In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing
victim author and they choose their own interview by handpicking which questions (and how many!) they want to answer. Trini Amador is the author of Gracianna, a historical novel about a French girl being recruited into the French resistance and having to make difficult choices along the way. Here is what Trini had to say about reading, writing, and his candid thoughts on negative reviews.
Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?
I own a global brand marketing consulting practice. “What is that?” I specialize in helping my clients have a deeper understanding of their customers whether they are end-user consumers of businesses and then activate those insights. I travel a lot in fact I am over the Philippines now on my way from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to lead a training workshop. I have always loved to write. My Catholic education taught me how to construct a sentence is 2nd and 3rd grade and I was off to the races. Those sentence construction drills were invaluable. I have always loved to read and writing just seems to be an extension of that. My family owns the lauded Gracianna Winery in Sonoma County in California. Gracianna was my French-Basque great-grandmother and the subject of my book.
I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you thorough the writing process?
I like to clear my head of all of the “things” that are going on in my day to day work and life before I start to write. I will get quiet and find a comfortable chair and start in the late afternoon. My favorite time to write is overnight. It is nearly hypnotic. My mind let’s go and the words just come. This is of course after and extensive outline so I know where I am headed. I enjoy the interplay of words and love the mental exercise of storytelling, character development and bringing emotion to life.
Write the question you would most like to answer in an interview, and then answer it.
Is being so damn smart and handsome a cross to bear sometimes?
LOL. I enjoy having fun and being funny. As I have aged with more responsibility and different elements pulling at me it is hard to “let go” sometimes but I definitely look at the world from a unique point of view. I see opportunity everywhere I look. I enjoy helping others see opportunity as well.
People live in stories, we are surrounded by them. What was it about this the story that made it the one you had to tell at this time? What impact did telling this story have on your life? Did you find that it had changed you?
This story grew out of a true-life incident that happened when I was a boy. At four-years old my great-grandmother caught me walking around her living room with a loaded German Luger! The memory came to be before my teens and she died shortly after that. I never had a chance to talk to her about it and I wondered about it and her. Over time I started to take shreds of this and that and made a mental image of what had happened. Then as our wine brand stated it was obvious what to call it since Gracianna used to talk to me about being thankful, a value that most kids don’t get drilled into them at an early age. But I did. And it stuck with me. Now that value permeates our family and the wine that we make. As I researched the book my Aunt told me about meeting Gracianna’s sister and seeing the “mark” on her forearm. That sent a chill down my spine and I knew I had to earn more and tell the story. The research took me to the Basque country, then Paris and eventually to Auschwitz.
Are you able to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working your own book(s)?
Actually I listen to music when I write. I have every Van Morrison record known to man (courtesy of my friend Don Wilson) and I usually zone out, writing with the music in the background. His melodic interpretations inspire me to push words and meanings and emotional visualizations.
Did you know what you wanted the title of the book to be? How involved were in choosing the name of the book?
At first I had a long list of names and they all fell away as the book was finished. Gracianna was the only choice.
How many works in progress do you have going at any one time? How do you know when one has potential and when one just needs to be scrapped?
I have already written a second outline (on my mobile phone!) of another story that is inspired by true events that I experienced while working in the music business in Hollywood. I knew what this needed to be called from the outset. However, my publisher has expressed interest in the follow up story of Gracianna so I am a bit torn. I hope to come to some decisions about writing another book after the first of the year.
As a published author, what’s been the biggest surprise about life after the publication of your first book?
How people spell their names. I learned early on when signing books to have folks spell their name…Carol isn’t Carol really…it is “Karil” and so on. Actually the biggest surprise is how involved some readers get in the story. They really absorb it and can speak deeply about the characters and their motivations and ask intelligent questions. Some people really pay close attention. The other surprise is how some of the reviews are just downright hurtful. My publisher kept warning me, “Don’t react when you get negative reviews.” My thought was, “Negative reviews? How could that be it is a chilling story and well written with an editor, Hillel Black who has edited twenty new York Times best-selling books, a professional publisher with professional copy editors and a handsome jacket?” ….then BOOM! Someone on Goodreads gave the book a one-star review and said that I wrote “like a child” and that the book was all but unreadable. Of course, this person had added 1000 books to their bookshelf “to read” the day before and then “reviewed” by book. Needless to say I have heeded my publisher’s advice and have resigned myself to the fact that some people are unhappy, unwilling to see the good or both. It is a disappointment.
Where do you most love to write? Are there places where it comes to you easier than others?
I wrote the book in about 13 countries. I took advantage of long plane rides (like this one) and time away from home. Traveling does give me perspective about many things from language to culture to humanity. For example, this just popped in my head but I had dinner with an Indonesian friend in Dubai once and he told me horrific stories about how some of the hired help was treated by the families that they work for. Their passports commandeered, beaten, sexually assaulted, effectively slaves in a civilized society. I watch the men working in the blazing heat building the amazing buildings there, I read where men would fall of the buildings and the company would pick them up take them away with barely a look from the other men who were expected to keep working. It made me think about the value of life and how it is “cheaper” in various parts of the world. Of course, for anyone who has lived outside the US for any length of time will acknowledge that most Americans are plain unaware of what is going on elsewhere in the world. Yes, folks travel, yes, many are enlightened but most not. Americans’ awareness of politics, religion or the basic living conditions of those outside our country is woefully low.
About: Trini Amador is a traveled global marketing “insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years.Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California.Amador resides in Sonoma County with his family.
Gracianna and Trini Amador are on blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours. Visit them for more information, reviews and interviews on Gracianna.