Just in time to get in the mood for Halloween, today's guest is Mayra Calvani, author of the supernatural paranormal, Dark Lullaby. Mayra writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. She’s currently touring the blogosphere to promote her supernatural thriller, Dark Lullaby. Visit her website at www.MayraCalvani.com.
Thank you for this interview, Mayra. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Thanks for having me on The Examiner, Dorothy!
I’ve been writing and creating worlds for most of my life, since I was about 12. I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but later moved to the US, where I completed a degree in Creative Writing and History. I have lived in the Middle East but I’m now settled in Belgium. In addition to Spanish and English, I also speak Turkish and a little French.
When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading and reviewing books, as well as helping other authors promote their works. I love having lunch with friends, going to the cinema with my kids, and spending time with my pets and my family. I also love traveling.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Sure, here’s the blurb:
At a tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. But soon he begins to notice a strangeness in her…especially the way she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.
The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.
But nothing, not even the stunning beauty of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature... In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I don’t consciously decide on a genre first. Something inspires me and makes me think of a story…and then I realize, “Ok, I guess this will be a supernatural thriller.”
In the case of Dark Lullaby, I lived several years in Turkey, where part of the story takes place. I learned a ton about Turkish customs and folklore.
Many Turkish people believe in the cin (pronounced ‘jean’). Not the jinn as westerners know it; you know, the genie that comes out of magic lamps. The cin is a much darker creature that could be lightly compared to the fairy. In Turkish myth, it is a being that lives in the forests. It can be good or evil. It is of spirit form but can shapeshift into an animal or human. Like the western fairy, it is often volatile, mischievous and prone to pranks, some of which can be deadly.
Now, want me to get creepy? It has a bizarre taste for human liver and, when in human form, its feet are set backwards.
I was darkly fascinated by the accounts I heard, fascinated enough to write a novel. Thus, Dark Lullaby was born.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The same for any other book: keeping focused and not procrastinate. Keeping confident throughout the process and, like Steven Pressfield says in his fantastic book, Do the Work, “trusting the soup.”
Every book that I’ve written has been hard to write. Though writing is my life and, in a way, like breathing, I have a love & hate relationship with it. First of all, the mechanics of the craft are always a challenge: constructing the plot, creating the characters, balancing all the elements, i.e. description, dialogue, narrative, symbolic imagery, etc. Then there’s the word choice and the agonizing over verbs, adjectives, adverbs.
Besides this, there’s the emotional aspect of the journey: struggling with the inner critic, bouts of self doubt, writer’s block, irritability over not writing, dealing with negative criticism, remorse due to sacrificing time with family and friends, spending hours, days, months, years sitting at the computer without any assurance that the book will be read by enough people or earn enough money to make all that time worthwhile.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
My current publishers are Twilight Times Books and Guardian Angel Publishing (for my children’s books), both traditional small presses, but I self published Dark Lullaby after getting my rights back from Whiskey Creek Press.
Was it the right choice for you?
I’ve enjoyed working with small presses. I think they’re wonderfully supportive.
Self publishing Dark Lullaby has been an interesting learning experience, but would I do it again? Maybe, maybe not, I’m not sure. It would depend on the book’s genre. YA fantasy, romantic suspense and thrillers seem to do better than other categories.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
With virtual book tours such as this one, with getting as many reviews as I can. I also bought an ad in BookGorilla.com and Goodreads.
How is that going for you?
It’s going well so far. I see the number of reviews increasing on Amazon and also the book’s rank has gone higher, from the 400,000s were it was in September, to the 15,000s and then to the 40,000s. Not sure where it is at this precise moment.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Yes, that ad in BookGorilla.com resulted in some sales. I have writer friends who’ve had great success with this.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I’m a full-time writer, though I also do some freelance book publicity on the side.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
To keep it going week after week, month after month, year after year. Book promotion is an ongoing process. Many authors do one book tour or two after a book’s release and wrongly assume that the rest will take care of itself, but that isn’t the case. To see results, you must stay persistent and consistent.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to engage in social networks 24/7. Only that you should take one step toward promoting your book at least once a week, then keep it going, week after week.
However, I’d advise writers to never let book promotion stand in the way of their writing. As an author, your best time is spend producing that next book.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on two projects: one is a YA psychological/supernatural thriller; the other an anthology titled, Latina Authors and Their Muses, forthcoming by Twilight Times Books in the spring of 2014.
In addition, I have a YA fantasy/mystery and a nonfiction book also forthcoming from Twilight Times Books in 2014, as well 3 picture books from Guardian Angel Publishing.
Thank you for this interview, Mayra. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Thank you, Dorothy! I had fun answering your questions. Readers can find me on the web through the following links:
Dark Lullaby can be purchased on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Lullaby-ebook/dp/B005UI7FOG