I don’t typically do book haul posts, but this week’s book-buying activity calls for an exception! I stumbled across Amazon’s 3-for-2 book sale purely by accident. (Sneaky Amazon — I didn’t see an actual promotion for the sale, but came across it while looking up a book that happened to be included).
I started small — just 3 books added to my cart. But then I saw more that I wanted… and more… and more. Some of these books have been on my wish list for quite some time, some are new releases that caught my eye, and some are books that I’d read as either e-books or library books, but really wanted my own copies.
I think I’m in serious need of a book buying ban from here on out (but who am I kidding? that’ll never happen!).
So, for those counting, that’s 20 new books! I believe there were six sets of 3 for the price of 2, plus one set of buy one, get one 50% off. My credit card is very tired now.
As you can see, I got a mix of contemporary, sci fi, fantasy, romance, and even a couple of non-fiction new releases.
Here’s a closer look at the covers of all my new preciouses:
Earlier this month, I read and reviewed The Children of Red Peak, the disturbing, haunting, and utterly terrific new novel by author Craig DiLouie.
The author has kindly agreed to answer some questions, which I so appreciate! So without further ado, please enjoy these fascinating responses.
Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started?
Thanks for having me as a guest, Lisa! I grew up on a small farm outside a small town in New Jersey. It was a great place to grow up but awfully boring. During my teen years, I discovered Robert E. Howard and fell in love. Though he’s best known as the creator of Conan, he wrote short pulp fiction in a number of genres back in the ‘30s. For me, it was the perfect escape. After a while, I caught fire with the idea that I could not only visit these worlds, I could create them. From that day on, I wanted to write. While most of my career has in been in writing—journalism and education in the electrical industry—it’s only in the past 10-15 years or so that my fiction writing career has really taken off. While it’s taken me so long to get where I am, I’ve gone so much farther than I ever dreamed. It’s been a gratifying and humbling journey.
Can you describe your path to getting published?
Well, I started back in the ‘90s. Back then, writers faced a Catch 22. The best way to get your work published was to already be published, which is still true today, though you now have more options for publication. I felt like a character in a Kafka novel, given a lavish invitation to a party I’d never actually be allowed to attend. In the early ‘00s, I lucked out selling a psychological thriller direct to a small press, which led to two more books getting published with them. One of these was Tooth and Nail, a zombie book I wrote on a lark. Sales exploded, a matter of having the right book at the right place at the right time. Its success led to two more zombie books, an agent, and finally publication of four books with Simon & Schuster and my current publishing home, Hachette. Along the way, I discovered a model for self-publishing that’s been a lot of fun and keeps me incredibly busy as a separate venture.
What are your favorite genres to read?
I tend to read the kind of thing I’m writing at the time, so I’ve been reading a lot of horror lately. That being said, I recently fell in love with Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles, a fantastic retelling of Arthurian legend I highly recommend, and his Saxon Chronicles, which was adapted for Netflix as The Last Kingdom.
Do you have certain books that you’ve read over and over?
A few, and these are the books that stay on my bookshelf, while I tend to give the rest away to people I think will enjoy them. 1984, Blood Meridian, The Road, The Iron Heel, The Killer Angels, and The Handmaid’s Tale come to mind, among others.
Who are your favorite writers? Are there particular writers who’ve inspired your own writing?
This is a great question but one that’s a bit complicated for me to answer, as I love writers in different ways depending on whether I’m thinking about them as a writer or a reader. As a writer, I admire people like Jonathan Maberry, Josh Malerman, Peter Clines, David Moody, and many others who exemplify how to do great in their art and profession, handle success with grace, and remain generous and kind to colleagues. Then there are authors I admire as a writer simply for things they’ve taught me through their fiction—Jack Ketchum to not be timid when it comes to pushing boundaries, John Skipp for so perfectly finding the subtle comedy in horror, Michael Shaara for the well-placed, evocative adjective, and so on. As a reader, I probably most admire writers like Naomi Alderman and Claire North who can come up with brilliant concepts that challenge me and make me think.
