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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Author Interview: Renata F. Barcelos

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 62nd in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the "I sometimes write my manuscript on a cellphone" Renata F Barcelos and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I’d like to start my interview by asking if someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Renata:  Chaos. Absolutely, utterly chaos. But it makes sense to me, because I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Sometimes I have so many pieces of stories wanting to be told at the same time in my head that it’s a challenge to write one at a time.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Renata:  I love literary and contemporary fiction, but it must have some mystery. Mysteries are necessary to keep me reading. I think I’m a frustrated detective, so I try to solve puzzles by reading and writing… My favorite authors of all times are Ruth Rendell and Michael Connelly, but I love many others. Recently I loved books by Amanda Coe, Camilla Way, Simon Lelic, Chevy Stevens, Gillian Flynn, Leslie A. Gordon and Brian Spangler.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Renata:  Boy, I wish I knew… I usually write everywhere, even walking in the streets, what probably makes people think I’m crazy… Half of my last book (My Sore Hush-a-Bye) was written on my cell phone, which is not an easy task, let me assure you…

Paul:  Do you have any writing rituals?
Renata:  Can’t think of any… I just have to write when I have to write. I wish I had some rituals and was an organized writer, but no, unfortunately, it’s not my case.

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Renata:  I tried the traditional route in Portuguese and never even heard back from the publishers. Then I discovered the self-publishing route, and saw it was exactly what I wanted. I truly believe self-publishing is tailor-made for me. I’m a control freak with my work, and I love to do every single thing in the process. I enjoy editing (with the precious help of editors and beta-readers) formatting, choosing the cover, marketing, etc. It’s a pleasure for me to know that I’m responsible for every step of my books.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Renata:  My stories pretty much tell themselves to me. I usually have the basic plot in my head, and start writing. Some things may change, new characters appear, new subplots, but the basics I have from page one.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Renata:  My Sore Hush-a-Bye. It’s a coming-of-age mystery about Camille, a sixteen-year-old who learned to love and accept her sheltered life with Uncle Bob, after her mother left without explanation — just a note telling her to be good to him. For eight years she lived in a throwback world having Uncle Bob as her sole companion, old TV shows and old music as her comfort. But she's growing up now and everything is changing. She goes to public school, where no one talks to her, except Ashley. Now that Ashley's missing, Camille starts thinking about her mother and rethinking her life with Uncle Bob and everything she chose to believe.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Renata:  I write about dark and twisted themes in the hope that one day they will only exist in fiction. Unfortunately, lots of kids suffer ordeals like the one Camille faces in My Sore Hush-a-Bye. Since most of them are never going to have the chance to tell their stories, I think it's important to read about it, even if it's fictional, to be more alert to recognize the signs. There may be a child right next to you in need of help, and you may not see it if you don't know what to look for. I hope that my fictional stories might help give a voice to helpless children everywhere.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Renata:  I love to stay in with my daughter and watch loads of TV. I watch at least five TV shows regularly and others here and there. I also adore old TV shows and classic old movies. I read a lot on my kindle, too.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Renata:  Well, that’s a tricky question, isn’t it? I guess I hope you don’t tell them not to read my books!

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Renata:  When I finished Mean, I was so excited I hurried to publish thinking it was ready. It wasn’t. It had typos and grammar glitches. My first review said: “excellent story, but in urgent need of an editor”. I opened the book again and saw it all. Embarrassed, I took it off Amazon and hired an editor. The reviewer, Martha Bryce, was amazing, helped with edits, and re-reviewed the book after I republished. Good reviews keep piling up, and I’m absurdly grateful for that. I committed a terrible mistake and could be finished as a writer right then if didn’t have a good story... So, I BEG authors: NEVER publish a book that has not been professionally edited!! It can ruin your career, and gives a bad reputation to all self-published writers.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Renata:  I used to write poetry, but haven’t written one in years, don’t know why. I guess my mind is focused on stories now… Non-fiction is really not for me — just blog posts. But short-stories, I love to write. My first published book, Mean, is a novelette (around 15k words). I’m a concise writer and find it difficult to write long pieces. When I got more than 50k words with My Sore Hush-a-Bye I was really thrilled.
For my next novel, Myself in Blue, I’m aiming to at least 65k words, but don’t know if I’ll get there… Wish me luck!

Paul:  Many thanks, Renata. I wish you every success for the future.

About Renata F Barcelos: Renata F. Barcelos lives in Brazil with her beautiful and creative daughter and teaches English and Spanish as Second Languages. She watches way too much TV and reads perhaps too many (almost exclusively) mystery novels. Nonetheless, she has somehow convinced herself it's all work - research for her own stories. She writes for as long as she can remember, and has two published works: 'Mean: a Psychological Thriller Novelette' and 'My Sore Hush-a-Bye'. She's now working on a novel called 'Myself in Blue'.

Renata's Blog: Renata F Barcelos
Renata on Twitter: @RenataFBarcelos
Renata on Facebook: Renata F Barcelos
Renata's latest book: My Sore Hush-A-Bye (Amazon)

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