Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and fifteenth, is of suspense / mystery thriller author and interviewee Gabriel Valjan. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Gabriel’s short stories and some of his poetry continue to appear in literary journals and online magazines.
Ronan Bennett short-listed Gabriel for the 2010 Fish Prize, and Gabriel won first prize in ZOUCH Magazine’s inaugural Lit Bits Contest.
Winter Goose Publishing publishes his Roma Series: Roma, Underground (February 2012), Wasp’s Nest (November 2012) and Threading the Needle (October 2013).
The Roma series is available in trade paperback or in digital format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Gabriel lives in New England, USA.
And now from the author himself:
I believe that hard work will always trump talent that doesn’t work hard. I’ll be honest: I’ve met many people who want to be writers, say that they are writers, but when you press further you discover that they have poor work habits. Of course, I’ve met writers with monstrous egos, too; but the simple fact of the matter is writing takes time, effort, and commitment. It is a craft and requires constant attention, continuous improvement, honesty and self-assessment. I consider myself above-average in intelligence, but where I do well is that I am consistent and disciplined. I do not fear the desk or the white page or blank computer screen. I don’t make excuses. I trust myself and know something will come. Each day and with each effort I find the pages accumulate.
I began Threading the Needle on January 20, 2012 and completed it February 13, 2012. The novel is shy of 90,000 words. The math works out to 25 days of writing, on average of 3,600 words per day and, with standard formatting of one-inch margins all around, double-spaced with Times New Roman 12-point font, that is approximately 250 words per page, about 14 pages a day. While this is all matter-of-fact computation, the reality is that some days I wrote more and other days, less. The point is I sat down every day and I wrote, committed to the story inside my head. Pure persistence. The hard work of editing and revising came later.
Let me put all of this in perspective: the typical American newspaper that doesn’t use pictures to tell the news uses about 600 unique words. It takes about 2,000 words for day-to-day survival. There are about 250,000 words in the English language, Shakespeare used approximately 30,000 words throughout his plays, and linguists have determined that “educated” prose requires 10,000 words. You can tell a story with ten-dollar words and it could be utterly lifeless, or you can use monosyllabic words. Trust your abilities. You have more than you need. The point is do you want to be a technician or do you want to be a good storyteller? Be yourself and have fun.
I have concluded that decades of reading have enabled me to reference authors and stories as mentors and models. If I want a desired “effect,” I know where to look, read it, and then decide how I will do it differently. I feed my imagination with books and films. There is the “active work” of physically writing and there is the “active recovery” where I’ll sit and observe others, how they talk and act. Whether I am out and about in the world or within a book, I am also trying to learn how language is used. If you can read, have rampant curiosity, and a library card then you don’t need much more — intellectual curiosity is a virtue.
As a child I read voraciously, so I was quite awed, quite intimidated, by the great talents on the bookshelves at my local library. I began with a lot of self-doubt about my ability to sustain an idea, create multidimensional characters, and capture the tics of dialogue. I knew what I enjoyed in literature, understood to some degree how it all worked. I was convinced (still am) that nobody could teach the idea that starts a short story, a novel, or a poem. When I had set aside the initial excuses and insecurities, I discovered that I was having fun and that I had stories within me.
Some final words — Respect your readers. They are spending their money to buy your book. Money can be replaced. The time they spend with you cannot. Should you be fortunate to meet your readers, stay until you have met every last one of them. You’ll be the better person. There are so many books and so little time and the sand in the hourglass is always moving. Respect your readers’ intelligence and write to tell a good story. Don’t write to be clever or write in the latest genre because you are out to make money. Write the story that you have in you. You can’t please everyone, but the greatest compliment after “I cared for and loved your character” is that someone has spent precious time with you.
A quick synopsis of Threading the Needle, the latest in the Roma Series:
Milan. Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered, but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor, Adastra. Guilt drives her to find justice for the slain Charlie Brooks. The mysterious Loki warns her to stay away because this case will return Italy to its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism called the ‘Years of Lead.’
You can find more about Gabriel and his writing via…
Winter Goose Author Page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/gabriel-valjan/
Pinterest for Threading the Needle: http://pinterest.com/gvaljan/threading-the-needle/
Rachel Anderson of RMA Publicity represents Gabriel Valjan. Rachel’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
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