Sunday, November 3, 2013

Author Spotlight: Angela Castillo—Complete with Interview (A Bearded Scribe Blog Tour)

About the Author:
Angela Castillo is a Work-at-Home-Mom with three small children, Judah, Levi, and Celise. She was raised in and currently lives in the small town of Bastrop, Texas. She studied Practical Theology and Music at Christ for the Nations in Dallas. She has had many small works published in periodicals and one self-published volume of short stories and poems. She and her sister, Cherie Haines, own several online stores featuring Cherie's photographs and Angela's prose. In addition to writing, Angela enjoys singing, designing greeting cards, and walking through her town.

The Interview:
Joshua Allen Mercier: Which book introduced you to speculative fiction?
Angela Castillo: When I picked up The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, I was expecting Narnia—but in space. Instead I was hurled into a world of flying frogs and mysterious Elves. All three of the books were intense, terrifying and wildly beautiful. Then I read Till We Have Faces by Lewis, and my sheltered, Christian world was shattered. The book opened up so many new thoughts and ideas for me, deeper than I thought I was allowed to experience.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I am ashamed to admit that Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia is the only work of his that I've read. I will have to check into the titles you've mentioned above. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
Angela Castillo: Oh goodness. I really, really love The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart. Every time I read it, I am there with the characters. I also love the The BFG by Roald Dahl.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors; I think I've actually read most—if not all—of his works. The BFG is definitely among my favorites (it's one of my Assistant Editor's favorites, too!), but I think the really magical one for me was Matilda. After reading it, I think I gave myself quite a few headaches trying to access my own telekinetic powers—unfortunately, to no avail. It's safe to say that I've even attempted to tap into them even in my adulthood (I think most of us have had that itching desire to slam a door in a bully's face without even having to touch it); I dare say, however, that I've had perhaps even less luck in doing so than I did as a child.

Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?
Angela Castillo: Probably Little Women. I loved Jo and her determination. She wrote herself out of poverty, and since I grew up in a large, very poor family, I thought I could do the same. As reality has set in over the years, my goals have changed a little bit!

Joshua Allen Mercier: I think a bit of every person raised in poverty has wished to overcome the odds and the stigma of the being classified as poor. Poor, unfortunately, has often be equated with failure. As a child, I, too, wished to write myself out of poverty. It wasn't, however, my sole reason for wanting to pursue the career. I love creating worlds and sharing the stories that happen within them. I still want to be successful, of course, but now I hope to have wealth in other ways that can't be measured by gold. Which leads in perfectly to my next question! As an aspiring Fantasy author trying to shop his first manuscript, could you tell me why you chose to self-publish versus traditional publishing?
Angela Castillo: This was a very difficult choice. Like most writers, I love that “American Idol” moment when you get that editor’s acceptance letter in the mail. Toby is a novella of 17,000 words. Most agents won’t even consider a book this length. Also, Christian Speculative Fiction is a touchy, complicated genre many editors shy away from. I decided to invest my energy into making my book the best it could be instead of trying to market it to the handful of companies that even consider the genre. One more issue was target audience. My main character is twelve years old, so most people would say I should target MG readers. But the philosophical ideas are geared more towards older children and adults, and some of the subject matter might be considered slightly violent for younger readers.

Joshua Allen Mercier: After reading your story, I would have to agree with you: though your character is young, he is still wise. Some often mistake naïvety and curiosity for stupidity; I see it as room to grow and learn, which Toby certainly does. Of the entire publishing process, what would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
Angela Castillo: I made the decision to post my book to a critique forum. I thought it just needed a few tweaks and it would be ready. I was not prepared for the grueling, three month re-write that resulted, but I’m so glad I did it! It’s a much better book.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I finished my first manuscript in September of 2011; since then, I've literally been tearing it apart—into two separate books. The re-write has been difficult—is still difficult—but I think it's developing into a much better story now. Do you have a favorite character (to write) from your books? If so, what sets them apart the others?
Angela Castillo: Toby, of course! Many of his characteristics are based on my oldest son. He is loyal, sweet and curious, plus he has cat ears! I just want to pick him up and squeeze him, but he wouldn’t appreciate it very much.

Joshua Allen Mercier: It is clear, in reading The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby, that you are passionate in your faith; do you anticipate that a religious theme will run through all of your future books, too?
Angela Castillo: It would be impossible to separate who I am from my writing, but I have several pieces of writing about different subjects. Many of the short stories in my first book, Hidden Pictures, are just fun stories and not faith-based. I have rough drafts for mainstream stories all over my house. Toby just kept beckoning to me and I had to finish writing it.

Joshua Allen Mercier: What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
Angela Castillo: I’m working on a few blog articles for our town’s information blog. I also have a sequel for Toby in the works.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I'm not sure of the topic or in what capacity, but would you consider writing a guest post on The Bearded Scribe at some point?
Angela Castillo: Of course!

Joshua Allen Mercier: Is there anything else that you would like to share with The Bearded Scribe's readers that I did not ask you (and you wished I had)?
Angela Castillo: I’m a little nervous about how this book will be received. The whole speculative idea of a child made from cat and human DNA is more controversial than some might realize. We all have purpose. We all have hope. There is a point to our lives and everyone needs love. This is the message I am trying to convey.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Your message is delivered very well in the book, Angela. Thank you for sharing it with the world, and thank you for agreeing to be a part of The Bearded Scribe.

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