What would you most want new readers to know about you?
Another great question. I guess I’d want them to know that with each novel I write, I try my absolute hardest to give them a few hours of escape into a realistic world where ordinary people they can care about will undergo extraordinary challenges, and that after they close the covers they will be invited to reflect on interesting themes. Fiction is very YMMV, so if I don’t succeed with every reader, I’d want them to know I cared and that I worked my heart out trying.
What made you decide to focus on cults in The Children of Red Peak?
The Children of Red Peak is a psychological thriller with elements of cosmic horror. The story is about a group of people who grew up and survived the horrific last days of a religious group that devolved into a cult. When one of them commits suicide, the remaining survivors come together to confront their past and the entity that appeared on the final night. It’s told in two timelines, one where we see them as kids growing up in a group and how everything goes wrong, and the other years later where they’re adults coping with trauma and ultimately trying to find closure on the tragedy by returning to Red Peak.
I picked cults because, well, they’re fascinating and mysterious. I wanted to show the only difference between a cult and any religious or similar belief group is in the level of harm. Thematically, I wanted to explore belief as a basic human trait—one could argue it’s actually a survival trait—and show how it can produce great moral achievements and happiness but also some of the world’s worst evil. The difference between a happy religious community and a hellish cult is a slippery slope as one can logically lead to the other. For me, that was fertile ground for horror and an opportunity to explore challenging ideas.
Otherwise, I was inspired by a reading of Genesis. God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac to a mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Abraham does this only to be stopped by God at the last moment. I wondered: What would that story be like if told from Isaac’s point of view?
What kind of research did you do?
I always do a ton of research for my books to ground the story and make its world as realistic as possible. In The Children of Red Peak, I made an even bigger effort as the survivors all have professions that relate to the ways in which they cope with the trauma they still carry with them so many years later. Beth is a psychologist specializing in trauma, which required a great deal of study to get right. Deacon is a musician who purges his despair onstage, which required a deep dive into the life of an indie rock band. And David is a cult exit counselor, which allowed me to study and present cults from a more scientific point of view. The result is a lot of challenging and intriguing information that enriches the narrative.
The depiction of the Family of the Living Spirit in their original setting seems mostly peaceful and positive, yet it was scarily easy for them to shift to a doomsday mentality. How does this relate to real cults that you’ve researched?
Yes, that’s where the real horror in the novel is buried—in how easily and quickly this isolated, relatively happy, devout religious community goes to hell on their slippery slope of good intentions. They believe God is constantly interceding in their lives and will end the world soon. As the author, I treated them and their beliefs respectfully but took them seriously at their word, that they really believed what they believed with all their heart. Then an authority figure in their lives comes forward and says yes, God talked to me, he’s waiting for us on a mountain, and we’ll be severely tested when we get there so that only the worthy can ascend. Of course, most of them are going to go, and when Heaven is the reward, what wouldn’t you do to get there?
This was a fascinating product of my research. I was far less interested in trying to recreate the Manson Family or the Peoples Temple or Heaven’s Gate and far more interested in exploring the psychology of why somebody gets into a group like this and how it can all go wrong. The product, again, is great horror, but the main horror doesn’t come from Red Peak but instead from within the human spirit, its yearning for meaning and life after death and its potential to be misled.
I was so distressed by the characters’ lives and traumas in The Children of Red Peak, and I remember feeling really moved by the characters in your other books as well. What’s the key to bringing your characters to life?
