It’s time for another celebration, Ghoul Friends!
Yes, this is a celebration of all of our writers, editors, readers, voters, and whomever has been a part of Grammar Ghoul Press’ success over the past year! Each month, we post a new interview. The idea of this project is to celebrate more about our contributors than just their writing, so these interviews help us get to know one another a bit more intimately than just through our writing. The questions that we ask in each interview are pre-determined and sent via email, but we follow up and dive into the content a little deeper to help make each interview more personalized. If you’d like to be a part of this project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for these interviews on the last Friday of each month! The order in which interviews are published are based on when final responses are received.
Though we haven’t seen much from her recently, this month’s celebrated ghoul has won several challenges and made her mark on our website. This month, we’re celebrating Paz Spera of the Paz Spera Experience!
Paz Spera has a unique view of the world, and her interview was incredibly fun to conduct. She shares a lot of information about herself, and helps us fall in love with her craft all over again. If you’re anything like me, after reading this interview, you’ll be missing her mark on our page, too!
What is your name, online handle, and blog name & link?
P: My name is Paz Spera and my blog is The Paz Spera Experience.
Did you create your picture as a self-portrait or did someone else make it of you? It’s really well done!
P: I wish I did, a friend made it and she did a great job. My Photoshop skills are a bit less advanced.
Where are you from?
P: I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Has your time in Argentina impacted your writing? Do you find that your life there has played a large role in your writing? If so, can you give us an example?
P: I’m actually Argentinian, I’ve lived in Buenos Aires my whole life and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. It’s home. But I think that something related to the question that I noticed with my writing was when I started writing in English. I used to write in Spanish, it was last year that I started writing in English, when I started my blog The Paz Spera Experience. Sometimes I write about everyday things, experiences that I have here in my country and those happen in Spanish. Writing about them in another language makes the story stranger, they have a sound that they wouldn’t have had if I had written them in Spanish. It’s like looking at the world from the side instead of straight ahead.
What are you currently reading?
P: I’m finishing Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams.
What interested you about Douglas Adams’ book, and would you suggest for anyone who hasn’t read it? Why or why not?
P: The thing that first drew me to Douglas Adams is his combination of science fiction and dry British humor. Life, the Universe and Everything is the third book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. I really like that anything can happen in those books, very strange things happened and, they way they are told, they seem entirely possible. The movie based on the first book is very good and first it was a radio series. That has a great narrative pace that I think can teach a lot about writing, specially dialogue.
What are you currently working on, if anything?
P: One thing I´m trying to do this year is write a short story every week. It’s slowly coming along.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
P: I like to think of myself as someone who writes. Sometimes the word writer can be a bit intimidating.
Do you write for a living or pleasure? If pleasure, what do you do regularly? If for a living, tell us all about it!
P: I write mostly because I really enjoy it. I like to write flash fiction specially. Shorter stories are easier to grasp and I like the challenge of creating something vivid with a few words.
Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
P: I like photography, specially taking pictures of buildings. It’s amazing how accustomed we have become to these giant structures of steel that are basically everywhere.
Do you share your photography with the public, and, if so, is there a place (to walk into or to find online) where our readers could see some of your art?
P: Yes, I have an Instagram account where I upload some photos. It’s @sapomaltes.
What inspired you to start writing? Where did your interest in/love of writing and storytelling originate?
P: I´ve always been interested in stories and I read a lot. There’s a feeling of magic when you read, like you’re traveling somewhere. That’s why I want to write, to see if I create a place that makes an interesting travel destination.
Have you written a book? If so, please tell us about it. If not, have you considered writing one?
P: A few years ago I wrote a book with a friend, it was called Lo peor que te puede pasar (The worst thing that can happen to you). It was a collection of beginning of stories where things just kept getting worse and worse. The stories had an apocalyptic theme, we used to spend a lot of time talking about the end of the world and the next logical step was to write a book about that. The book was published by Sítrico, a digital publisher that I was part of but that project came to an end and the book is not available anymore.
