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Author Interview – Liz Fichera

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Today I have the honor of bringing to you author Liz Fichera. Liz is living in the Southwest by way of Chicago.  She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends. Many of her novels and short stories are set in the American Southwest.  Her path from hobby writer to published writer was neither easy nor quick.  From the time of her first story till publication of her first novel, she has worked as a woefully bad receptionist, teacher, technical writer, project manager, and IT Director for a Fortune 500 firm.  Please help me welcome Liz to That’s What I’m Talking About. AND look for a special giveaway at the end of this post!!
Twimom: Liz, welcome and thank you for stopping by.
Liz:  Hi, Jen! Thanks so much for having me on your beautiful blog.  Love the blog’s new look, by the way! Thanks also for taking the time to read CAPTIVE SPIRIT.
Twimom: Thank you for the compliments… and I enjoyed reading your book. This is your debut novel, congratulations… How long have you been writing? Is Captive Spirit your first book or have you written any unpublished works?
Liz: CAPTIVE SPIRIT is my first published novel.  It’s also my first historical romance.  I’ve written several novels before CAPTIVE SPIRIT and am hopeful that at least one of them will be published.  I’ve been writing since I was about 10 years old, but I didn’t start to get serious about being published till about five years ago.  I write mostly young adult and women’s commercial fiction.
Twimom: What were your inspirations for creating a story based on Native American culture? How much research did you need to complete for this story? How much of the day-to-day life and ceremonies that you describe in your story is based in truth vs. creative license?
Liz: Living in the American Southwest, it’s hard not to be inspired by Native American culture.  For CAPTIVE SPIRIT, I did a lot of research online, in the library, and at a wonderful place called the Phoenix Heard Museum which has one of the most comprehensive Native American collections in the entire world.  CAPTIVE SPIRIT involves an intriguing people called the Hohokam Indians.
When I first moved to Phoenix, Arizona, from Chicago, I remember learning that the Hohokam were the first inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert and of Phoenix, in particular.  They traveled to the desert from Mayan and Aztec cultures around 300 BC and existed peacefully as master canal builders and farmers till around 1500 AD when they vanished for reasons unknown.  Archeologists still don’t know why they left the desert—abandoned their whole lives, really—and it was the Pima Indians who called them Hohokam which means “Those Who Have Gone.”  I always thought that little bit of history was so unbelievably cool.  It’s also what inspired me to write CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  
If you watch the book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT, you’ll see the rugged setting for the book—much of it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years—along with Hohokam petroglyphs.  I always wondered if maybe the Hohokam were trying to leave us a message with their petroglyphs about what happened to them? We’ll never know, but it teases the storyteller in me.
Twimom: Wow! That is very interesting. The focus on the Native American lifestyle was one of the things I loved about the story.  Are you planning a follow up/sequel to Captive Spirit?
Liz: Yes, I am planning a sequel. It’s one of the two books I plan to write in the next 12 months.  I haven’t been unable to get Aiyana and Honovi and their adventures out of my mind!
Twimom:  Oh, I’m glad to hear that – I would love to know what happens to Aiyana and Honovi! Are you working on anything else at this time?
Liz: I’ve just finished up a contemporary fantasy romance, and I’m starting another historical romance with a literary bent involving a well-known Apache Indian.  My head is already spinning with that story
Twimom: I look forward to hearing more. Besides writing, what else keeps you busy? What are your hobbies and interests?
Liz: I’m one of those crazy people who actually likes to run—not 100 mile marathons or anything. But I do like to run in the desert, although I have to run inside at my local gym at the moment because it’s currently 105 degrees and will probably stay that way for another month or two.  I also love to visit museums and watch theatre productions in Phoenix, where I sometimes write theatre reviews for local blogs and organizations.  When time and money permits, I love to travel anywhere there’s a museum and really good room service.
Twimom: Good for you. I tend to stay in the comfort of the gym, no matter the season. What is the best book you’ve read in 2010?  What upcoming 2010 book release are you most looking forward to reading?
Liz: I read A LOT, so it’s practically impossible for me to pick a favorite.  I recently finished Elizabeth Bass’s MISS YOU MOST OF ALL which I enjoyed very much.  I’m a sucker for stories that take place in the American West and involve sisters.  MISS YOU MOST OF ALL has both.  I’ve got BETRAYED by Claire Robyns and LIBERTY STARR by Rebecca Grant loaded on my nook and I look forward to devouring those books when I go on vacation later in the month.
Twimom: What are your favorite genres for reading? 
Liz:   I read just about anything—Middle grade, young adult, contemporary romance, paranormal, historical, literary fiction.   I do read a little nonfiction, but not much.  When I read, I want to escape.  I want to see life through someone else’s eyes for a while.  That’s the great thing about books. 
Twimom: Liz, once again thank you so much for taking the time to tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your writing. It was wonderful chatting with you.
Liz: Thank you, Jen.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY…

Readers… Liz is generously offering a digital copy of her book, Captive Spirit.  Please leave a question for Liz or a meaningful comment on today’s interview OR tomorrow’s review of Captive Spirit.  One winner will be chosen randomly from those that comment.  Comments must be posted by August 10, 2010, 11:59 PM EDT. Winner will be announced on August 11, 2010.

