An interview with YA author, Glynis Guevara

Welcome to the latest in a series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am thrilled to introduce the very gifted Trinidadian, Glynis Guevara, author of, Under the Zaboca Tree and the upcoming YA novel, Black Beach. Glynis is a traditionally published writer and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the process.

black beach imageutzt

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Glynis Guevara. I was born in Trinidad, but have lived in Canada for over twenty years. I started writing my first novel at fourteen, and even though it was never completed I never gave up my love for writing. I am a graduate of Humber College School for Writers creative writing program and was admitted to the bar of England and Wales, and Trinidad and Tobago. In 2012, I was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary (short fiction) Competition, and my YA manuscript, “Barrel Girl” was a finalist for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean literature. “Under the Zaboca Tree” is my debut YA novel. My second YA novel, “Black Beach” will be published in September 2018.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
My second love beside writing is reading. I also love to travel. I have been to England, (I was a student in London for four years), Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA (California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut) and Grenada. I hope to travel to Africa next year.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Yes, I am an instructor. I teach adult literacy classes full time during the day and also two evenings a week. I love my job and I enjoy working with diverse learners in my literacy class.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you complete your first book?
I started writing my first novel when I was fourteen, but it wasn’t completed; however, I never gave up my love for writing. I actually didn’t attempt to write another book until 2006 after I was laid off my job. It took about six months to finish the first draft.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
The first book I wrote was an adult contemporary novel, but it has not yet been published. I then wrote several YA books. In the beginning, I didn’t set out to write a YA book; it just turned out that way. So far my first YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree, has been published and a second YA novel, Black Beach, will be published in late September this year. Social issues influence my writing.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not really. I have a lot of ideas in my head! I have permanently injured my right ear which can affect my ability to concentrate at times, but other than that I am quite lucky.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I start with a theme, but no outline. As I begin writing, the stories shape themselves. I myself am usually surprised at the outcome!

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
There are many writers I admire, but amongst my favourites is the Trinidadian / American writer, Elizabeth Nunez.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Initially, I tried to find a literary agent. Looking back now, I realize my earlier works were not ready for publication and probably why I found it so difficult to secure an agent. I hired a private editor and he helped me grow as a writer. This was probably the best money I have spent. Hiring an editor helped me polish my work and as a result allowed me to secure a publisher.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I am happy with my publisher, Inanna Publications. My only regret is that I wish I didn’t have an ear issue that has affected my ability to market myself better.

11. How do you market your work?
I am working on improving my marketing skills. Currently, I market by word of mouth, social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I am hopeful I’ll be able to do a number of readings and personal appearances once Black Beach is released in later this year. I’m also trying to figure out how I get time off work to travel to other countries, including Trinidad and Tobago and other provinces in Canada to promote my work. I’m working on having my work included within the portfolios of literary festivals, local and national.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have two complete books that remain unpublished. That said, I am on the verge of sending them out for assessment. Wish me luck!

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
My debut YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree, is a contemporary coming of age story about a young girl affectionately called, Baby Girl, who moves from Toronto, Canada to Trinidad with her dad. Baby Girl silently longs for her mother, a woman she can’t recall ever meeting and doesn’t have a photo of. Under the Zaboca Tree is a contemporary coming of age novel that explores multiple issues including the challenges of being a motherless adolescent, searching for one’s identity, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the ability to adapt to difficult situations.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There is nothing in my published work based on my personal life experiences; however, in general, social issues influence my work.

15. What project are you working on now?
I am in the early stages of writing two YA novels. The working titles are, Poui Season, and, Gift in my Pocket.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Yes, my second YA novel, Black Beach, will be launched at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on September 28, 2018. Black Beach tells the story of sixteen-year-old, Tamera who lives in La Cresta, a fishing village on a Caribbean island. Tamera’s mother suffers from severe mental illness. Also, one of the young girl’s schoolmates disappears and no one knows anything about the missing girl’s whereabouts. An environmental disaster strikes the small community devastating the fishing industry. Tamera finds herself at the centre of the mystery of her classmate’s disappearance, the resolution of which shocks the people of La Cresta.

