Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunstruck by Mayra Calvani: Interview : Bewitching Tour Stop



Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to satire 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. She has lived in America, Asia, the Middle East, and now lives in Brussels, Belgium.




A fun, quirky, beach summer read by Twilight Times Books!
Daniella is an architecture student living with her narcissistic artist boyfriend in San Juan. Abandoned by her father at an early age, Daniella always falls for the ‘wrong’ type of man. Her most enduring male relationship so far has been with her cat.
   
Several strange mysteries are threaded through Daniella’s everyday life: her ex-husband, Ismael, has just opened an outlandish hotel for animal lovers that has her distraught; Ismael’s wife, a rich woman Daniella fondly refers to as ‘Lady Dracula’, has some gruesome ways to keep her skin looking young; Daniella’s mother is founding a revolutionary, feminist society called The Praying Mantises; the island’s national forest is being depleted of hallucinogenic mushrooms; meanwhile, young girls are disappearing and there’s a nut loose dressed as Zorro slashing the rear ends of women who wear miniskirts.  

Oppressed by all these eccentric characters, Daniella feels herself falling into an abyss. Then something terrible happens, making Daniella wake from her stupor and take charge of her life.

Read an excerpt

From the author:

The conception of this book stemmed from two factors: my personal observations of Puerto Rican artists when I was a teen and my love for satiric writing. My mother was—and still is—an artist, and although she’s retired now, back in the early eighties she was an active painter in San Juan, showing her works at art exhibits and galleries regularly. She took me everywhere with her, so I attended all these shows and activities and I observed.
The art scene can be extremely interesting and that is because so many artists are eccentric, unconventional people. There’s so much competition, jealousy and gossip! I guess all these experiences must have made an impression on me. When the time came to write my book, I knew these were the people and situations I wanted to write about. I decided I would make the book a parody, this way I could keep it upbeat and have the freedom to exaggerate to the point of being ridiculous. I was sure an upbeat, sharp, satiric, darkly humorous style would be perfect for my novel.
Review snippets:

“Dark and quirky humor coupled with quixotic characters adds to the surprising mix found in Sunstruck… I've never read a book remotely like it. Everything from the humorously weird to the acutely macabre can be found between these covers, and then some.” –Laurel Johnson, Midwest Book Review.
“Highly entertaining!”—Romance Junkies.
 "Calvani has taken human nature and put it under a microscope--a warped and slightly cracked microscope. Proving once again that she is a master storyteller in multiple genres, "Sunstruck" by Mayra Calvani is both witty and brilliant." — The Book Connection

"Mayra Calvani is a master of wit. The descriptions contain just the right telling detail, as when she describes Daniella's red hair as the color you'd get if you mixed brandy, carrots, and raspberries in a blender. Calvani makes the absurd seem reasonable. I found myself nodding at death from hiccups, coffee enemas, and drugged cats. The writing is exquisite, and the narrative strangely compelling. Do yourself a favor and snap this one up."—Margaret Fieland, reviewer
 "Sunstruck is like a nutty Whodunit with a little twist. Who really is in the Zorro costume? With all the crazy characters I caught myself pointing fingers again and again. A great read that will make you forget where you are, while you giggle yourself to complete oblivion from all the silliness." --Autumn Blues Reviews
"This book was so crazy it was fantastic. Talk about a nutty twisty book this is it and all in good fun." --Babs Book Bistro
"...[A] funny satire that reaches into the realms of paranormal and horror as well as mystery and women's issues." -- Anne K. Edwards, mystery author

"Salvador Dali meets Terry Gilliam...Monty Python's Flying Circus would be proud." -- The Blue Iris Journal


Purchase info:

Title: Sunstruck Author: Mayra Calvani
Author web site
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 978-1-60619-024-2
Genre: Parody/Satire
Format: ebook in pdf, ePub, Kindle, Mobi, PRC, etc.
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; eReader; Fictionwise; Kobo Books;
OmniLit; Sony eBookstore, etc
Release date: July 15, 2012
Price: $5.95
Pages: 160
Purchase Links:
Welcome Mayra!  It's great to have you here visiting today.  I'm looking forward to finding out a little more about you. So, let's get started with the Q&A.  Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I write fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. I’m also a reviewer, freelance book publicist, and writing instructor (on book reviewing and writing picture books). Needless to say, my days are mostly spent in front of the computer. I live in Belgium with my husband, two wonderful teenagers and our adorable pets, a golden retriever and a cat.  

