Mario writes the Felix Gomez detective-vampire series for HarperCollins. His debut novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, was chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of the best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Decade.
At the Free Talk, Mario will discuss the genres within Speculative Fiction and your story ideas. The presentation will include an exercise on how to create characters and plot a fantasy story, beginning to end. Starting April 11th, Mario will be teaching a four-week bookend class on speculative fiction. A bookend class is unique to The Writing School – the first and last class will be held face-to-face while the second and third class will be held online.
In advance of his FREE workshop and class, I asked Mario some speculative questions about writing.
Caro LaFever: What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Mario Acevedo: I can pretend I’m doing something useful and brainy.
CL: When and why did you begin writing?
MA: I started writing in the sixth grade, a science-fiction class project that got away from me and infected my brain. That story narrative got stuck in my head for years, morphing from one plot to another as the voices took over.
CL: Do you write for a particular audience or an ideal reader? Or do you write for yourself?
MA: If I’m writing for the ideal reader, then I’m missing my mark as my ideal reader would be a Hollywood producer dying to shower me with money and make movies of my books.
CL: How much of Felix is you? Are there more Felix stories inside you or are you on to another character?
MA: Is Felix in me? Would HE resent that question! Felix, even undead, is more of a macho man that I could ever hope for. I have more Felix stories as I have to complete his story arc. But as it takes months to write a manuscript, Felix is one of many stories waiting in my literary sausage machine.
CL: What skills did you learn in the military that help you in your writing career?
MA: Garroting, bayoneting, crawling under barbed wire as you’re getting shot at, living in a freezing mud hole--these are useful skills to survive the book business. Being on guard duty and staring at nothing for hours is also good practice for the days when the Muse is AWOL.
CL: What writers influenced you? How did they influence you?
MA: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Crais, Michael Dorris, my fellow scribes in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for being so hardheaded and optimistic at getting published, and those in Lighthouse Writers for their wit and wordy brilliance.
CL: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
MA: “Love it so much that you would do it for money.” In other words, getting published--that is, having someone else pay you to publish your work is a high bar--so work to get your work to that high a level. Also, don’t ever bitch about how unfair life is. At least no one is shooting at you.
CL: What are you reading now?
MA: Local horror writer Stephen Graham Jones, Jason Heller, Scott Turow, among many others on my TBR stack.
CL: What are you writing now?
MA: I’m ghost-writing two novels, plus working to complete one of my own. It’s a cacophony of voices in my head.
CL: Can people be taught to write?
MA: Of course. It is very easy. Step one: Sit your ass at the keyboard. Step two: Put hands on keyboard. Step three: Commence to writin’
CL: Besides talent, what are the particular qualities it takes to be a writer?
MA: Stubbornness and being delusional.
CL: What is your favorite part of teaching?
MA: I get to meet so many wonderful writers.
CL: How has being a writing teacher influenced your own writing?
MA: It’s taught me that I don’t know that much and to be humble about the modest success I’ve had.
CL: How do you decide what topics to include in your classes?
MA: From my experience, both as a writer and an instructor.
CL: Has the modern world of writing – ereaders, epublication, blogging – impacted your writing?
MA: Blogging for sure as I spend a couple of hours every week on my blog. Facebook and Twitter take up more time. My books are available as ebooks and those royalties are enough to buy the occasional box of TicTacs.