Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"The Vast and Brutal Sea" Book Tour: Interview with Author Zoraida Cordova + Stellar Giveaway!!!


So summer's almost here and my sister and I have this sudden urge to pick up more mermaid books!!!Just in time for Zoraida Cordova's "The Vast and Brutal Sea"Book Tour. How this amazing"Ecuatoriana", has the time to write, update her own blog and contribute to one of our favorite blogs, Latinos in Kid Lit, we'll never know. But we had a chance to sit back and chillax with her. We don't really say this often, but we loooove hosting Latina authors. Being Latina ourselves, it's just awesome to see a Latina author really doing her thing!

1. So, for the Twinja audience who isn't familiar with you, what can you tell us about yourself, particularly about your experiences, before you decided to become a writer.

Short story: I was born in Ecuador and I moved to Queens, NY when I was 6 going on 7.
Long story: Before I wanted to become a writer, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I legit thought I was going to find the Loch Ness monster… THEN I realized, that’s not what Indiana Jones does. Yes, I was about 10.

When I was 13 I decided I wanted to be a writer. I researched agents and how to find one. I researched publishing companies. That whole time I always wrote about magical beings. At that time it was witches, and I was fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials. (I still am). Those books set off the magical world in my head. 

As an immigrant child, your family encourages you to become a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant. Something that’ll pay the bills. I’m pretty stubborn, I guess because I continued on with my English major. Eventually, I went on to drop out of college because it got in the way of the merman book I was working on. A few months later, 10 years after I decided I wanted to be a writer, we sold The Vicious Deep to Sourcebooks Fire.

2. Zoraida, have to admit! You have an awesome name! It's hard to be apart of the "Never see my name on a keychain" club, as having a Spanish name growing up, I've either always had to explain why my name is Spanish(sadly more to Latinos than anything). I have to ask, if this is not stepping over any boundaries, did you ever consider going by an ethnically ambiguous pen name?

Ohhhhh “What’s in a name?”

I can’t lie. For a split fraction of a second. I always thought it would be cool to use a pen name. For some reason, some people find it so freaking hard to say my name. Even when I say it FOR them, they repeat SA-NA-YA? Uh...yeah.

I like the fact that I’m the only Zoraida writing far as I know. I’ve come to the realization that I AM Zoraida Córdova. It’s part of my identity. If I ever use a pen name, it would be because I’d like to try my hand at a different genre and wouldn’t want to compete with myself. I would not be Zoey Smith just to anglicize my name. Ethnic names are not less easy to pronounce than made up fantasy names.

Dear little brown girls who think a “normal” name will help you sell more books, think long and hard before you do it. Your name is beautiful. It is unique. If people can say Daenerys Targaryen and Katniss and Peeta and Legolas, then they can say Zoraida. Author names should not be the same as actor names. Actors change their names all the time so they won’t get type cast, especially if the can “pass for white” like the “white guy” from Psych. Ideally, actors shouldn’t have to change their names either, but that’s a different business.

Choose the name you want. Nicknames are great. It could be Stardust Lambrosia if that’s the name you identify with. (Actually, don’t choose that one. That’s my bowling name.) But don’t do it because you think it’ll make you more palatable to the people out there who don’t even want to try to pronounce it correctly.

Was that a rant? #SorryNotSorry

3. So explain to us your "Vicious Deep" series. This is about the only book that has acknowledged that merfolk are more women, but also more than mermen and mermaids. Was there anything in particular that inspired the series in general?

I had a friend tell me to write the mermaid story I wanted to read. I wanted to have a monarchy structure, and I wanted there to be a quest. These are tropes that are very familiar. Plus, I grew up on Disney. Other than that, I came up with my own mythology for the creation of merpeople. Why are there so many “sightings” and stories of merfolk ALL OVER THE WORLD? Because they travel on the Sea Court’s Toliss Island, duh. When the island arrives, only the members of the sea court who are granted the ability to shift back and forth between fins and feet can go inland. The Sea King’s trident is basically what keeps merpeople from going crazy and murdering ALL THE HUMANS.

