Interview with R.J. Mirabal
R.J. Mirabal was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for us today on his debut novel, published by Black Rose Writing.
R.J., what is your current project? Please tell us under what genre it falls and give us a short description.
I am currently working on the draft of the sequel to my first published novel, ‘The Tower of Il Serrohe.’ Titled ‘Extreme Dust Storms May Exist,’ it is a southwest contemporary fantasy set along the Middle Rio Grande Valley between Albuquerque and Los Lunas. The story centers on Esther Jiron, a sixteen year old honor student, who is drawn into an alternate valley, the Valle Abajo, which strongly resembles the Rio Grande except for the medieval lifestyles and the presence of a mild form of magic. Once again the clanspeople of the Valle are under the cruel siege of the Soreyes who terrorize and dominate the Valle. Esther is called to the Valle to help the clanspeople fight off this continuing threat, just as they had called Don Vargas more recently and a curandera back in 1905. It is my hope to conclude the saga in a third installment entitled, ‘Zero Visibility Possible.’
Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?
‘The Tower’ is my first published book. Back in the late 70s and early 80s I wrote a number of stillborn science fiction novels that were neither original enough to publish nor skillfully written. But I learned a great deal about writing novel length stories, character development, plotting, etc.
Who are your favorite authors and what kind of books do you love best?
Since I first could read, I was always more fascinated by stories beyond reality. In Junior High, I got hooked on science fiction and I still admire the icons of that genre: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Jack Williamson, Kurt Vonnegut, and dozens more. Then along came J.R.R. Tolkien and fantasy was added to my list along with great mystery writers from Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to many new writers such as Henning Mankell, author of the Kurt Wallander series. Two of my favorite writers are fellow New Mexicans: Tony Hillerman, the famous writer of Navajo detective mysteries, and Rudolfo Anaya, well known author of the Hispanic experience. Both writers have evoked the New Mexico landscape, culture, and lifestyle. I confess one of my all time favorite novels is ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë who employed that wonderful Victorian style of detail and depth most of us modern writers are reluctant to attempt.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I start out as a pantser once I have an idea that intrigues me. I usually write one or two chapters (not always the first chapters) off the cuff, usually in a torrent. Then I step back and start mulling and plotting in such detail I can copy my notes to the draft and flesh out a few more sentences. Strangely enough, when I’m plotting, I’m still being a pantser because I seldom go back and make drastic plot changes, unless I’ve discovered a logical gap or have a revelation to spark up the story.
What writing rituals do you have, if any?
Unfortunately, life happens and a regular ritual for writing is seldom possible; however, I find I do best if I write after quickly checking email in the morning or first thing after lunch. Once I have my outline/plot notes, it’s easier to jump right in at any time since the hard thought is done.
What hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
I love to travel though I don’t do as much as desired. I have a 4wheeler, which allows me to get out in the wilderness (desert and mountains) almost every week. I also love music and am learning to play the hammered dulcimer. I also volunteer in two organizations: a motorcycle club, and The New Mexico Dulcimer Festival. Watching good movies and engaging television, particularly PBS, is a favorite way to relax.
Please tell my readers how they can get more information on you and your books.
You can find out all kinds of information about me and my books at my website.