For The Children of Red Peak, producing the characters was challenging as I wanted them to start as children with basic personality traits that as adults have run amok as coping mechanisms, give them professions that reinforced and allowed them to act out these mechanisms, and then give them a very difficult choice when they return to Red Peak. This process started with a basic need for the character, and I went from there. So for David, he starts out as this kid who’s dragged across several state lines to live in an isolated community that’s very alien to him. The first thing he does when he gets there is hide. Once I pinned him as somebody who hides, I knew everything about him as a kid, adult, what job he’d have, even how he takes his coffee. By going right to the core of the character—what they want, what they need, their flaw or misbelief, and the wound that created the flaw—I have everything I need to create a living, breathing person on the page. By the end of the book, the characters really did take on a life of their own, and more often than not, they surprised me by telling me what they wanted to do and say next. I really came to love them, which is a hazard for writers of horror, a genre where you have to hurt your darlings.
I’ve been haunted by Our War ever since I read it, and the closer the 2020 election got, the more it was on my mind. Did you have our current political situation in mind when you wrote it? The scenarios in Our War seem terrifyingly possible to me. Did you mean the book to be a cautionary tale?
The book is absolutely a cautionary tale. When I wrote it, I saw the potential in growing polarization and tribalization in America to explode in civil unrest, violence, and possibly a far more catastrophic fracturing of the country. This is not new with our current president, it’s been in the works for decades. I could talk to you all day about this, so I’ll stop there before I dump an essay on you. I’ll just say I hope the novel stays fiction!
I know this is a terrible question to ask an author, but is there one particular book among all you’ve written that you’re especially proud of? One that feels most representative of your work as a whole?
I don’t mind the question at all, though my answer may sound like a bit of a cop out. First, I love all my books equally, though for different reasons—of course I would, right, as in a creative sense, they’re my children! But in the end, the work I’m most proud of is always my most recent. I say this because today I’m a better writer than I was a year ago, and not as good a writer as I’ll be next year. I’m constantly growing and learning as a writer, and I’m excited about what I’ll end up working on in the future.
Can you share anything about your next project? What can we look forward to in your future books?
I’ll be pitching some ideas to Hachette soon for my next big standalone novel. In the meantime, I’m working on a new self-published series about a carrier pilot in WW2 I hope to roll out by mid 2021. These stories are simple, fresh, fun dime novels and serve as a sort of palate cleanser for me between the bigger, more emotionally intensive novels.
Thank you, Craig DiLouie! I can’t wait to read your next books! Thank you for taking the time to provide such fascinating answers to my questions.
Craig DiLouie is an American-Canadian author of speculative fiction with notable works including Our War, One of Us, Suffer the Children, The Infection, and the Crash Dive series. His most recently work is The Children of Red Peak, now available from Hachette’s Redhook imprint. Learn more at www.CraigDiLouie.com.
With an overflowing bucketful of gratitude to Amy Stewart… I was beyond delighted today to get home from a fairly high stress day of work to find a lovely package of goodies waiting for me!
I’ve signed up for the Kopp Sisters Literary Society, and received this amazing swag, including first and foremost, an ARC of the soon-to-be released Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit. I adore the Kopp Sisters books, which feature some truly awesome female characters based on the historical Constance Kopp and her fierce, funny sisters.
Also in the package, I also found a handful of bookmarks (which I’m ready to share — see the bottom of this post!), a Lady Cop Makes Trouble pencil, a recipe card for “The Midnight” (a signature cocktail), and and introductory letter. Last but not least, the ARC is signed!
Not just by the author, but also by Sheriff Heath, who just happens to be my favorite non-Kopp-sister character in the books, and also a historical figure.
Enough gushing! What’s this book all about, and when will it be released? Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:
Trailblazing Constance’s hard-won job as deputy sheriff is on the line in Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, the fourth installment of Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series.
After a year on the job, New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff has collared criminals, demanded justice for wronged women, and gained notoriety nationwide for her exploits. But on one stormy night, everything falls apart.
While transporting a woman to an insane asylum, Deputy Kopp discovers something deeply troubling about her story. Before she can investigate, another inmate bound for the asylum breaks free and tries to escape.
