Thursday, May 12, 2011
Up Close And Personal with Farida Mestek Author of A Secret Arrangement
Where do you call home?
Odessa, Ukraine. This is where I was born, grew up and live. I can't really imagine myself anywhere else. I'd love to travel, but I know that I won't like to stay in any other place indefinitely – I'll always be drawn back home.
Do you have plans for a new book?
I have so many of them! I have a long list of book and screenplay ideas that I want to work on. I want to continue my Regency line, both traditional and m/m; I want to write a prequel to my fantasy novella “Almendra: A Fairy-Tale”; I want to try writing screenplays for movies and TV shows... lots and lots of plans there :))
What inspired you to write your first book?
I always knew that writing was a part of me and when my mind became haunted by a presence of a young woman with fair skin and long, black hair, I knew that I had to write her story.
How did you come up with the title and cover design?
Because “Almendra: A Fairy-Tale” was so long in the making, it had quite a few titles along the way. I started writing it about ten years ago, finishing it about five years later. It seems like a hell of a time to spend on writing a book that is so short, but, while I've been writing pretty much all my life, at the time the idea for “Almendra” came to me, I was mainly writing poems, songs and essays. So I had to work on my writing and then I spent a lot of time making a very detailed outline of the story. I can't tell you how many times I revised “Almendra” before putting it away for another five years. Last year in a fit of nostalgia – Almendra was such a big part of my life that she became a member of the family – I reread it and decided to publish it. And as I was reading it again, I realized that it was a fairy-tale with a twist. Thus it became “Almendra: A Fairy-Tale”.
As for the cover design, I wanted it to be something bright and fairy-tale-like. So I made a collage with Almendra and her friend Joannah and their goals and my publisher supplied me with a picture of a wolf (another main character of the story) and mashed it all together. In fact, I made a great number of covers: I drew and painted them and even made one from beads! It was my favourite cover, but we couldn't make it work...
Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?
Well, when it comes to “Almendra”, I have to say that about 80 per cent of it is based on my life, my fears, my experiences. I think I can say that I based Almendra on myself but I made her more beautiful :)) And I definitely had my mother in mind when I described her mother. In fact, The Upper Kingdom situation is very similar to that of my own family. It consists of women only and they are all very strong, in their own way, and I wanted my heroines to be just like that and I also wanted to have one place ruled only by women.
What books have most influenced your writing most and why?
I would say Anne of Green Gables series and Jane Austen books. I do tend to imitate them after reading them. They have very different styles but I love them and I try to mix them together in my own way.
What book are you reading now?
I've started reading Fanny Burney's Journal and Letters recently and I'm going to take part in “Evelina” group read, which I'm very excited about. But I have so little time for reading now that I still haven't finished Sherlock Holmes Complete Stories! I'm also listening to Harry Potter and the Order of th Phoenix audio-book.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and why?
The other day I interviewed Patricia Puddle and her stories made a great impression on me. She writes for children, but I don't think it matters much if a book grabs your attention. She has a story about a bandicoot and a girl who rescues him and I just love animals and I found bandicoots really cute. Another story is about a girl who suffers from alopecia, which is something I can relate to after undergoing chemo treatment.
Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?
Oh yes! I always want to change something. In fact, once the book is published, I'm in a state of constant fear that I've made hundreds of typos and mistakes and I want to reread it but I can't really face it. I'm a perfectionist at heart but I also know that a book can't be perfect and no matter how many times I revise it and go back to it, there will always be a part of me that will remain dissatisfied.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to your writing?
I love writing like nothing else in the world, but I'm also very dependent on my muse. Unfortunately, she keeps coming and going at odd times and the biggest challenge for me is to keep writing when she's gone. I have loads of ideas that I want to turn into books, but I need time and inspiration.
Who designed the covers?
Like I mentioned before, I supplied some ideas for “Almendra” cover. However, all my other covers were supplied by my publishers.
Do you have a book trailer?
Not yet. I'm thinking about making one at some point, but I'm not very good with technology so I'll probably need someone else's help.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing and believing in your stories and characters. It can be tough at times to face bad reviews or low sales or to have no feedback at all, but the most important thing is not to lose perspective and keep going.
Where can your readers follow you?
I have several blogs:
The Upper Kingdom blog (http://the-upper-kingdom.blogspot.com/) is dedicated to “Almendra: A Fairy-Tale”.
Regency Sketches blog (http://faridamestek.blogspot.com/) is dedicated to my Regency-set stories.
Farida's Blog (http://faridamestek.librifiles.com/) is dedicated to my Girlebooks publications.
A Public Journal of a Regency Gentlewoman blog (http://regencyjournal.blogspot.com/) is an experimental journal where I try to write about the events of my daily life from the point of view of a 19th century gentlewoman.
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