Thursday, April 30, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Martha Cecilia Rivera

1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

Writing has been a life-time passion and also a compelling necessity. I wrote my first short story at the age of seven, while attending an arithmetic class in my elementary school. The teacher caught me writing it and expelled me from class!! I kept writing through my teenage and young adult years. In fact, some of the short stories of my collection about to be published, “Opera of a Seeker,” were written 20 years ago. I became more disciplined and devoted to my writing about 8 years ago, when I was able to connect with the many insights that came to me in my daily life, particularly from my interactions with people and their stories.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez, Nobel Prize Award winner is one of the many authors that have influenced my writing. I have read his works over and over again since I was little, for years striving to develop my own writing style, different than his, yet many people recognize his strong influence in my work. I must say I enjoy reading contemporary literature instead of contemporary fiction. Some authors that come to mind are Patrick Modiano, Mircea Cartarescu, Le Clezio, Cees Noteboom, Gunter Grass, Philip Roth, Karl Ove Knausgard, Toni Morrison.

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Ghosts For Long Nights?

I once went to a flower shop that was near a cemetery. The seller, an old woman of peculiar appearance, looked straight at me as soon as I entered and said to me that my aura was pale. She recommended I put on a special ointment, made of herbs, all over my body to restore its natural color. It was such an unexpected, intriguing statement! I asked her various questions about the ointments and little by little the story began developing in my mind. At some point Rebecca revealed herself as a powerful character with deep insights for readers, and that was how I decided to pursue it until completing the novel.

4. Will we ever see Rebecca again in the future?

We might. Right now I do not have plans for a sequel but I am aware there is much more behind Ghosts for Long Nights’ characters and I’d like to see what else they have to tell us in the future.

5. Did you have to research witchcraft for the book or has it always been an interest of yours?

I engaged in tons of research after my encounter with the flower shop seller. Something I found very surprising as I began to ask around about this particular subject was that many people have experienced, in several capacities, contact with the supernatural!

6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?

Yes, but not directly or completely. Some aspects were inspired from some people but other aspects simply appeared as a natural reason or consequence of what the character was doing.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I am very interested in what I call psychological disconnection from reality in a way that is simultaneously entertaining and insightful to the readers. By that I mean that I want to keep writing about characters that manage to live in a distorted, fantastic view of reality and yet are as normal as everyone else. “Opera of a Seeker,” for instance, is about a man pursuing artistic success with such degree of disconnection from reality that you can think of him as a sane lunatic, as much as Rebecca can be seen in Ghosts for Long Nights.

8. What would you do if you were Rebecca?

I think that for a woman who truly believed her husband was a victim of witchcraft, she did the right thing, don’t you?

9. In the book, Rebecca wants to make an adult life opposite of her childhood. Why did you decide to have those life choices in the novel?

I think human lives are all full of regrets. The question “what if” is a permanent source of anguish for the contemporary human being. As everything evolves, you are more aware of the many choices and you know you can’t avoid taking some and discarding others. Each choice implicates winning or losing something. The question whether it was the right decision or not is an ethereal ghost that floats around you, sometimes forever!

10. Would you like to see Ghosts For Long Nights as a film? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?

Yes, I would love to! Do you have a friend in Hollywood that you can introduce me to? Just kidding.
I would think of Jennifer Lawrence or Paz Vega for Rebecca, and Eddie Redmayne for Manuel Hidalgo.

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

My short stories volume “Opera of a Seeker”, my second novel “The Fatal Destiny of the Hen”, and my third novel “Let’s Play to Voices” would be published and at least one of them would have been made into a movie. I would have had the opportunity to spread my voice to all continents and people of all kinds, generating deep insights in them.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Playing the piano professionally. I must confess though, that I do not own a piano or have any piano skills. In fact I have never taken a piano lesson!!

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

“Let’s play to voices” is the temporary title of my third novel, which is the one I am currently working on. I take my view on people who manage to live in an imaginative reality one step further, including different fantasy elements to shape the story…I am so excited about this work!

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

Amos Oz, who is a well-respected Israeli author that proposes forgiveness and harmony in the Midwest region.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

* Ghosts for Long Nights was originally written in Spanish. I translated it to English myself
* Once a year I travel to the Andean Mountains to retreat and recharge my earth-energy. It is a unique experience of solitude in a place where nearly no human has been in. This reminds me that our cosmic connection is what gives us insights and understandings…
* I am a tango fan! I take classes, I listen to tango songs, and I memorize lyrics. I find it so romantic and seductive!

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