Interviews with the Author for
Q and A with Billy
When did you become interested in storytelling?
As a young boy I was taken care of by my paternal grandmother and she would tell me about her past. She never just remembered. She would turn whatever it was she was telling me about into a story. Not having much of a past of my own, I began to make up stories to tell her and she would ask questions to help me fill in the blanks. That’s when I discovered how fun and fulfilling it was to be a storyteller.
What was your first book/story published?
Because I started out as a playwright, my first story published was actually a play called, And Jill Came Tumbling After.
What inspired you to write The Reminisce?
Talking to a doctor once at a party. She specialized in Alzheimer’s and we had a very interesting chat about accessing memories. I became fascinated with the (simplistic, because there’s so much more to it) idea that the disease moves backwards, taking away the most current memories until there’s nothing left to recall.
What character in The Reminisce is the most/least like you, and in what ways?
That would have to be Araceli, the girlfriend of the main character’s sister. She's curious and is always willing to explore the unusual, even if she doesn’t quite understand or believe in it.
What is your favorite part in The Reminisce?
The ending. Can’t say why or I would give too much away.
What was the hardest part to write?
What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?
A film editor.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
I actually have my husband read them first. If they’re good, he’ll read aloud. If they’re not so good, he’ll summarize. They don’t influence my writing at all. You can’t please everyone.
What well-known writers do you admire most?
Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Tad Williams, Anne Rice, and a whole slew of not so well-known writers.
Do you have any other books/stories in the works?
I do. I’ve got three: one that I’m currently working on the first draft and two others that are stewing in my head.
Q and A with Roxanne
What inspired you to become an author?
My love of stories. Seeing worlds created, be they in books or on the screen, was so fascinating to me that I wanted to do that myself.
Do you write in different genres?
If yes which is your favorite genre to write?
Fantasy, but then again, all of my books have a fantastical element about them.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
When you remember something it’s just that, a memory. But reminiscing is a narration of the past told to yourself or to someone else.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
Most often I have it from the start, but sometimes it will change as I’m writing when the story itself changes.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true-life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
Although the town of Coronado, New Mexico is fictional, I grew up in Albuquerque so much of it is based on the surrounding small towns. Oh, and I was once in a jewelry store when it was robbed.
What book are you reading now?
Fifty Feet of Trouble by Justin Robinson
What books are in your to read pile?
Slade House by David Mitchell & the Southern Reach series by Jeff Vandermeer
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I’m working on a “bridge” between my nine-part series The Lizard Queen and what comes next.
Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?
Actually two songs play a big role in The Reminisce, Benny Goodman’s version of “Somebody is Taking My Place” and “Green Onions” by Booker T and the McGs
A Question From Linda
What about this book makes it special?
That’s a loaded question for sure. My first instinct is to say, “Because all my books are special.” But I don’t think that’s the sort of answer that provides you any insight into the book (although it does give a glimpse of my penchant for smartass-ery). The actual answer is that, although on the surface The Reminisce is a tale about a man in his thirties being drawn into the memories of a woman in her nineties, it is also a story of a brother and a sister and the love that they share.
Curtis Aisling is not what you’d call driven. In fact, he has a knack for skating through life, even though he doesn’t think of it that way. Conversely, his older sister Dia Castillo (they have different fathers) has always been determined and has never relied on anyone but herself to get through the twists and turns of life. Up until the events that take place in the book both outlooks have served the siblings fairly well. For Curtis, however, luck comes to an abrupt end when his fiancée calls off the engagement and kicks him out of the house. That’s how he finds himself back in his home state of New Mexico, visiting his sister and her girlfriend, who are the caretakers for the richest lady in town. His arrival also alters the daily life that Dia has carefully cultivated.
Being a sibling—half-, step-, or whole—is an exercise juggling the feelings of love, hate, jealousy, exasperation, admiration, and that familial bond, that shared experience that only people who have grown up in the same household can have. And of course there is the placement within the family. The younger sibling always seems to get away with things the older sibling never could. That’s how it is for Curtis and Dia. They grew up in a home run by a (most of the time) single mother and are a few years apart. Dia, as the elder child, has an entirely different perspective than her baby brother on what growing up together meant. She likes to think that she has a clearer view of Curtis than he seems to have of himself, while Curtis believes that her vision is tinged by the past that he had no control over. They are both absolutely wrong and absolutely right, leaving them to face who they were then, who they are now, and how it makes them different but not separate. Or, as their mother might say, “All my children are special.”
