE of DEATHS.

What inspired you to write this book? 

I was fascinated by the grandfather I never knew. My grandmother remarried four years after he died, and the only grandfather I ever knew was also an executive at Standard Oil of New Jersey, their New York offices were right in the 30 Rock Building. My step grandfather often compared me to the Castillo family, because of my ease in learning languages and my ability to win arguments.

As I got older the interest became a bit of an obsession; not to the point that it interrupted my life, but a characteristic I imposed on the Catalina in the book. I did, however, spend my money visiting archives and researching the book as much as I could, while working and becoming a mother.

I first held the British Airways Archives in my hands on January 1993, the book was ready on June of 2011, so it was an obsession. The obsession was with all the people involved; not just the victims of the crash, but Anthony Crossley British MP had such a fascinating trail of accomplishments and political involvements; and my grandfather’s loyalties were questionable as he was raised in Germany.

What can I say, in 1939 all the passengers onboard the plane were men with quite a story and background, and the crew was also very intriguing.

What is your favorite part of writing?

For this particular book the research was fascinating, I was allowed into the reading room at The British houses of Parliament, and met fascinating people along the way.

In general when it comes to writing, the creating a story that will grab and excite reader, the unfolding of surprises…well the first draft!

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Editing and outlines. Restrictions and rules!  A huge and necessary part, but not too fun. My outlines change often.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I absolutely love W. Somerset Maugham. I love all his works, and he has a little known book bearing my name CATALINA published in 1948, which starts on August 15th; the day of the plane crash in The Bridge of Deaths and around Chapter Four when Catalina goes to confession; the priest is Father Vergara; my maiden name and the V in MCV Egan!

I like many British authors, Susan Howatch, Nick Hornby, and Jeffrey Archer to name a few. Modern American writers I am a big fan of are John Irving, Irma Bombeck, and James Patterson.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Every author I have read, read an article about, attended a lecture or workshop. There is so much to learn from all fellow writers. I am also influenced and inspired by many other forms of art.  

Do you have a favorite place to write?             

My home office with the lovely view I am so fortunate to have. I get visits from birds, insects, reptiles, and the occasional squirrel.  I do not find them distracting, but I seem to look up at just the right time, to witness lovely creatures.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know.           

In my younger days I modeled in Sweden and I was given many chances, but was hopelessly bad at it. Looking good in a photograph is an absolute art form I could not achieve, and I tried hard. 

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

Cross-genre books are VERY difficult to place and to market! It is far better to choose a genre and use just one genre for a book. Publishers have very limited shelf space for cross-genre books.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I was meticulous and very passionate. I carefully organized my data, as each archive was different and they all complimented each other.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Start building your Cyber Footprint, blogging, tweeting, reviewing books. It really pays off to have “a brand” as a writer before you get a book out there.  Don’t be afraid of rejection and get VERY THICK SKIN, not everyone is going to like your work or you, and people can be brutal!

Website and other links?

Website ~ http://thebridgeofdeaths.com/

Amazon Author Page ~ http://www.amazon.com/M.-C.-V.-EGAN/e/B0069W9NY2

Facebook fan page ~ https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bridge-of-Deaths/130675087014521

Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/M_C_V_Egan

Goodreads ~ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5004249.M_C_V_Egan

Google+ ~ https://plus.google.com/110383394486667381896/about/p/pub

Linkedin ~ http://www.linkedin.com/pub/maria-catalina-egan/1b/4a/3b8

Shelfari ~ http://www.shelfari.com/mcvegan

Book Blogs ~ http://bookblogs.ning.com/profile/CatalinaEgan

BLOGS:

THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS ~ http://thebridgeofdeaths.tumblr.com/

4covert2overt A Day In The Spotlight ~ http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/

Is History The Agreed Upon Lie? ~ http://ishistorytheagreeduponlie.blogspot.com/

Defining Ways ~ http://mariacatalinaegan.com/

IntroSpective Press ~ http://introspectivepress.blogspot.com/ 

Where can we find your book? 

