Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
Some of my favorite authors are Jodi Picoult, Khaled Hosseini, Rohinton Mistry, Shanti Sekran, Fredrik Backman – to name a few. I love how these authors tell stories from many different perspectives, challenging perceptions and allowing the reader to understand the motive behind a character’s action. When I write, my goal is to give the reader a complete picture so they can form their own opinion about the characters in relation to the plot.
Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?
All of my characters are close to my heart, especially the characters in 60 Days and Missing Girl. While there isn’t one character that I’m more inclined to call my favorite, I am often surprised that I enjoy molding my male characters. One character I especially enjoyed creating is Manny in 60 Days. We just get to know him a little in the book, but in the sequel we’ll learn a lot more about this complex man who has lost so much in his life yet still manages to move forward in life.
Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.
In 60 Days and Missing Girl ( a novella), there were very dark scenes that included assault, torture, and death. Writers, much like actors, must get into character when writing to make scenes read authentic. Getting into the head of a brutal man like my character, Yasiel, was difficult and emotionally overwhelming. I think it’s why it took me so long to finish 60 Days because I needed to take mental health breaks. Also, I’m not a graphic writer in the sense that I am going to go all the way with scenes where a sexual assault may take place. That’s not me. I can’t write in detail scenes like those those. So, finding a way to write these scenes to let the reader know what’s happening without actually “going there,” takes some careful planning.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
The best part about being an author is getting to tell other people’s stories, albeit fictional, and bringing a new perspective to the table. I like writing human interest stories and family dramas that are sensational and taken from today’s headlines, but also in a way that is relatable to my readers. Hearing readers say that they’ve gained a new perspective on a topic or were drawn to take action after reading one of my books makes my heart sing. It’s also great to see all your hard work in print and you accomplished something that others only dream about.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
Write for yourself and don’t expect overnight success. No one is successful overnight. It takes hard work, planning, patience, and a lot of trust that the Universe is always working for you. One of the biggest mistakes I made after I wrote The Waiting Room and Missing Girl was trying to please every reader. The truth is that this is never going to happen. You’re never going to write a story that everyone is going to fall in love with. But, you can write a story that you’ll fall in love with. When you write from your heart and for yourself, the story takes on its own life. There is real emotion in the words, the characters are real, and the writing process is so much easier. So, that’s my best advice for any author no matter where he or she is in their career – Write for yourself because if you don’t love your story, why should anyone else?
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
My writing ritual is procrastination. No, seriously, I don’t really have a ritual. I know some authors write for two hours each morning or maybe have a special place where they gain inspiration. Me? I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes I find it while driving in my car and listening to music, but I can easily find it when I’m walking through the grocery store aisles. I don’t like my inspiration to be tied to a ritual. I prefer free-flowing thoughts and welcome those thoughts wherever I am.
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
Yes! There were plenty of times throughout my life where I thought it was better to go after a career in something that was more stable. Many people don’t realize that I always wanted to be an FBI agent working in counter-terrorism (long before 9/11) or a lawyer. I went to school to pursue a degree in Criminology. I also entertained the idea of being an actress on General Hospital for a while, but I had a better chance of getting on with the FBI. 🙂 The thing about writing, though, is it’s a medium that allows me to live many lives through my characters. That’s a precious gift and I’m so happy that 4 years ago I decided to make my dream of being a published author a reality.
Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?
In life my name was Sophia Lucia Cruz. In death it is simply missing girls. Not even singular, but plural, as if there was never one single part of me that was unique or separate from all the other girls that were buried in that harsh Mexican dirt; victims of circumstance, irrevocable choices, and just plain bad luck. If I still had the capacity to cry, I would, because it is that sad and tragic. But when the knife slid deep into my belly and the blood gurgled at the base of my throat I knew that tears wouldn’t save me and they won’t change my story now.
Why am I here? You don’t believe in ghosts, do you? That’s okay. I didn’t either before I became one. Even when I was a little girl and I insisted I saw my abuela’s ghost at the foot of my bed, knitting me a blanket that had all the colors of the rainbow, I let myself be persuaded that ghosts were a figment of my imagination.
“Sophia,” my mama said as she smoothed my hair and planted her lips on my head. “My sweet Sophia, close your eyes. Whatever you think you saw was a shadow. Just a trick of the moon.” She would then sing me a song and rock me back to sleep.
I wish I could visit mama at the foot of her bed tonight. I wish I could tell her this isn’t her fault. She did the best she could. She should forgive herself. But I can’t. Instead I am stuck here; wherever here is. It’s somewhere between the dark black Mexican night and its brilliant sunny days. I am simply hovering above what remains of my body. People, family members, loved ones, sometimes the police, make their way to these dusty fields with picks, sticks, and shovels, hopping to discover the remains of their missing girl, but most of them find nothing and end up leaving the fields more distraught than when they arrived. Isn’t it twisted the way that families are forced to come to these fields of death with hope and expectations of finding their loved ones? I am not judging and I certainly don’t blame them. But when they leave they leave hopeless because they know that they will continue to be left without answers – without a body to properly bury. Because let’s face it: when the missing leave they never return.
I’m there. I can see me – or at least what is left of me. Some of the girls – and men, too – that are buried (can you even call it that?) here were merely stabbed, shot, choked, or suffocated and then haphazardly tossed like garbage into this death dump. Not me. Although no one would come looking for me and I wasn’t anyone important, my kidnappers had left their marks branded on my skin and this made me identifiable and a risk even in death. Unlike some of the other bodies buried around me, I was dug a deep enough grave that I wouldn’t be noticed right away. This would give the lime that had been sprinkled over my body time to work its decomposing magic.
How can I talk about my demise so casually? I don’t know. Perhaps that is the beauty of death. I am removed not only from my physical body, but my emotions are flat-lined as well. However, I still feel compelled to tell my story, so there must be some emotion that lingers, even though my soul has released its grip on my human form.
Why am I compelled to tell this story? I guess because no one else will. Most people don’t want to tell stories with tragic endings, but they need to be told, otherwise they are forgotten. I want you to know who I am. I want you to know I am so much more than a poster that has been damaged by wind, rain, and time. I don’t want to be so easily dismissed. I want you to know that I was so much more than a missing girl.
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For more information about Piper Punches, find her on social media and her website: Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1rckiaV 60 Days book link: http://amzn.to/2c2hMg4 The Waiting Room book link: http://amzn.to/2mCyYCM Missing Girl link for free novella: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ocvbp8gyva Facebook: facebook.com/piperpunches Twitter: @piperpunches Instagram: @piperpunches Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/piperpunches