Welcome to Untamed Publishing's Author Interviews! As a company that caters to the self-published author, we want to highlight and support indie authors. There is a vast array of talent amongst us, and here's the opportunity to connect the readers to their next favorite author! This year we have an all new round of writers from all genres so let's saddle in and have an Untamable 2018!
This interview features, Author Val Day-Sanchez. Join us as we explore the eclectic readings of this diverse author.
Hi Val! Let me first say it is an honor to have you interview with UP. Welcome to the UP HOT SEAT! Before we begin, please tell us a little about yourself.
I devour books. I read at least one a week. A year ago I made the decision to focus on books written by marginalized group members only. Reading books by women, members of the LGBTQ community and people of color has really provided me with some incredible stories which I can see myself represented in. This was a direct effect of starting All This Publications with my incredible friend Kendra. We wanted to create something where women, girls, and other underrepresented groups could see themselves in media and feel free to tell their stories.
Was the ability to be free to tell your story what made you decide to become a published author?
Writing is a very primal part of me. I have to do, and this is going to sound weird so-fair warning- but I'm more of a vessel for my characters. I write down their story as they convey to me. Publishing was always in the back of my mind, since I was a kid, just because that's the natural next step. As an adult I thought, maybe what I'm writing can resonate with someone else. So I decided to publish my first book.
What genres do you write or wish to write?
The Harlow Whittaker Trilogy is high fantasy. Threshold and its sequel Peak are sci-fi and thriller. Green Chile Cheese Fries is a feminist romantic comedy. It Should Be Jarring is a collection of short stories with a bit of horror. Helium is a YA thriller/coming of age book. I'm currently working on a piece of nonfiction with narratives and poems weaved in. I don't like to concern myself with genre until the book is finished and it's time to market it. My role as an author is to help the character tell their story and if I'm worried about fitting them into a box the tale becomes convoluted and dishonest.
Wow! That is a diverse array of novels and I love when authors expand outside the box. Since we are learning about Val, the author, let's continue and dive into some facts about you. When it comes to writing, are you a morning or a night owl?
It depends on the book. Harlow I typed during my child’s nap time. Threshold I would sneak away and write whenever I could, morning, afternoon, night. That book came out like a fury. I could only write it in a spiral notebook and it poured out of me, my hand didn't move fast enough. Peak I wrote at night, just before bed. Green Chile Cheese Fries, I literally sat in my big arm chair and wrote all weekend until it was completed. It Should Be Jarring was my own personal challenge. I'd never written a short story before so I decided to write one every day for 30 days. I would write them early in the morning before I would go teach. Helium was interesting because the character Mimi only appeared to me at night, between the hours of 1-4AM, and if I tried to type it - I would get blocked so I wrote the entire book on the memos section of my phone.
Tell us a unique writing habit you have?
I can't write anything if I think someone else is going to read it so my manta while I write is, “No one is going to read this.” That way I don't bring in other people's intentions or expectations into the process.
That's a savvy methodology. It probably also helps you in the sense that it creates a judgement free zone when you write, which adds to your diversity. Speaking of your savvy writing, if you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it? Why?
HA! That’s so funny you should ask. I’m literally working on a memoir now, it should be out next month, titled, The Only Black Girl in the Room. Growing up in New Mexico it is extremely common that I would be the only person who looks like me in a classroom, a conference room, a restaurant, a doctor's office, etc. There just wasn't any representative of me, a gender fluid pansexual black person reflected in the books I read, shows and films I watched or in my personal life. The book explores the impacts of that and how I continue to operate as an “only.”
The title alone has me supercharged! Readers grab that read. We'll hopefully learn more on this, but for now, let's discuss the meat and potatoes. What is your current project?
My latest release was Helium. Helium was a really odd book for me to write because it tapped into a very young version of myself. It follows Mimi, who up until about page twenty, has been living a life that she believes is rather fixed and permanent and that is completely fine with her. The introduction of a new family, where she lives, causes her to begin questioning everything in her life. She begins to wonder about, her upbringing, who has control over body and the choices she makes and once this questioning begins she discovers that she is extremely unhappy with where her life is going. The book talks about Black Lives Matter, growing up as a black person in Mississippi and also what is to be raised in a very strict community where women’s bodies are policed and seen as possessions.
