Author Interview: Francisco Santamarina; The Memories of Frances X

ImageI am happy to announce that #Indie Author Francisco Santamarina, aka Josefina Lindte has joined me for an author interview.  If you have not read the Sci-fi novella or have not heard about it, you can see my review here.  Mr. Santamarina has given me the time to answer some questions and also provided an excerpt from the novella.  Hope you enjoy!

1.   Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a new writer, having dibble-dabbled in poetry and stories since I was young, but never seriously. This novella is my first attempt to put myself out there as a serious author.

I grew up mainly in Atlanta, GA, and have come to love the beauty of the South – the landscapes, the plants, and the richness of its history and cultures. But, no matter how many times I move back, I always get an itch to begin traveling again, usually sooner rather than later!

2.   What do you do when you are not writing?

I like to travel extensively, exploring new parts of the world and trying delicious foods from all over. I have been fortunate enough to live on every continent except for Africa and Antarctica; they are both in my sights!

3.   Do you have a day job as well?

I just began working for a company in Madison, Wisconsin, and am looking forward to the opportunities that position holds

for me.

4.   When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I began writing my book when I was living in Argentina in 2011, at the beginning of November of that year. I finished writing and editing almost a year later, in October of 2012.

5.   How did you choose the genre you write in?

I wanted a way to express my ideas in such a way as to not be trapped or ensnared by the preconceptions of today. I have many thoughts on what might be, and by writing with a science fiction slant, I was able to portray a world in which such ideas are realized. But, to be fair, I would classify my book more as speculative fiction than science fiction.  I have come to start calling my book “revolutionary fiction”, because within the realm of speculative fiction, it focuses specifically on a revolution, its triggers, and its aftermath.

6.   Where do you get your ideas?

Whenever I have a chance to sit and think, to really let a salient idea that popped into my mind grow and mature, they tend to get stuck in my head!  So I write them down in a journal, and in the process flesh them out a bit. Whenever I come back to these journals years later, I find them to be wonderful starting points for new ideas, philosophies, and universes. Sometimes, they aren’t the best ideas. But, every now and then, I come across a poorly-written note that acts as a trigger for my urge to write.

7.   Do you ever experience writer’s block?

If I ever met someone who had never experienced writer’s block and wanted to be a serious writer, I’d be surprised!  When trying to craft a narrative in my head, and improvise a story out of a rough set of notes, sometimes I get stuck in the details, despite the larger image being so clear in my head. I have to leave the story, and move on to another after a break from writing. Sometimes I can’t get that “blocked” story to settle the way I want it to, and when that happens, I set it aside as inspiration for some other story later on down the road.

8.   Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Because I pull many ideas from my journals, I sometimes find myself transcribing those entries, and then building on them. Other times, when focusing more on the narrative than themes or ideas, I will try to construct an outline, so as to direct my thoughts and prevent me from getting stuck in the details of one part of the story.

9.   Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” had a huge impact on me, and I only realized that when I began to re-read it recently. It really defined a lot of how I view the world around me. Similarly, “Ender’s Game” and several other books by Orson Scott Card guided me through my childhood, opening my eyes to the power of the imagination in saying, “What might be?” “What could be?” “How can it get to be this way?” Questions like those are what drive my creative process.

10.  Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Well, finding the right publishing service was a bit tricky. I spent considerable time researching the various possibilities, comparing prices and services offered. My biggest challenge was during the editing process. Finding people to edit my book and to give honest and critical feedback was not easy. Then, to take that information and use it to improve the book, while staying true to my original intent, only compounded the difficulty. Finally, learning when to say to myself that “enough is enough” and stop nitpicking was the hardest, and most rewarding, aspect of the editing process.

11.  If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

No. I learned so much about the publishing process and myself that I would not have otherwise. Plus, I can take all the good and the bad that I learned, and use it to help and advise other people. I am tempted to say that I would have liked to have written a novel rather than a novella. But I think that my choice was the right one. Baby steps!

12.  Can you tell us about your  book?

Well, “The Memories of Frances X” is set in what some may call a dystopian future. Perhaps for others, a utopia. What is important is that Frances X, the narrator, represents an angry and frustrated portion of society. For her past actions, she has been sequestered in “the facility,” where she awaits her eventual execution. To pass the time, she records her life story, as well as her observations on society, religion, politics, and the like. It’s written in something of an epistolary format in that it is a series of journal entries, so the more you read, the more you get a sense of who she was, and what her life is like at the facility.

13.  Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Well, just about everything is pulled from some part of my life, some thought I once had, or a situation I went through. As I began hearing the voice of the narrator more clearly, it became less the case of adding my own life experiences to the story, and felt more as though we had both gone through similar events.

