Monday, December 24, 2012

Liz DeJesus Author Interview


Photo Content from Liz DeJesus

Liz DeJesus was born on the tiny island of Puerto Rico. She is a novelist and a poet. She has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. She is the author of the novel Nina (Blu Phi'er Publishing, October 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 31st 2011) and First Frost (Musa Publishing, June 2012). Liz is currently working on a new novel.
        



Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Part of me wanted to be like my mom, because she is a writer as well. I’ve always written stories and in my journal (what else is a shy, nerdy girl supposed to do all day?).

But I think the absolute defining moment in my life came when I was 16 years old and one of my teachers read some of the poetry I had written. I remember the look on his face when I came to his classroom the next day. He looked both awestruck and impressed.

“You are a diamond in the rough,” he said. I couldn’t believe he had actually said those words in reference to me. I kept looking behind me to see if he was talking to someone else.

I still remember those words after all these years.

Anyway after that I made it my business to learn everything I could about writing and become a published author.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Everyone needs stories. They shape and define us. Stories, words have power. Stories can be used for everything. Entertain. Teach. Reach out to someone. Empower. Overcome. I know that there are some books that I feel helped save my life when I was at my lowest. Those moments when I was all alone, there was always a book nearby. Always a character that made me feel as though I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.

Anyone that is an avid reader has at least one book where there is one sentence (or even a word) that changed the way that they saw themselves or saw the world.

We need stories. Words are the only things that will live on long after we have perished.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Can’t say that is this verbatim, but recently my friend Shon Bacon told me to go wherever the writing takes me. I was struggling trying to work on a novel that I had pushed back for years and years and I wasn’t really ‘feeling’ it. I just lost that spark that initially got me to start writing the novel in the first place. What I really wanted to do was work on another novel that I had an idea for. So after I whined about it on facebook, Shon was the first to tell me to just set the novel aside and work on my new idea. Which is exactly what I did and I’m glad I listened to her.

Lesson learned. Follow your heart. It’ll never lead you astray.

In your book; First Frost, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Here’s the official blurb, it should make things easier:

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Why should you read First Frost? Plain and simple explanation, because it’s a fun and entertaining book. It has a great blend of humor, adventure and magic. Plus, it has fairy tales thrown into the mix. If you like fairy tales, then you’ll love First Frost.

For those who are unfamiliar with Bianca, how would you introduce her?
Bianca Frost, is without a doubt one of my favorite characters (at least the ones that have popped out of my head). She’s seventeen years old, likes to draw, is a little introverted, but has a sharp mind and a good heart. She’s impulsive, which sometimes gets her into trouble, but she does her best to make up for it. She’s a good and loyal friend ‘til the very end.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I was compelled to tell this story. I don’t think I had any control over it. The characters just suddenly popped into my head and started to tell me their story. (And if you’re a writer you know exactly what I’m talking about.) It’s like being a good kind of schizophrenic.

The inspiration came out of nowhere. I was sitting at home watching TV while I was giving my son Mason his bottle and a commercial popped up. It was for a local children’s museum and I thought ‘I wonder why they don’t have themed museums. Like a pirate or a fairy tale themed museum.’ I thought that would be such a fun thing for a child to go to. Then I was like, Woah, what if the items in the museum were real? What if there were witches that run the museum? What if there was magic? And the rest is history.

I think it would’ve been a real shame had I not sat down and written this story.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Bianca?
How real she is to me. And how loud her voice is in my head when I’m writing for her. Sometimes when I’m writing scenes for her and she’s going through a particularly hard time, you can often find me crying as I’m typing.

I’m also using a lot of the emotions and angst I felt as a teenager and putting it all into Bianca and the other characters. Her best friend, Ming, the charming prince, Ferdinand and the love interest, Terrance.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Bianca to the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Luckily, you won’t have to wait too long for that to happen. ;-)

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I just sent Glass Frost (the sequel to First Frost) to my publisher, Musa Publishing. I can’t wait for you guys to read it. The novel picks up right where First Frost ends. This book will deal with Cinderella’s glass slipper and the great-granddaughter of the Frog Prince. Bianca will also visit the Fairy Realm, and we’ll find out what happened to the seven dwarves after Snow White married the prince. I think people will definitely enjoy this book.

I’m also working on the third book in the series; it’s tentatively titled Shattered Frost. And in this book Bianca deals with Bluebeard’s ghost. But I’m still in the beginning stages of the writing process so there really isn’t much to tell, as of right now I only have 30 pages worth of story written.

I’m also working on a few short stories for some upcoming anthologies. J I’m always writing and I’m always working on something.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I honestly can’t think of anything that I’ve lied about. I always try to answer questions with the truth. I will definitely avoid the subject of my children and anything else involving my personal life, but that’s not really a lie, that’s setting boundaries and keeping my personal life and my professional life separate.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?

