Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interview with Mayra Calvani

It's my pleasure today to have as my guest Mayra Calvani, who is a fellow member of the group VBT-Writers on the Move. Mayra is a multi-genre author, reviewer and animal advocate who hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and Suite101, she's a member of SCBWI and Broad Universe. She keeps two blogs, Mayra's Secret Bookcase and The Dark Phantom Review and she has also recently started another, fun blog called Pets and Their Authors, where her golden retriever interviews other authors' pets! She is the author of the novel Sunstruck and is the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

This multi-talented lady also does Spanish translations of children's picture books, is co-editor of Voice in the Dark newsletter, and is the National Latino Books Examiner for Examiner.com.


Mayra, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, but I live in Belgium now. I started writing when I was about 12 and have been hooked ever since. Though my favorite genre is the paranormal, I also write children’s picture books, nonfiction, and other categories like horror and satire. When I’m not writing, I love reading, playing the violin, blogging, reviewing, and spending time with my family.

What motivated you to become an author?
The magic of bringing the worlds of my imagination onto the page.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
I was not an avid reader until I was about 11. That’s when I discovered Agatha Christie. By the time I was 14 I had read all of her novels. I had her entire mystery collection in Spanish translation. So I never really read children’s or YA books. I went straight into the adult books at a pretty early age.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
This is a bit funny because my latest novel, Sunstruck, is actually one of the first books I ever wrote—about fifteen years ago. It is a parody/satire and the style is very different from what I write now. I grew up in San Juan with an artist mom and from an early age visited many art shows and went to artist meetings. A quiet child, I mostly observed. My book was influenced by what I saw. Artist circles can be very interesting and quite strange at times!

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
Definitely stream-of-consciousness, and I think it shows in the writing. Back then, my inner critic wasn’t as strong, so I wrote more freely. I didn’t say no to any crazy ideas… and it is an unusual, crazy book. People either love it or hate it. One reviewer called it ‘Brilliant’, and another said she had never read another book even remotely like it.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
I’m constantly getting new ideas—they attack me like the plague. I can be at a table with dinner guests and getting ideas at the same time. I know, poor guests! If only they knew that sometimes I can’t listen to them, only because those imaginary characters take control of my mind. It’s like being taken hostage. But I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?
I’m fascinated by moral dilemmas, such as the idea of a higher good, the idea that the end justifies the means. I tackle this in my supernatural thriller, Dark Lullaby. I’m also intrigued and pulled by the concept of vigilantism, the concept of ultimate justice vs. human law. These themes that obsess me have obsessed me since I was very young.

Are you a disciplined writer?
Not as much as I would like to be! I have my ups and downs. I try to be organized, which helps a lot, and manage to accomplish a number of goals each month. This helps me feel I’m progressing and keeps me motivated.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write for yourself—not for the market.

Thank you so much, Mayra, for the interview.
Learn more about Mayra's book, Sunstruck, in my post on Thursday. In the meantime you can catch up with Mayra here


Children's books:

If you have a question for Mayra, please leave a comment.


  1. Great interview Mayra and Helena. I loved Mayra's answer to the question: What motivated you to become an author! Dorothy Massey www.kidsbooksuk.blogspot.com

  2. Mayra, I like the idea of your having a blog where your dog interviews authors' pets. How unique.

    I thoroughly enjoyed.

  3. A great interview, I thought it most ingenious about the pet blog.
    I read a blog which is supposedly written by a dog and it's great. Well done Helena on a splendid blog.


  4. From Puerto Rico to Belgium, Mayra, you truly are an international writer. What a well of experience you must have to draw from!

  5. Thank you all for your kind comments, and to Helena for hosting me! :-)

    I'm glad you liked my dog's blog.

  6. It's my pleasure, Mayra, and thank you everyone for taking the time to stop by and comment.


  7. Mayra, you know I've been a fan of yours for quite a while. You do so much for authors. I encourage people to look up your books. They will help develop their careers.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Tweeting writing tips at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo

  8. Great interview. I was interested in Maria as a child observing her artist parents. Nice to get to know her.

  9. I agree that we should write from our heart and not for the market. Our passion shines through when we write from our own experiences and desires.

  10. Helena, this is a great interview.

    Mayra, I learned a lot about you in the Q&A. I like the themes you feel passionate about - I am also fascinated by moral dilemmas.


  11. Great interview! I learned a lot about Mayra.



  12. Mayra, I'm looking forward to reading more about your book, especially as my mother also was an artist.

    Margaret Fieland

  13. Interesting to read! Well done Helena!

  14. Thank you everyone for stopping by. I'm pleased you enjoyed the post.