17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Inanna Publications published my first book, Under the Zaboca Tree, in 2017 and will publish, Black Beach, later this year. Inanna will also publish a third book, Barrel Girl, in 2019. I have completed two other manuscripts. However, the character that I feel a strong desire to write more about is Baby Girl, the protagonist from Under the Zaboca Tree. Every day I think about what has happened to her. The rest of her story needs to be told.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been your greatest compliment?
Before I even contemplate sending my work to any publishers, I work on my manuscripts with a professional editor. I am so thankful for all that I have learnt from my current editor. I have grown as a writer because of the constructive criticism he has provided.
I have received many compliments from readers since my debut YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree, was published. But I think the compliment that stayed with me above all was from a literary agent regarding one of my unpublished works. After reading the first twenty pages of the manuscript she said, “You write dialogue well. Not a lot of people can do that.” These words helped build my self-confidence and gave me the belief to continue.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
I don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice. My first novel was published in 2017 and I am still learning about the writing and publishing business. However, I think aspiring writers need to be consistent readers and writers. Take writing courses, enter writing competitions. Be active on social media. Believe in yourself and don’t allow anyone’s negative words to discourage you.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you to everyone who has taken time out of their busy schedule to read this blog interview and also thanks to all who have purchased my debut novel, Under the Zaboca Tree. I look forward to your continued support over the coming years. You are all invited to the book launch of, Black Beach, on September 28, 2018 at Ben MacNally books in Toronto.

Please join me in thanking Glynis for taking part in this interview and for sharing her experiences as a traditionally published author. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Glynis Guevara via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon using the below links:

Link to Black Beach at Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Black-Beach-Glynis-Guevara/dp/1771335696/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530816458&sr=8-1&keywords=black+beach+glynis+guevara

Link to Black Beach at Amazon.co.uk
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Beach-Glynis-Guevara/dp/1771335696/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530816521&sr=8-1&keywords=black+beach+glynis+guevara

Social media contacts:
website: https://glynisguevara.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gguevaraauthor
Twitter: @GlynisGuevara

Previous publications and links:
Link to “Under the Zaboca Tree” (Publisher’s website):
https://www.inanna.ca/catalog/under-zaboca-tree/

Advertisements

An interview with YA author, Nathan Hopp

Welcome to the latest in my series of interviews from around the world. This afternoon we find ourselves in North America and I am delighted to welcome the talented writer, Nathan Hopp, author of the recently published historical fantasy novel, The Adventures of Peter Gray. It has been fascinating to hear about Nate’s journey as a writer and his route to publication.

thumbnail_taopgbookcover

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Nathan Hopp, and I’m a college student/author born and raised in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. I’m a big nerd when it comes to topics such as history, anime, the furry fandom and I love exploring new places wherever I go. I mostly write short stories, but I’m pleased to announce my debut novel, The Adventures of Peter Gray, was recently published earlier this year.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m either biking, studying for / attending university classes or meeting new people such as your good self, on the Internet.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Unfortunately, yes. At the moment I’m an associate at Walmart, and while the pay is good it doesn’t beat the thought of waking up one morning and doing nothing but writing!

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve loved reading ever since I was in kindergarten, but I guess you can say writing my own stories began somewhere in my high school library. One day I decided to write poetry, this led to short stories and eventually I hit the hard stuff and completed my first novel by the time I started college. A year later, and here I am.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
When I first started, I wrote short stories geared towards fans of serious science fiction. The Adventures of Peter Gray is a historical fantasy; two genres I hadn’t attempted at that point. As such I needed to undertake an extensive period of research and cherry picked features from each genre that best worked for me. As for plot ideas, most of the time they just come to me in moments of inspiration, but they can come from anywhere and at any time. I just have to keep a notebook handy!

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
My God, who doesn’t? Some days I feel unable to write a single sentence, and the next I’m hastily writing entire paragraphs of a story on the back of a napkin or scrap paper taken from the Walmart break room. On those days, I’m terrified of forgetting these ideas and additions to a story.

7. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Where do I start? There’s too many books that influenced me, but I can tell you the writers who shaped me. There’s classic authors like Stephen King, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury and the like. Then there’s Marie Lu, Alex London, Kyell Gold, Scott Westerfeld, Anthony Horowitz, George Orwell and countless others that would need an entire book of its own.

8. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I am lucky enough to have been traditionally published but it has been a tough route. From my point of view, taking criticism was probably the hardest part of being traditionally published. I signed my contract thinking my manuscript was the finished article. Far from it! I think I’d have found the process much easier if I’d started knowing my first draft was about to undergo a substantial period of revision and editing. It is an essential step when it comes to publishing any book, not just mine, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when you receive your first set of notes from the editor. The side I enjoyed and therefore found easiest was the promotion side. It helps that I’m currently attending college and my minor is in Marketing, but I’ve loved the creative side and the myriad of ways you can put yourself and your work out there in public and on the web.
Coming back to the process itself, aside from developing a thick skin, patience is a virtue. There is so much waiting once the various edits leave your desk and return for reassessment. I believe the average time to publish a book is a year but it can be much longer. To cut a long story short, my editor and I knew each other back when we were in high school. During our first professional encounter she read the first couple of paragraphs of a short story I’d written and turned to me to say, “If this were a book and you asked me, I wouldn’t publish it after reading the first sentence.” That cut to the bone!
So I worked hard. I practiced and practiced, honing my writing skills, taking on-board any criticism thrown my way – learning from it instead of getting upset. I made sure I grew as both a person and a reader before writing the first draft for, The Adventures of Peter Gray. Five years later, I told her about the concept during one of our email correspondences and she was intrigued by the pitch. I sent her the manuscript and the rest is history!

9. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I mostly utilize online and local sources. Given my book is about an anthropomorphic wolf who lives in a historical setting, I already know my audience is the furry fandom, that makes it much easier to pitch in arena’s and on sites where I know this type of book will thrive.

10. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Tough question – yes and no. There is another related project I’ve been itching to complete, but both life and my current publication have served to delay it. I will certainly go back to it and I’m hoping my new and existing fanbase will support it once I breathe life into it over the coming months.

11. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Absolutely! The Adventures of Peter Gray is a historical coming-of-age fantasy set in 1899 New York City. My protagonist is an anthropomorphic wolf who lives a life of mischievous shenanigans & adventure on the Manhattan streets. Think of, The Adventures of Peter Gray, as a crossbreed between Disney’s Zootopia and a work of fiction by either Mark Twain or Charles Dickens.

12. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Given it involves childhood, I have taken some aspects of my own and implemented it into the narrative. You’ll have to read it to start guessing which parts though!

13. What project are you working on now?
Mmm, it’s a bit of a secret, but let’s just say Peter’s story isn’t finished yet.

14. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
There are, especially in the fictional world of my novel. As for themes, I don’t shy away from tough issues and indeed prefer to embrace and explore them; most recently I’ve run with themes such as diverse as economic inequality and prejudice.

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
J.K. Rowling and Stephen King didn’t become famous by imitating others. It is great to be inspired by others, but don’t let that be the only thing you’re known for in your writing career. Surpass your role models, take and assess the criticism you receive, and be unique in every way you can.

16. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you so much for all your support, I really appreciate it.
The Adventures of Peter Gray is a coming-of-age tale that will invoke nostalgic memories of your childhood and bring it back to life. The novel is available on Amazon, Goodreads and at any Barnes & Noble store you can visit. Please leave a review if you enjoy my work, not only will I be very appreciative but it is the only way to nudge the Amazon algorithms into life!

Please join me in thanking Nathan Hopp for engaging with me and discussing some of the finer points of life as an author. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Nate via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out Nate’s work on Amazon:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventures-Peter-Gray-Nathan-Hopp/dp/173205116X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531410182&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Adventures+of+Peter+Gray
Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Peter-Gray-Nathan-Hopp/dp/173205116X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531410278&sr=8-1&keywords=the+adventures+of+peter+gray+by+nathan+hopp

Social media contacts:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HoppNate
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NathanWHopp/
DeviantArt: https://www.deviantart.com/domus-vocis
FuAffinity: Userpage of domusvocis — Fur Affinity [dot] net

An interview with YA author, Christopher Galvin

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the talented author, Christopher Galvin, creator of the children’s fantasy novel, Strings. Christopher has selected the self-publishing path and it has been interesting to find out his take on the positives and negatives associated with his experience.

