Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Final week on the Twinja round table- Author of the Mystery,"Halls of Ivy" Introducing Roland Nunez

When you begin reviewing books, if you review indie books, for the most part you get authors out the wood work requesting a read for review. When we began our blog, we didn't really have a strong theme. But the more we began to read for review, the more we began to see books had less and less diversity. Thus Twinja Book Reviews was born! The idea came from our love of martial arts, books and obviously our twin powers!

This next author contacted us a few months back(with the proper etiquette of course)asking if we would review his book. We had recently dealt with an author with bad etiquette, and even though Roland didn't write in a genre we normally review, we decided to take the chance anyway. The review for his book can be viewed here. Introducing Roland Nunez!

1. Excited to say that you were our first "mystery"genre review request. Why don't you do us the honors of telling our readers more about you!

My name is Roland Nunez. I currently live in Oklahoma and work as a Director of Student Development at a university. I'm a guy with varied tastes, and have tried my hand in lots of areas, such as teaching, flying planes, being a TV weatherman, juggling, theater, and of course, writing. I live with my wife, Jasmine, and our two dogs and three cats. I am a huge fan of turtles and tortoises. In fact, my dream is to retire and open up a tortoise ranch.

2. Tell us a little about the journey you took to get your book published?

Getting my first book published took a couple of years, despite writing it only taking three months. From the moment I came up with my initial idea to finally getting the book into print, life happened and I would continually start and stop my project. I met many great people in the quest to become a better writer, as well as did lots of research to learn the nuances of publishing and marketing a book.

3.What drew you to contribute to the mystery genre?

I've always enjoyed books and TV shows with some mystery added onto it. I like it when a narrative keeps me guessing then throws a twist in there to turn everything upside down. I've always loved slow-burning mysteries where you have to piece everything together, and once you thought you've figured it out, you get more questions then you do answers. When I wanted to write the novel, it just seemed like the most fun way to tell the story.

4.Give us a glimpse of what's on your bookshelf currently!

I recently finished rereading World War Z, as I've been on a zombie book binge after finishing The Walking Dead (the comic). For my mystery read, I'm currently reading The Godwulf Manuscript, which takes place on a college campus. I'm also reading a book written by a fellow author I met along my publishing journey, "The Consequences of Forever" by Kaitlyn Oruska. It's not the genre I typically read, but it's kept my interest so far.

5. What would you like to accomplish as a storyteller?

My goal has always been to educate. To share what I've learned with others so that they, too, may benefit from the information. However, after trying traditional teaching through the school system, it just wasn't for me. It was too dry. I found that teaching through story-telling is a much more compelling medium. I've learned so much through my reading, about different cultures, different trades, and even geographical locations I would not have known about otherwise. Storytelling provides a wonderful way to engage a reader in a fictional world, but still incorporating real-world elements so that they feel like they gained much more than just a nifty little story, but to have been able to see into the mind of the author and all the knowledge and experience he or she has to share in that particular area.

6. Who/what inspired the characters for Halls Of Ivy?

As a novel that takes place entirely on a college campus, the characters were inspired by colorful characters I've met in my own college experience. College was such an eye-opening experience for me. As a guy who grew up in a sheltered home, I was amazed at what college had to offer me through the different cultures and customs that meshed in one particular area. As such, many character traits from people I met along the way went into the characters of Halls of Ivy. It allowed for my characters to seem more real, especially those from cultures I am not as familiar with.

7. We talk a lot about diversity and multiculturalism on our blog, and I've talked a lot about it together in the past. How important do you find incorporating multiculturalism and diversity in your writing?

Even though I write fiction, I try to make the fiction to seem as realistic as possible. I want people who read my stories to think "Could this really happen? Could this have actually happen if the circumstances were right?" As such, the real world is diverse, no matter where you are. You just can't escape it. Even on my visits to Honduras, where the majority of my family lives, I notice so much diversity among the inhabitants, even if they can all be classified as Hispanics. Every person you meet has a story, a story filled with unique experiences and thoughts that has led them to that particular moment in time. To abstain from acknowledging these differences in one's writing is a disservice to the work, as it's not accurately portraying the world we live in. To ignore diversity in writing, one is ignoring what makes our world so great and so unique. The best stories we tell come from our differences. If we were all the same, I think our lives would be pretty boring, don't you think? Why should our writings be any different?

8. What came first?The Story or the characters?

For me, it was definitely the setting, then the characters, then the story. I knew I wanted this story to take place in a college campus. Once I created the fictional "Sun Valley University", I decided to give it life by creating a diverse cast of characters to inhabit it. I thoroughly researched and examined every character I created, giving them a backstory, a personality, and a reason for attending that college. Everyone goes to college for different reasons, and for my characters to be believable, I needed to portray that. You'll notice I did that through biographies for each student found in between the chapters.

9. What are your plans for the series, and what should we expect from you from the future?

"Halls of Ivy" is a very different type of book. Rather than just one cohesive story from start to finish, it is composed of several different stories from the various characters of Sun Valley University, all tying together through one over-arching plot. At first, it may seem like there are too many characters; that was intentional. When one first enters college, they are bombarded with a plethora of characters that they must learn to keep up with. However, as the series progresses, the reader will grow along with these characters. They will slowly begin to develop. The series is about the corruption of a once-pristine university. By following all the students and staff of Sun Valley University, the reader will get an inside look as to how the corruption took place, and how every single student fit into the puzzle. I borrowed this storytelling technique from shows like "Lost" or "Heroes", which feature ensemble casts and a large mystery that can only be solved by learning the motivations behind each character. Once I finish the four-part "Halls of Ivy" series, I'm looking to branch out into other areas, possibly thriller genre, and even a bit into the nonfiction realm.

10. Leave us with what you consider to be the most interesting quote from your book! 

This is a quote from Tobias, one of Sun Valley University's freshmen, as he sees college:
"It doesn't matter who you are coming in, it's who you plan to become when you get out."

Showing those handsome "Catracho" pearly whites!

Enter to win his first book in the "Halls of Ivy" Series!

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