Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Q&A with Joshua P. Aguayo

Psychoanalyst by profession, Joshua Aguayo was born in Quito, Ecuador. Since his very youth, he showed an interest in science fiction and high fantasy. His passion for elves and warp drives would eventually breed together with the traditionally grim artstyle of his latin american upbringing into an amalgam that carved itself a home in the neon-lit streets of the cyberpunk genre.

He also enjoys watching TV shows for little girls.

Want to get in touch?

Twitter: @josh_aguayo

Drugs, an attitude, and an impassioned relationship with her best female friend are the only things Samantha Thorn has left. Forced to keep a facade of normality by the very mega-corporation that executed her father for delving into the arcane, and on the brink of mercy suicide, Sam will embark on an ordeal set against dystopic hispanic locales to rescue the only family she has left, with little regard for the corporate thugs and street gang politics that will stand in her way.

A tantalizing adventure, The Lost Thorn takes on the traditional pillars of cyberpunk and shatters them with a fresh gush of inspired and playful narrative. Fast-paced and grim, this book and its characters scramble the contrasts of the modern world, a testament to the crumbling norms of a society where both body and mind have become mere tools for absolute markets.


1.       What inspired you to write The Lost Thorn?

I'm the kind of writer that begins with a character, rather than with a story. I remember Samanth was the fist thing that came to my mind, she was at the same time a reflection of myself and a character inspired by many girls in my life. The idea I had for her, along with a passion for magic and science fiction, eventually mixed together to come up with the setting and story behind The Lost Thorn.



2.       What was the development process like?

One of my favorite writers is Gabriel García Marquez. When I started writing and I was trying to find a “rhythm” for my own writing I read an interview he had, where he was asked this same question. And the answer he gave inspired me and stuck with me ever since. He used the word 'ruminate' to describe his writing, and that's the same way I would describe my own creative process. When I have an idea, I spend a long time just 'thinking' about that idea, ruminating. It can be anywhere from a few days to weeks or even months, until one day I just sit down and write for extremely long amounts of time, until those thoughts are depleted and the process starts all over again.


3.       Did you do any kind of research for this book?

Yes, lots. That 'ruminating' phase includes research too, which for The Lost Thorn implied traveling around my city, learning about the customs of my own people and those who lived before me, and of course, reading the “big names” of the genre I was aiming for, namely titles like “Neuromancer” or “Do androids dream of electric sheep?”


4.       This is an interesting story. What genre would you put this in?

I like to say it's a “Cyberpunk” story. However I usually classify it in the broader “Science Fiction” category, simply because I did take some liberties when writing the story in my own personal style and when setting it against a Latin American locale.


5.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

Mainly I hope they will have a good time and a couple of laughs.  I think The Lost Thorn is a novel with heavy social commentary. I also think it could be explored from a psychoanalytical point of view, through the eyes of madness and sanity. I also think it's a political critique and a literary blend of fantasy and science fiction. However all this is just me, and the reader might aswell ignore all that and just enjoy Samantha's terrible puns. I think that's the beauty of literature: You don't take what the author wants you to take, you take what you want to take. So all I want is that my readers enjoy their read.


6.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

What I like best has to be having an excuse to learn about many different topics, travel to the strangest of places or try the weirdest of things. What I like the least is probably how hard it is to put something “out there”. I think that what I like the least is the “business” part of it, where you try to market and sell the product of your effort.


7.       Who are some of your favorite authors?

García Marquez as I said earlier, Jim Butcher, Akira Toriyama, If you count mangakas, William Gibson, Ragnar Tonquist and Oscar Wilde, are some of my favorite.


8.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)

Oh this is a tough question… When I daydream about it… (That's not weird, is it?) I usually imagine The Lost Thorn as an animation, rather than as a feature film. But I if was a live action film, I'd say maybe someone like Chloe Moretz or the girl from David Fincher's “The girl with the dragon tattoo”. I know they are diametrically different actors, but I think each would be able to portray Samantha in a different light.


9.       Are you working on anything right now?

Yes. I'm working on the second novel in the series and I'm also working on a startup company to help local authors from Ecuador put their books online.


