by Thomas Juarez
Genre: Metaphysical Fiction
Referring to themselves as the cloud people, their fierce warriors conquered and ruled the Oaxaca for centuries. Witness rites, rituals and incantations aimed at appeasing the divine in an attempt to gain favor; favor that would grant them greatness. So, where did it all go wrong? Why would such powerful gods allow their disciples to be conquered? These answers and more would be offered many centuries later by their descendants. Descendants of a civilization whose glory can only be revived by the awakening of the most powerful deity in Zapotec lore: Cocijo, the god of lightening and rain.
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I have always wanted to be an author. Always the wanderer, I decided to join the army and serve my country (I was brought up with a sense of service). After 21 years in the army, I continued to chase my tail a bit…but wondered could I, and even should I. About a decade ago I was reading an article about Benito Juarez and wow….he was Zapotec! I began studying a little on Mesoamerican cultures, especially the Zapotec. I put together an outline and let it gather virtual dust. About 18 months ago I got this crazy notion I could do it. Warming up, I read 11 books before deciding that I could and should give it a go. Please let me know what you think of my work.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m silly enough to believe a smile can change the world.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Timeliness…must be on time!!!
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Michigan. Being a military brat, I kind of grew up all over the place: El Paso, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; England; and Wetumpka, Alabama. After moving a bunch more during my own military career, I retired and currently live in Sterling, Oklahoma.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Lazing around my house and admiring the beauty of the natural environment around me.
Who is your hero and why?
John Elway…sorry, some people idolize firemen, soldiers or politicians…I thought John Elway captured magic in a bottle when he played!
What are you passionate about these days?
I am a bit of a tree hugger, though not an activist. I believe we could, and should, make our planetary home a better place.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Gardening or watching movies
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I haven’t yet, but I feel the need to be.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I think Awakening Cocijo would make a great movie!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My favorite animal has always been the Giraffe because of their size and grace. My spirit animal is another matter altogether! I have a wild side, a goofy side, a playful side and a philosophical side. I fell in love with a fishing cat cub at the Oklahoma City Zoo last year; his name is Puddles. My spirit animal…definitely Puddles.
What inspired you to write this book?
A lifelong dream of mine, and a need to escape my own realities. Where would we be without dreams?
What can we expect from you in the future?
I would like to write a second part of this book. I think anyone who completes reading the book (provided you like it), will want to know what’s next.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I was a gunnery department instructor like Citalli…but no, I did not make Citalli like me; I wanted him to be something more.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Awakening Cocijo?
Citalli means star and is a feminine name, but I had to have that character to be named star…just something called to me. You’ll see in the book how I maneuvered into, and explained, the origin of Citalli’s name.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I was gifted a book about how to write a book; what a great gift! I found developing the characters to be the most difficult part of the journey. Trying to figure out quirks and speech patterns for each of them. If you pay attention to those around you, or even to interviews on tv, we all tend to have repetitive words and phrases we covet. I wanted my characters to be mainly Hispanic, although I wanted Kara to be Native American. I wanted the American peoples native to this continent to be portrayed as children of the same god(s).
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Some names I researched on the internet and some I came up with myself. When naming General Percival, I was searching for pretentious names, lol. Sorry General officers, nothing personal; he was a fictional character, I do not think General officers are pretentious. I just wanted something, I don’t know, different maybe.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The escape! I quit worrying about the world around me and just pecked away.
Who designed your book covers?
Sue Campbell https://suecampbellgraphicdesign.com/
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned tons! Things that don’t occur to new writers like me. If you have an animal stalking and killing another animal…how would that act occur specific to hunter and prey? How did people live? What did they eat? How did they speak?
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
My favorite part of the book was represented in Pecala’s dream world. I wanted to create a fantastic dream, have other gods revealed, and give a sneak peak into things that would come to pass.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I think I would choose Canneo because of his carefree nature.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Entirely from imagination except one…you can find that in the author’s notes.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
I feel as though my book is unique. Moreover, I feel as though the Zapotec people have been overlooked…they are still with us today. I hope to have some Zapotec people read the book and admire the story.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Nope! This is it. Please let me know if I should continue.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
What did you edit out of this book?
Originally, I was going to have Kara die in child birth, but I felt the need for a strong feminine character. I needed a character to have smarts and to be able to gently maneuver through my story using an influential style leadership.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
I have a 3d printed replica of a funerary urn which represents Cocijo. I placed this urn next to my laptop for inspiration as I worked.
I love the Altered Carbon trilogy by Richard K. Morgan! Fair warning, this masterpiece is very violent, sexual and in your face. Typically, I do not read such progressive books, but the storyline is just so unique that I could not help myself. Mister Morgan has a way of piling adjectives on top of other adjectives while leaving you wanting even more.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The imagination required to fabricate such a story still baffles the senses.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I feel you must develop the main characters before you begin. The “small players” can be revealed to you as continue to develop your story.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Study the terrain and surroundings of the area you will be portraying. Learn about the people and wildlife in that area,
Do you see writing as a career?
I truly hope so; I could use a new reality.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
The publishing landscape is tricky at best. Mainstream may take the glory, but as an independent author I can choose to ignore editorial advice. Having said that, I used 99% of the editorial advice I received.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I love Fantasy and Science fiction, but I am a sucker for history books (specifically ancient cultures).
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I need silence! I get side tracked too easy.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Advice you would give new authors?
Hire an editor; trust me, you need it! Amber Byers of https://www.tadpolepress.com/ helped me in so many ways, I truly would have been lost without her.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
First you need some form of inspiration to make a story from. Then begin studying some of the information you think may pertain to your story. After you have a basic premise, develop an outline along with character names. Take at least a day to define the characters and picture them in your head. How do they look, act and talk? I use my outline as a sort of living document because it changes so much. For example, the ancient part (part one) of my story was going to be a prologue. I found there was too much of a story to tell there to leave it as a prologue…so there is no prologue.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Noise! I wish I could make a sound proof room to write in. This soundproof room would need color and smell though…continue to tickle the senses.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to write in a manner in which people do not feel the need to grab a dictionary mid-read. If the word is too big or complex, I feel it takes away from the story.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Smell every flower without a bug on it. Breathe life in slowly, allowing you to exhale your observances into your story telling.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Nothing…it’s fiction lol. I have found that trying to make someone act predominantly male or female sets a type of stereotype. I tried hard not to make my characters robots, but I did want traditional family structure in this story. There are stories which demand you stray from mainstream family thinking, and I get that; but this story demanded what I envision as a traditional family. Keep in mind, my normal is not necessarily your normal. I believe that is because there is no such thing as a universal norm, and that is a very good thing.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This was my only book. I researched for months on end, then wrote the book in a month. After all of that, it took 3 months to finish editing.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes! Writers block is real. Sometimes you may have to just take a day off…try not to make it two.
kickoff at Silver Dagger Book Tours
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