Monday, December 3, 2007

Mayra Calvani: The Magic Violin

My guest today is versatile author, Mayra Calvani.

Puerto Rican author Mayra Calvani has been writing since the age of twelve. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Literature/Creative Writing from the University of Bridgeport, CT. Her stories, articles, and book reviews have appeared in many online and print publications in the States, England and Puerto Rico. She is co-editor of "Voice in the Dark" ezine, where she writes a monthly column. After having lived in several countries, she is now settled in Brussels, Belgium with her husband, two children, and a variety of pets.

Welcome, Mayra. I'm impressed that you write in so many genres! Do you have a favorite?

I love to write in many genres, but I have to admit my weakness is speculative/supernatural fiction.

The Magic Violin has such an intriguing title. Would you tell us how you came up with the title and the idea for this children's picture book?

My young daughter and I both started playing the violin about five years ago, so I know very well how difficult it can be at times, especially when learning a new piece. The violin is a very difficult instrument to master, requiring lots of discipline, perseverance and commitment, and this can be hard for a child at times. My love for the violin and watching my daughter play were my inspiration for the story. I wanted to create a tale which would be fun and magical, yet one which would encourage children and teach them about self esteem at the same time.

The title is simple yet has a nice ring to it, plus children love magic, right? In the story there is a part where Melina, the little protagonist, suddenly begins to play amazingly well--is it because of her hard work or because the violin has turned magical? That is one of the questions the reader must think about.

I noticed that you became a "paid" author at an early age. Did you have a mentor? Someone who has inspired your writing?

My mother, who writes beautiful poetry, has always been a great supporter of my writing. Because of her, our house was full of books and she instilled in my mind the importance of reading and being intellectually smart. But besides her, my inspiration was the books themselves, the great stories of mystery and romance I read at an early age. I think by the time I was fifiteen I had read all of Agatha Christie's mysteries. Conan Doyle was another powerful inspiration in my writing. During my teens I also loved the historical romances of Barbara Cartland. I loved being transported to her Victorian world of black carriages, alluring counts and lords, lace and bows, and all the elegance of that era.

You are also editor of "The Fountain Pen" newsletter and co-editor of "Voice in the Dark" Ezine. Keep two blogs and write book reviews for various print and online publications. In addition, you teach a book review writing course at the Long Story Short School of Writing. My question: How do you find time to write?

Good question! I guess my first answer would be doing my best to keep myself organized. For starters, I live and breathe with my large agenda/calendar, the kind where I can see the whole week in front of my eyes. For other projects, I keep a monthly calendar. It's very important for me to visualize what I'll be doing on a weekly and monthly basis. It keeps my thoughts and time structured. Otherwise I would forget everything! I only work on my newsletters towards the end of the month and it actually takes me a while to read and review a book. In spite of all the planning, though, I still have to struggle to write every weekday. The important thing to remember is that writing must come first. Book promotion is also extremely time consuming and emailing can become a little addictive, so many times I have to reel myself back like a fish and tell myself: 'Leave this for later; you have to write first.'

Do you have any specific writing rituals?

I love having music in the background while I write, and of course the music must match the tone of the story. Mostly I listen to violin music. Most of the times I write in the mornings when my mind is fresh and the house is quiet. If I feel particularly uninspired, I go on a walk with my dog or go to write at a cafe--these two things can be extremely effective to unleash your creativity. On occassions I may light a candle. I also have my violin at arm's reach and if I'm stuck in a scene I play for a while. Oddly, this has a calming effect and puts my annoying inner critic to sleep. :-)

What other project are in the works?

I'm very excited about a proposal I'm working on for Harper Collins. I'm also polishing a tween manuscript which I already completed. I have a work-in-progress I also need to finish. I took a break and will start on it again after the holidays. This one is a paranormal/werewolf suspense novel for Zumaya Publications.

Finally, is there something funny you can share about yourself that your readers might not know?

Hmm. I don't know if this is funny or not, but here it goes: This morning on our way to school my fifteen-year old asked me if I would give up reading for one whole year in exchange for one million dollars. I didn't have a quick answer for him so I told him I had to think about it (I really needed to think about it!). He thought I was completely nuts!

Mayra, would you tell my readers about the prize you're offering at the end of your book tour on Christmas day?

I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate to a lucky winner on Christmas day. To be eligible, all a person needs to do is leave a comment at the end of this post or any of my other tour stops. If the winner is from England, I’ll be giving away a £20 gift certificate from I will announce the winner on my blog Mayra's Secret Bookcase, on the 25th.

Mayra Calvani
Mayra's Secret Bookcase
Mayra's Secret Bookcase Blogspot


Church Lady said...

Did you say Belgium?
My first book (okay, only book) takes place in Belgium.

Not only am I shamelessly talking about myself, I posted this message for the potential of a $20 gift certificate.

Although Mary conducts awesome interviews, she has some questionable friends.


Mary Cunningham said...

"Questionable" friends," CL? Surely not!

There's a Belgium connection all the way around. Not only do you write about Belgium, and Mayra lives in Belgium, my family came from Belgium in the early 1800s!

Glad you enjoyed the interview. (I'm going to assume you read it!!)

Mayra Calvani said...

Really, that's spooky--the Belgium connection!

CL, I'm intrigued by your book! Is it children's? I'm going to check your blog. :-)

Mary Cunningham said...

Church Lady has a great blog, Mayra!

I'll be going out for a few hours to a writer's meeting among yourselves.

Back in a few.

Jess said...

Great job Mayra! Nice interview!

obxwriter said...

Hi Mayra: As a member of Gather, I get your notifications, so I'm following along with your tour. Actually, I too--actually, my wife--has a Belgium connection. Her maternal great grandfather and great grandmother were born in Watervliet, Belgium.

For others, my review of The Magic Violin appears on the Gather site. If you don't have a page there, I reoommend it.

Douglas Quinn

Mary Cunningham said...

Another Belgium connection! Thanks for the comments, Douglas. I've read your review on Gather, too.

Thanks for stopping in, Jess.

The Differently-Abled Writer said...

You asked interesting questions. I enjoyed the interview.

Great answers, too.

Jessica Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer

Carol said...

The only connection I have to Belgium was that my father served there during the second World War!

I enjoyed the interview!

Church Lady said...

Hi Mayra,
I don't have any excerpts on my blog. It's an historical adventure about two boys who go back in time to meet Pieter Bruegel.

The Magic Violin sounds like a beautiful picture book--I will look for it!

Is your werewolf suspense novel a YA?

This is a really nice interview!!

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jessica. Mayra is a fascinating author to interview! And she has a number of great books including The Magic Violin.

lisalmg said...

I don't have a Belgium connection but I have heard it's a beautiful place. Congratulations on The Magic Violin!

MKuehler said...

Good interview. Thanks for sharing. Good luck to you both!

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks lisalmg and Mkuehler for visiting the blog. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. But, what's not to enjoy about Mayra and her books!


Mayra Calvani said...

Thank you everybody for your nice comments. And thank you, Mary, for having me here.
Happy holidays!

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks for visiting, Mayra! Stop back anytime. We'll be happy to "talk" again!

Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year.

Church Lady said...

This was a great interview Mary! Thanks for sharing it with all of us!!!

Jan S. said...

This sounds like a great book for my granddaughter. I'd love to read it, too.
I read the same books you did, growing up! I still blow through books like popcorn. I live to read. It's one of the best parts of Gather.