Hi Members of the #Parliaverse! Welcome back to another exciting edition of Through the Ringer. Today we are featuring bestselling author of Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced and The Call of Death, R. J. Garcia who provides insight into her world, her characters, and what is on her horizon...
1. What / who first inspired you to start writing?
Growing up with dyslexia, I had a love-hate relationship with books. I loved the covers and the idea of escaping into them, but often got made fun of because it took me longer to learn to read than the other kids. I’d flip through a picture book and make up my own story. By thirteen, I connected with my first real book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. From there, I devoured more and more books and discovered so many protagonists who like me didn’t quite fit in. I wanted to write about those kinds of characters.
2. What made you want to specifically write for younger audiences?
I have always been drawn to coming of age fiction and movies. I think it is such a fascinating time in your life to explore. You are on the cusp of so many things. Also, working with young adults inspired me to write about them.
3. Your stories seem to tackle subject and content that is dark, spooky, and gritty. What made you select this genre / lane?
I love horror movies and novels as much as a good coming of age story. My mom was always reading Stephen King, renting scary movies, and watching reruns of The Twilight Zone. Elements of horror and suspense always crept into whatever I’d write. Writing is also like therapy for me. It helps me process some heartbreaking issues like domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect, which I’ve seen too much of at my work.
4. You’re also a social worker! What do your clients think of your stories?
Have a lot of them read either of your PH books? I don’t usually talk about my writing with clients but was inspired by one particular teen boy I mentored to write the Tommy character in Nocturnal Meetings.
5. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Don’t query too soon. Write the story that obsesses you. You’re going to have to devote a lot of time writing and rewriting it. Last but not least, don’t give up.
6. How do you handle writer’s block?
Playing music or being alone helps the ideas flow for me.
7. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I can’t connect with a story if I don’t get a sense of the character. Of course, the plot is just as important. I liked to read and write something that’s a little different and not too formula. That is why I’m glad I discovered so many great indie writers.
8. What comes first, the plot or characters?
The scenario usually comes first, and then I cast the characters.
9. How do you develop your plot and characters?
Nocturnal Meetings was inspired by the resiliency I have seen in foster kids I counseled. Some had parents who were either addicted to drugs, alcohol, or mentally ill. These kids had to take on adult roles to keep their families together. Nocturnal Meetings was also inspired by my fascination with true crime and cold cases, in particular. The opening chapter of The Call of Death came from a nightmare I had. I was also reading The Harry Potter books with my daughter when I wrote it. This may have influenced the setting, which is an English boarding school. I have also spent time in England and have cousins who live there. Books I read like Down the Dark Hall and the TV show Medium also helped encourage the tale… My characters are composites of people I’ve known but aesthetically I might envision them to look like an actor or actress, or a face from the internet. I daydream about the characters before I start to write their story and get to know them.\
10. How do you come up with the titles to your books?
For my first two books, The Call of Death and Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced, the titles just came to me by chapter one. Though first, I was torn between having the title be Nocturnal Meetings, or The Misplaced, until my daughter suggested putting them together, and it seemed perfect.
11. Describe your writing space?
I have a laptop, so I might write in my room, or at a coffee shop, but more often I find the quiet corner in the living room when everyone is asleep. If a cool description or idea comes to me, I’ll jot it down on any scrap of paper or even my own hand.
12. Describe a typical writing day.
I don’t write every day but when the ideas come. Sometimes, I don’t write for months, and then other times, I write every chance I get. I am plotting and thinking about the story a lot when I’m in my writing mode.
13. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
I think finding time is always a challenge. Basically, if you’re a mom and work, you have to sacrifice a little sleep here and there. Having the confidence has been a challenge for me, too. I definitely have a bit of an inferiority complex.
14. What is your favorite part of the journey (I.e., drafting, editing, etc.)?
Coming up with a new idea for a book is exciting. Choosing the titles and casting characters is so fun. I love completing the first draft. The editing becomes a little more tedious.
15. What’s next for you? What do you hope to accomplish in the coming months?
I’m finishing my WIP. It is called The Stars Forgot Us. It’s about a teenage boy who believes his new house is haunted until he discovers a strange girl living there. A girl who brings evil and supernatural beings into his life. In the next few months, I’m hoping we get through this challenging time in history.
Thank you R. J., for that incredible insight into your process! We are so thrilled to have you as part of our Parliament family.
For readers who wish to learn more about R. J.'s books, Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced and The Call of Death are available wherever books are sold online!