Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Author Interview - CARMEN FERREIRO-ESTEBAN

Over email, I met a kind author named Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban, and now she is here to talk about her first YA book TWO MOON PRINCESS published by Tanglewood Press. Whether you're a reader and/or writer, I think you'll find her in-depth, and wonderful answers fascinating. She's got great advice on world building and provided some pretty photos. Plus, she's got a PH.D. in biology! Carmen was born in Galicia (Northern Spain) -- "A land of rolling hills and green valleys surrounded by ocean thought in medieval times to be ‘Finisterre,’ the place where the world came to an end."

For the illustration, I drew Andrea, the main character of TWO MOON PRINCESS. I wanted to capture her strong personality, balanced by soft moonlight. "Andrea is strong willed, naive and fiercely independent. She is also compassionate, loyal and has a strong sense of duty."



1) Thanks for joining us, Carmen! What is Two Moon Princess about?


In short:

A Spanish Princess.
An American Boy.
A King set on revenge.
An unrequited love
and a disturbing family secret
bring a World to the brink of War.

Two Moon Princess is a coming of age story. It's the story of a girl, Princess Andrea, who grows up in a patriarchal society where girls have no power, and thus no choice. To escape the life her parents have designed for her, she leaves her father's castle, and crosses a portal into another world. In this new world, modern day California, Andrea discovers she has the freedom to become whoever she wants to be. So it is no wonder than when, by accident, she returns to her parents' kingdom, she will do anything to go back. But going back may be impossible for her actions have unearthed an old feud and started a war that will challenge Andrea's beliefs and change her forever.

Two Moon Princess is also a love story. It follows Andrea through the giddiness of her first crush and the devastating pain of unrequited love to her awakening to a more mature love rooted in respect and trust.



2) What inspired the story?


The basic idea of a girl from the Old World (Spain) coming to California and falling in love with an American boy is autobiographical.

I made the girl's world medieval to emphasize the contrast between the stern, chauvinistic world where she grew up and the freedom she discovers in California.

The rest of the plot, including the unrequited love story, the old family feud, and the dark enemy king, I made it up.



3) Can you tell us more about the world Two Moon Princess is set in?


The first scene I ever wrote that made it into Two Moon Princess was the description of a broken arch by the ocean. The arch is real. It stands on a beach I used to visit as a child, in Galicia, northern Spain.




So I knew from the beginning Andrea's world would look like Galicia. It would be a land of rolling hills ending on cliffs as they reach the ocean.









And to the South there would be a river between Andrea's kingdom and that of the enemy king.
The river I imagined is the River Mino, that separates Galicia from Portugal, and the sacred mount Andrea visits in the story is the Monte Tecla that dominates the river mouth (left on the picture below).



As for the modern world, California, obviously, I didn't make that one up. I just drew from my memories for I lived in California for four years. You can see pictures of the places I mention in my novel here.

To create the history of Andrea's world, I stole freely from Medieval Spain.

During medieval times, the peninsula that now includes Spain and Portugal was divided in small kingdoms that constantly fought each other. It was a world of castles and kings and knights, and of princesses given in marriage for political reasons. A world where men played war and women took care of the wounded and produced more children for the next war.

I connected Andrea's world with ours through the real story of King Roderic, the last Visigothic king who disappeared in battle, fighting the Arabs in 711 A.D. In my version of this historical event, Roderic and his knights fled to the northern mountains and once there escaped through a portal into another world where they became the ancestors of Andrea's people.



4) Wow, your world is so thought out, I can see it in my mind! What was your process for building the world? Any advice?


The first part of this question I answered above. I think.

As for my advice on world building first and foremost: Make it memorable.

As writers we have only words to tell our story, thus we should use every one of them effectively. If we go through the trouble of creating a world we should also use it as a plot device, or even as a character. Why waste words (and the reader's patience) describing a world, creating a society, if it is not relevant to the story?

In other words, my advice is: Create a world that is germane to the story.

Think Dune (Dune by Frank Herbert), where the planet itself determines the plot and shapes the characters. Dune is the center of the empire, without its unique ecology, there would be no worms, no spice, no intergalactic travel, no Paul Atreides, ergo no story.

Think The Lord of the Rings where every wood, plain or mountain chain becomes intrinsic to the story for it models the society of the people (humans or otherwise) that inhabits it.

My last piece of advice would be: Make it consistent.

I remember reading a book once that was set in a tropical climate. When the author mentioned the houses were lit with pine rushes, she totally lost my trust. I don't care if this is our world, or an imaginary world, pine trees don't grow in the tropics for the same reason that lions don't have hooves. They just don't. It's a biological impossibility.



5) That's great advice and I couldn't agree more. How do you reach out to teens with your book?


In person, by doing school visits in my area.

Online, I have a website
where readers can gather information about Two Moon Princess and its world. They can also learn about Andrea's next adventure by reading a sample from the upcoming sequel to Two Moon Princess, The King in the Stone.

They can also follow me at my blog or at my Goodreads address.

I read many teen blogs. Over time, I've contacted several teens and they have reviewed Two Moon Princess in their blogs.

And, of course, I always answer the e-mails my readers send me.

Thank you so much for having me in your blog and super special thanks for Andrea's drawing.



Thank you, Carmen, for the beautiful interview and photos! It was a pleasure to have you on the blog. I hope you all enjoyed the interview, dear readers!

TWO MOON PRINCESS can be purchased here.

Cheers!


--Realm

_____

If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!

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