Posted by jennifer gibson on Sunday, November 16, 2014 Under: November2014
Please welcome Aneta Cruz, an award-winning author with four published books and an anthology. Congratulations on winning Silver in the Pre-teen/Tween category at the Literary Classics International Book Awards! You must be very excited about this achievement! Were you surprised to have won?
I was excited but not surprised. I know it sounds odd, but from the moment I set my fingertips onto the keyboard, I knew that this particular story was special. I think everyone has had that feeling of "knowing". When I entered The Mysterious Mandolin into the contest, I knew it would place well.
As an accomplished and talented writer with a BA in English Literature and MFA in Creative Writing, was your goal to write novels full time? Is this a dream come true?
I would love to write full time. And I think I do, because when I'm not writing, I'm thinking of writing. I mean, I'm plotting the stories in my head, imagining the settings, thinking up conflicts and character traits. I do this all day/night long, even though I still have a full time job.
You had grown up in the Czech Republic, did this inspire you or have an impact on your latest books such as the The Guardian?
Absolutely. My country is a story in itself. Its rich history, culture, architecture, and oral narratives are very important to me, and I always draw heavily from them. They are my bottomless well of ideas and inspirations.
Your tween novella, The Mysterious Mandolin, a thrilling and mystical tale, is quite different from your other stories and in a younger age group, what prompted you to write this one?
I grew up on fairy tales. No, not the Disney kind where everything is nicely wrapped up with a fancy bow in the end. I grew up on dark tales, with fearsome creatures lurking in the shadows, in which the hero/heroine always had some supernatural help. Really, they were coming-of-age stories that tested one's bravery and loyalty. With a sprinkle of magic. Writing The Mysterious Mandolin just came so naturally to me. I often feel like the story wrote itself. :)
You self-published two books on your own, did you find it to be a challenging experience to do this?
I loved the experience because it allowed me to oversee and produce everything from choosing the fonts, to the setting of the books' interiors, covers, and more. Also, it took no time at all. The books were ready for the public as soon as I was. No need to wait for long publisher-made deadlines.
Can we expect more books from you this year?
Yes. My memoir PAPER BOATS is in its final stages of production. It's an amazing true story that illustrates the lives of the young population in the then Czechoslovakia just before and after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. It portrays the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, and the funny and the sad of my and peers' lives. Like The Guardian, Paper Boats is a literary work, even though it can be categorized as Young Adult.
Your novel, The Guardian, is not only richly filled with a historical anecdote, it also incorporates an ethereal supernatural tone - what inspired your imagination for this story?
It was a dark poem, "Polednice" (I saw it translated as Noon Witch somewhere, but that's a really, really loose translation), by a Czech author K. J. Erben. His collection of dark poems, Kytice, is perhaps my most prized possession. I must have read it a thousand times. And when I read it, an idea for my own story sparks. Erben is to Czechs what Poe is to Americans. At least as far as the creepiness goes.
What type of research did you do for The Guardian? Were you able to do any interviews?
Tons of research. I've interviewed people in my country, people who have survived the Holocaust, I went to one of the Labor Camps, I took photos of iconic architectural buildings, I read articles, books, and memoirs, and then I let my characters loose. I love what my characters have done with The Guardian. It is a story that will grip you from the beginning and even after it's over, it won't let you go.
You are a fan of J.K. Rowling and her series, Harry Potter. Are you hoping to follow her in her literary footsteps?
Harry Potter stories are the love of my life. They remind me of the tales I grew up on. My kids and I are so into them, we can spew dialogue at the drop of the hat! And so I thought it fitting that we see the real deal. We flew to Florida this past summer and munched on chocolate frogs and every flavoured jelly beans, washed them down with Butterbeer, did some magic with replica wands, ate at the Leaky Cauldron, fought off Dementors, and snooped around both Harry Potter Worlds until they had to throw us out. That's as much following in J. K. Rowling's footsteps as I can do. I want to make my own path in the world of literature.
Since moving to the United States, is there anything that struck you as being very different compared to where you grew up in the Czech Republic?
People here are friendlier than in Czech. But then again in Czech, people mind their own business. And everyone drives here! I think there are way too many cars in America.
Is there anything that you miss from your childhood home? Any favorite foods or traditions?
The food, of course. How I miss Czech food! And walking. And the weather. And the trains. And the ancient architecture. And Saint Nick's night (I write about that in Heartbreak Hotel). And castles. And bookstores on every corner. Well, I miss it all. I go back home every chance I get.
What has been your most memorable experience since moving to America?
I don't think I can narrow it down to one. I have many good experiences and many bad ones as well. They kind of balance themselves out. That's probably how it ought to be, anyway.
