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Friday, August 10, 2012

Expanding Horizons

One of my goals in this self-publishing experiment is to write in as many genres as I can. Of course, I realize that I will not achieve success in all genres – not for lack of trying, but because I have no frame of reference for some things, like romance (unless it is tragically comedic in nature).

The latest experiment, of course, is Chronicles of Ash – a steampunk-inspired fantasy. Why steampunk? It is not the most popular genre but it is an interesting amalgamation of sci-fi, speculative fiction, and fantasy.

It’s not just robots and steam-powered gadgets; it’s also the Victorian/Edwardian politics and mores – the glitzy exterior and its dark underbelly. It’s about turning history on its head and having your way with it. It gives you the opportunity to release esoteric characters that get minor play in the history books and give them a starring role. It’s about making the familiar strange and the strange oddly familiar. It’s a play on words based on a play on your perception of reality.

On the logo for Amapola Press, the words “Expand your Horizons” appears as the motto for the small press. This is meant to be true for my readers as it is for me. I want to be able to discover new things as I embark on all these fantastic journeys.

Another one of my goals is to include at least some Latino flavor in my writings, simply because it is largely what defines me and I think everything is better with a little Latino flavor.

For this reason, one of the characters in Chronicles of Ash is a Latina. You can get a feel for her sassiness in an excerpt now running at Tiki Tiki blog (with a special offer for readers). In it, Pilar is the longtime housekeeper, companion and nanny for Ashleigh’s family on Earth before Ash is transported to the strange new world, and she is having a conversation made up entirely of facial expressions and what we refer to as The Look.

The Look is something most Latinos are familiar with, and while most married couples of all racial make-ups have a similar shorthand; Latina mother figures have perfected it to a whole new level and an art form.

I am not at all concerned about perpetuating the stereotype as Latinas as servants. Pilar is an intelligent, dedicated professional, and an independent and strong-willed woman who has never lost her identity to her duties but who has a passion to perform her responsibilities in the best way God allows her because she knows the influence she yields.

So how do I ensure that Pilar doesn’t become a stock sit-com character? Her planned role during the nine-book series will change too, as Pilar has big things coming for her as does our heroine. More importantly, she needs to be a whole character, three-dimensional.

Of course, you want this of all your characters, but I feel a great responsibility for the Latino characters I introduce because it is imperative that I show them in all their glory, which varied and delicious, just as in real life (but bigger and more fantastic). 

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