Always read your contracts thoroughly. I’ve lost novels because I was in a rush to sign the contract and have my book published. If you’re not sure about something ask a friend to read it for you before you sign on the dotted line.

As authors we forget that the publishing industry is a business. You also need to learn how to figure out who’s trying to scam you and who is legitimately trying to help you with your writing.

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My mom. And if my mom doesn’t pick up the phone I’ll call my husband. And if my hubby is too busy to talk, I’ll call my dad.

What’s your most missed memory?
I’m not sure I understand the question but I’ll do my best to answer it. I guess the person I miss the most is my grandfather Rafael. He passed away last year (actually it’ll be a year on November 3rd) and it happened suddenly and without warning. One moment he was here and the next he was gone. He was the only man that I trusted would keep me safe from harm. That was something that I knew was an absolute FACT. If I ever needed to feel safe all I had to do was go to his house or pick up the phone and call him.

God, I get choked up just thinking about it.

He was always supportive of everything I did and proud of my accomplishments. I still miss him and probably always will.

When and how was the last time you told someone honestly how you felt?
Every day. I tell my husband and my children that I love them. Every time I pick up the phone and call my mom or my dad, I tell them I love them. Life is too short to lie to yourself and your loved ones.

The last time I spoke to my grandfather I told him that I loved him and that he was the greatest man I knew. It was like the universe had conspired to make this moment happen for us. As if things that I had no control over had come into play and gave us this last moment. This final conversation. We said everything we ever wanted to say to each other. I’m happy to say that this was our last conversation.

When was the last time you cried?
Oh God, I’m crying right now (now that I’m thinking about my grandfather). But an actual cry (as Oprah calls it ‘The Ugly Cry’. You know where you are sobbing and mucus is coming out of your nose). Probably last week when my son didn’t want to eat his breakfast. He has a feeding disorder and will only eat a tiny amount of food. I was trying to get him to eat apple sauce and he didn’t want to even taste it. He kicked, screamed, threw a good ol’ fit and I had reached my breaking point.

What are you most passionate about today?
At this particular moment? I’m passionate about my writing. It’s the one thing that belongs to me and only me. So I try to find little moments here and there where I can work on my stories and novels.

But the rest of the time? I’m a mommy 24/7. I love my children fiercely. I would do just about anything for them.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I write. I have a personal blog where I write about the cute things they’ve done, or I write letters for them. I want them to have something they can read and revisit long after I’m gone.

Words. My words will echo long after I’m gone. It’s the only thing that’s really everlasting.


Fairytales aren’t real…yeah…that’s exactly what Bianca thought. She was wrong.

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.


Liz DeJesus’ First Frost is a cleverly refreshing take on fairytales set in a modern-day museum. Bianca’s family has been the guardians to the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts for generations. Filled with a massive collection of Grimm fairytale items, the family has kept their secrets exclusively to themselves. The passing of the guardianship from mother to daughter seemingly skips as seventeen-year-old Bianca would rather focus her time in a career in photography. She’s always believed that the items in the museum are fakes, but she will soon find out that magic really does exist.

The story set forth in this novel by DeJesus is simply full of wit, fun, and clever ideas. It takes readers to a behind the scene look at the “real” story to some of the most famous tales ever told. The writing style of DeJesus allows the readers, especially for teenage girls, to relive that feeling of when they were young dreaming of being a princess in a fairytale through the eyes of Bianca. The story picks up once Bianca embarks on her journey and drags you into a fun fairytale world where magical things happen. Readers are introduced to highly engaging characters like Prince Ferdinand and Terrance that lead them to an amazing plot inside their remarkable world. First Frost is a cunningly written story that puts twists on fairytales and delivers laugh out loud moments, cute romance, action-packed fights scenes, appealing characters, and pure magic.


You can purchase First Frost at the following Retailers:
    


And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LIZ DEJESUS for making this giveaway possible.
3 Winners will receive an e-copy of First Frost by Liz DeJesus.
jbnpastinterviews

12 comments:

  1. Wonderful review, Liz! Wishing ou all the success with your Frost series! Cheers!

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  2. Lovely interview and review, Liz :)

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  3. Great interview, it really got me interested in First Frost and even if I don't win the e-copy, it is still something I want to read:) Happy Holidays!

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  4. Great interview, Liz. Glass Frost sounds so intriguing!

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  5. Thanks swimwriteliv! Either way I still hope you win a copy. :) Have a wonderful holiday. :)

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  6. Hi Margaret! Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  7. You got me at fairytales! My daughter and I just are huge fans! I even got my daughter a collector's edition of the Grimm's fairytales...original tales, that is! Not the happy ever after fairytales.

    Thank you Jean and Liz for having this awesome giveaway!!!

    http://pinterest.com/pin/310537336775823288/

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  8. Your daughter is a very lucky young lady. Grimm's fairy tales = best gift ever. :D Thank you for stopping by and reading the interview and review. Good luck! Hope you win a copy of First Frost. :)

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  9. Thanks for the awesome giveaway

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