Friday, June 6, 2014

Blog Tour (Interview): The Luthier's Apprencice by Mayra Calvani

My stop in this tour is an interview with author Mayra Calvani. Read along for an awesome mix of randomness & an author's journey to publication:


Me: Hello Mayra. Here's a morning question: How do you take your coffee?

Mayra: Hi yourself! With milk, no sugar. Sometimes, with Splenda.

Me: No sugar? Brave girl. Where would a person find you usually?

Mayra: Sitting at my desk working.
Me: The desk, of course. How did your life as a writer begin?
Mayra: I’ve been writing and creating worlds for most of my life, since I was about 12. In secondary school I wrote stories and plays. At 16, I wrote a romance novel which was secretly passed around in class. By 20, writing was already a passion, an obsession. I saw myself doing no other thing than becoming an author.
Me: Oooh! The ultimate dream come true! I like it! How did you come with the idea for your current story?
Mayra: I studied/played the violin for 5 years, and my daughter has been playing it for 8 years, so violin music has been a big part of my life for a long time. There’s something darkly mysterious about the violin, and I’m in awe of soloists who have the skill to master it. (Me too!) The making of the violin itself is fascinating to me as well. And, of course, I also love listening to violin music whenever I can. Naturally, violin music has been very influential in my writing. I just find it immensely inspiring. Besides The Luthier’s Apprentice, I have also written several children’s picture books related to the violin. Readers can learn about them here: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.
Me: My dad didn't let me play the violin when I wanted to. He signed me up for guitar lessons instead. I'm totally jealous of you now. Anyway, tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat on your pants type of a writer?
Mayra: It may start with an image, a character, a name, a title. There are no rules, and it’s never the same with every book. Sometimes a single image simmers in my mind for years before it becomes the spark for a story.
Then I mentally play with ideas and the thing that was just an image begins to expand into a web. Simple at first. Then more intricate as I spend more and more time thinking about it. And I think about it. A lot. While driving, walking, taking a shower, doing housework, etc–routine, monotone activities, which are great for creativity. Once I can’t stop thinking about it, once I become obsessed, that’s when I know I’m ready to start jotting down words and sketching a rough plot.
Nowadays, I like to begin ‘discovering’ the story using Alan Watt’s “Unlock the Story Within” techniques. Once I have a more solid idea of the characters and where I want to go with them, my plotting gets tighter and more detailed, but never at the expense of staying flexible and open to change. In fact, what I love most about the writing process are those surprises that I never saw coming.

For plotting, I love Alexandra Sokoloff’s method and Carol Hughes’ Deep Story method.
Then, after some anxious procrastination, I try to put my ego aside and sit down and face the blank page. That is never easy. In fact, it is terrifying. Every time. But the need and passion to create is greater, I guess, because finally I just do it.
The plot keeps evolving as I write. I adjust and change things as needed.
I may write like the wind at times, but those moments are rare. Usually, I edit as I write, which slows down my writing process considerably–not to mention that it prevents me from getting in “the zone.”
In the case of The Luthier’s Apprentice, however, I completed the first draft in four weeks during Nanowrimo 2007. At that time, it was an experiment. I hadn’t participated in Nanowrimo before. It was an exciting, exhilarating experience, but I knew the manuscript needed a lot of editing and polishing, so I put it aside for a long time. Then I worked on it on and off as I worked on other projects. That’s why it took so long to publish it.
I didn’t plot in advance. I didn’t know what would happen on the next page. I discovered the story and characters as I wrote. Or rather, I let the characters take charge and guide me. Looking back, this was incredibly daring. I don’t work this way now. But, as I said, it was an experiment to shut down my inner critic and it was an exciting challenge.
Me: Sounds like it could be quite random. What is your usual writing routine?

Mayra: Rituals and habits work for me. I write best in the mornings. (With coffee, I presume.) Unless life gets in the way, I’m at my desk Monday-Friday from 9:30 am to noon. I put my timer and go. There’s something about the timer that works for me, as if somehow I’m tricking my brain. Sometimes I listen to an eerie movie soundtrack (for my current YA WIP, I often listen to Interview with a Vampire, among others); other times I need complete silence.
Slow but steady. This pretty much describes my progress.
Me: Interview with a Vampire for background music? You continue to amaze me! Can you list five books that inspire you?Mayra: Sure:

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
The Stranger, by Albert Camus
Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
Lives of the Twins, by Joyce Carol Oates (under Rosamond Smith)

Me: Tell us about your favorite book character.

Mayra: I love Anne Rice’s Lestat. He’s very real.

Me: Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?

Mayra: Anne Rice. I’ve been her fan for years and she’s been influential in my writing. She’s a wonderful writer and a fascinating human being. That doesn’t mean I love all of her books, though.

Me: Uh-uhm. I didn't see that one at all. :) Do you like fruit? Any fruit you can't live without?

Mayra: Berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries.

Me: Keep on talking! Blackberries, etc. etc. You're like my long lost twin! What are you wearing right at this moment?

Mayra: Pajamas!

Me: No way! What do you think is the most important thing in life?

Mayra: Being together with the people I love, and seeing them happy and healthy.

Me: Couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you Mayra for this incredible interview! I wish you all the best!



About THE LUTHIER’S APPRENTICE: Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…  

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.
 

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini? 
 

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. 
 And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…

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About Mayra Calvani: Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

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