Name  Lori R. Lopez

   Where are you from  Ripon, Wisconsin

   A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

I never attended college, though I graduated with honors from a journalist course at the Defense Information School.

    Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I was constantly writing as a kid:  stories, books, plays, poems.  I decided at age fifteen to become a novelist, but my parents signed me up for the U.S. Navy halfway through Eleventh Grade, telling me there were no jobs besides pumping gas in the small Florida town where we lived at the time.  I said I wouldn’t join the military unless I could do something creative (I had wanted to be a writer, artist, actress and musician since I was small).  Based on my test scores, the closed rating of Journalist was opened for me.  Then I said I was a Conscientious Objector and was told I couldn’t say that.  I had been nominated for the American Spirit Award in Basic Training, then was sent to Spain for a few years after the journalist training, then assigned to a base near Key West, Florida.  I wasn’t very happy the whole time, about four and a half years.  I did some local illustrated editorial columns eventually, and I now do columns for my website including a monthly one that compels me to take time out from prose to write poetry.  But I mainly write fiction, which had always been my goal.

    Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

 I guess I’ve considered myself a writer since at least Third Grade, when I composed my first poem.  It’s something most writers are born with, a need to play with words and sentences like kids play with toys, using imagination to entertain themselves and others.  It came easily to me, and I received a great deal of praise from teachers on what I wrote.  Then there were years in which only my belief in myself kept me going, but writing was always there in one form or another — from songs to nonfiction and fiction and poems.

    Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My first finished book was a collection of stories called OUT-OF-MIND EXPERIENCES.  I was already working on a nonfiction project and a novel when I started writing a few short stories.  I hadn’t done that since I was a child.  I had many ideas for other novels, but books are usually a slow process.  I was thrilled that I could get an idea and write it quickly, not just start it then push it aside until I could get to it.

    Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I find that I write in a range of styles, some more humorous or inventive than others.  Each individual project dictates the style that fits best, and I might change the style along with the voice as I develop a project.  My first novel DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS actually began as a screenplay written for my sons, inspired by a local television news story on a chupacabra sighting near the border at the end of Ninety-Six.  I wanted to write novels, and the idea kept growing into a trilogy and then a trilogy of trilogies.  Layers of edits led to what Tome One is today, a very unique piece of literature with an extremely quirky style that combines heroic adventure, myth and legend, historical fact with avant-garde technique, poetic description, cartoonish and inventive wackiness.  Not an easy thing to pull off, and I fully expect that some readers will hate the style and wish the plot were more simply put and straightforward.  Sarcasm is one of the many genres I have Frankensteined together for this book.

    Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

My sons were Mexican folkloric dancers, and I loosely based the brothers in the novel on them.  Dance is an important theme in The Dance Trilogy, the first three books of THE TOME TRILOGY OF TRILOGIES.

    Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The book is rather complex and has a number of messages throughout.  A central theme is the relationship of the brothers, being there for each other.  But they must overcome sibling issues along with their own self-doubts, ultimately becoming stronger themselves as well.  Books are obviously an important theme, and my reverence for the written word is a thread that binds all of the tomes together.

   Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?  Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS encompasses not only traits borrowed from my sons, I put some aspects of myself into the character of their mother.  Then there is the Mexican history tied in, as well as details from the performance background of my sons, things like that.  There is a real setting, the Baja California desert, which I have turned into a magical realm I call Zone Zero.  It lies along a latitude where some of the most extreme points on Earth exist, such as the Himalayan Mountains and the Marianas Trench.

    Fiona: What books have most influenced your life?

I have to go way back to the first book I loved, “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.  What a story!  It had monsters and a kid with plenty of imagination.  I was enthralled by Washington Irving’s “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”.  Well, my love of rhyme began even earlier than these, with Mother Goose.  Then, in Fifth Grade I read Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS, and wow!  I wept for the monster.  There are so many tales I loved as a child, including THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS and a book series called ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE THREE INVESTIGATORS.  But Lewis Carroll’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS were very very special too.  As an adult, I started reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz and knew I wanted to write Horror.

    Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I guess Shakespeare.  He invented so many words and wrote with such beauty and poetry, as well as depth and wisdom.  His works define the concept of classic.  They are positively brilliant!  I still can’t believe he wrote so well and prolifically with the old quill-and-ink method!  As much as I rewrite, it was tough enough back in the days of the typewriter.

    Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I was reading THE TALISMAN by Stephen King and Peter Straub.  It’s been pushed aside indefinitely, and I’ve mainly had time for an occasional short story these days.

    Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Yes, various indie authors and a lady who published a number of novels with major companies but has since joined the ranks of us independents, Billie Sue Mosiman.  I greatly admire the work of Jerry W. McKinney.  There are others I plan to read including Ruth Barrett, T.W. Brown, Trent Zelazny, Jeffrey Kosh, Lisa Lane, Jaime Johnesee, Christine Sutton and more.  I recently enjoyed a story by Anthony Servante, and a poet I respect is Phibby Venable.  Excellent nonfiction authors I’ve read are Geri Small-Graham, Lynn C. Tolson and Angela Shelton.

    Fiona: What are your current projects?

I have several short stories to finish for a horror collection titled THE MACABRE.  There is a novel I wrote in January of 2011 that I need to finish polishing and illustrating:  AN ILL WIND BLOWS.  It received an award from Vicious Spirits, a group of authors.  I have Tomes Two and Three to polish for my TOME TRILOGIES, and sequels for two short-story series.  I also have a second volume of verse based on my “Poetic Reflections” column to put together and release.

    Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Fellow indie authors in the past couple of years or so have made a huge difference for my career, from being published in anthologies and winning an award to encouragement and respect, friendship and other forms of support.  Meeting readers has been great too; getting to know some of the people who love my writing.  Oh, that’s two.  Well, in some cases it overlaps.  But I really have to mention the readers, because without them my voice as an author would go unheard.

    Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

It is my career, even though I barely sell anything yet.  It’s one of those jobs that you don’t do because you’re being paid . . . you love it and need to do it, there’s no choice.  Being paid would be nice, but I love writing first and foremost.  It is something I have always been doing and will never stop.

    Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

 Here’s the beginning of my novel AN ILL WIND BLOWS:

THE MOST EXTREME MOMENTS can sneak up on you when you least expect.  Suddenly, wham!  They’re right in your face — and you’re helpless to prevent them.  That has been my experience since I was very small.  Things just seemed to happen.  There was nothing I could do about it but accept whatever came.  Like standing in the path of the wildest wickedest storm that ever blew.  Or on some other catastrophic collision course.  You simply knew it was Fate.  And Fate could be one out-of-control unholy carnival of terror!

            My name is Arletta Trimble.  I’ll be your guide for this journey through the darkest night of my existence.  And probably yours too, unless you’re used to stepping off the edge into absolute craziness.  I don’t mean the kind that inhabits a rubber playroom where the toys have been dented and gnawed by sets of permanent teeth.  I’m talking mind-warping bizarre.  The stuff of nightmares and hallucinations.

            As I recall, I was sitting there minding my own beeswax when along came a wind that ripped the back door from the building where I lived.  It snagged grouchy Ben Doogan right with it.  He takes care of maintenance around here.  Well, he used to.  They never did find him.

            Once the door was gone, I had no choice but to poke my nose into the matter.  It isn’t that I’m snoopy like some people think.  I’m just naturally curious.  Which tends to make me prone to an abundance of problems, because following your nose can be a dangerous proposition.

            On this particular afternoon, that was precisely the case.  I should know.  I’m gifted that way.  My mother said I could smell trouble a mile away.  I don’t like to brag, but I think it’s more like ten miles.

            There I was, morally inclined to explore the event.  How could I have guessed it would lead to such diabolical disaster?  Well, I could have and should have and did.  And that’s one reason I had to investigate.

            Another excuse, I was on a mission.  A quest of sorts.  In fact, a treasure hunt.

    Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

For me, no.  For readers, some might not appreciate my style depending on the project.  In some cases I am more descriptive than in others or experiment more.  I like to make readers think.  I often write with depth and even with layers of meaning.  I love words and believe in using the full extent of language, along with foreign terms.  I will also make up words.  I tend to write prose with the ear and license of a poet.

    Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I can’t travel much at present.  I hope to in the future.  It would be wonderful to visit a setting that I wish to write about.  My imagination does the traveling now.

    Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I do the artwork for my covers and choose the font, colors and so forth.  My son Rafael assists with the technical side of putting it all together.

    Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The many drafts for DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS, from screenplay to novel and beyond.  It is a novel in the true sense of the term, and I put so much into it.  Years of effort, between research and writing and expanding it.

    Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I have learned that it’s easier to start with an idea and just write the book than to write something and keep changing it, adding details and characters and significance after the fact, over more than a decade.  And yet, because of this process, I have created a unique piece of art.

    Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write if it’s what you need to do.  Not because you think it would be an easy profession, or make you rich, or make you famous.  Write because you have to, and do not make excuses for not writing.

    Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Keep an open mind.  Don’t judge everything I write by one story or book.  They’re different.  And don’t expect me to write like anyone else.  I’m different.

    Fiona: If you were not a writer, what else would you like to have done ?

I would be something else creative — an artist, actress, musician . . .  Wait, I can be those too!  I do my own artwork, play guitar and drums, and I have plans to do videos and films with my sons.

    Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?

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