In both cases, Constance runs instinctively toward justice. But the fall of 1916 is a high-stakes election year, and any move she makes could jeopardize Sheriff Heath’s future–and her own. Although Constance is not on the ballot, her controversial career makes her the target of political attacks.
With wit and verve, book-club favorite Amy Stewart brilliantly conjures the life and times of the real Constance Kopp to give us this “unforgettable, not-to-be messed-with heroine” (Marie Claire) under fire in Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit.
The publication date is September 11, 2018. Are you ready?
A quick reader’s note: I’m dying to dive in RIGHT NOW… but have a book club book and a nearly-overdue library book to finish first. But keep an eye out, because I plan to read the newest Miss Kopp adventure the second I’m clear of my bookish obligations, and I’ll post a review as soon as I’m done.
Meanwhile, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the Kopp sisters yet, I recommend starting at the beginning of the series. Need convincing? Check out my reviews:
PS – The audiobooks are excellent! I adore the narration by Christina Moore, whose voices for Constance, Norma, Fleurette, and Sheriff Heath are just so distinct and full of personality. If you like to read with your ears, these audiobooks are really a treat!
PPS – Ask and ye shall receive! I’ll mail a Kopp Sisters bookmark to the first three people who ask! Be sure to tell me which of the Kopp Sisters books you’ve read and which are on your TBR pile… or if you haven’t read any yet, just assure me that you plan to start!
In 2017, I finally lived up to one of my long-time goals and read Great Expectations… and I loved it!
And so, in 2018, I’d like to continue my blossoming friendship with Mr. Dickens, and I need some advice. So far, the only Dickens I’ve read are Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (one of my all-time favorite books). And while I haven’t actually read A Christmas Carol, I’ve seen enough stage and screen adaptations to make me feel like I know it well enough and don’t need to spend any more time on it.
Here’s where you come in. I’m looking for recommendations:
What’s your favorite Dickens book? What do you think I should tackle next?
Leave a comment with the title of the book you’re recommending, and — very important — tell me why you recommend it.
As a thank you, in addition to my eternal gratitude, anyone who leaves me a comment with a suggestion will be in the running for a small prize — so don’t be shy!
We readers are an opinionated bunch. Now’s your chance to tell it like it is!
Susanna Kearsley shared this on Facebook today, and my heart skipped a beat!
This is the Canadian cover — US version still to come — but I’m just head over heels with the gorgeousness of it all. I love Susanna Kearsley’s books, and can’t wait to get my hands on Belleweather!
Here’s the synopsis, as shared on Facebook:
Some houses want to hold their secrets.
It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies held by Britain and France into the conflict.
When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply fractured by war. Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her family, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. Jean-Philippe de Sabran—a French Canadian lieutenant—has little desire to be there. But by war’s end, they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that aren’t easily broken.
Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island as curator of the Wilde House Museum. Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she delves into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not tell the whole story . . . or the whole truth.
The book is available now for preorder via Amazon Canada, with a release date of April 24th. Sadly, the US release isn’t until October 2nd, 2018. How will I wait that long?
How did I not know about this sooner? Elizabeth Wein, author of the beautiful, powerful Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, has a new book coming out in May! The Pearl Thief centers on a main character from Code Name Verity at an earlier point in her life:
When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.
Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.
Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.
In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.
Cat Winters, whose books I adore, has recently shared the cover and synopsis of her upcoming new release, Odd & True (to be released September 2017). Here’s the cover:
… and here’s the synopsis:
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.
If you read my blog from time to time, you may have noticed how often I seem to be reading a Kate Shugak novel. Kate Shugak, for those who don’t know, is the main character in an ongoing mystery series by Dana Stabenow. The series is currently 20 books strong, and the author is supposedly working on #21.
How did I get started with the Kate books? I honestly don’t know.
Perhaps I picked up the first one due to my obsession with Alaska.
Or maybe I picked up book #1 after seeing the series mentioned by Diana Gabaldon in her Methadone List.