Interviews with the Author for
The Lizard Queen Series
Q & A with Charlene Davies
Have you been writing for a long time?
Yes. I’ve been exploring storytelling since I was really young. I’ve delved into several mediums to do so over the years, playwriting in particular, but I’ve discovered that novel writing is my favorite platform to deliver my stories.
What inspired you to start a writing career?
I wanted to bring my imagination to life. Characters and stories rattled around my brain and I needed a way to get them out and let them breathe.
Is the Lizard Queen series complete, or are you planning more parts?
The nine-part Lizard Queen is complete. That’s not to say, however, I don’t have more stories to tell about what comes after…
Why did you choose this genre?
Fantasy has always fascinated me because it’s a genre where you can let your imagination go wild. Of course, you need to tame it from time to time, but it’s freedom in the sense of being able to create your own world.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write. Stop putting it off. Don’t go back to work on what you’ve already done until it’s finished. Take lots of notes, so you’ll remember what changes you need to make once you’ve completed what you set out to do. And, most importantly, believe in yourself.
Q & A with Solafide
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico but I’ve lived in California longer than I lived in my home state so I definitely think of myself as a hybrid. I have a BFA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from UCLA. Over the years I’ve worked a myriad of jobs, none of which were related to what I really wanted to do—write!
Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I think I’ve always considered myself a storyteller. Even before I could write I was entertaining my grandmother with stories I’d make up involving the dozens of figurines she collected. In high school I joined the drama club and that opened me up to another way to tell stories and I began to write short plays. Eventually that led to being accepted in the playwriting program at UCLA. Jump ahead several years and I needed to find another way to tell longer stories so I moved into writing novels, which I’ve come to learn is my favorite storytelling platform.
Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I’ll start with E.B. White because Charlotte’s Web was the first book I’d ever read more than once. That story still resonates with me all these years later because of it redefined what family and friendship meant. Other authors that have influenced me would be Gabriel Garcia Márquez who introduced me to Magic Realism, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and Gregory McGuire for their storytelling techniques, imaginations, and world-building.
What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
I am so fortunate in that I can write full-time. I seldom write on the weekend because that’s family time, so my typical weekday is going to the gym (or at least considering it) and then sitting down (actually standing up – sitting too long is supposed to be bad for you so my desk is actually my kitchen counter) to write or edit or both. I dress as if I’m going to an office because I think of writing as being my job and I take it seriously. Writing in my bathrobe and slippers wouldn’t put me in that headspace. I typically write from about 10am to 5pm with a short lunch break. Sometimes it lasts longer if I’m on a roll, or if I’ve been editing and I need to apply the changes I’ve made on the hard copy to the word file.
How did you come up with the idea for your series?
The Lizard Queen Series is a story within a story. The books that Amy (the protagonist) and company are searching for are actually short stories that I wrote years ago while working my last full time job. I hadn’t been writing for awhile and was desperate for a creative outlet, so at lunch I sat at my desk and wrote out tales that had been with me since I was a child. When I set out to write Amy’s story I used those tales as a launch pad.
What do you think sets your series apart from others current on the shelves?
I would have to say having a forty-year-old female lead character in a fantasy setting is what sets it apart the most. Also, it’s not a typical fantasy setting. No dragons or wizards.
Which character in your series is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
My favorite character would have to be Amy. But like a good parent, I love all my characters, even the less-than-lovable ones. There are bits and pieces of me throughout the main characters but I try very hard to let them be who they are without too much influence on my part. They surprise me because often they have qualities that I wish I had.
Which scenes in your series did you have the most fun writing?
There are many, but I think I’d have to say the ending. Once I figured out how to conclude a nine book series it was fun to bring my characters full circle. It was also sad because I’d been with them for so long I didn’t want to let go!
What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your series?
That they enjoyed it so much they want to go back and read it all over again. That’s actually one of my favorite things to do with books (movies, as well) because you find aspects you’d missed the first time around.
What are your hopes for this series?
I hope that people want to go along for the journey. Any series is a commitment, so I always appreciate whenever someone is willing to take it on.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently working on a new stand-alone novel that I hope to have out sometime next year. After that I may return to fantasy writing. I’ve got this idea about what happens next…