The merrow is traditionally an irish merman. They’re hideous. This image is by Brian Froud whose book FAERIES is one of my favorite illustrated guides to all things fae.

When I was constructing the world of The Vicious Deep, the merrows became outcasts of the court. That was inspired by my Ancient Civ class where we learned that Spartans would take deformed babies and leave them out by the woods so as to not anger the gods. Or was it to return them to the gods? Either way, they let nature take this baby back. The Sea Court does this with their merrow babies.

Nieve, the Silver Mermaid, would find these babies and nurse them to health. It made her weak as hell, but all these years later, she has a nice big army.

4. I just started reading the second book, so without giving out any explicit spoilers, what can we expect from our hunky hero "Tristan Hart?"

Tristan Hart is the kind of guy that has always had everything handed to him. In books 2 and 3, I want to take all of those things away, and make him work really really hard to get them back.

5. From the very beginning of the series, Layla Santos has always been a major character. She's gotten to do and see things many Latinas don't get to do or see in SFF novels or works. Was it ever a question whether Layla would be a woman of color to you?

When Layla popped into my head, she was always a person of color. Originally she was only Ecuadorian, because obvs. I decided to make her mixed because a lot of kids I knew in high school were Irish/Peruvian, Dominican/Greek, Italian/Puerto Rican, etc. There are a lot of mixed kids out there (shocker), and so because she really is one of the only other main characters who is FULLY human, I thought it would matter more if she was the mixed race one. To me merpeople can’t be labeled as African American or Indian or White. They’re DEFINITELY all different skin colors Arion: brown, Thalia: greenish, Kurt: tan, Gwen: white. But I can’t put the same label to them as I could to Layla.

6. Latinos, despite being the fastest growing group in the United States, are still not portrayed as much as our non-Latino counterparts in fiction, especially SFF? Do you think there is a reason for the exclusion of Latinos in SFF?

I remember this one episode of Buffy, when they wake up that Inca mummy and she’s totally beautiful and exotic. Does that count? No…

I will say that I’m going to try to look harder. I hope it will make you all happy to know that we are having a LATINOS IN SFF for the whole month of July at Latinos in Kid Lit.

7. Was there any book you read growing up that shaped the idea of being a writer for you? Were there any authors whose writing pushed you to become an author? What was the last book you read that inspired you? What's in your "to-read" shelf?

The book and writer that inspired me to become an author is In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

The last book that inspired me was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Her prose is just so lovely.

On my TBR shelf is EXTRACTION by Stephanie Diaz, which I’ll be reading for Latinos in Kid Lit. Also, a lot of of New Adult romance, which I will start publishing in November 2014.

8. Diversity is extremely important to our blog. We really wouldn't be anywhere as a society without diverse perspectives. In your own words, why is diversity in books necessary?

Diversity is a giant umbrella that emcompases many marginzalised people, but I mostly speak about race because that’s what’s personal to me. Diversity in books is necessary because the kids growing up now needs to see themselves in books that are not just about immigration. Not all of us have “issues” with our cultures. We are part of society. We are NOT the comic relief. We are not the exotic new girl in school We can be the heroes of the stories. We can be the girls on the nice contemporary covers that are looking for summer love.

9. So what can we expect in the future from you Zoraida? Any new series? Any WIP's? Do you have any dream ideas you're thinking about developing?

I have some YA that I’m brainstorming. It’ll be in the same fantasy vein as The Vicious Deep trilogy, but focusing on a different magical creature. No spoilers!

For my older readers, I’m branching into contemporary romance! My novel Luck on the Line will be published on November 10th, 2014. Add it to your Goodreads!

10. Lastly, where can we all go to get your latest updates and anything or everything Zoraida Cordova?

Stop by my website I’m having a contest for those who are pre-ordering The Vast & Brutal Sea, and The Savage Blue. Also, Tweet at me!

Thanks for having me!

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Author photo:

About the Author:

Zoraida Córdova was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she learned to speak English by watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker on repeat. Her favorite things are sparkly like merdudes, Christmas, and New York City at night.


Buy links:

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