Either way, something just clicked for me — and here I am a little over a year later, just wrapping up my read of book #10, Midnight Come Again.
I started the Kate Shugak series via audiobook, and enjoyed the first several volumes that way until I decided that I really wanted to gobble up the stories at a faster pace than the audiobooks allowed. Fortunately, my local library has kept the hard copies coming, so I was able to get the next book pretty much as soon as I put down the last.
The first book in the series, A Cold Day For Murder, was published in 1992. I listened to it in March 2015, and here’s what I had to say about it at the time, according to my Goodreads review:
I just finished the audio version of this book, and truly enjoyed it. A murder mystery set in the Alaska Bush, A Cold Day for Murder includes offbeat characters, gorgeous settings, politics, greed, snowmobiles, mines, shotguns, roadhouses, and so much more. The audiobook narrator does a great job of giving the various characters distinct voices, and the whole story moves along at a fast pace with never a dull moment. Main character Kate Shugak is a tough-as-nails crime investigator with local roots, family and clan loyalties, and an unerring sense of justice and the ability to sniff out clues.
Highly recommended for mystery fans, as well as for anyone wanting a little taste of Alaska.
I continued onward, and grew to love Kate herself as well as the sprawling cast of supporting characters more and more with each book I read. Kate is a smart, tough loner, a damaged soul, and a woman committed to justice and truth. She lives alone on a homestead miles from anyone, within the borders of a fictitious national park in the Wrangell area of Alaska. After a brief career in the district attorney’s office in Anchorage investigating horrible crimes, Kate seeks solitude and quiet, with just her enormous companion Mutt — half wolf, half husky — at her side throughout the Alaskan winters.
Kate is also a member of a large Aleut family, and her relationship with her grandmother, the domineering and well-respected tribal leader, forms a major theme throughout the books. Kate continually gets pulled back into the world of crime investigation, and each book has Kate at the center of one crime or another, not always willingly.
Through Kate’s experiences, we travel the state, from the Park to the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea, to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay and the fishing harbors of Prince William Sound. Besides providing an up-close view of the natural wonders and man-made curiosities of Alaska, the books also weave into the story the ongoing corruption, political maneuvering, and favor trading that goes on behind the scenes. We get a crash course in Alaska politics and hot-button issues, like the exploitation of resources, the battle to keep tribal rights to subsistence fishing, the tourist and fishing industries’ impact on local economies, and so much more.
You can tell that my enthusiasm for Kate’s adventures stayed strong by reading my comments on book #4, A Cold-Blooded Business:
Another excellent addition to the Kate Shugak mystery series! Kate herself is a magnificent main character, tough as nails, ultra smart, and with a fierce love for her people and her land. In this book, Kate is hired to investigate drug dealing at the Prudhoe Bay oil facility, which means we get to see Kate outside of her comfort zone, in an entirely new setting, but still doing what she does best. It’s a surprisingly nuanced look at the impact of the oil industry in Alaska, as well as a terrific, dangerous adventure. Highly recommended!
What’s funny is that I’m not usually a mystery reader. In fact, while I generally enjoy the crime story in each of the Kate books, what truly draws me back over and over again is the people angle. I’ve just really fallen for Kate and the gang — Chopper Jim, Bobby Clark, and the rest of the folks living in and around Niniltna and hanging out at Bernie’s Roadhouse. And, as I mentioned, I’ve got this thing about Alaska. I’ve been for a few visits now, and can’t wait to go back… and meanwhile, the next best thing to being there is traveling there in a book!
Okay, but then I got to the 9th book, Hunter’s Moon, and I almost threw the damn thing across the room:
Damn you, Dana Stabenow! How could you do that? My heart is broken into a million teeny pieces right now. I love this series, but this one is just devastating. NOOOOO.
Ahem. That said, bring on the next book!
