You know all the articles and blog posts out there dedicated to How Not To Annoy Everyone On Twitter? Author Monica La Porta is the antithesis of those annoying Tweet Creeps. I bought her first book because a singular tweet (not one that repeated every twelve seconds) piqued my interest. Soon after we became cyber pals of sorts. Right? That would be the modern day version of pen pals? Anyway, Monica is a lovely woman and I thoroughly enjoyed the unique world she created in her books (she had two by the time I got to the first one on my TBR list). And since I adore her so much I wanted to share her and her awesome-sauce books with the blogosphere. So without further ado, meet Monica!
1. Welcome Monica! Can you please describe your novels, The Priest and Pax in the Land of Women?
The Priest and Pax in the Land of Women are respectively the first and second installments in The Ginecean Chronicles and are set in an alternate Earth called Ginecea.
The Priest’s blurb:
Mauricio is a slave. Like any man born on Ginecea, he is but a number for the pure breed women who rule over him with cruel hands. Imprisoned inside the Temple since birth, Mauricio has never been outside and has never felt the warmth of sunrays on his skin. He lives a life devoid of hopes and desires. Then, one day, he hears Rosie, President Layan’s daughter, sing. He risks everything to take a look at her and his life is changed, forever. An impossible friendship blossoms into affection deemed sinful and perverted in a society where the only rightful union is between women. Love is born where only hate had its roots and leads Mauricio to uncover a truth that could destroy Ginecea.
Pax in the Land of Women’s blurb:
Love doesn’t obey preordained rules. Sometimes, social status and gender mean nothing. The purest of affections can be born between two people living in different worlds. In a society where women rule over an enslaved race of men and love between a woman and man is considered a perversion, Pax’s and Prince’s union is destined for a tragic end. Coming from an existence of privilege, Pax has never endured harshness. She has never had any reason to doubt the rules Ginecea was built on. Everything changes when she is sent to spend her summer on a desolate farm and is exposed to the ongoing brutalities against defenseless men. A wrong turn leads her to witness Prince’s thrashing at the hands of the guards. One look from him and Pax’s perfect life is shattered, the memory of his dark eyes haunting her night and day. As a pure breed, born to one of the most prestigious family in Ginecea, she would have never thought it possible to fall in love with a man. Marked as a sinner, Pax abjures her ancestry to save Prince’s life. She hopes they can disappear into the desert, but social prejudice and political schemes give them no respite. The Priestess, the ruler of all Ginecea, has other plans for Pax Layan and her family.
2. How did you come up with the idea for a homosexual, matriarchal society where men are slaves and heterosexual relationships are blasphemous?
I have always loved what-if kinds of stories, where you take a look at an established aspect of reality and twist it. Sometimes, it resembles looking through a mirror and it’s easier to see the reality you live in. There are aspects of our society I truly dislike. For all the accomplishments human kind has been capable of, we still live harboring in our hearts prejudice and hate for anybody who is different. A few years ago, I read an article explaining how women could procreate without any contribution from men. Around the same time, I heard of an organization called It Gets Better that aims to give bullied kids an outlet to share their experiences and helps them find their rightful place among their peers. The idea of an alternate Earth where society had evolved in a different way from ours slowly formed in my mind, and starting from the concept of a coming-out story I built the Ginecean world.
3. Fascinating! When can we expect the next installment?
I finished writing Prince of War several months ago and it’s currently being edited. If everything goes as planned, it should be published before the end of the year. It would be nice to have a 12-12-12 release.
4. (You heard the woman! Mark that date on your calendars, people!) So, what do you have planned for after you finish The Ginecean Chronicles? Any other projects currently in the works or ideas brewing for a later date?
I’m working on two different projects. One is set in the universe of Ginecea. The Chronicles of Ginecea started as a trilogy, but lots of people told me they wanted to know more about certain aspects of its complex society. A fourth title is slowly coming to life and it will follow the story of a fathered woman, the last Ginecean cast I had yet to study in depth. The second project is a fantasy set in a world where people live in complete darkness without knowing there’s life outside their claustrophobic haven. What happens when two people coming from darkness and light meet? The inspiration behind this fantasy tale comes from the urban legend about people living in Seattle being afraid of the sun. It is not true. At all. We just don’t know what to do with it.
