[Author Interview] Mayra Calvani, author of 'Dark Lullaby' talks books

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. She’s currently touring the blogosphere to promote her supernatural thriller, Dark Lullaby.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I lived several years in Turkey, where part of the story takes place. It was an incredible experience. Not only did I learn to speak Turkish, but I also made wonderful friends and learned a ton about their customs and folklore.
Many Turkish people believe in the cin (pronounced ‘jean’). Not the jinn as westerners know it; you know, the genie that comes out of magic lamps. The cin is a much darker creature that could be lightly compared to the fairy. In Turkish myth, it is a being that lives in the forests. It can be good or evil. It is of spirit form but can shapeshift into an animal or human. Like the western fairy, it is often volatile, mischievous and prone to pranks, some of which can be deadly.
Now, want me to get creepy? It has a bizarre taste for human liver and, when in human form, its feet are set backwards.

I was darkly fascinated by the accounts I heard, fascinated enough to write a novel. Thus, Dark Lullaby was born.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Every book that I’ve written has been hard to write. Though writing is my life and, in a way, like breathing, I have a love & hate relationship with it. First of all, the mechanics of the craft are always a challenge: constructing the plot, creating the characters, balancing all the elements, i.e. description, dialogue, narrative, symbolic imagery, etc. Then there’s the word choice and the agonizing over verbs, adjectives, adverbs.

Besides this, there’s the emotional aspect of the journey: struggling with the inner critic, bouts of self doubt, writer’s block, irritability over not writing, dealing with negative criticism, remorse due to sacrificing time with family and friends, spending hours, days, months, years sitting at the computer without any assurance that the book will be read by enough people or earn enough money to make all that time worthwhile.

But as writers, we are artists, and the artist’s soul is an interesting, compulsive animal. Writing is our vocation, our drug, and we must have a regular fix or go insane.

At the end, after a good writing day which may happen while still experiencing all of the above, I’m sweetly exhausted and at peace.

Three things that have had a pivotal influence on my journey are:

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.

Keeping myself accountable and organized.

Focusing on the little, non-threatening steps instead of the end result. That is, thinking, “Okay, now I’m going to sit down with my novel for 90 minutes” instead of “I have to write a 400-page novel.” When you take small steps toward your goal each day, you don’t freeze and the end result takes care of itself at its perfect time.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My current publishers are Twilight Times Books and Guardian Angel Publishing (for my children’s books), but I self published Dark Lullaby after getting my rights back from Whiskey Creek Press.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

How absolutely cool, neat, and wonderful it feels to hold that first print book in your hands!

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

Gosh, that was a long time ago, when I was in my twenties. I think I screamed. I couldn’t stop looking at it, inside and out. I kept thinking, “Did I really write this?” It’s an intense feeling of elation and validation.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I recently completed a YA novel, the first in a series of four, which landed me an agent. She’s currently shopping it around. In the meantime, I’m working on another YA while trying to complete an anthology titled, Latina Authors and Their Muses, forthcoming from Twilight Times Books in 2014.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

For one thing, never fall for a beautiful, mysterious woman while drinking at a Turkish tavern—you may regret it!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Dark Lullaby may challenge your mind with questions about justice and the higher good but, more than anything, it’s just an original story set in an exotic location that will make you experience some thrills and chills.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks for having me! I enjoyed answering your questions. I’d like to invite readers to check out my website at www.mayracalvani.com. Thanks!

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