Monday, October 22, 2012

"I Didn't Expect to Ever Be Published"

My Brazilian publisher, Novo Conceito, was kind enough to run a Q&A with me on their blog. In case you don't speak Portuguese, here's the interview in English:

This is your first novel. What was the inspiration to begin your career as author?
I fell in love with reading at a very early age. I think most readers at some point try their hand at writing, usually out of a desire to recreate the story that gave them the most pleasure. That’s how I started writing. I imagined that I would become a novelist some day, but after college, real life intervened and I ended up going to work in intelligence—that’s right, I went to work for CIA, among other intelligence agencies. I thought I’d only stay a few years and then return to writing fiction, but I ended up enjoying my career and stayed a long time. I stopped writing fiction until a few years ago when I felt the urge to start up again. I hadn’t written fiction for about 15 years at that point, and it was very difficult to write stories again, kind of like deciding one day that I was going to run a marathon after spending a decade lying on the couch eating potato chips.
How was the process of creation?
It took ten years to write Ladrao de Almas. It started with a short story I had written in my twenties. It was a haunting story about a young man who toys with a woman and breaks her heart, and then is cursed to spend eternity making up for his ruining her life. I’d always wondered what happened to the characters—whom readers of Ladrao de Almas will recognize as Jonathan and Lanore—and decided to pick up where the short story left off.

When I went back to writing fiction, I took it very seriously. I went to graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in writing, went to writers’ conferences and, of course, read like a fiend. Even with a full-time job and busy life, I made time to write every day. By then, I had fallen in love with the characters and even though I didn’t expect to ever be published, I wanted to see if I could tell their story, in all its complexity.    

"The Taker" has gothic and supernatural nuances. What else can readers expect from the first book of the trilogy?
It’s the story of a young woman, Lanore, growing up in an isolated village in Maine in the 1800s. She falls in love with a young man, Jonathan. He’s the eldest son of the family that owns the town: he’s wealthy and, more than that, he’s preternaturally, irresistibly beautiful. She knows that if she gives her heart to him, she’s in for nothing but heartache, but she can’t help herself. Lanore becomes pregnant by Jonathan and is sent by her family to Boston to have the baby in secret, but Lanore runs away and ends up being taken in by Adair, a mysterious man with otherworldly powers. He has the power to grant eternal life—but there’s a catch. You can live forever, but you will be bound to the person who has made you immortal, and only that person can break the spell. Only the person who gave you eternal life can take it away from you.

Now bound to Adair, Lanore decides to use this power to keep Jonathan with her forever. It’s not until she’s done this that she realizes she’s made a terrible mistake: they are now both tethered to Adair, who is much more dangerous and ruthless than she imagined, and it’s up to her to save them both from an eternity of torment.

Is there any news about the second book that you could tell to the brazilian fans?
The Reckoning, the second book in the trilogy, picks up where Ladrao de Almas left off, with Lanore trying to make put her past behind her and find true love with a new man, only to have Adair resurface, intent on revenge and as powerful as ever. As desperate as Lanore is to evade Adair, she is a changed woman and realizes she may have to sacrifice her own happiness to safeguard the people she cares about: she now knows the true meaning of love. The second book is full of surprises, too, and many of the characters from Ladrao de Almas return—including one you may not have expected!

Are there plans to visit Brazil?
I have not yet been to Brazil but would love to visit! It seems everyone who goes to Brazil falls in love with the country and the people. I hear Brazilians are best in the world at having fun. Plus, I’m half Portuguese and half Japanese, so I’m imagining that Brazil will be an especially good fit for me. What do readers suggest? What are the most-see places to visit?
What message would you leave for new authors?

The real fun is in the journey, not the destination. If you don’t love what you’re working on and don’t want to spend every spare minute with it, if it doesn’t excite you and challenge you, then chances are you’re not working on the right story. 

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