Author Interview with Omayra Vélez
Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
As a child, I always used to say that I was going to be a soldier, scientist, a teacher, a doctor, and a writer. As I grew up, I went to college and majored in Biology. I have a BS and MS in Biology. I worked at the Medical College of Cornell University, so I became a scientist. Later, I got bored of that and became a Chemistry/Biology teacher. After September 11, I wanted to serve my country, so I joined the Army and became a Medical Service Officer. However, I became ill and had to retire from the Army and now I have plenty of time to write. So, I undusted some of my stories I had started writing a few years ago and I wrote and published my first book, The Assembly of Thirteen. I am also working on my Doctorate in Education. So, I say I worked hard and made all my childhood goals come true, with the help of my G-d and family.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
I was going thru therapy and in the process of purging my inner demons, pieces of the story came alive. I wrote some of the middle chapters first and they were pieces of stories not even chapters. However, in the spring of 2016, I was watching the news and the political issues we were having and that gave me the start of the idea for the problems of Quetza.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Some Characters are totally engineered from my mind. I do research on psychological profiles of different types of people and construct their personality. Others have elements of people I have encountered and have left a lasting impression. However, none are a total representation of one person.
What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
The Personality of Gema was complex and I had to do extensive research on a narcissistic personality and other personality traits. However, I had to do a great deal of research on the castle, Alhambra de Granada, in Granada Spain. The castle in The Assembly of Thirteen is based on this castle. I have never seen it, but one day I’ll be able to visit.
Where do you go to do your research?
I read books on different topics, watch movies, and Google is my best friend.
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
I write pieces of stories and save them in my computer. Or I write pieces of stories on my notebook that goes everywhere with me. Later the pieces come together. The process is the same for every book. I have four books all going at the same time. Each story comes in pieces and later I take each piece and place it in the story I think fits the best. Later when I have enough pieces, then I think about the plot. I do not force the story or go looking for a story. A story can start by me drinking a cup of coffee with a friend in Helsinki, Finland. Or while I sit by a beach surf, letting my legs get wet. The books are done when I run out of words to say. Also, some stories have characters that come so alive that they appear in my brain telling me their story and then the story moves very fast.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
Yes, I just finished writing the second book of The Assembly of Thirteen. The third book has four chapters and I have a spiritual book which I have the middle of but no start or end.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
I am not fit to give any advice, because my style of writing is unorthodox. I don’t follow any guidelines or scripts. I just write and piece the story together and then the plot appears. I am an indie writer, thus I publish my own books. I promote using social media and do not expect to live out of royalties. I write for the love of writing. If people like my books, then that’s great that they read them and enjoy my stories. Me, I just love to write.
What is your favorite work of literary fiction and why? Do you have a favorite literary author?
I have several favorites. Stephen King, with The Stand which is my favorite of his books. J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series and George R.R. Martin with his Game of Thrones are phenomenal reads. Franz Kafka is a personal favorite, but I can’t forget J.R.R. Tolkien.
Who is your favorite contemporary author? Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?
I am doing my Doctorate in Education and lately all I read about is on the Philosophy and Theory of Education, which are giving me great ideas. However, I am not reading anything else, for obvious reasons.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
I write whenever I get an idea. I have a notebook with pieces of stories. I try to write in the mornings when my mind is fresh, but there have been days that I’ve written for twelve hours straight.
How did you find your publisher? What was your journey to publication like?
I tried to go the traditional route, but my patience is very thin. When I am done with something I am done, and I must move to the next project. So, I hire editors, illustrators, and cartographers as I need them. I read all the how-to books I can get my hands on so I can do things myself and then I do what I read about. For me it is easier.
Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
Yes, I hate when I have people in my house making noise while I read. I can write with music blasting in the background, but I can’t stand having people moving around my house.
How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive?
My friends are very supportive. However, only my mother’s side of my family support my writing.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?
I learned to write in the active voice in the Army. So that wasn’t an issue, however using too many similar words was an issue in the start. However, my editors pointed it out early in my writing and now it made me aware of the issue. It slowed my writing down a little in the beginning but now I am getting used to watching for redundancies.
About the Book
It is a work of fantasy fiction.
The book is about an Empire ruled by a human family bent on committing genocide against all none human races. A group of leaders of each faction gets together to find a solution and dethrone the royal family and bring back the old ways of choosing a leader. However, in order for a new leader to appear, a group of thirteen very special people needs to rise and travel the land in search of possible candidates to be leader. The thirteen are scattered around the Empire and it is up to a Human from Earth, June Dunbar and a giant named Kara to help gather the thirteen. However, they are running from soldiers, witches, destroyers, and many other foes that stand in their way.
You can purchase the book at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBooks, Lulu, and Kobo.
About the Author
Omayra Vélez lives in Florida, doesn’t care for piña coladas, and loves getting caught in the snow. She is a retired Army Officer and Soldier for life. Go Army! Her favorite things to do are knit, read, write, and snowboard, not necessarily in that order.
After retirement, Omayra saw her opportunity to follow her next big dream, to write a book. However, the story became larger as more characters appeared in her head telling their share of the story. This made one book turn into many. She is busy writing the second book and working towards her doctorate.
Her life is full of love with her crazy cat named Kátia and a lazarillo of a dog named Dexxy. She’s not blind, but her dog guides her none the less. If you want to know more about Omayra and her books visit her website, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
A special thank you to Omayra Vélez for being interviewed today at Pandora's Box Gazette.
Don't forget to save the date of Saturday, March 24th which is our online party here at the magazine. We'll be hosting a chat in the forum, sharing interviews with our monthly columnists, and giving away prizes in our drawing. We hope you stop by to join the party!