What was your inspiration for Sunstruck?

The conception of this book stemmed from two factors: my personal observations of Puerto Rican artists when I was a teen and my love for satiric writing. My mother was—and still is—an artist, and although she’s retired now, back in the early eighties she was an active painter in San Juan, showing her works at art exhibits and galleries regularly. She took me everywhere with her, so I attended all these shows and activities and I observed.

The art scene can be extremely interesting and that is because so many artists are eccentric, unconventional people. There’s so much competition, jealousy and gossip! I guess all these experiences must have made an impression on me. When the time came to write my book, I knew these were the people and situations I wanted to write about. I decided I would make the book a parody, this way I could keep it upbeat and have the freedom to exaggerate to the point of being ridiculous. I was sure an upbeat, sharp, satiric, darkly humorous style would be perfect for my novel.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I work best in the mornings, when I’m rested and my mind feels fresh. After the kids are off to school and my hubby to work, I get a cup of coffee and sit at the computer with my golden retriever, Amigo, at my feet. Often, I do a short meditation. Next, I write my goals and objectives for that day. This is extremely important for me. Writing down my goals and objectives keeps me focused and productive—most importantly, it keeps me away from ‘bright shiny objects’ that can stir me away from my major goals. Then I start writing. I’ll usually write for 2-3 hours from Monday to Friday (I take weekends off to be with my family). After my writing session I have lunch and take a short walk with my dog. Afternoons and evenings are for other work-related stuff such as promotion and publicity, networking, reviewing, blogging, etc.

I started adopting this system this January and it has worked wonders for me. The key points here are to write down my goals and objectives, then work on my work-in-progress before I do anything else.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I read, listen to meditation tapes, listen to violin music, and walk with my dog.

Why should we read your book?

If I may, I’d like to quote Midwest Book Review reviewer Laurel Johnson, who wrote:


What is the hardest thing about being an author?

I can only speak for myself: Showing up on the page every day and completing a book. Inspiration isn’t always there, so I have to push myself and force myself to write even on those days when I don’t feel like it or my prose doesn’t seem exciting. Writing is hard work! At least, it is for me. It is immensely satisfying and I couldn’t live without it, but it can be maddening and frustrating and exhausting.

That’s as far as discipline goes. If you mean about the writing process itself, I’d say that the most difficult thing is being able to closely, honestly and clearly articulate into words what I see and hear in my mind. I’d say, without a doubt, this is the greatest challenge.

Are you a plotter or panster?

I’ve tried both methods. I think both ways have their advantages and disadvantages. There’s no ‘better’ way. It depends on who you are as a writer, how you work and how your creativity unleashes on the page.

I used to be a panster, but the result was often a weak plot and saggy middle.  However, I once wrote a book during Nanowrimo in a strictly stream-of-consciousness manner and the result was a well structured book with an intricate plot. So you never know.

Nowadays, I prefer to plot in advance while at the same time leaving room for flexibility.  I like to have a solid idea of the premise, plot and characters before I start writing. This process has made the actual writing stage easier for me. While plotting, I may write a short summary or a logline for each chapter. What I like about this method is that I always have a basic idea of what I need to write next, so I hardly ever have the dreadful writer’s block. But, as I said, I usually come up with new ideas while writing, so I keep myself flexible and open to them. And if I must suddenly change the course of the plot, then so be it. A good story should develop organically, and as Alan Watt, author of The 90-Day Novel advises, you must remain curious and not try to solve the problem at the same level of consciousness that created the problem.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?
I have two!
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~Ray Bradbury

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” ~George Orwell

Thanks for this opportunity to appear on your blog, Laurie! I appreciate it!

 

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1 comment:

Mayra Calvani said...

Dear Laurie,
Thank you for the interview and for helping me spread the word about my book. I truly appreciate your support!
Warm regards,
Mayra