The Bridge of Deaths **** Revised Edition

Amazon US KINDLE ~ http://www.amazon.com/The-Bridge-Deaths-Revised-Edition-ebook/dp/B00MR8OY1O

AmazonUS PAPERBACK ~ http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Deaths-Revised-Story-Mystery/dp/0692267735

Amazon UK KINDLE ~ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Deaths-Revised-Story-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00MR8OY1O

Amazon UK PAPERBACK ~ http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Deaths-Revised-Edition/dp/0692267735

The Bridge of Deaths **** Original Edition

Amazon US KINDLE ~ http://www.amazon.com/The-Bridge-of-Deaths-ebook/dp/B00D4L82XO

Amazon US PAPERBACK ~ http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Deaths-M-C-Egan/dp/1463410417

Amazon UK KINDLE ~ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Deaths-M-C-EGAN-ebook/dp/B00D4L82XO

Amazon UK PAPERBACK ~ http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Deaths-M-Egan/dp/1463410417/

Barnes and Noble ~ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bridge-of-deaths-m-c-v-egan/1103737050?ean=

authorHOUSE ~ http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000463131/The-Bridge-of-Deaths.aspx

What’s next for you?

I am now writing Women’s Fiction and I released the first of a series called Defining Ways. Defined by Others was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. I think that for me, the editing was so much work, because the pressure to write 50K words in a month was too much.

I like to write and revise the following day, the way I write that would not have met the goal, but would have made the clean-up of the manuscript far easier!

I still research a little to make the story believable, but the freedom to concentrate on the fun of a storyline is most welcome after all the work that went into The Bridge of Deaths.

SYNOPSIS:

Follow Bill and Maggie as they cross THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS into 1939 to uncover the mystery behind the plane crash of the G-AESY. A blend of historical fact and fiction takes the reader through well-known and little known accounts leading up to WWII.

In the winter of 2009-2010 a young executive, Bill is promoted and transferred to London for a major International firm. He has struggled for the better part of his life with nightmares and phobias, which only seem to worsen in London. As he seeks the help of a therapist he accepts that his issues may well be related to a ‘past-life trauma’.

Through love, curiosity, archives and the information superhighway of the 21st century Bill travels through knowledge and time to uncover the story of the 1939 plane crash.

EXCERPT:

Maggie liked Foyles at Charing Cross Road and shopped there often. She had been raised with all that is unlikely, unconventional, and supernatural (perhaps even magical). When she was a child, her world was that of fairies, ghosts, wishes, and the power of crystals and planets. She was taught that answers were to be found in round circles called astrology charts and that there were many people in the world who were psychic and could foretell the future. Although that world was an appealing world, it was inevitable that Maggie, as so many teenagers do, would rebel against the beliefs she was raised with and seek other philosophies.

She experimented with various traditional religions and belief systems that existed to fill in the voids felt by those lacking any sort of faith. She found that although she liked many traditional religions and appreciated what they stood for, it was indeed Buddhism that made her feel the most complete. Maggie was for all intents and purposes an illogical, whimsical, adventuresome, and happy young woman. She slept soundly and lived a very complete life.

The philosophies of acceptance by which she lived her life made her compatible with most people. She had a nice relationship with her mother, a Danish astrologer, and her father, a successful English businessman who was happy to receive a little guidance from the planets. (If anyone objected to this, he happily pointed out that it had worked for Ronald Reagan.) Maggie often read the books her mother spoke about, and every once in a while, she even joined her mother in some new age ritual or other.

It was the excuse of searching for the perfect birthday gift for her mother that placed her at the same book section and store. From the moment she saw the tall, slender man walking down the street, she felt that she needed to follow him. This is not something she remembered ever having done before. She was pretty, and more often than not, men approached her. Experience had taught her that many men worth talking to could be shy and sometimes needed to be approached. With the confidence that is often exhibited by very pretty women, she was not deterred in the least by his surprised reaction to her smile, and so she spoke.

