If you have been reading my blog, you’ll know that a few weeks back I read a fantastic novel -Mundahlia by the very talented and friendly R.J Gonzalas. I was blessed enough to share my love for the book and to and ask him a few questions about the novel and his writing process. So sit back, relax, enjoy a cuppa and if you haven't already pick up this book right now- damn it !!!
B: Jett is such a self aware and confident [at times humorously charming] character how do you find the right blend between proud and genuine confidence when writing in a males perspective when many characters in other novels are depicted as either highly arrogant or dependably weak?
R.J: When writing Mundahlia, I knew from the very beginning that all the characters in this book were different from one another. Jett and Rini are sort of a blend of many things that just make them their own unique individual. Jett is such an interesting character. He is confident and carries himself well, and I'd be lying if I said he wasn't somewhat of a flirt, haha, but he also has that respect and curiosity toward women and others. Finding the right blend was difficult. He has that classic charm with a modern-day style. Many times had I thought about going back and changing things, but in the end I kept it just how it was and am glad I did.
B: Rini also showed positive signs of being aware of herself as well as abiding by her morals and self- respect how important to you think it is to establish a strong, assertive and protactive female character ?
R.J: I think it was very important, you know, I wanted a different character, I wanted Rini to stand out. I didn't want her character to be one-dimensional. Sure she may be a little curvier then the usual YA characters these days, but she loves that about herself, and doesn't let herself be bullied. She also isn't afraid to speak her mind, and sticks up for what she knows is right. Those alone are the qualities that I love about her. Someone who accepts and loves themselves just the way they are.
B: Did you create the concept and mythology of the Mundahlians?
R.J: I created the world of Mundahlia, and gave new life to old myths and legends, and gave a reasoning as to why these Gods and deities in egypt had the features or heads of animals and bodies of humans, as to why interesting hybrid creatures like mermaids, centaurs, minotaurs..etc. exist in Greek and Roman mythology but in nothing else. All of these ancient hybrid creatures were interesting, their images are inked in pages of books, on the walls of some egyptian pyramids or carved in statues in our world and it fascinates me how people back then had such vision of these creatures. I decided to give a reasoning and a story/history as to why these beings "all of a sudden" disappeared. While also incorporating other mysterious landmarks such as the Bermuda Triangle. So history and science played a huge part in the making of this series. The Mundahlian Era series is essentially their side of the story.
B: What research [if any] went into writing Mundahlia?
R.J: I spent many hours of many days doing research. I studied mythology, researched strange happenings in the Bermuda Triangle, watched many Animal Planet and Discovery Channel programming about insects and animals, and the way they act. I also researched different languages, which is how I've come up with some of the words in this series. It's really difficult to pinpoint exactly what I've researched because there was so much involved. I basically went from site to site, surfing around the internet and reading some different books on a variety of topics from paranormal destinations to animals.
B: Did you have a soundtrack while writing it and if so what did you listen to?
R.J: I do have a playlist I have on my iTunes that I listened to along the way or thought would fit Mundahlia. I did make a short video playlist on it, but had to remove it, I may just make a playlist and post it on my blog soon.
Until then, I can say that it involves: Hans Zimmer, Enigma, Enya, Sarah Brightman, as well as few other artists like Clare Maguire, Duran Duran, and more.
B: What are your favourite three authors?
R.J: I have so many authors who I consider my favorites. I love Simone Elkeles and her ability to craft novels with raw emotion that make you feel alongside the characters. There is also Stephenie Meyer, a lot of people bash her for some reason, but I think she is fantastic and can't wait to see if she has something else in store for us. I read all the books in The Twilight Saga in the same week more or less. But there are far more authors out there who I consider my favorites as well.
B: There seemed to be a strong cultural influence when reading Mundahlia. Did this come into play as a result of your cultural background and if not where did the inspiration come from?
R.J: It did come as a result of my heritage. I wanted to give light to a different type of character while at the same time giving readers a little sneek peek into another culture.
B: When did you start writing?
R.J: Mundahlia began as a short 5 page story I'd written after having a dream my freshman year of high school (2006) Ever since I was small, I've written short stories, just for fun, and keep them in this box. Sometime during my senior year (2009-2010) I found that short 5 page story and said, "you know what, I have something here" and I began the actual process of adapting the story into a full length novel. The last few scenes of the novel were part of the dream I had.
B: Do you prefer short story or novel?
R.J: I LOVE writing and reading novels. Now I write too much, originally Mundahlia was about 500 pages more or less, but I had to go back and remove some things to bring it down to at least 350. It's very difficult for me to write a short story now, but not impossible. Short stories are to-the-point and wrap it up in under 140 pages. But on the other hand, novels give you more in-depth things and lets you get to know the characters more, or let the story "marinate" for that extra "flavor."
B: You said your pleasure was reading romance, what if any romantic characters inspired the love shared between Rini and Jett?
R.J: There are many famous couples out there in the romance world. It's very hard to select specific characters, but if I had to select the top 3 most influential couples in romance history, I would have to go with the obvious. Romeo and Juliet had the forbidden love that made readers want to urge their relationship on. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride & Prejudice) have that timeless romance as well. Two lovers from different upbringings, families, or lifestyles. Then of course there is also another timeless couple, Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. I wanted to capture that olden time romance in a modern day world.
B: What animal do you think you would be if you were a Mundahlian?
R.J: I think I would be a wolf Mundahlian, not just because in the book there are only a few of them left, but because wolves are fascinating creatures.
B: Is there any advice that you would give a writer looking to self-publish and promote there own novel?
R.J: Yes, there is! I would recommend (only if you would like a chance at traditional publishing) querying for a little bit first, you never know, you could have the exact story an agent/publishing house is looking for. If you would like to self-publish, I would recommend researching many different types of self-publishing companies (Createspace, Lulu, Lightning Source..etc.) and choose the one you feel would be best. Then find/create a cover. I bought the license to use the hourglass image from Istockphoto.com, there (or other stock photography sites) you will find many photographs you can use. You have to read the license careful though, as it will list things you can and cannot do with the image, as well as how many times you are able to use that image depending on the type of license. Promotion is both fun and challenging. There are many tools you can use like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube to promote your book, and then there is buying advertising on sites. Yet another way is to print out copies of your book and go to book blogs and see if a blogger will review your book. I wish any writers out there the best of luck in their writing endeavors!
Thanks so much! :D