Not to be spoilery or anything, but man, that book just killed me. I won’t say why. Read it yourself and find out!
I couldn’t stop there, of course, so I continued on with #10, Midnight Come Again, which I finished (much) earlier today:
Appropriately, I finished Midnight Come Again just past midnight. It’s one of those books that is best read straight through, even if it means giving up a little sleep.
Midnight Come Again is an installment of the Kate Shugak series that’s hard to put down — less for the mystery than for the character development of Kate. The mystery is kind of “meh” in this book — Russian mafia, money laundering, involvement of FBI and state troopers. The personal side, though, is terrific.
Kate is dealing (not well) with the aftermath of the events from the previous book, Hunter’s Moon — and no, I won’t be forgiving Dana Stabenow for that any time soon! She’s a mess who’s shut down emotionally, living under a false name in the tiny town of Bering. When Jim Chopin — Chopper Jim — gets assigned undercover work in Bering, he’s instrumental in cracking Kate’s shell and helping her start her slow crawl back to life.
Kate is an amazing character, and she’s been through hell. I can’t wait for the next book, and plan to keep reading the Kate Shugak series until I’m all caught up!
Of course, I’m going to continue onward with #11 just as soon as my library hold request comes in. Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to have reached the halfway mark… and also, to have finally made it out of the 1990s! I have ten more books to go before I’ll be all caught up (#20, Bad Blood, was published in 2013). I’m not binge-reading or anything. I think of the Kate Shugak books as my reading comfort food (although the last two were about as far from comfort as I could imagine). I like to pick up a volume or two in between other things, both for the sake of getting a long-distance taste of Alaska and for the opportunity to check in with Kate.
Kate is one hell of a terrific character, and I’m invested in her life! I want that woman to be happy. Are you listening, Dana Stabenow? Ha, just kidding, don’t worry about me. A happy Kate probably wouldn’t have nearly as much drama in her life.
For those of you who’ve read further in the series — don’t tell me anything! For those who haven’t given the books a try yet, consider this my recommendation, yet again. The Kate Shugak books have heart, humor, drama, adventure, an amazing setting, and truly quirky and wonderful characters. Not to mention the odd grizzly bear.
Bundle up, light a fire, pour some hot cocoa, and curl up over at Kate’s homestead!
I’m absolutely thrilled to spotlight Destiny’s Plan, a brand new release and first novel by Victoria Saccenti. I’ve known Victoria through our online book club for a few years now, and I’m delighted that my friend is now a published author! Please join me in celebrating Destiny’s Plan!
When Raquelita Muro and Matthew Buchanan meet by chance on a Greyhound bus between Texas and Tallahassee, neither suspects Fate is about to take over.
Raquelita, a gentle girl under the heel of her abusive mother, finds this kind young man a miracle. Matthew, an idealistic young soldier, discovers this sweet-natured girl is an angel in need of a guardian. However, the next stop on Matthew’s journey is Fort Benning to report for deployment to Vietnam, while Raquelita’s destination is set at her mother’s whim. Regardless of the forces tearing them apart, they discover a way to secretly span the distance, to end up closer than ever. But Fate is rarely kind. The vagaries of war—and the unstable tempers of Raquelita’s mother—intervene, leaving both ill-fated lovers feeling there is no hope for their love.
Set in the turbulent era of the Vietnam War, Raquelita’s and Matthew’s story is one of love, loss, lost faith, shattered memories, deferred dreams and broken promises. Will Fate tear apart these two damaged souls, leaving them desperately alone forever, or will they finally overcome Fate, their bond stronger than they ever thought possible?
Victoria was gracious enough to answer some questions about her writing, her book, and her life:
Congratulations on the release of Destiny’s Plan! How do you feel, now that your book is out there in the world?
Hi Lisa, thank you for the good wishes and the wonderful opportunity to speak about my baby, Destiny’s Plan. Now that it’s published, I have an internal revolving door of emotions. Happiness, excitement, and trepidation are taking turns in and out.