“So, which of the women in your life recommended that book to you? Was it your mum or your girlfriend?”

She was indeed pretty, and inasmuch as he was instantly attracted to her, it was not in a purely physical way. Someday, as their love story flourished, she would explain to him that when two souls from the past meet, they recognize each other. This happens in love stories, to parents when they first encounter the eyes of their newborn, and to friends as well as enemies.

As so many lovers do, when they first met, neither one of them spoke the absolute truth. Like so many lovers starting out a new love story, if they had known where this would lead, both of them might have run out of the bookstore. But they both chose to stay, and so on a cold winter day in January of 2010, when the world was mourning the passing of so many souls in Haiti, their love story began. He smiled back and answered her question.

“Why would it have to be a woman? Why couldn’t a man recommend it?”

“Oh I see. You are an American.”

“No, Canadian actually.”

“Same difference. Perhaps in America or Canada, a man other than the author would recommend Many Lives, Many Masters. But here in England, well, it would have to be a girlfriend probably on her grand quest as to how you are soul mates eternally destined to be together, or maybe it would be a middle-aged mum who just discovered Brian Weiss, the author. So, it is that, or you have some sort of existential crisis that led you to find the book on your own. So, mum or girlfriend?”

“Hmmm, let me see. My mother prefers to pray and attend church. I don’t have a girlfriend, and it was the medical background of the guy who wrote the book, Dr. Weiss, that impressed me. So, maybe I do fall into the existential crisis category”

Her beautiful eyes widened. “Existential crisis it is then, but if you seek impressive credentials in past-life therapy, you might want to read this book, Other Lives, Other Selves. Tell me, what triggered your belief in past lives?”

“Belief! I would not call it belief … possibility. I’ve come to realize that strange things happen.”

“You know, once you read that book, you will believe. In life there are certain doorways that once you cross them, they will forever change you. And you might also resolve your existential crisis. What you will definitely find is that women love to sleep with men who search for depth through such beliefs.”

So in that cold European winter when some in the world denied global warming, he lay in bed, holding her. He could not imagine a less likely place to have encountered the perfect girl, the self-help section at a bookstore. She was, by all accounts, very beautiful. Her laughter and smiley eyes were completely contagious. He was ready to settle down, and she might be the one, even if that involved accepting some very unlikely ideas that she held. There was the most extraordinary feeling of comfort in simply being with her.

Maggie had to laugh; she thought he’d be a quick and fun adventure, one that she would soon get out of her system. But this yuppie geek, as it turned out, was surprisingly special from the very first moment. This could be far more than a casual adventure.

Bill had not spoken to anyone about his problems. Not anyone other than doctors or therapists. Maggie worked counseling young kids. She was trained to ask just the right questions to make people talk. Bill was used to carefully giving only the information he wanted to give in business and in his private life. He sometimes caught himself telling Maggie much more than what he expected was safe. She thought that she knew just how to pry and could tell he was holding back; this, of course, made him all the more interesting.

Their love story grew and developed as some do. Maggie usually led and Bill followed. They enjoyed the typical things new couples enjoy, such as going to restaurants, the cinema, shops, and museums. Sometimes, if the winter weather allowed, they went for nice long walks. Before Bill met Maggie, he had spent all his time in London buried in his work, with his colleagues at the gym, or finding ways to run away from the dreams and thoughts that haunted him. He did this by playing any distracting “brain game” that helped him to forget the letters, the same five letters, on the wings and on the side of the aircraft in his nightmares.

