Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me on your blog today! I’m I.L. Cruz, author of the epic fantasy A Smuggler’s Path: Book One of the Enchanted Path series. I’m originally from Brooklyn, but I now live in Maryland. My childhood surrounded by strong women and diverse people has influenced my writing. And my protagonists are usually Latinas because I didn’t see enough of that as a kid or even now.
How long have you been writing for?
Writing is something I’ve always done as a creative outlet and to work things out on paper. It was about 12 years ago I wanted to write an entire novel, but it took another five or six years before I decided that I wanted writing to be my career.
What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?
The most random things motivate me write. A documentary about trees. A nursery rhyme. A strange noise in the middle of the night. That and so many other things trigger ideas (not all good) and if I can string enough of them together, a story emerges. For example, my current series started because I’d been reading fairy tales and nursery rhymes to my daughter and a combination of horror at the female protagonists (if you can call them that), the uptick of fairy tale retellings, and wanting to know what happened to the nursery rhyme characters after the rhyme led me to write my first novel.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
My routine is more a plan than a day-in, day-out fixture. I plan project by project. When it’s a first draft, I stick to pen and paper (made more high-tech by my Light Scribe smart pen, which lets me upload my notebooks to my computer) and write a chapter at a time. When I finish a chapter, I scribble notes about what should get done in the next chapter. I continue that way until the draft is done and then I take two weeks off before I read it back. I do this during school hours on the weekdays and it’s worked so far…
How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?
It wasn’t just my choice. I’d been fiddling with my series for years and agents didn’t seem to know what to do with my book. Some said it was too whimsical for adults. When I tried making it YA, my MC was too close to her mother, which they said wouldn’t work for teens. I didn’t agree with blanket statements like that and my family kept urging me to publish my book, myself.
What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?
Indie publishing is such a process! I had to learn things like creating maps, blogging, formatting, hiring an editor, and hundreds of little things I never even thought of but learned along the way. But in reality it took longer to take the leap into indie publishing then getting down to the business of putting it out there.
Are you currently working on anything new?
Now that A Smuggler’s Path is out in the world, I’m working on editing the second book in that series. When I decided to write a series, I wrote the entire thing (all four books) so now I’m in what feels like permanent editing mode. It’s called A Noble’s Path and continues Inez’s story. I’m also putting out a separate novella series called The Cemetery Circle, which comes out Valentine’s Day.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
I’ve become so immersed in books, I would still want to stay in that world. Ideally, I’d own a travel book store with a special section for “fantasy travel” containing speculative fiction books. Either that or work in a museum…I have an MA in history and since I can’t imagine being a teacher, it’s the next best option.
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
I wish I had known how long it was going to take! Until you decide you want to be a writer, you have this vague notion of all the work that goes into it. Somehow, I’m imagined sitting with my notebook and pen and finishing novel after novel followed by publication a few weeks later. I assumed only the mythic great American novel took years. Now I have more realistic expectations.
What is your favorite book, genre, or author?
I have one for each. Although my favorite genre (lately) is fantasy, my favorite book is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, a novel about the history of philosophy. My favorite authors are all over the map: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Sharon Kay Penman, Edward Rutherford, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Hunter. There are more, but that could cover a separate interview!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
There’s too much advice out there and in the beginning, you’ll listen to all of it and even judge yourself by it. The day your able to take it all in and realize some of it isn’t for you, then you’re a writer.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
My superpower is research. I believe numbers and letter have a sex (for example 4 and A are female, but 1 and B are male). Rainy days are underrated, and I still remember lyrics to jingles and cartoons from the 80s.
Oh, and I tend to be random with my thoughts. Thanks again for letting me share!
About I.L. Cruz
I.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.
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