Interview with Digital Book Today – June 5, 2012
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, up until about a year ago, I was a teacher. I started Spanish programs for the elementary grades for fifteen years. The last one I started here in Massachusetts was a Spanish Immersion program for English-speaking students. They learned all day in Spanish and learned about Spanish culture. It’s still running. I’m very proud of it. There are only 260 other programs like it in the U.S. Last year I decided to take a sabbatical from teaching to focus on writing. My husband and I live in rural Massachusetts. It’s quiet and lovely. It’s perfect for writing. But, it’s also fifty minutes from three major cities, which is great.
How does your background in teaching and foreign languages influence the story?
Honestly, I don’t think there would be a JAGUAR SUN if I hadn’t been a Spanish teacher. Most of my ideas were born out of having taught Latin American culture in the classroom, studying it in college, and traveling in the region. I had also wanted to write a novel with a Hispanic heroine for a really long time. My love and knowledge of languages in general is also found throughout the book in small ways and I think it lends more authenticity to the story.
Tell us about JAGUAR SUN. What’s the story about?
JAGUAR SUN is a YA Paranormal Romance. It’s the story of Maya Delaney, a typical sixteen-year-old high school junior of Mayan descent. As Maya discovers more about her heritage, she realizes that she is at the center of a plot stop the transition to a New Age of peace to take place when the Mayan Calendar ends on December 21, 2012. And on top of that, she and her friends are beginning to develop strange powers. Faced with learning to harness her new abilities in time to bring the world to a positive transition, Maya must reevaluate her relationships, herself, her place in the world.
Part of the plot of JAGUAR SUN deals with the end of the Mayan Calendar on 12-21-12. Everyone seems to be thinking about that this year. What made you choose that topic?
My great interest in it comes from a historical and sociological perspective. I’ve been obsessed with mythology since I was a kid, so I did a lot of research. I tried to stay very positive about the Mayan prophesies in J. The one thing I didn’t want to turn it into was a disaster novel. I emphasized a shift to a New Age, rather than the end of the world. In reality, that’s much closer to what the actual Mayan leaders believe – that there will be an age of peace.
In addition to the Mayan calendar mystery, there are also shape-shifters in JAGUAR SUN. How did you come up with the lore for your shifters?
I wanted something that would go well with the Mayan aspects of the plot. From that perspective, it made sense to go with more of a Native American style shifter, like some form of skin walker. At the same time, I wanted to come up with a fresh angle on shape-shifting. Like werewolves, vampires, and other creatures, they have been written about a lot in YA books, so I originally thought it would be difficult. As I did my research on the Mayan culture, I discovered that there is a Mayan belief that we all have a spirit companion or protector in the Otherworld that’s in the form of an animal. This spirit, called a Nahual, is like a protector of sorts. It reminded me a lot of the animal totems of Native cultures in the United States and Canada. As I dug a bit deeper, I found out that certain shamans in Mayan culture are believed to be able to actually take the form of their Nahual. And that’s where my idea came from.
What sets JAGUAR SUN apart from other books in the genre?
I would say that the Mayan aspect certainly sets the book apart. I think that both the use of the culture and also the non-western mythology make it quite different than anything out there right now. There is a multicultural aspect to it that is quite unique. There’s actually a genre called multicultural fantasy that is up and coming. I’m hoping to see some great books come out of that.
Is there any author, or perhaps just regular person, out there that gives you inspiration when writing?
My fellow Indie authors are my greatest inspiration. We have a fantastic community. We support each other and read one another’s work constantly. We share what we know, and also lead by example. As a newbie you are shown the ropes and then, in turn, you teach other new authors. Writing is also a very solitary business, so we also keep each other company. But so many of them inspire me for so many different reasons. I look at what many of my Indie friends are accomplishing and I see where it is I want to improve. I’m very lucky.
Where can people find you and your books online?
JAGUAR SUN (Jaguar Sun Series Book 1) is available at Amazon on Kindle and paperback, Barnes and Noble on Nook and paperback, and a variety of vendors, such as iTunes through Smashwords. Look for Book 2, JAGUAR MOON in September and REVELATIONS (A PREQUEL NOVELLA to the JAGUAR SUN SERIES in October)!
Interview with Kindle Fever – April 17, 2012
1. Yesterday you gave us an amazing playlist for Jaguar Sun! If you had to pick your favorite of the songs from the playlist, what would it be and why?
What a great question and a hard one! I love all of the songs on the playlist for different reasons. And they’re all bands that I like. I think I’d have to say “Butterfly, Butterfly.” It’s Maya’s song. It speaks a lot to how she is not able to let go of her past. And her past, to a large degree, is why she carries so much weight on her shoulders all the time. I also love the metaphor of the butterfly and how it starts out in its chrysalis and is then reborn. Throughout Jaguar Sun, that’s what is happening to Maya. She is slowly becoming who she is meant to be. The lyrics describe her personal journey perfectly.
2. What was your absolute favorite part of Jaguar Sun to write and why? How about favorite character?
You know, I don’t think I actually have one. As I’ve written their story, I’ve come to care about, enjoy, and respect each character for different reasons. I would say that, overall, I enjoy writing my young characters more than the adults though.
3. If you had to step into the novel and live one scene as a character, which scene would you choose and who would you want to be in it? Why? (Don’t worry; the real world will be paused for you!)
I think I would most like to be Maya in any scene with Matt. I say that because the lives and culture of the shifters I have created are still things that I am deeply curious about. A large part of Jaguar Sun’s shifter culture came from my imagination. What would it be like to be mated for life? To follow someone into the phase? And, in their case, to feel one another’s emotions? That is a bond that as humans we will never experience. So I find it really interesting.
4. Is there any author, or perhaps just regular person, out there that gives you inspiration when writing?
My fellow Indie authors are by far my greatest inspiration. The amount of sheer kindness that I’ve received from other Indies is astounding. Paying it forward is something that comes very natural to the members of our Indie community. We give one another advice, show newbies the ropes, and help guide each other through mentoring. It’s been a truly amazing experience.
5. If you had to describe your novel with only 6 words, what would you say?
The story of Maya’s journey home. Of course Book 1 is just the beginning, but that suffices.
6. Finally: do you think the world will come to an end 12/21/12?
No, not at all. Not even the Mayan Elders themselves believe that. Do I believe that we’re ready for a change of consciousness? Absolutely. It’s going on all over the world right now. The so-called “Arab Spring” is just one example. But do I believe that it has something to do with 2012 or the end of the Mayan Calendar? Let’s put it this way. Are you free for coffee the morning of the 22nd?