10.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

Ah… This may be the hardest question. I don't know to be honest. I feel like there are two strong “currents” for Latin American literature. One that sticks to the classics. To the style of authors like Cortazar or Borges. And one that is moving towards the alluring stream of globalization and trying to fit in the global market a la Bestsellers like Harry Potter or Hunger Games. I think that both are valid and I think that only time will tell where we end up.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Q&A with Natalie Keshing

I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Math. I worked in a highly technical area called the Proton Storage Ring at Los Alamos Nat'l Laboratory where I was awarded a staff member position based on my merit of high achievement. I went on to have a career in the IT world as a database consultant in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles CA. I enjoy reading and especially writing. I paint and play the piano. I am very creative. You can go to SoundCloud search for Natalie Keshing. Each recording is my writing for inspirational purposes. I do all the voices as a raconteur, Todo the dog in She and Todo.

The Book: We Begin...

She waited for him. Not because she loved him but because she was scared of him and what she was contemplating.

He walked in through the kitchen door wearing his black short sleeved turtleneck and his dark sunglasses. Olive skinned, handsome, slender and buff. Staggering a bit towards her, wanting to give her a kiss.

The smell of his breath was nauseating. Mr. Playboy full of charm and not much more than that. She turned her face away from him. She rejected him and he felt that deep inside. His succorance for affection rejected. Now asking about the baby.

1.       What inspired you to write Resilience in Curls?

I had always wanted to write a great book. I signed unto Twitter over a year and half ago and I became very interested in writing. I started writing short stories, then verses, then poems, then a blog and now a book. During this time I extended my vocabulary. I learned to write poetry. I am now a well respected poet in the community of poets at the @thewritelist . I wanted to write a novel. I already had in mind a fictional story. Then I thought about my life and all the challenges I faced growing up in my family; hispanic. I speak Spanish. Despite all the challenges I faced growing up I knew that my education was going to be a pivotal point in my life. So it’s really an inspiring story through all the challenges and milestones I faced and accomplished. I am very proud of this book.


2.       This book has a mixture of story and poetry. Why did you write it this way?

When I started to write the short verses immediately people were drawn to them because they always contained a bit of truth in all of them. These weren’t poems of a whimsical and musing nature. Mine were more raw, straight to the point. An example


Gilded Are the Hearts Of Specious

A Long Journey Of Suffering

Preserve Your Heart’s Longing

Sustain In The Present and Breath!


              A Clash Of Minds Spiraling Down

              Time is The Pain Killer For The Broken Hearted

              Long Past Bye For Now

              Broken Untamed Spirits

              Never Stay Long, It is a New Day!


The Affinity Of Our Attraction

Now Joining The Rest

Flowing Down A Murky River

It’s The Last Of Our Affection

Turned Into A Dry Mud.

So I formed the Poem of Verses at the end of each week where I responded to various prompts from various Poetverses prompts. There were  9 short stories I made up and wanted to relate to the verses and share. Then when I decided to write the book I realized that I had a verse for most of the pivotal points in my life.


3.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Editing it. There was a raw draft I wrote initially. I started crafting my own style of writing and how I wanted to present this book. There were at least 4 editing processes. 


4.       What are some of the main issues that you explore in this book and why did you explore them?

The book starts from the age of four and almost immediately I was exposed to alcoholism, abuse, and neglect. I am very descriptive of these challenges and how they affect us since we are small and basically our whole life. Many child abuse victims keep all this hidden for years we suppress to survive. It doesn’t surface until you are facing someone elses challenges; as in a marriage or relationship. When you find someone you love or you think you love we expect that person to fix all the insecurities and abandonment issues we might have. Eventually, at some point all child abuse victims do start to face the dysfunctional experiences they were exposed to during those years. At this point many continue to shuffle it under the carpet; keep a lid on it; deny it; pretend it didn’t happen. Most do it to keep the parents and the family unit intact; in a superficial way. I did that for many years until I got really sick. Then I realized that I needed to address these issues and face them for what they were. I have faced death three times in my life. At these pivotal points everything changed; I changed. I wasn’t going to pretend anymore and most importantly I refused to continue let people that have no respect for me mistreat me. My health was the number one concern and I cleaned out the cobwebs in my closet. I chose to survive and distance myself from my mother and stepfather and other family members. 