Be sure to stop back tomorrow when I have a review of Liz’s debut novel: Captive Spirit. 

 

  • Hey there, question for Liz;

    When you write, do you find yourself acting out the parts a little? Say for example; your character is angry, do you make an angry face?

    desertlion91[at]hotmail[dot]com

  • Hi DesertLioness,

    That is an interesting question! Sometimes, definitely, I’ll find myself acting out a part, especially to describe it accurately–the curve of your mouth, the crinkle in the corners of your eyes. I just finished writing a contemporary fantasy romance novel and in one chapter I had to describe the couple two-stepping. (That’s a dance step for those of you who don’t live in the American West.) I had to “dance it out” with my husband so that I could write/describe the steps accurately. It was a lot of fun but I’m still a lousy dancer, unfortunately.

  • Hi Liz!

    Captive Spirit sounds like a really interesting book that I would like to read. I’ve always had a love and genuine interest in the Native American culture. I see that you have 2 more books in the series planned but do you plan on writing any other books?

  • Una

    Welcome, Liz! I have a question, “women’s commercial” literature, what is that exactly? I’m unfamiliar with that term. What type of young adult novels have you written? What is the most important element for you when writing?

  • Hi Bells,

    I hope to write a sequel to CAPTIVE SPIRIT within the next 12 months. At the moment, however, I’m knee-deep in writing another historical romance that involves an Apache legend. Like you, I’m very interested in Native American culture. They have some of the coolest legends and stories. Thanks for the question!

  • Hi Una, and thank you!

    Women’s commercial fiction is a great big giant umbrella and includes everything from contemporary to paranormal to historical to fantasy. Women’s commercial fiction also doesn’t (technically) fall under the literary fiction umbrella–something I don’t entirely agree with–but that is a debate for another day.

    I currently have a contemporary young adult novel that is out on submission. It involves a Native American girl who wants to be the first girl on an all boy’s high school golf team. I’m really hoping it sells as I love the characters and story–although I am obviously supremely biased.

    The most important element for me when writing (or reading, for that matter) is finding that emotional connection to a character and then writing it effectively.

    Thanks for the great questions!

  • Una

    Thank you for the answers, Liz! I look forward to reading your novel!

  • You’re very welcome, Una! 🙂

  • Cool, only, whenever non-indigenous people write about indigenous issues, I can’t help but cringe somewhat. I’ve read many books about Native Americans that were horribly insensitive and offensive to the culture. I am 1/4 Cherokee myself, so at least for me, it’s a pretty big deal. I usually don’t read books about Native Americans if the author isn’t aware or fully immersed in the culture. All too often, (especially in romance) the Native American characters are romanticized and distorted to fit the author’s naive view of the time period. Or worse, are insulted by western stereotypes.

    So Liz, hhen you wrote your novel, were you aware and or mindful of the ways you presented your characters? How tough was it for you to write about another culture that was different from yours? And do you worry that some people might find offense in your book?

    😀

    I wanted to ask the tough questions, hee! No fluff, here! I’m curious to your response. 🙂

  • Hi Vegetarian Cannibal,

    Wow! Tough–but great questions. Actually, immersing myself in Hohokam history was the best part about writing this book. I loved doing the research. Frankly, it’s such an interesting culture that I’m flabbergasted why there aren’t more books with Hohokam characters. Regarding whether the story is told with sensitivity, it’s up to the reader to decide that question.

    If all I ever got to write about (or read about) was my own culture and background, I’d give up writing all together because after a while I would find that very boring indeed. Was it tough to write? Writing a book, regardless of culture/characters/setting/etc, is always tough.

    Do I worry? Of course. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t worry about how his/her book will be viewed on some level. But I don’t let it drive me crazy. 🙂

  • Excellent answers. Thank you for humoring me. 😀 I’ll have to give your book a go!

  • Wow – great questions everyone! Thanks for stopping by and participating!

    Vegetarian Cannibal: I would love to know your thoughts after reading the book. I’m posting my review tomorrow, but one of the things I really enjoyed about Captive Spirit was Liz’s detail to everyday Native American life. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Great interview!

    I’ve just started Captive Spirit and am loving it. You really feel as if you’re out there in the heat. I just love the attention to detail.

  • Hi Shirley!

    Thanks for commenting and so glad you’re enjoying the book!

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