bookdesign_cover (2).png
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Co. Offaly in Ireland. My background is in TV and film. I have a BA Hons Degree in Video. I’ve always enjoyed writing since I was very young, whether it was short stories or plays or comics. I write short films which seem to do reasonably well on the film festival circuit – the last one was called Stuck. I really enjoyed writing and co-directing that one.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Marketing my book! Pushing it on social media etc. But I’m also a videographer so I edit videos etc. too.
3. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to pick up a pen, but my first book… I recently finished the third draft of my first novel, Arthur Smallwood’s Quest for Magic, which I’ve begun to submit to agents. Although ASQM is technically the first book I completed, Strings, is the first book I published. It’s a children’s fantasy book which I’ve self-published on Amazon and came out earlier this year.
4. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I’m not sure I have a genre as such, but there’s usually something supernatural added whether its monsters or ghosts etc. but I wouldn’t classify it as horror. Maybe drama or comedy with a hint of the unusual about it.
As for where I get my ideas… Sometimes they jump out at me from nowhere. Other times they have been developed from something else. For example, Strings came about because I read about a competition for a story which had certain ground rules (i.e. the protagonist had to be a certain age and had to meet certain people). I simply started writing the requested scene and a couple of hours later I created the basis of a story around a young girl, her imaginary friend and their discovery of a mysterious puppet theatre materialising in her room. After writing that piece I started thinking about what would happen next, so I just continued to write and finished it in a few days.
5. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes. The way your head goes blank. It’s frustrating but it can be overcome. Either by sitting there thinking it through, or by walking away and going about your business. Usually when that happens the ideas eventually start flowing again.
6. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write. Most times I’ll have thought about it a lot, building the story in my head, but when I sit down, I simply write. I can edit out the bad bits later. I’m a great believer in just letting the words flow, especially with a first draft.
7. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I suppose the author or authors that stick out are Stephen King and Terry Pratchett. Their styles, while miles apart, really appeal to me. King’s strength is in his great build up of suspense and the horror he can unleash. Pratchett’s is his wonderful way with world play and his characters. Imagine combining those styles together!
8. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?
When I wrote Strings I thought, well I’ll self-publish it. This was on the basis the experience would give me a better understanding of the market and the process if I decide to self-publish, Arthur Smallwood’s Quest for Magic. Publishing it on Amazon was fairly straightforward and went well. The decision on the size of the paperback was a challenge and the cover design certainly had its issues (although I’m pleased with the result). Sales went fine for the first few days (family and friends buying it) but there comes a time when you have to reach out to an audience of strangers and say, ‘Here’s my book – I think you’ll like it!’ I’m still trying to figure out how to do that effectively.
9. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I post about it on twitter and Facebook. I have a Facebook page for Strings and an Instagram account for it too. I made three short trailers for it (I think the last one got the most response) and I had a one-day sale where the digital version was free for the day. I haven’t cracked the market by any means but I’m constantly researching and plugging away.
10. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Well, I mentioned Strings which is about a young Irish girl who has trouble making friends. She ends up creating an imaginary friend who helps her through her ups and downs. But some malevolent force has detected she is unhappy and initiates a plan to lull her into the magical town of Puppet Town. Now, Puppet Town is great, has marionettes and shadow puppets and hand puppets etc but if she stays there for 24 hours she will become a puppet too and can never go back home. The remainder of the tale follows her journey to do just that.
Arthur Smallwood’s Quest for Magic is a bit more complex and is aimed at the YA market. I’ll talk more about that when it’s ready to go.
11. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it purely imaginative?
One or two little pieces that reflect my own life but mostly pure imagination.
12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been your greatest compliment?
The toughest I think is that I’m very much in a hurry to get things written and done. In the past my first drafts were ‘it’. I didn’t bother with editing much. But that has changed for the better and I’m more patient. You kind of have to be. It makes your writing better. My greatest compliment is probably that I tend to make things very vivid – if you read my stories you can really imagine what the characters are feeling and the worlds they inhabit.
13. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
This is hard as I’d still describe myself as an aspiring writer. That said I guess my advice would be firstly to take your time and don’t rush a project. Give as much time to perfecting your work as you can. Secondly is simply to keep writing – don’t wait for inspiration to arrive before writing, it won’t! You have to work at your craft, inspiration rarely just appears and if you simply waited you’d be staring at a blank page most of the time. Finally you must engage with those willing to help. Let people read your work; if you are lucky enough to be friends with someone who can edit, don’t be shy about passing over your manuscript! They are a huge help and can improve your writing. If you have writing heroes follow them and keep reading. Sometimes going to a book signing can push you to want to have one of your own. *takes a deep breath and ends answer*
14. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Please pick up a copy of Strings and take a look. While it’s a kid’s book, it’s also not. I would imagine a lot of adults now might feel some of what Mary is feeling and enjoy her adventure. And if you do, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Not only is It a huge boost when you read about someone loving the story you have told but reviews are the life blood of a self-published author and essential if new readers are to discover our work.

Please join me in thanking Christopher for the insight into his publication journey and for sharing his more general writing experiences. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Christopher via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out his work on Amazon:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1981099468

Social media contacts:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisGalvin1981
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stringsbook/

Previous publications:
http://www.fishamble.com/fishamble-diaries/playsonatrain-my-lovely-molly-by-christopher-galvin