He liked to remember how it had been the day they met there in the bookstore by the self-help and philosophy section while he had been holding the book Many Lives, Many Masters, a book that seemed sensible enough to explain past lives. (He had also noticed one discussing future lives. That seemed ridiculous, and he was wondering if in spite of Dr. Weiss’s credentials, this was the right way to learn more about past-life regression therapy.) It was right at that moment that she had smiled and spoken. He liked the thought of how later that day, before they left the bookstore together, they each had purchased a book; he bought Many Lives, Many Masters, and Maggie chose the one about future lives, Same Soul, Many Bodies, the ridiculous one. They often visited Foyles on rainy days.

Maggie loved that bookstore, so it could not exactly be said that she had followed him inside. That would have been completely out of character for her. She had not only felt attracted to his physique, but also the way he moved as he walked seemed so familiar; there was a very strong force there, and there had been something she recognized.

Then he absolutely surprised her; he went to the section she had least expected “his type”—the cute, yuppie geek type—to choose: he went to her mother’s favorite section, the self-help and new age philosophies section, and in his hand was one of the new age beliefs’ basic books, Many Lives, Many Masters.

This was good; it could only mean that he was new to such ideas. That was an old book. It was from the 1980s. Maybe even older. It had to be that old; she remembered a copy or two in her parents’ house for as long as she could remember. This guy, this conquest—Maggie, as many pretty young women do, conquered the hearts of men for sport—this conquest would be a breeze. It was then that he felt different, when he spoke and she heard his accent, an accent so familiar to her from the cinema and the telly, the accent of all the handsome men of her fantasies, an accent that made him even more appealing. Unlike the man she had just met, Maggie was very aware that she was a hopeless romantic.

Thanks for a super interview, Maria. I enjoyed getting to know more about you. Best wishes with ‘The Bridges of Deaths’!

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and the Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Let’s Talk About Writing Host Marsha Casper Cook

MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND JOIN US TOMORROW!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork/2015/08/13/lets-talk-about-writing-host-marsha-casper-cook

Join Marsha Casper Cook on August 13 at 4PM EST 3PMCST  2PM MT 1PM PST- When she welcomes Jack Remick and Eleanor Parker Sapia. Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer, novelist and a frequent guest on the World Of Ink. He has contributed to the show by bringing wonderful authors to the network and with each visit he is appreciated that much more.

Jack has brought to the network Eleanor Parker Sapia, a Puerto Rican-born novelist, poet, and artist, raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Her life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language social worker, and refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing.

Marsha is a Partner of the World of Ink Network, Award-winning Script Writer, Novelist, Writing Coach, Media Release Specialist, Blog Talk Radio Host and Founder of Michigan Avenue Media. Marsha is the author of 11 published books and 11 feature-length screenplays, a literary agent with 15 years of experience and the host of BTR’s World of Ink Network shows: A Good Story Is a Good Story, and special editions of The World of Ink Network.

Call in number (714) 242-5259

For more info   http://www.worldofinknetwork.com

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Author Interview: Juliana Barnet

Today I am pleased to welcome mother and daughter authors, Juliana Barnet and Sophie Barnet-Higgins, who co-wrote Rainwood House Sings, a social justice mystery for youth and adults.

At the end of June, my cousin emailed to say she’d met an author at a US Social Forum in Philadelphia who knew who I was, but she’d forgotten the woman’s name. Today, Juliana emailed to say she’d met my cousin at the conference, but had forgotten her name. Today, the mystery was solved. Small world!

Juliana and Sophie pic

Juliana Barnet is a lifelong social justice activist, artist and writer with grassroots movements in Mexico City and in the DC area. Rainwood House Sings draws on her own experiences and those of comrades from the diverse worldwide tribe of social justice agitators and activists, including the considerable number who lent their assistance to the creation of this book. Her daughter Sophie loves stories and drawing, especially Japanese-style comics.

Welcome to The Writing Life, Juliana and Sophie!

cover image-Juliana Barnet

What is your book’s genre/category?