5. That sounds intriguing as well. You sure have a knack for creating alternate societies! Now, of course, I have to ask the requisite question: when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing and used to fill pages with longhand pieces about anything I fancied, but only three years ago I woke one morning and decided to do something with this dream of mine. After I wrote the first five novels, I realized writing was something I could do for a living. Three years later and almost 800k words typed on my keyboard, I’m still of the same opinion. Let’s hope someone else shares my certainty as well. Otherwise, it’s going to be a lonely ride.
6. 800,000 words? Wow! Tell us about your writing process? Outlines? Seat of your pants? Have to squeak a rubber duckie twelve times before you write?
My writing process resembles my painting/sculpting/cooking process. I start from the mere glimpse of an idea and see it blossom while adding and removing details until it makes sense to me. Every time I make a decision in terms of actions a character take, the story comes at a crossroad. If the character goes right, all the possibilities on the left disappear, and so on and so forth until only one story remains.
7. What a beautiful way to describe writing. So, changing gears a bit here, why did you decide to self-publish?
I could go with a long list of reasons, but the first and foremost is that my Ginecean Chronicles would’ve never seen the light of day uncensored. And, since I already pay for my editors, proofreaders, and cover artists, and I’d have to work on the marketing of my work anyway, right now self-publishing seems the way to go for me.
8. I wholeheartedly agree with you there. You mentioned above that you live in Seattle. You’re originally from Italy. What brought you to the states?
My DH’s (darling husband) job. We moved to Washington State twelve years ago, and I’ve come to love this place. At the beginning it wasn’t easy; I could read English, but my talking skills were laughable. I remember being frustrated by the mere act of grocery shopping. Once, I had to repeat the word ‘mayonnaise’ several times before somebody finally showed me the aisle where I could find it. Daunting experience. My accent is still thick, but I must repeat things only once or twice now. Also, I memorized where the items with the most difficult names are at the nearby QFC. Why risk it?
9. Haha, I can’t directly relate, but my grandmother was an Italian immigrant. If it’s any consolation, your novels and your responses here are well written, better than a lot of Americans. Back to Seattle, you mention in several online profiles that you actually enjoy the rainy weather that Washington State is prone to. Why is that?
I like the rain. When I was a kid, I used to go out and walk every time it sprinkled. I remember the feeling of pure joy at the first sign it was going to rain. The air smelled differently and the sky changed color a few minutes before the first refreshing drop. I had a small, colored umbrella with a wooden handle and I kept it by the door, ready to use. Normally, my mother would find me before I could manage to catch a cold. Italian mothers are huge experts in all the ways a kid can catch a cold. You’d be surprised by the length of the list. The flavor of the forbidden walk has stayed with me long past my youth.
10. Not sure if our lists were the same, but my Italian grandma had quite a few rules about catching a cold as well. Speaking of rules, what do you think the most important part of the writing process is, besides copious amounts of writing?
Re-writing and editing. I can’t stress enough the necessity of going through the two processes in a religious fashion. If you don’t have the money to hire a professional editor, please find an alternate way of having someone who is not a relative to take a look at your work. Beta readers are quite useful. Critique circles can be your greatest allies. Finally, once your book is published and someone feels the urge to write a review about it, be grateful.
*Amen to that! Now a Bonus Question: Anything you’d like to add before I shoo you away to go finish working on the rest of The Ginecean Chronicles?
A plea to your readers: Follow Jordanna’s example! Support indies! So we can hire editors and cover artists and work on fourth books in a trilogy. Don’t judge me on my math, I’m an author.
(Cue Jordanna laughing at “fourth book in a trilogy”)
Thanks, Jordanna, for having me. It’s been a pleasure answering your questions.
Monica, the pleasure was all mine.
If you’d like to know more about me, here’s the link to my blog where sometimes I also talk about my writing. Be warned, you might find pictures of a beagle called Nero. http://monicalaporta.com/
This is the link to The Ginecean Chronicles Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/#%21/ginecea
And these are the links to my books’ Amazon pages, in case you’d like to take a look at the fantastic covers Alessandro Fiorini created for me and read an excerpt from The Priest and Pax in the Land of Women. They were recently awarded the prestigious 4Js!
Haha, since only like eight people know I have a review page on here (Books I’ve Read in Bed), I don’t know how prestigious my J’s are, but thank you, haha. You deserved it!
Now everyone wave Arrivederci to Monica La Porta, check out her links, and buy her books. And remember, being engaging on Twitter leads to book sales and blog interviews.