The Latina Book Club welcomes author Elizabeth Arroyo also known as Lisa Casian. Elizabeth writes both young adult (YA) and adult fiction set in paranormal worlds with unforgettable characters.
I favor (writing) YA. It is during those years that the significance of the self is explored, everything is drama, and there's just this heighten sense of awareness that makes any story possible. –Elizabeth Arroyo
Q: In your book THE SECOND SIGN, you’ve written a Romeo and Juliet story, only this time the story is about a demon and an angel. Can there be love between the two races? Or is love truly the root of all evil? What more can we expect from this series?
A: Ah…the "love" question. Gabby, the main character, believes love to be the root of all evil because she's been shunned by those she loves. It isn't until she meets Jake that she begins to learn what it means to love someone, but then all hell breaks loose and she has to live with those consequences. I'm a hopeless romantic, so I believe love is possible in all beings. THE SECOND SHADOW (book 2), is already out and continues the story. THE SECOND SHADOW has an eclectic group of secondary characters that I fell in love with, and it also completes Jake and Gabby's story.
Q: We hear growing up is not your thing. Is this why you write young adult novels?
A: I want to say yes. There's so much going on during those young adult years that the character themselves make the story happen. I guess you can say that I still remember what it was like to live those years, good and bad, and can connect comfortably with those characters and by extension, the readers. I hope.
Q: You also write as Lisa Casian. Still writing dark paranormals but with adult characters. What is the main difference you find when writing adult characters versus young adult characters? Which age group do you prefer?
A: While writing for the adult market, I was able to go all out and be explicit as I wanted with the visuals, conflict, and characters. In YA you want to be careful not to stretch the boundary too far, depending on the topic you are writing about. In The Second Sign, I did stretch the horror elements to the point of rupture but managed to keep it within YA. The character's voice is also different with YA and adult. I had to keep reminding myself the ages of the characters while writing. I favor YA. It is during those years that the significance of the self is explored, everything is drama, and there's just this heighten sense of awareness that makes any story possible. I love it.
Q: Why do you write? We heard it’s not for the fame and money. Any advice to budding writers?
A: I started writing when I was about fourteen because I felt it was the one aspect of my life I could control. I started writing for publication because I can't seem to turn off that little voice in my head telling me "what if". I find stories everywhere and have to get them out of my head. I probably need therapy. Fame and money hasn't happened but I'm still writing.
It's an exciting time to be a writer, an artist in general. With the onset of the social media explosion we are seeing a growth in music, photography, art, and publishing. My advice to anyone seeking to dive into the publishing world is to ground yourself, or be prepared to ground yourself. Learn as much as you can, set realistic goals, and write down the reason you started on this path and recite it every day as a reminder to yourself. And, um, it probably shouldn't be for fame and money. If it is, you're probably in the wrong field.
Q: Do you find writing groups helpful? Which do you belong to?
A: I'm shy. I admit it. Face to face writing groups do not work with me. I do belong to some online writing groups such as querytracker.net and mywriterscircle.com, but I usually peruse the boards reading, commenting, and learning whatever I can. I submitted a few pages for feedback, but I didn't continue with any consistently. I do think it is a good idea to join writing groups. I learned a lot from them. And beta readers and critique partners deserve their own holiday.
Q: You joined National Novel Writing Month for the first time this year. Did you prepare for it or did you just write on the fly? Did you make the 50K?
A: Yes! I love NaNo. I had wanted to try it last year but I usually don't do well under pressure. This year, however, I had the second book of the Bloodrose series brewing in my head and I wanted to take a chance at getting it on paper. I prepared up to the inciting incident, about the first 10k words, but after that I didn't. I'm not a traditional plotter. I like to be surprised by my characters and give them some room to navigate through the story. There's no fun if I know the ending already. And I did make the 50K!
Q: Aside from Stephen King and Dean Koontz, who are some of your other favorite authors? Do you have any favorite Latino authors or Latino books?
A: I’m a genre hopper, not sure if that's an official term. I am not married to one particular genre. I can read anything with great characters and great plot. I've read a lot of JR Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon, Julie Kagawa and more.
I've never been exposed to Latino specific books. Most of the books I read were required by school. I didn't start reading for me until I picked up Stephen King's IT when I was about 15. And then I didn't think any other author existed because I read all his books until I found Koontz and then I read all his books--or the books available at the library. And that's how it was for me. I'd pick up a book and, if I liked it, I'd search for more of that author's titles at the library. I was very author loyal. =) I did read The Dirty Girl's Social Club by Alisa Valdes and I attended a training with Juana Bordas, author of Salsa, Soul, and Spirit, Leadership for a Multicultural Age. She is awesome! She reminded me why I love being Latina. I do intend to read more Latino in 2014.
Q: How do you celebrate your Puerto Rican roots? Did you do anything special during the holidays?
A: We celebrate with food, family, and church. My mother makes the best, I mean…the best arroz con gandules in the world. No lie. And during the holidays my dad makes the best, I mean…the best pasteles in the world. No joke. The best memories of my childhood were in the kitchen.
Q: Tell us three things your fans should know about you.
A: They should know I'm Latina, I love a good ghost story, and I talk to myself…a lot.
Q: What are you writing now? what should we expect from you and Lisa Casian in 2014?
A: I am considering self-publishing a YA thriller in 2014 and am revising book 2 of the Bloodrose series by Lisa Casian. I expect to be writing for a very, very long time.###
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Arroyo has published a short story in SQ Magazine and two Dark Young Adult novels --THE SECOND SIGN and THE SECOND SHADOW. She has also published BLOODROSE, an Adult Dark Fantasy Romance novel under her pen name Lisa Casian. Elizabeth spends most of her time learning about tactical fighting, zombie warfare, and various weapons of mass destruction through the gamers in her household. She resides in Chicago with her family. Visit her at www.elizabetharroyo.com. Follow/Friend her on Facebook and Twitter.