Rainwood House Sings is a “social justice mystery” for youth and adults, painting a truthful yet mildly magical picture of activists tackling mysteries large and small with creativity, humor and collective action.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Rainwood House, lightly haunted by local civil rights struggles, rampant houseplants and musical plumbing, is home to University of Maryland groundskeeper Marlie Mendíval and her bat- and book-loving granddaughter Samantha. Marlie rents a room to Demetrius, a good-natured radical horticulturist, unaware that prior to knocking on her front door Demetrius has been hiding from the police in her basement.

Marlie battles mounting bills, bellowing pipes, a lecherous boss, her ex’s scheme to evict her from Rainwood House, isolation, decay and self-doubt, as Samantha becomes embroiled in playground culture wars. Demetrius wanders through Rainwood House’s shuttered rooms pondering how to beat accusations of cop-shooting and terrorism while remaining incognito under Samantha’s friendly but sharp-eyed gaze. Increasingly entangled in each others’ lives, the characters join glamorous union shop steward Laranda Moss and a lively crew of supporters to launch a friendship club, a campus workers’ movement, a neighborhood people’s history museum and a present-day Underground Railroad stop.

How did you come up with the title?

Rainwood” is a fictional community based on three small towns right next to one another on the Eastern border of DC, named Brentwood, Mt. Rainier (the town I live in) and North Brentwood. The story draws on the history and ambiance of these towns. The first working title was Rainwood House, until a friend suggested that active titles were better. I added “Sings,” and ended up deciding that the book was actually a trilogy. The second book is titled Rainwood House Burns.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

As a lifelong social justice activist and a lifelong fiction reader, I became increasingly frustrated at almost never seeing activists depicted in novels, other than occasional appearances as one-dimensional (and generally negative) stereotypes. Even though I know activists to be adventuresome, funny, fascinating, smart and at times heroic people who take on all kinds of issues and activities that lend themselves to mysteries and other exciting, active stories—the kind I most like to read—novels with sympathetic activist protagonists are extremely infrequent. So I ended up following the old adage: if you really want something to happen, you have to make it happen.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love having ideas pop up, and then following them where they lead. It is thrilling to follow an idea and see it open up like a glittering underground cavern as I explore its branches and possibilities.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

I find writing a first rough draft difficult, not so much  because the words don’t come—I tend more to the opposite affliction, which in Mexico they call “verborrea!” Afterwards, of course, you have to pare and select, a process I enjoy but at the same time I find it hard to contend with the chorus of internal voices pelting me with putdowns, advice and rude comments that what I’m writing is boring or nonsense or whatever. When I do expository writing, I find it challenging to decide that something is finished, rather than wanting to go on and on perfecting it. So far, though, the most difficult hurdle has been learning the process of putting my writing out in the world in circles wider than folks I have direct contact with. That is the challenge of this moment, for me.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Here’s an off-the-top of my head, arbitrary, not-in-order and incomplete list of fiction authors I’ve enjoyed—in other words, I’m not making any judgment about how “deep” or transcendent they are, but include them because I’ve read—and in most cases reread—more than one of their books, often numerous times, for fun. I know I’m leaving out quite a few. Robertson Davies, Jean Auel, Chimamanda Achibie, Leo Tolstoy, Ken Follet, Anton Makarenko, Laurie King, Terry Pratchett, L.A. Meyer, Zora Neale Hurston, Walter Moseley, Barbara Neeley, Meredith Tax, Jane Austen, George Elliot, Alexander McCall Smith, Carl Hiassen, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Barbara Kingsolver, L.M. Montgomery, Douglas Addams, Katherine Ann Porter, Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel, Paco Ignacio Taibo, Jules Feiffer, Lewis Carroll. A.A. Milne,  Caroline Dale Snedecker, Edith Pargeter (Ellis Peters), Kurt Vonnegut, Miguel de Cervantes, Chinua Achebe, Kazuo Ishiguro, Tarquin Hall, Sherman Alexie, Sara Peretsky, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Octavia Butler, Joseph Heller, Dave Barry, Anne Tyler, Amy Tan, Clyde Edgerton, Elizabeth Peters, Dorris Lessing, Judith Viorst…(stopping because of time and space considerations, not because I’ve run out of authors!)