What are some of your aspirations for your writing career?
Every series I complete or book I finish I always think, that will be my last. I don't believe in outlines or planning so I always assume, that's it. A few months ago I experienced writers block for the first time. I just couldn't write. And then I started writing poetry and essays and realized, wow this is a memoir. I honestly wait for the projects to come to me and I have no idea of knowing when that will be. There is something I have been writing and taking breaks from for the last two years and that is my graphic novel, . It's a massive undertaking and I'm excited to see it come to fruition.
What makes your writing stand apart from other authors?
The diverse characters and the genre switching definitely makes me unlike a lot of authors. As writers we are told to stay in our lane and if we have a successful book, to continue to reproduce that kind of story and I've never been one for sameness.
Would you like to collaborate with other authors on a book project?
I mean if I'm just dreaming, I would love work with Ava DuVernay and Jordan Peele. We wouldn’t write books, but instead adapt my books into screenplays. Ms. DuVernay would make my Harlow Trilogy incredible for the silver screen. She has an eye for creating other worlds and Mr. Peele would ensure all the creepy vibes from Helium come across on screen.
You are not alone! It would be a dream to work with the visionaries Ava DuVernay and Jordan Peele. Since we are discussing those whose work you admire and we love Indie Authors, please name your top 5 favorite books by indie authors?
Edwin Peng's Star City, Antonius M. Hogebrandt’s body of work. Each them have a strong point of view and are extremely dedicated to their craft. Shanna Miles' Willow Born, is a YA paranormal fantasy that has witches, suspense and a fast pace. Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Octavia's Brood looks at speculative fiction and social justice and made me think, "what if. ." It is a book you think about long after it's done. The Keepers Vow by Francine Simone is a YA epic urban fantasy that really guts you at the start and rebuilds its characters. The story sucked me in but the characters captivated me.
Let's get to know more about Val the person. Outside of writing, what are your favorite past times?
I have a commuter bike, her name is Simone and she is amazing. For most of my life I thought what I had been told was true, and part of that was that due to my health I couldn't be physically active. Well last year I realized (doing my best Maury Povich impersonation) that was a lie. Now pedaling around town has become a passion of mine. Also after we launched Allthis.org we started a podcast. I went from professor, author, blogger, mom, spouse to podcast co-host, Web designer, producer, theme song creator - in a matter of days. But it is so fun! If you hate reading but love listening, give our podcast, All This a listen.
Tell us one thing about you that is a little known fact.
Little known fact...I did a TED Talk 5 months ago. The footage has yet to be released so not many folks know about it.
Before we go, give us some nuggets of wisdom to help aspiring and even current authors. What is a lesson you've learned since becoming a published author?
You are definitely going to disappoint people. Readers have a connection to these characters and have ideas of what they should do and say and when you, as the author, don't write that - they get upset. It also still shocks me when complete strangers know who I am and have read my books.
What is the myth about being a published author that you've learned and would like to share?
That all authors are the same. I would beat myself up about not doing it "the right way." Authors I admire would talk about their process or how they write every day and I was like, I'm not doing any of that, I must be failing. But once I figured out that my process is no process I was more comfortable and confident with what I'm putting out. Just be true to you or as my students say, "do you boo."
Val, it was a pleasure to interview you. We look forward to your future works! Please connect with the author and check out her books.
Synopsis of Helium:
Mimi is perfectly content until a Newcomer is introduced to her community. Her once simplistic existence is introduced to racism, police brutality, and the notion that black lives matter.
Even after learning of the horrible things that plague society she is still eager to witness the world for herself. How awful must her life be if she cannot curb this longing? This desire to go? What is she fleeing?
Fear and doubt replace familiar and safe, as Mimi begins to ask,
"Can there be more?"