Happy Monday Everyone!
I'm thrilled to be interviewing Becky Villareal today as a stop on her blog tour for her novel Gianna the Great, recently published by Anaiah Press.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing career? Is this your first published novel?
I have been writing since I was six years old and could make little books out of scraps of paper. Since then, I have published articles in the Dallas Morning News, have been a finalist in the Texas Writer’s Journal quarterly, and have a website entitled “Becky’s Getaway” at https://vramon249.wordpress.com/ where I publish short stories. Gianna the Great is my first published novel.
2. What inspired Gianna the Great?
Gianna was inspired by two people, my mother, and a young girl from my journal club named Gianna. She was interested in everyone and everything and very bright and articulate. My mother did not have any knowledge of her family history and I began my genealogical research because of her. I was also inspired by the character Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
3. In the blurb released by Anaiah Press, Gianna is looking for her family history. Why is this so important to her?
Gianna has no knowledge of her family. She knows she doesn’t look a lot like her mother and wonders who she does look like. She wants to find out not only about her family, but the beginnings of her family as well. As it turns out, the more she finds out, the more she wants to know.
4. What are Gianna's talents? Flaws? How do they help and hinder her in the novel?
Gianna is bright and curious especially about people and the reason they do things. This is the biggest reason she is so interested in her family. Her determination and doggedness, though a bit aggravating to her mother at times, will help her persevere when she comes to dead ends. She also wants to know why her ancestors made the decisions they did. How did these decisions help them to survive and go on? This will be revealed more and more as the stories go on and she is able to help others in their journeys as well.
5. What kind of research did you have to do?
In order to complete this work, I had to explore all the avenues of genealogical research including the National Archives, the Baptismal Records of Mexico, and pictorial records from Fold 3 as well as Ancestry.com. I also had to do research within the library system itself and within the records of the Family Search organization in order to find out not only about my own family but to experience what Gianna will have to face as she continues this journey.
6. How much time did you spend on the opening line or paragraph? Has it changed in the publishing process?
This opening line has changed again and again especially when the book format itself changed to become that of an early reader instead of a young-adult book.
Why did you decide to work with Anaiah Press to get Gianna out into the world?
Jessica Schmeidler, the editor I worked with in the beginning, showed a genuine interest in not only my work but my characters as well. “I want to see more of them,” she stated and won me over completely.
7. Where's your favorite place to write?
In a big blue leather chair and ottoman by the window in the den of my home.
8. When do you do your best brainstorming?
I can be in the middle of house cleaning, making dinner, or driving home from work and ideas pop into my head. I have to keep a notebook close by otherwise I’ll lose those nuggets of inspiration the Lord sends from time to time.
9. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
To believe in yourself and never give up. To believe in your writing and follow your personal passion. I would also like to recommend for them to look inward, what is special about you and your story? What can you bring to the table that is fresh and alive that no one else can share? Also, collect positive quotes about writing and join others who are struggling and don’t be afraid to help other beginning writers.
That advice speaks so much to me! Thank you so much for being here today Becky! Congrats on Gianna's release!