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Barbara Kingsolver, Makarenko, Lenin, Engels, Ruth Benedict, Franz Fanon, Paolo Freire, Margaret Meade, Claude Levi-Strauss, Augusto Boal, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Silvio Rodriguez, Nacha Guevara, Mario Benedetti, Atahualpa Upanqui, Victor Martínez, Assata Shakur, Anne Tyler, Mumia Abu Jamal, Noam Chomsky, Rebecca Solnit, parents Ann and Richard Barnet (both writers), many political bloggers and journalists, teachers and companer@s in Mexico and the U.S. And that’s just a smattering of writers, political folks and musicians off the top of my head. The full list would be much longer!

Favorite place to write?

Outdoors, on my back porch, or other people’s porches if they have a nice view of trees, sky and other restfully beautiful things.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I lived for sixteen years in Mexico City, becoming immersed in a large community and social movement with people who became close friends, comrades and family. Among other adventures there, I played keyboard and sang for a dance band that performed rock and Latin music at parties and events and in nightclubs. And I participated in a popular education movement, including living for several weeks in the building of a democratically run school housed in an abandoned munitions factory. Also, Rainwood House Sings is part of a larger project I am working on called Life in the Liberated Zone, which is about raising awareness of the culture of activists. Another part of this project is working with others to write fun and imaginative fiction that focuses on folks working together to tackle social issues. In June a group of third graders and I published Zombie Elementary, which is a children’s companion book to Rainwood House Sings, and deals with kids and zombies overcoming the fear and prejudice they feel towards one another in order to work together to save their school and friends.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Publishing pundits always say it is after the extremely challenging work of writing and publishing your book that the truly challenging work of putting it out into the world begins. Intellectually it’s not a surprise to find myself proving them right, but it still feels surprising to be continually discovering how complex and multifaceted this phase of being an author is! As far as learning, it was great to learn so many cool things associated with creating a book, reaching out to folks with and through the book, and to be in the process of learning how important it is to have help!

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I took my time—both to write and edit, and to learn other skills like research, working with graphics on the computer, and formatting; got input and info from plenty of helpful folks; developed a good way of working my young coauthor—my daughter, who worked with me on it from age 10-15; had enough passion and decision to carry me through the process.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Persist! And choose the avenues that are most interesting to you. The process is arduous so enjoy it as you go along!

Website?

www.RainwoodHouse.com , www.JulianaBarnet.com, www.LifeintheLiberatedZone.com (under construction. This latter site will unify all the work alluded to in this interview, once it is online.)

Where can we find your book?

You can order the print book through the website www.RainwoodHouse.com or at http://tinyurl.com/rainwoodhousesings and other distributors. Order the ebook at the website or at http://tinyurl.com/rainwoodebook, and through other ebook distributors. Purchase signed copies directly from me at book events, or by writing to julianabarnet@rainwoodhouse.com. More information and sample chapters available at www.RainwoodHouse.com.

What’s next for you?

  • Writing Rainwood House Burns, book 2 of the Rainwood House series.
  • Developing Rainwood House Sings book events focusing on activists, both locally and elsewhere, as well as online, starting with folks I know and reaching outward.
  • Collaborating once again this coming school year with children from the local elementary school to promote and sell Zombie Elementary, and to write another collective novel with them.
  • Developing Life in the Liberated Zone, in particular the website and zine (blog) of literature and essays about activist culture.
  • I’d love to hear from any other writers out there who are writing or thinking about writing fiction featuring activist characters! We are planning to start a writing group with this focus.

Thanks for chatting with me today, Juliana and Sophie. I enjoyed getting to know you both and wish you much success with Rainwood House Sings.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and the Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.