In this week’s spotlight it’s my pleasure to introduce author, Marielena Zuniga!
1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Marielena Zuniga, a difficult name to pronounce, but I like it because it’s lyrical and reminds me of my roots. I was born in South Texas. My father is Mexican-American and my mother is Scotch-Irish, from Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, the town featured in my novel, “Loreen on the Lam: A Tennessee Mystery.” I’ve been a professional journalist and writer for more than 35 years and earned many prestigious writing awards along the way. After years of writing for others, I’m now focusing on my creative writing and novels. And I feel fortunate to be living in Bucks County, PA, home of James Michener and Pearl Buck.
2.) Where can we find you on the internet?
I’m working on revising my website, so for now, folks can find me at: http://www.amazon.com/Marielena-Zuniga/e/B00IZOCAUG or on Facebook and Twitter.
3.) Why did you choose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?
“Loreen on the Lam” is a mystery and I chose this genre because I believe everyone loves a good mystery. Whether it’s a traditional “whodunnit” or a novel that leaves the reader asking “What’s going to happen in this relationship?” or “What’s motivating this character?” — it’s always about mystery. But I also focus those mysteries on women’s issues with some spirituality thrown into the mix. My writing style varies and I surprised myself when I wrote “Loreen on the Lam,” a humorous tale. I’m usually prone to the serious and introspective.
4.) Tell us about your latest book.
“Loreen on the Lam: A Tennessee Mystery” is the story of Loreen Thigpen who has to find a way to get home to her dying mama in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. There’s only one problem. Loreen is in a prison in Houston, Texas. She not only wants to mend fences with her mama before she passes, but her mama hints of some news about her grandpa, who mysteriously disappeared 25 years ago. Working in the offsite auto mechanics program, Loreen steals the tour bus of Josh Montgomery, a famous country music star, and along the way picks up three passengers: an abused woman; a deaf-mute Bible salesman; and a Catholic nun. One of them is a murderer. The book is two mysteries in one and alternates between two timelines — when her grandfather went missing and the present. The book is also funny and a Southern romp!
5.) If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why?
What a great question! And a tough one. I’d have to say “Jane Eyre” — not because Jane had such a difficult life, but because she was a woman of great courage and overcame great odds not only to survive, but to find belonging and the love of her life in Mr. Rochester.
6.) What was your favorite book growing up?
Jane Eyre. My mother gave it to me to read when I was 13 and I devoured it. But prior to that, I couldn’t read enough of the early Nancy Drew mysteries.
7.) The infamous question — what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there?
Nothing I say here hasn’t been said before, but I’ll say it anyway. Writing is a discipline. Yes, it can be fun and at times IS fun as you create your own world. But it takes work. Also, find a good critique group for honest feedback about your writing and most of all (easier said than done), don’t give up! Discouragement is the bedfellow of all writers, and we’ve all been there when rejections start to pile up. If you love writing, you’ll keep writing.
8.) What are your preferred methods to use while writing and environment?
There’s a word in meditation practices that applies to writing: STAY. I simply stay in the chair, in front of my computer, and write. Some days the words flow; some days they don’t. But I stay. I also prefer quiet. No distractions. And for inspiration I’m fortunate to look out my window at woods and a winding creek.
9.) What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even Monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies?
I’m not much of a game person but as a wordsmith, I love Scrabble! My other hobbies are reading, long walks in nature, listening to good music and going to see community theatre, when I can.
10.) What can we look forward from you in the future?
As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something completely different” … I’m writing something completely different. The book has a working title of “The Last Year of Birdsong” and has strong spiritual and metaphysical overtones. It needs a good bit of work and I’m revamping much of the meat of the book, so I guess it’s time to stop this interview and start writing. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers!
It’s my pleasure Marielena, thank you for answering my questions!