What was your inspiration for this book?
I worked for an international airline for many years. During my travels I observed young servicemen, either in groups or alone, journeying back and forth on orders. More than once, I wondered about their lives, their loves, their fears, and their beliefs. The idea sprouted there.
Is this a personal story for you? How much of the characters’ lives represent your own experiences?
It is not personal, in the sense that I didn’t use anyone I know. For the rest, I suppose all writers inject into their stories topics and themes they’re familiar with. I grew up in a Spanish-Latin environment. I used that as a reference for the interaction and conflict between Raquelita and her mother, Isabel.
Why this particular time period? Is there something about the era that really speaks to you?
At the risk of sounding a bit schizophrenic, Matthew, a central character in the story, was pretty adamant. He demanded this time period.
Have you always wanted to write? This is your first novel — when did you realize that you needed to write it, and how did you get started?
I’ve been writing on and off for years. As a child, I wrote fairy stories to act out during playtime. When I was stationed in London, my letters were full of tales about the different regions I visited. I never thought I would go this far. Not until the night when Matthew popped into my head with his story from beginning to end. It was kismet <g> — here comes that theme again — because the next day a friend suggested I should write a book. Here we are today.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you? What’s your overall process?
After trial and error I realized, my best writing is in the morning. Initially, I tried to write late at night, after coming home from work. What a disaster. The next day I had to delete everything. I need sleep to see the images and scenes clearly. If I’m rested, I hear the characters better, the dialogue is crisper, and I have to be in my cave with the door locked. This doesn’t mean transmission ends when I stop writing. By now my husband recognizes the blank stare, when I’m connected to the other voices.
I know you went through a lot of ups and down on your path toward getting published. What words of advice or encouragement would you offer aspiring writers?
Neil Gaiman’s quote, “Write your story as it needs to be written” doesn’t always apply to the business/ money aspect. Nevertheless, writing is magical, so I say, hang in there, it takes patience, believe in your book, prepare for rejection, surround yourself with supportive friends – my friends kept me sane. If anyone decides to go Indie, hire a good editor—massive emphasis on the last bit. Despite the challenges, don’t give up on the dream. Persevere for the characters, they’ve sent out an invitation into their world, go with it.
Are you working on anything new yet? What will we see next from you?
I’m almost finished with Book 2 of the Destiny Series. Marité’s Choice should be ready to roll by spring of 2016. I also have in mind a spinoff story based on Richard, a surprisingly attractive character from Destiny’s Plan.
I know you’re a big reader – what are your favorite genres, authors, books? What do you consider the biggest influences on your writing?
I am an equal opportunity, avid reader. If it’s good, I’ll jump right in. I’m a total sucker for historical fiction. <g> In that genre, the incomparable Dorothy Dunnett sits way on top, she’s followed by Salvador de Madariaga, Anya Seton, and Diana Gabaldon. I also love magical realism, a la Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, and Laura Esquivel. I adore Tolkien, Frank Herbert’s Dune series, Ray Bradbury, and the list goes on. I only hope these outstanding writers left an imprint, however small, in me.
For someone picking up Destiny’s Plan for the first time, what would you want a reader to know?
Destiny’s Plan is a story about love in times of war, duty to one’s country, and spiritual growth. Expect a few twist and turns along the way.
If you had to use just five adjectives to describe Destiny’s Plan, what would they be?
You had to ask. <g> Epic, Romantic, Emotional, Entertaining, Powerful.
Please join me in wishing Victoria great success with Destiny’s Plan and the books yet to come!
A native of Cuba, Victoria loves writing generational sagas and romances with complex, emotional content. In Destiny’s Plan, the readers travel from stately San Antonio, to peaceful Central Florida, to the jungles of Vietnam, and to the hectic streets of New York during the turbulent 60’s. She is currently writing Book Two of the Destiny’s Series.