Welcome to the last installment of our 2017 Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. I will take off the rest of the year to finish my second historical novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1927 Puerto Rico, hopefully, by January 2018!
I began interviewing my fellow authors in 2015, and to date, it looks like I’ve interviewed 82 authors. It’s been great to meet and chat with new authors. I hope you’ll check in at the blog during summer and fall 2017 as I begin a new series of blog posts that relate to my work in progress. We’re looking forward to sharing new author interviews in 2018.
Thank you for your continued support, dear readers. Keep buying books and remember that a book review on Amazon and Goodreads means the world to all authors!
Today, I am pleased to welcome Liza Treviño to The Writing Life.
Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant. Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine.
Welcome, Liza! What is your book’s genre?
All That Glitters is a women’s fiction novel that features a Latina heroine. There’s LA grit, Hollywood glamour and some romance mixed in for good measure.
Please describe what All That Glitters is about.
It follows the rags-to-riches Hollywood journey of a creative, ambitious, street smart and stunning Latina who sets her sights on making it big in Hollywood as a writer-film director in the 1980s. It’s also about the sacrifices one must make at the service of their ambitions. When is it too much? When do you take that step too far that can ultimately ruin you? How do you keep your integrity in the face of rampant sexism, misogyny and self-doubt?
How did you come up with the title?
While it’s a well-known saying, All That Glitters perfectly captured both the glitzy desires of Hollywood while also evoking the darker aspect that all is not what it seems, no matter how you might desire it.
What inspired you to write All That Glitters?
I’ve always been a reader and a writer, since I was a kid. I loved – love – all kinds of genres: horror, suspense, romance, but Jackie Collins, in particular, always held a special place in my heart. I adore her work and all Hollywood fiction. Eventually, I was re-reading one of my favourites of hers while I was in grad school in Los Angeles, and it hit me. Where is a Latina Lucky Santangelo? I wanted to read about a badass character like Lucky Santangelo, but I wanted her to be Latina. And that’s how it started for me. I began thinking about the popular stories I liked to read and decided I was going to create those kinds of stories but put a Latina at the center of the action. That’s definitely something I wanted to read. I couldn’t find it, so I started writing.
Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?
There are some surface resemblances for sure: Latina, from Texas, curly hair and a penchant for curse words. On a deeper level, Alexandria Moreno and I share a ‘survivor’ mentality. But there are definite distinctions. Alex is tough and uncompromising, that is how she survives. That’s not my approach.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
My inspiration for writing this particular story and for creating Alexandria Moreno was that I wanted to read about someone like her. I didn’t see why characters like her weren’t all over the place, and I just hadn’t found them yet. When I didn’t find what I was looking for, that’s when I decided to start writing. And now, it exists.
It’s been a long journey to get All That Glitters published. Alex is out in the world for anybody and everyone who’s looking for a Latina anti-heroine. I hope to introduce readers to the unforgettable character of Alexandria Moreno. I want the reader to be surprised, upset, excited, worried and unsure of Alex, her choices and what she’s going to do next. And to see Alex as a complicated, strong woman and then you remember that she’s also a Latina to boot? Very cool!
We can’t have enough Latina heroines! What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
First, putting your butt in the chair and writing. Second hardest is making it public. It’s like walking naked in front of a crowd of strangers. And I’m no exhibitionist.
So true. What is your favorite part of writing?
When you finish and the ending feels right. It literally feels like a weight has lifted and the story is out of me and in the world.
What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?
King Peso by Carmen Amato. It’s the latest installment of a series about Mexican female detective, Amelia Cruz. This was my introduction to the character and the series. Detective Amelia Cruz is a badass and complicated. She’s a lot of fun to read. The story moved along at a brisk pace, but what really set this book apart was its insider’s specificity of detail to Acapulco and the city’s surroundings. Amato took you to all corners of the region, making you feel like you are there, from the street corner taco stands to the exclusive, ‘privada’ beach communities.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jackie Collins and Joan Didion are my absolute favorites. I’m also a big fan of Carlos Fuentes, Stephen King, Carrie Fisher and Michael Crichton.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?
Certainly the authors I just mentioned have each influenced me a great deal. With authors like King, Crichton and Collins, I love their economy with language and the way their stories unfold and pull you along until you’ve reached the last page. Fisher, Fuentes and Didion, their inspired and nuanced insights to the human condition make me catch my breath. I’m also greatly influenced by film directors, especially Martin Scorsese, Kathyrn Bigelow, Bob Fosse and James Cameron. Their use of visual motifs and tone to convey personality is how I like to write. It’s the small detail, the visual punctuation that resonates with me, and I like to include those kinds of things in a story or scene.
I look to film for the same reasons you mention here. Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?
I read and write whenever and wherever I can. I’ve moved around a lot as an adult so I’ve had the pleasure of discovering (and leaving) all kinds of nooks and crannies to hole up and read and write. I do like coffeeshops and earbuds for writing and my bed or a breezy deck for reading.
Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?
I’m lucky – or, unlucky, depending on how you look at it – that I’ve spent my entire adult life as a writer, whether it be as an academic or in the fiction realm, so I have always spent time reading, writing, editing, revising, formatting something, whether it be papers, a dissertation or a novel. The process seems to just get more and more refined over time.
Working with a great editor who gets the story is invaluable. It’s an amazing experience to collaborate on your work with someone who sees it with new, fresh eyes. Of course, the con aligns closely with this, too. It can be hard to hear that words, passages or scenes you slaved over just need to go. But, it’s part of the process and, ultimately, it does make the work stronger, and it helped me become a better writer.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?
The main thing is that I set out to write a story that I wanted to read. That was probably the best thing I could do in order to keep going and not give up on the project and walk away.
Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
Don’t give up. If you have a story you believe in and are passionate about, keep writing and finish that project. It will find its audience.
Good advice. Website and social media links?
You can learn more about All That Glitters and find my blogs that provide resources for Latino writers as well as ‘updates’ on a Brown Girl’s Burden, my ‘spirited’ Latina’s Guide to Assimilation and Rebellion.
Liza, where can we find your book?
Click to Buy on Amazon: All That Glitters
BarnesandNoble.com and ibooks.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a follow up to All That Glitters, I’m shopping a Christmas-time romantic comedy set in San Antonio and working on a true crime, detective story also set in San Antonio, Texas.
Thanks for visiting us today on The Writing Life, Liza. Best wishes with your writing!
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.
A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.