Not only are you a skillful writer with a superb imagination, you’re also an avid reader. Who are the top five favorite authors that you love to read?
Erben, like I mentioned above. Poe is my other go-to. You know, lately I've been thinking about whether it is really the favorite authors or stories we are so mesmerized by. I came up with the latter. For example, I love Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills but can't stand his Never Let Me Go. I love King's The Shining but hate Thinner. I love The Hours by Michael Cunningham, can't stand his By Nightfall. Or I love the Harry Potter series but am not at all interested in reading The Cuckoo's Calling. So, rather than authors, I'll give five books from a range of genres that are worth reading because they are great stories and they have literary merit.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Being There by Jerzy Kosinsky
City of Glass by Paul Auster
Every writer is uniquely different and has their own quirks when it comes to composing stories, some can write anywhere as long as they have their laptop or pen and paper, others tend to adhere to a schedule. How about you? Do you wait for inspiration or do you like to stick to a routine?
I cannot afford to have a schedule right now because my life is just so packed. I do, however, write when I must. When the story just has to be poured out on paper because it doesn't fit in my head anymore. I can't wait for the holidays, which is when I'll have no work or school. I'll get a lot of writing done. And it's about time. I can feel my head swelling like a pimple, ready to pop--a little visual never hurt. :)
Some writers love having a cup of tea or coffee to accompany their muse while others insist on chocolate, is there anything that is a must-have item for you?
Not really. Coffee, tea is fine, but it always goes cold because when I write, I don't eat or drink or breathe. I don't think I exist. Something/someone else entirely takes possession of my body and I'm just a vessel whose fingers move across the keyboard.
I’ve noticed that you’ve named your dog Poe, is that cheeky nod to Edgar Allen Poe?
Well, he's dark, mysterious, thinks of himself as fancy when he lays on my bed with his front paws crossed, yet constantly begs for attention and treats, and then acts as though I'm some sort of a peasant that must cater to his every whim. Poe enough for ya? You decide. :)
If your life was a movie, what would it be like? A hilarious physical comedy starring Sandra Bullock such as Miss Congeniality, inspiring like Good Will Hunting, or perhaps an animated tale?
Gosh, it would definitely be a sitcom. My family and I are a joke! Everything that could possibly go wrong, does. Murphy's Law is what we seem to live by.
What are you most thankful for?
I'm thankful for the things that are free and most necessary in life. Health, laughter, love, true friends, family, silence, common sense, imagination, and great stories.
More about Aneta and her books:
THE MYSTERIOUS MANDOLIN - a tale of two stepsisters whose love for each other overcomes death, wickedness of dark magic, and bullying. This fairy tale juxtaposes the light and the dark side of characters and settings while it examines the lengths to which people would go in order to achieve what they most desire.
Kindle: The Mysterious Mandolin - Kindle edition by Aneta Cruz, Cecelia Cruz. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Black and white paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Mandolin-B-W/dp/1493560344/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416008982&sr=8-1&keywords=aneta+cruz
Full Color paperback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Mysterious-Mandolin-Aneta-Cruz/dp/1493542109/ref=tmm_pap_title_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416008982&sr=8-1
THE GUARDIAN - Dr. Josef Stein was trained as a man of science and rationality, but after a tragic experience, he believes that there is something within—or even without—the human body science cannot explain. And Stein would do anything to witness it! When his patients begin seeing a ghost, and a woman suspected of killing her child even accuses this spirit of the crime, Stein takes it upon himself to investigate. Unexpectedly, evidence of a supernatural phenomenon starts to mount. The good doctor’s quest to see is ignited with fervor. He thinks he is on the verge of uncovering the veracity of a thousand-year-old myth when his research gets interrupted by the Gestapo. Stein turns to his colleagues and friends for help, but they begin to suspect that the doctor’s determination may have unhinged his mind. Has Stein, after years of treating the crazy, gone mad himself?
Kindle (will be 0.99 on 12/9/14): http://www.amazon.com/Guardian-Aneta-Cruz-ebook/dp/B00KPN840A/ref=asap_B00F6ZQZVW_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416009110&sr=1-2
HEARTBREAK HOTEL - Always falling head over heels for men who have nothing to offer her, and running from those who do, Kara realizes that her quest to find Mr. Right is harder than expected. As if her “mostly ludicrous” dating escapades weren’t enough to deal with, her unusual combination of friends—one gay, one a virgin, one dating a married man, and one always telling her to “give it up on the first date in order to start a flourishing relationship”—isn’t of much help in matters of the heart either. Perhaps a kiss in the middle of the Charles Bridge could finally bring her happiness. But wait! That’s just an old myth, isn’t it?
In : November2014
Tags: "aneta cruz" "the guardian" "the mysterious mandolin" "heartbreak hotel"