14.  What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

The third chapter is by far my favorite because it is so rich in imagery! It was a challenge for me to write it, because I wasn’t exactly sure how to describe the things that were so clearly visible in my imagination. I oftentimes find myself thinking back to that chapter, whenever I see an image of the ocean.

15.  How did you come up with the title?

I know that most writers aren’t supposed to do this, but I had the title already set, pretty early on in the writing process. When I decided to pull so heavily from my journals when crafting the bulk of the novella, the title was almost a no-brainer!

16.  What project are you working on now?

I am working on a full-length book right now. The idea actually came out of my novella, and I decided to explore it in greater detail.

17.  Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

Absolutely. My goal is to have a whole universe of characters under the banner of “Frances X,” with each book representing a different “dimension,” a different possibility of being. There will always be a character named Frances X, and always a character named Josefina Lindte. If “Frances X” is just an idea, how might that idea look in different times and situations? I want to explore this, as well as the idea of revolution. Hopefully, all of my books will fall under the banner of revolutionary fiction, within speculative fiction.

18.  What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The one criticism that I keep hearing is that the novella doesn’t have a traditional narrative structure, which turns people off. Luckily, I knew that not everyone would be responsive, so I’m not too surprised!

The best compliment is when I hear that someone I know, but would never expect to even pick up my novella, has read it and is fascinated by it. There is no greater feeling than to know that your words have had a positive impact on another person.

19.  Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

There is an old saying: before you die, you have to plant a tree, have a child, and write a book. Writing is the hardest one of all, and you should be proud that you are making the effort.

Even if it stinks, even if your stories aren’t as well-received as you’d like, you are writing. You are putting yourself out there. And that is an amazing reward in and of itself.

20.  Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you for your support! I hope that the book has given you much to think about, and that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

_____________________________________________________________

I want to say thank you to Mr. Santamarina for his time and sharing a little about himself, his book and his writing process.  I’ve included the links to his novel for sale on Amazon. Now for a excerpt….Enjoy!

It is important to have an objective, a goal for my writings, in these final days. I
doubt I’ll get a chance to organize everything as coherently as I’d like to before I see her
again, so I am going to share a little mental image I have created. It helped ground me
when I would get lost in the hive-mind, and find myself freefloating within it. 

Not a lot of people willingly disengage from the primary access ways within the
hive-mind, but it is very interesting when 1 does. The sights alone are hard to explain,
an incredible mishmash of raw, unfettered data that the brain cannot fully process. The
mind therefore perceives them as the most fantastic constructs that can never exist:
towers of 1s and 0s that grow out of the side of a purple squirrel, an ancient Japanese
warrior wrapped infinitely around a finger made of rainbows, the only constant road
being a frilly Mobius strip that travels through every 1 of your cells…Let me try to
describe this, again.

Imagine: There is a beautiful, blue sky, with just a sprinkling of clouds overhead,
so as to make it bearable to look up and gaze upon it. The sea is that rich color which
looks a bruised black/blue from afar. But when you gaze directly down upon it, you can
see the swirls of green and hints of celeste that subtly shift throughout, as the sunlight
reaches down to disappear among the ocean’s depths.

You are looking down from above, floating in a stationary position. Directly
below you is a simple sailing ship|a frau|a crawler|whatever kind of floating vessel
you want to imagine. Off in the distance to the ship’s port-side, you see a similar vessel.
You turn around, and to the starboard-side you see another. As you slowly turn your
gaze, you see that there are ships all around you, each very far away. Every ship is
unique in appearance, but alike in that they float, and that they are floating very slowly
towards 1 another. 

The ship directly below you is in fact your mind.  It is ever-changing and in
eternal flux, its flags|emblems|decorations|crew transforming as you yourself
transform and change. It blatantly disregards social constructs for better or for worse, as
it is you in your purest form. 

Every other ship you see similarly represents a unique sapiens mind. Every time
2 people interact, it is as though their ships come abreast of each other, exchanging
knowledge in the 1 sense and goods in the other. The flags of these other ships shift
from black-and-white death to colorful friendship, promises of death or life contingent
on nothing but your whims and perception of the damnable, lovable World which you
choose to perceive. Your choice to come abreast of another, to share and to grow
together, is a barely-controllable flight of fancy.

Each time you feel great sorrow, hatred, or other negative emotions, it is as
though the sea around you grows turbulent and tormentful, the sailors onboard fearing
for their lives as they lose sight of any neighboring ships that could provide aid and
succor.

But sometimes it’s nice to let go of all that, and float by 1self on a nice, slightly
cloudy day such as today.

Links for Purchase:

Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/The-Memories-Frances-X-ebook/dp/B009QV3X8U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1359157630&sr=8-2&keywords=the+memories+of+frances+X

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-memories-of-frances-x-josefina-lindte/1113442470?ean=9781477267905

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