Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant. Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine. Visit her at lizatrevino.com. Find out more about her book at All That Glitters.
Welcome to Blogcritics, Liza! Congratulations on the release of your latest book, All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams. When did you start writing and what got you into women’s fiction?
I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. All kinds: mysteries, romance horror, satire, but Jackie Collins and her Hollywood glamour sagas, in particular, always held a special place in my heart. And, while I didn’t start out thinking, ‘oh, I’m a women’s fiction writer,’ the stories I want to tell end up being about how a woman’s unique sensibility perceives events and challenges that come her way.
The thing about women’s fiction is that it mixes with so many other genres, well, any other genre, really. That’s what I find so interesting about this genre. It allows me to investigate a woman’s point-of-view and her character’s evolution in relation to any other genre or story that I’m interested in experiencing, whether it be a Hollywood romance or a horror or a mystery. And that’s what led me to women’s fiction as a genre.
What is your book about?
It follows the rags-to-riches Hollywood journey of a creative, ambitious, street smart and gorgeous Latina who sets her sights on making it big in Hollywood as a writer and film director in the 1980s. All That Glitters has grit, glamour, Hollywood and romance mixed in for good measure.
What was your inspiration for it?
As I mentioned, I have a very particular fondness of Hollywood fiction and Jackie Collins. I was re-reading one of my favourites of hers while I was in grad school in Los Angeles, and it hit me. Where is a Latina Lucky Santangelo? I wanted to read about a badass character like Lucky Santangelo, but I wanted her to be Latina. And that’s how it started for me. I began thinking about the popular stories I liked to read growing up, and decided I was going to create those kinds of stories but have the main character be Latina. That’s definitely something I wanted to read. I couldn’t find it in the marketplace, so I started writing
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
Time. That’s always the number one issue. I work full-time and have all the usual commitments that most working women have, so finding time to set aside for creating is always a struggle. It takes a lot of discipline. Sometimes I’m better at it than at other times.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Yes and no. Since a lot of this book takes place in settings that I’ve been around for school and work, I really just had to draw on my experiences in a thoughtful and specific way. But, since this story takes place in a specific era in 1980s, there were things I had to research so that the story, settings didn’t come off anachronistic or too contemporary.
That was probably the hardest part. I mean, it’s unlikely that a young twenty-something in 1980 would call a guy hot. No, she’d say, ‘he’s a fox,’ for instance. So, having to think about those kinds of things and go digging around into earlier eras for culturally appropriate expressions and activities did require some research time. But that was a lot of fun, too.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
I just keep writing. Or, I go do something completely different. A lot of times, that’ll do the trick.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
Completely. Just before starting a new story or project, I get racked with insecurity that I’ve forgotten how to write. Or, I think, ‘what if I’m not able to find the story or words?’
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
When I’m ready to get a story or project written, I go into draft-writing mode. When that happens, I do have a set schedule and it’s first thing in the morning. It’s quiet, I’m most awake, a cup of coffee and earbuds blasting a soundtrack that I’ve curated for the project to keep me in the conceptual space. At those times, I’m very disciplined. If I’m not working on a specific project, I’m pretty lazy and just kind of meander around projects, brainstorming and collecting bits of research and inspiration.
What was your publishing process like?
I would fall into the indie, co-publishing category. After I decided to seek publication for All That Glitters, I read all the articles in Writer’s Digest and on blogs about landing an agent. So, I set to doing that. Which took some time. Queries, sample pages, follow-ups and rejections. Eventually, it did happen. Which was a great day! And, then the submission process began. And that was another lengthy process of queries, samples and waiting for responses.
So, the con of my journey is time. There just isn’t any way around the fact that trying to get published takes a lot of time…and then, it may never occur. As for the editing process that I had with Koehler, the pros were many. Working with a great editor who gets the story is invaluable. It’s an amazing experience to collaborate on your work with someone who sees it with new, fresh eyes. Of course, the con aligns closely with this, too. It can be hard to hear that words, passages or scenes you slaved over just need to go. But, it’s part of the process and, ultimately, it does make the work stronger, and it helped me become a better writer.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
I like to print the entire thing so I can see the physical weight and space it occupies. Then, it’s concrete. After that, I usually do something that’s requires little to know brainwork on my part…for, like, many days.
How do you define success?
To know yourself, your talents, your limitations and to be tuned into that special frequency that you alone can hear. And to be completely comfortable with that.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
The best thing is that writing lets me explore whatever obsession I’m currently consumed by. If it’s a place, a time, a song, a mood, whatever, writing gives me the excuse to be endlessly curious and learn about whatever’s captured my imagination of the moment.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. If you have a story you believe in and are passionate about, keep writing and finish that project. It will find its audience.
George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Thoughts?
It’s certainly not the easiest course of action in the world. In fact, there were times when I didn’t write. But, always, eventually, I felt like I was missing something fundamental. It was the writing. And, it was the stories I wanted to write. And, I had to do it. If I didn’t, my head would explode.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Taking the wild ride of launching this first book. I’m also working on a follow up to All That Glitters, and I have another book currently being shopped. So, in a nutshell, I’m continuing to write.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Draw inspiration from everything, always be curious about the world around you and you’ll never want for inspiration or stories. And, while inspiration can be instant, writing’s a process. There’s no two ways about it. Sometimes it can feel like the process wrings the creativity out of you. But the process of writing is a necessary part of the creative equation.