5.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
Confidence, Inspiration, education and purpose. I really think this book can be very beneficial to the younger generation. Those who are confused about their circumstances and feel repressed. There is a way out. Despite the treatment of Josie and Mike I actually was born with a lot of confidence and gumption. I never lacked in those two virtues. I knew what I was capable of accomplishing; despite all the odds that were against me. But I did have teachers and professors who inspired me and believed in me. Education is usually the answer to most of us who want a better life. You have to focus and make up your mind that for that period of time you will remain disciplined and persevere to earn that degree; diploma.

Finding your purpose may take a little longer to discover. I went through various stages of my life that I did different things. I taught myself to paint, I took piano lessons as an adult and I wanted so deeply to do this as a child but that wasn’t offered to me because of my circumstances being a stepdaughter. My stepfather saved for a college education for my younger brother because he was Mike’s real son. Mike’s DNA gave life to my brother. So I was treated very differently and didn’t get to go to a private school and didn’t have any money they saved for my education. This fact is expressed in the book. 




6.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

It’s a creative process during those moments where you know this story will ring true to many. That feels pretty darn good.

It’s hard to write when something is bothering you in your personal life or you have an emotional block and you know the creative process is wobbling by.  Usually at that point you shouldn’t force yourself to write. I meditate and always try to be in the present which I have a noted in my book and explained a small exercise to bring your attention down to zero. No external thoughts, stress, or pressure. I learned this process facing my first life threatening diagnoses Carolis. Then it helped me when I was diagnosed with cancer and just recently during a life threatening Sepsis infection that I was hospitalized for.   


7.       Who are some of your favorite authors?
       Hemingway. Jeanette Walls. Writers that are willing to tell the truth. Writers that are very descriptive. Writers that are great listeners.


8.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)

I would either play my mother or my grandmother. I would prefer my grandmother. She and my grandfather were the ones I ultimately bonded with. Who were kind to me. But if you have time go to SoundCloud and search for Natalie Keshing, I do all the voices in my scenes and recordings. The Jane and Blanche trio, these three scenes are pretty surprising. I also did Todo the dog in Wizard of Oz in one of my recordings. I can do a lot of accents and change my voice.

As for playing Lorie I haven’t really thought of anyone but I would definitely want a Latina actress. I want to represent my culture.

9.       Are you working on anything right now?

I have 3 stories. One is called “The Darkest Of Night” it’s about two serial killers who are brothers. I’ve only written maybe a quarter of it or less. I also wanted to do a children’s book trilogy, more like a Harry Potter genre about three delightful Trolls. My favorite character in that story is Hannah Hawkins who is very eccentric but the trolls start having a lot of fun with her and are mystified by her presence. They are about two and half feet tall and boy are they challenging. The third is about a clandestine affair which violates a bond within the family. I won’t say now who it is. We’ll just have to wait.


10.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

I think that eventually we will become part of the bigger market and I hope that there are more opportunities for Latino people to balance the entertainment business. 

Truthfully I would like to become the Meryl Streep of the Latina actresses where I can play different parts and older parts. Open the doors for more Latino actors.  Jane Powell a very good actress, she looks Latina but she’s English. Therefore, she gets a lot of roles. Unfortunately if you have an accent you get typecast in the entertainment business. I don’t have an accent and I enjoy doing other accents. Actresses like Selma Heyak and Penelope Cruz probably have been typecast because of their accents. I am 55 years young. But with good genes. I am a fashionista. I like to dress classy with elegance. There is one of my  dichos in one of my chapters referring to this.

I just want to say thank you so much for this opportunity to express myself about my book that for many reasons I wrote it the way I did to capture a wider audience but still included my Spanish heritage and language. I lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and our only child a son stayed behind. He is pretty successful. We just had our first granddaughter born. Her name is Natalie Aubrey. I added the Keshing. The Keshing family is in two of the short stories. They’re sisters Natalie and Aubrey. Don’t miss this family they are quite humorous. Thank you and have a splendid day.

I started all this on twitter as @renaissanceangl now I have @natswritings and @aubreyswriting. The Renaissance name came from an very good writer and friend of mine. She called me a renaissance woman.  I Love Life!!! Yeah!!!