You can find my review here.
1. Let's begin with your book, can you tell me a few things about Swirls?
Swirls follows Julia’s story as her family decide to move away to the Amazon. Julia is a native tribe’s descendant, and as much as her father sees this opportunity as a good way for her to go back to her own roots, she isn’t very keen on abandoning her life in London for a forest she’s never been to. To top it all, she’s being haunted by a strange recurrent dream where she is abducted by a female red-head who will change her life forever. There is a lot of “family roots” theme in this story and Julia is in the centre of it. Folklore, friendship, self-discovery and a lot of mystery is also there, needless to mention a good romance – though it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before!
2. What triggered the idea of the series, where did it all begin?
It all began with a very vivid dream I had of being abducted by a strange female red-head. I don’t remember ever having such a realistic dream in my life. It will haunt me for the rest of my life, I’m sure. I have re-created the same dream as best as I could and made it Julia’s. That was the start point for the series. I didn’t have a plot, I didn’t have any characters, I just began to imagine what someone else would have made of this dream, and what if it hadn’t been a dream at all.
3. How did you create your main characters, are they based on anyone?
They are not particularly based on anybody I know, but I suppose I have picked up traces of people I love – and secretly hate – and put the pieces together to form my characters. The only character that I can say that was mostly inspired by someone is Halola, which is very much like my best friend back from High School. We’re still in touch nowadays, but she doesn’t know how greatly she inspired this adorable character. “Halolas” DO exist!!
4. What about the natives? Have you ever been in a native village in the Amazon?
I have never been anywhere near a village in the Amazon - I was born and raised in Sao Paulo State, in the countryside southeast of Brazil, and I’ve never had a chance to travel to Manaus. But from primary school, we learned a lot about the native people from our country and so I suppose that has made me extra aware of these people’s constant struggle to survive “outside” intervention on a daily basis.
When working on the plot for Swirls, the idea of linking Julia to tribe people, with their own unique stories and superstitions, just came naturally. I don’t know how I thought about it. It just popped in my mind and it fit. The fact that native people in Brazil today are survivors of the modern world and that they cling to their own ways and traditions no matter what, made me start imagining that they might be more open to what’s really out there. What if stories and superstitions were true? That’s what triggered my imagination. And so I created the Kanuayed tribe from scratch.
5. In Swirls a somewhat common belief that aliens had already visited our planet comes to life. Do you believe in Aliens?
Firstly, I strongly believe it would be such a tremendous waste of space in the universe if other living and intelligent beings – similar to us or otherwise – didn’t exist anywhere else but on Earth. And secondly, I believe them to exist somewhere out there – or maybe right before our eyes, who knows! – until I’m proven otherwise. ;-)
6. Where do you usually draw inspiration from?
I read a lot (usually YA, but some adult fiction too), but I also like to watch a variety of films and TV series and listen to talk shows on the radio. These are great inspiration sources and a great way to hone my skills as a writer.
Also, when I walk to the supermarket, or anywhere else for that matter, I observe people, and start to think (almost unconsciously): Are they happily walking to wherever it is they’re going to? Is the person smiling? Crying? Whispering on their mobile phones? What could be going on in their lives? Is that woman married or single, maybe a widow? Maybe she is looking for a job.... and these thoughts can get anywhere, sometimes leading me to think of a situation that could potentially be a starting point of a new story.
I keep an ideas file on my computer (if you do that too, don’t forget to back up your files) and many notebooks around the house and one in my bag for when I go out. I also build a mental file of people’s appearance in my head so that I can draw from them when building a whole new character.
I listen to music a lot. My tastes vary according to mood. When I’m writing a romantic scene, for example, I adjust the music genre accordingly. I find it very helpful and inspiring.
7. What do you think is the best and what's the worst thing about being a writer?
The best thing is the actual writing process, the creation part. Being efficiently able to get into words what’s cooking up inside my head is the best part of it, for me.
The worst thing about being a writer is that it can get lonely sometimes and I had to learn to be self-soothing as away to give myself motivation to go on. It’s also scary when I get stuck. Creepy thoughts begin to worm themselves inside my head, trying to convince me that if I’m stuck, it’s because my story isn’t good enough. But I’ve learned not to fret about it. I give it time, have some coffee, play with the dog, breathe in the fresh air in the back garden, and when I come back to my piece, I feel invigorated and ready to tackle the challenge.
8. How was your trip through writing and publishing so far?
From drafting to publishing, the journey has been long but quite rewarding for me, in many ways. The day I finished my novel, I stared at my computer screen and thought: I made it. This is it. I wrote my first novel. It’s hard to describe the feeling. I was mostly scared. Scared of the next step, because I knew that becoming an indie writer wouldn’t be an easy path to take. But after a lot of reading, research and about a tonne of sugar and litres and more litres of coffee, I finally published Swirls.
The cover of Swirls was a “love at first sight” kind of thing. The amazing artist Claudia McKinney from Phatpuppy Art simply knows her craft, and I fell in love with the white horse on the cover the moment I laid my eyes on it.
But now that book 2 (Threads) is almost reaching publishing stage, I feel a lot more confident. I thank the support of bloggers though. I wouldn’t have fared well without their amazing enthusiasm and unconditional passion for books, at all.
9. Do you have any tips or suggestions for new writers?
Persevere, and then persevere some more. It’s absolutely essential to believe in yourself even when you think things couldn’t get any worse during the writing process. You just have to find the courage to run over your troubles and make yourself keep going forward.
10.What should we expect from you in the future? When does the second book on the series coming out and are there any more projects under construction?
I expect Threads (The Outsiders #2) to be out soon (within a couple of months). Threads will continue to follow Julia’s story as she gets deeper and deeper into the world of the Guardians.
Book 3 (nameless for the time being) is being planned at the moment. I hope I can publish it at some point this year, but right now is hard to be sure of dates. If there is one thing I’ve learned from Swirls is that there is no need to rush. So I will take my time and make sure that when it’s ready, I’ll be able to deliver a story you will come to appreciate and recommend to your friends and family.