The book that you and your friend wrote sounds absolutely fascinating! Have you considered finding a new way to get it out to the world?
P: It’s not something I’m thinking of for the moment, it would be nice to revisit that book later on but for now I’m focusing on other projects.
Are experiences in your writing based on someone you know, your own life, or completely fictional?
P: When I was younger I had an issue with my writing , all of my characters sounded like me. They talked like I did and it got to be a little annoying. Now I try to find voices that are different from mine. Listening to people talk in public places has been helpful with that.
As a fellow writer, I struggle with finding voices that are not mine. Is there anything specific you can share about listening to people in public, something to really focus on or to make note of, to help strengthen one’s writing?
P: Looking for differences is something that has helped me a lot. For example, hearing a teenage girl say something and thinking about the words she’s using. Would I have I used the same words? How would I have said what she did and what is the difference in meaning between the words she used and the words I would have? I try to catch the pattern of speech of different people and build some sort of dictionary of language that I can use when my characters speak.
Do you have a particular writing style? Describe it to us. (Do you write more by logic or intuition, or both? What’s your writing process? Give us some details.)
P: My main focus is that the story sounds right. I strongly believe that the rhythm of the story is the most important thing, the cadency of words. I record myself reading what I wrote and then I hear it back a few times. That’s when I can see where the story is not working, when it stops sounding right.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in the shower, writing by candle light, writing in the nude, or only using a pen and paper first)?
P: I’d have to say the whole thing about recording the stories is the most peculiar thing I do. I also like to print what I write as part of the revision process. There’s a big difference between what’s written on the screen and what’s on the paper.
Do you prefer to write in any particular genre? Subject?
P: Magic realism is my thing. Everything is quite normal, things are going along and suddenly there are talking turtles and tiny people living inside your oven.
Talking turtles and tiny people living in your oven. That’s very specific. Can we expect to see this in a story soon?
P: I’m working on a story of a talking turtle called Birmania. She’s a brave one, that little turtle.
Is there any particular subject you believe you will never write about? Why?
P: I’m sure I have one but I haven’t found it yet.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose names based on liking the way it sounds, do they have a special meaning, etc.?
P: I don’t have a particular way of selecting the names of my characters. I try with a few names until I found one that fits. But I do find that I tend to use the same ones over and over. I’ve written about many Pablos and Danielas. I always use Argentinian names in my stories, even if they’re in English. I like that because it adds to the strangeness my English sometimes stories have.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging when writing?
P: Definitely motivation. Like any craft, writing improves with practice. But no matter how much I love writing, the lazy part of me has more influence that I’d like.
What books or authors have most influenced your writing?
P: I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since I was little. His books are alive . I’ve always wanted to create something so lifelike. Another big influence was James Ellroy. From him I learned the power of short sentences.
What secret talents do you have, besides writing?
P: Not to brag, but I make a pretty decent chili. I’m a tea enthusiast. It’s my favorite beverage and there are so many different blends that it’s like exploring a universe of fantastic flavors. I also love dinosaurs and Batman. Specially Batman.
I absolutely love chili, and I’ve noticed that many people, even from the same area, can have vastly different takes on it. What is one ingredient that really makes your chili stand out, if you’re willing to share your secret?
P: Bacon is a huge part of my chili. I use a lot of it. Also keeping it in the stove for a couple of hours, until the meat is so tender you look at it and it cuts itself. And then more bacon.
What were you like as a child? Did you have a favorite toy/game? Do you find your writing to have any inspiration from your childhood?
P: I liked to read a lot when I was little, books and comics. I was a huge Dragon Ball fan. Well, I still am. Sometimes I see parts of my childhood come up when I’m writing. It’s a general feeling of remembering how the mid-nineties used to be.
If you had a superpower, what would it be, what would your costume look like, and would you be a hero or villain? Why?
P: I’d be Batman. He is the night, after all.