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Interview: Mayra Calvani, Author of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing

I would like to welcome readers to sit back, relax and get to know Mayra Calvani, author of several books including The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing and Frederico, the Mouse Violinist!

Thank you for this interview, Mayra. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’m a Puerto Rico native, multi-genre author who loves to dabble into horror, suspense, paranormal, fantasy, satire, and nonfiction, from adults to young adults to children’s picture books. I have a BA in Creative Writing and have lived in various countries, an experience that has deeply influenced my writing. I’m also a book reviewer and interviewer for Blogcritics and my own blogs, Mayra’s Secret Bookcase (www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com) and The Dark Phantom Review (www.thedarkphantom.wordpress.com).

I’ve been writing since I was about twelve — short stories and novellas which were passed around the class during lesson time, and plays that were produced for the end of the school shows. This was pretty much at secondary school level. I wrote my first novel during my sophomore year of high school. Needless to say, that never got published! Back then, I was influenced by Barbara Cartland and Agatha Christie, my two biggest “mentors” during my early teens. I read their novels ravenously. I had the entire Christie collection of books translated into Spanish. I continued writing through college and it was then that I began writing seriously for small literary magazines. Those days I mostly wrote short fiction of the literary type. My tastes turned more eclectic and I became a big fan of Tama Janowitz, Robert Penn Warren, and Kate Chopin. Warren’s amazing novel, The Cave, as well as Chopin’s The Awakening, were revelations to me. It was later in my mid twenties that I began to concentrate on writing novels, but it wasn’t until I was in my mid thirties that I published my first book — which actually was the fourth book I wrote. So if you count those first attempts in middle school, I’ve been writing for almost thirty years.

Do you write full-time?

Yes, I do, though I wish I were more of a disciplined writer. Being able to make your own schedule has its disadvantages, as I often get distracted by housework and other family-related errands. My house is often messy, but I’ve come to realize that a messy house is part of the life of a wife/mother author. There are those times when you have to choose between doing laundry and writing that chapter, and if you’re serious about writing, you better choose that chapter!

Was there anyone in your life that you can give credit to helping pave the way?

My mother has always been unconditionally there for me, no matter what.

What is your favorite book at the present?

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. I have read it countless of times and never tire of it.

If you could trade places with one author who you have admired over the years, who would it be and why?

That would have to be Anne Rice. I discovered her books when I turned thirty and she became a major influence. The Vampire Lestat changed the way I looked at writing. Rice’s vampire books mix commercial appeal with lyrical, insightful writing that I thought only existed in literary works. I fell in love with her dark, poetic style, her rich, baroque descriptions and with all the history and philosophy she always interlaces in her fiction. Sadly, her last books are not near as good as her first works.

Why would I want to trade places? I read she once got a twenty-million advance for a three-book deal! But I’d trade places with her only in a literary level and not in a personal level. Rice is an author who has suffered deeply. She lost her five-year old daughter to leukemia (the result which was Interview with the Vampire) and, needless to say, I would never like to go through that, not even for all the millions in the world!

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book, co-authored with Anne K. Edwards, is The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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