author of the HIGH TREASON and DOGMA, A RED DOOR, AND A BIRTHDAY
1.Tell us a bit about yourself – something that we will not find in the official author’s bio?
Everybody likes Haruki Murakami, but, how many like them because of the inclusion of his musical knowledge and taste into his novels? I love him because he does magical realism as good as any of the original members of the Latin American Boom, but very especially because he’s a music lover like I am and always includes music in his novel. I’ve been learning classical/Spanish guitar for over 15 years.
For example, I the novel you will be publishing this summer I included the song Charlotte Sometimes of The Cure. The song fit perfectly the narrative and the main character, who by the way, turned out to be an opinionated music snob, like those guys from the film High Fidelity; or me…
2. Do you remember what was your first story (article, essay, or poem) about and when did you write it?
The first writing I ever did was a collection of poems, although it you read it now you would realize none of them were any good, or even a poem! At that time I was deep into Romanticism, things like Goethe’s Werther, Victor Hugo, etc.
3. What is the title of your latest book and what inspired it?
The tittle is Dogma, A Red Door and A Birthday. It is scheduled to be published with Adelaide Books this upcoming Summer. I wanted to write female characters and was looking for a good story. This particular morning, while listening to National Public radio, I heard about forced marriage in the United States. I knew of some forms of forced marriage but didn’t know how pervasive the problem was domestically or that it extended well-beyond certain religions and sects. I began to do research, including interviews with people working for non-profits addressing the issue. During one of those interviews I learned the story of this particular woman, which was an inspiration for the novel.
4. How long did it take you to write your latest work and how fast do you write (how many words daily)?
It took me about two and a half years. Since I work as a maxillofacial prosthodontist and have two children and wife, I can’t write every day. Plus, sometimes, even if I have the time, I can’t write at all; at times I have no mojo. Sometimes I sit and write for four hours, sometimes 30 min. it varies a lot, but I do write at least 3-4 days a week.
5. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Yes. I map my stories before I begin writing them in a large poster, as if it was a road and I was giving directions to somebody. It gets messy and rarely I remain faithful to it, but it helps me stay organize.
6. Is writing the only form of artistic expression that you utilize, or is there more to your creativity than just writing?
As I said, I play guitar, although I don’t have the level say I can express with the instrument. I am playing somebody else’s music and doing it so in a fairly mechanical way. My profession does have a degree of art. I make facial and dental prostheses. I have to sculpt wax, select colors, deal with form, etc.
7. Authors and books that have influenced your writings?
I love existentialism, Magical Realism, Confessional Literature, novels that explore a social or a historical issue, as well as books that seem simple but have a deeper meaning, like Platero And I.
Jorge Luis Borges by far as #1. Haruki Murakami, Dominique La Pierre & Larry Collins, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Sandor Marai, Patrick Suskind, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Penelope Farmer, Fernando Aramburu, Rómulo Gallegos, and among the classics; Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Agatha Christie, Balzac… so many great writers. I’m sure you ask me tomorrow and the list is different except for Borges.
8. What are you working on right now? Anything new cooking in the wordsmith’s kitchen?
I have a magical realistic novel that I actually finished before Dogma, but that it isn’t published yet. It is about people dreaming each other during different pivotal periods of human history. Each of them is dealing with terrible tragedies and choosing to immigrate. There is a lot of Borges there, as well as historical fiction.
Currently I am writing a novel regarding the Venezuelan immigration experience in the U.S. It is based on a true story and it touches not just the Venezuelan crisis but also Trump’s immigration policies.
9. We recently re-edited your novel High Treason, which was about the beginning of Chavismo; about the origins of the current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Can one say this new novel is part High treason Part 2?
I Guess you could in the sense that in the new novel I’m showing the consequence of what was described in High Treason, although none of the characters from High treason are in this novel. High Treason was very emotional for me to write, and I think it shows in the writing. As you know, critics rated it highly. But I don’t care for sequels, trilogies, etc. They may be sisters, but each child is different.
10. Did you ever think about the profile of your readers? What do you think – who reads and who should read your books?
People older than 25 because only then they can probably relate to some of my usual characters. People who enjoy historical and social issues that are explore trough character emotion, with serious research behind it but that in terms of pace it isn’t heavy literary fiction either. My novels typically have symbols, a deeper meaning and they reveal more than just pure entertainment.
11. Do you have any advice for new writers/authors?
Become observant of human nature. Even the tiniest situation can be the source of a great story.
12. What is the best advice (about writing) you have ever heard?
13. How many books you read annually and what are you reading now? What is your favorite literary genre?
I read about twenty nooks a year. Currently I am reading a novel in Spanish by Arturo Uslar Pietri, a Venezuelan recipient of the Principe de Asturias Prize who became famous as he coined the term Magical Realism in literature. It is a book about John of Austria.
I don’t have a favorite genre. It’s easier to say that I don’t ever read Fantasy, or Erotica. I extremely rarely read Horror or Science Fiction.
14. What do you deem the most relevant about your writing? What is the most important to be remembered by readers?
I promise I’ll make them think. They may like or dislike the novel, or even my writing, but at the end of it, the subject will stay with them for some time.
15. What is your opinion about the publishing industry today and about the ways authors can best fit into the new trends?
Like music, the publishing industry struggles with the economics and especially with the immediate satisfaction the public at large tends to prefer. This results in certain homogenization that isn’t great for nurturing quality. That means it is very difficult even for a great author to be signed or even noticed by a big publisher. Smaller publishers are a bit more accessible and tend to take more risk in the content, but many of them struggle to deliver enough support for a novel to be noticed. I think the only thing authors can do is to write the best they can and do so with their heart, as well as to be as participant and cooperative with their publishers as they can.