Author Interview with Jimena Novaro

I asked some questions of fantasy author Jimena Novaro about her approach to writing, life, and more. She had some surprising responses. Read on to find out what she said!
1. What inspired you to write your first book?

In some corner of my mind I always knew I would be a writer. I started
writing stories as soon as I could write; they just seemed to come out of
me. At first I only wrote to entertain myself, because what can be more
fun than opening up a window to another world and watching characters go
around doing whatever I told them to?

I wrote my first “book” when I was nine for the pure pleasure of pouring
words onto a page. That novel was so incoherent that the protagonists
defeated the villain with pancakes, but every day I sat down and wrote
another few pages in awful handwriting until I finished it. This made me
realize that I could write novels. Tons of them. So for the rest of my
life, I’ve never stopped, even though I never even considered publication
seriously until about three years ago.

2. What is an experience in your life that helped shape you as a writer?

I think that living in two different countries really influenced me. I got
to experience life in a small town in Argentina; in the university
environment of Gainesville, Florida; in Deep South Huntsville, Alabama;
and in packed, noisy Buenos Aires city. I also met a lot of very different
people in high school, including people from rural Neuquen and people who
belonged to the indigenous Mapuche communities. I’ve always been curious
about people and their lives, what makes them tick and how they help shape
the society they live in, and I think this comes out a lot in my
work―whether it’s set in a real Earth city or an empire in my imagination.

3. Do you have anyone who supports you in your writing goals?

My parents are incredibly supportive; they beta read all my work and give
me honest advice and criticism (really). They’ve helped me so much and
they’re always there for me. The rest of my family is really supportive
too, reading my work and giving me feedback, even if, like in the case of
my father’s parents, they have to use Google Translate to understand most
of it. My best friend Angeles, who’s a talented visual artist on top of an
awesome person, is always full of encouragement, and she’s designing and
painting the cover art for the novel I plan to release this year.

4. What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?

In all my stories I try to tackle difficult subjects; ideas that keep me
up at night, that preoccupy me, that draw me, that terrify me. I hope
readers will connect with their own powerful emotions and will think about
things from a new perspective. But most of all I want them to have fun and
enjoy the characters and the stories.

5. If you could have a conversation with one writer, living or dead, who
would pick and why?

I would probably have to pick Emily Brontë. I’m a huge fan of Wuthering
Heights, and it always made me so sad that she died thinking her only
novel had been a failure. I think that’s something that terrifies a lot of
writers. Posthumous fame and endurance throughout the ages is wonderful,
but you can’t exactly enjoy it. I would like to tell Emily how successful
her novel was and how much I loved it. Also, I think she would have lots
of interesting things to say.

6. Are there any writers whose work made you want to write like them?

Definitely. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was six and fell
immediately in love. Between the third and fourth books I wrote terrible
fanfiction (never posted, fortunately), but JK Rowling’s work has always
enchanted and inspired me. The Lord of the Rings and The Prydain
Chronicles got me into high fantasy and invented worlds, and the
Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix cemented my love of the genre (and
introduced me to young adult fiction). Many different Latin-American
authors left their mark on me, especially Julio Cortázar, and Chronicle
of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez introduced me to magic
realism and got me interested in non-linear stories. More recently, the
amazing A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin definitely had
an impact on me and my work. In TV and film, Joss Whedon is one of my
favorite writers. And “Life Is a Dream” by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
ignited my love of theater and has haunted me ever since I first saw it
performed.

7. Are there any writers whose work made you want to write different from
them? (Like a book so bad that you thought, “I could do better than
that!”)

Well, I think that a lot of young adult fiction novels I’ve read recently
have made me want to write something different. I don’t like how the
market is saturated with romance and repetitive, unimaginative plots.
That’s part of the reason I wrote Blue Rabbit, my young adult urban
fantasy novel: I wanted a strong heroine whose life didn’t revolve around
a guy, and a story we hadn’t seen a thousand times before. There’s so much
more to the teen years than falling in love, and it’s kind of scary how
many books are teaching girls (inadvertently, perhaps) that they’re only
worthy if they’re in a romantic relationship, because they’re really not.
They have so much more to offer the world and themselves.

8. As a bilingual writer, how does your relationship to language influence
your writing?

I learned both Spanish and English from infancy, but I’ve always favored
writing and reading in English. Even though we have tons of excellent
literature for adults in Spanish, there just aren’t that many good books
for children and young adults, except (often poorly) translated stuff, so
from an early age I developed my language preference. I think English is
an incredibly flexible and powerful tool and it just flows more easily for
me. Though most of my work is in English, I’ve written several pieces in
Spanish, and I’ve promised my Spanish-speaking friends that one day I’ll
write a novel for them.

9. Do you see writing as a career for you?

Frankly, I can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s part of my identity,
and more fun than anything has a right to be. I don’t know if it’ll pay
the bills, but I want to do it for the rest of my life, whether or not I
have to support it with a day job.

10. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is when the shine wears off of the story I’m writing;
that’s when I have to force myself to get the words out, and I start
making excuses for not writing: I’m tired, I’m bored, I’m upset, I’m not
inspired. A novel is a huge amount of work. I sit my butt on a chair and
write and write and write; no magic tricks or shortcuts available. I also
struggle when I find that my plot has fallen apart and that I need to make
massive changes to correct it. It feels overwhelming and impossible. But
it’s not, fortunately.

11. What is your favorite part about writing?

I love sitting down and writing eight thousand words all at once, becoming
so involved in the story that I forget where I am and even sometimes who I
am. When I live completely in the world I’ve created, in the skins of the
people I’ve created, I get such a rush. I love when little hints my Muse
has dropped for me throughout a novel come together and I have that “Aha!”
moment where I realize how I’m going to solve things. I love it when I
manage to build up a character in my head so well that he starts
practically dictating to me.

12. What do you hope to accomplish with your writing in the future?

I plan to self-publish my first novel, Blue Rabbit, this year, and
continue to post my serialized novel on my website. I’m already writing
another young adult fantasy novel, which is a stand-alone like the first
one, and then I’d like to write a series, although I don’t have any
definitive plans for that yet. Hopefully, I’ll keep writing books until
I’m a hundred and fourteen. I’d also love to write and direct plays for
the stage, and maybe write for a TV show.

Jimena Novaro can be found on her blog where she posts a new chapter of her epic fantasy novel, The Withering Sword, every Sunday.

Kristen

I'm an author, a blogger, and a nerd. I read and write fantasy.
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