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Featured Author: Mariana Llanos, Part 2

Aviva’s interview with Mariana Llanos, Part 2. (Part 1 is here.) Mariana, author of Tristan Wolf,  shares her thoughts on the future of the printed book, how she and Rocio Perez Del Solar met (illustrator of MarianaTristan Wolf) and the best advice she’s ever been given. Oh, and the recipe for Papa a la Huancaina (Potatoes with Huancaina Sauce).

Do you think the printed book is dead? Why or why not?

Oh, no! I can’t be dead…can it? I certainly hope not…I’ve devoted many resources into publishing my Tristan Wolf in print. Why? Because I think feeling the book is important, to touch it, to smell its new pages…or to feel the wrinkles in its pages. Digital reading is awesome and practical, but for me, it’s not the same experience. If I treasure a book, I have to own it in print. Also, print books are very important to encourage children the love for literature. At my house my kids have always had a book shelf at their level where they can grab easily any book they want to look. It’s just part of their environment. And I don’t think eReaders provide the same experience quite yet.

What’s your favorite place to write?

Wherever I can land with my laptop and get some words on the screen. Right now I can’t be too choosy because I have three children, a house, a husband, a job, a dog, tons of laundry…you get the point. So if it is in my daughter’s bedroom carpet while she plays with Legos, it is. If it is in the living room while my kids are playing around and watching TV, it is. But, you know what? The other day I bought [myself] this beautiful hardcover journal with lined pages and I’ve been writing on it…with pencil, crayon, pen, anything I find in handy. I love to write on paper. Did I say that out loud?

TristanKindleCoverI love the artwork in Tristan Wolf. How did you and the illustrator, Rocio, meet?

I know Rocio for several years now. We both live in Oklahoma and we are both Peruvians. You know, when you are immigrants you look for people from you own community to make for an extended family. I’ve met her through mutual friends and now we all hang out together, we help each other through rough times and simply act like aunts and uncles to each other’s children.  Rocio wasn’t the first artist I asked to illustrate Tristan Wolf.  Some friends referred me with an artist friend of them, a fancy graphic designer that also works with an Oklahoma Rock Band. I met with him. He screamed style all around him. He looked like an artist, he conducted himself like a rock star. I was thrilled. He read Tristan and told me he loved it and that he had some ideas to start working on.  One week, two weeks, three weeks. Nothing. I texted him three times, without an answer. I was really heart-broken. When I told one of my friends, she said: “Why don’t you ask Rocio?” Duh! Rocio had been there the whole time and I don’t know why I hadn’t even asked her. I admired her artwork and work ethic so much. I think she was so close that I overlooked [her]. We got together and she was able to bring Tristan to life with her illustrations. I am so glad that flaky artist didn’t answer my text messages!

What makes a great children’s book?

A great children’s book is one that children and grown-ups alike enjoy. Children may want to read it over and over. For grown-ups, they get transported to their childhood. I am convinced that the child in us never fully grows. It just lays down asleep. Great children’s stories wake up that child and make him or her dream again.

Tell us 3 strange and wonderful things about you.

One, I am a very picky eater. I can only eat chicken breast (not legs, thighs or any other part). I don’t eat fish (only canned tuna) or seafood or pork (unless it’s ham). I don’t eat anything that looks it might eat me back. And I better [not] keep going because I’m a bad example. Second, I am very afraid of cockroaches and all their relatives. I’m so afraid of them that I think by writing their name here I might get nightmares tonight. If I see one, I can’t move, I feel it’s going to attack me! Okay. I have to stop now. This is getting really scary. And third, when I was a kid a wished I were a boy. Seriously. Probably around 11 or 12 when I had discovered Shakespeare and had completely fallen in love with Hamlet. I wanted to be an actor and be Hamlet or be Yago or Romeo or King Lear…it changed when I read Macbeth  and then I, oh, so desperately wanted to be Lady Macbeth!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To be kind to others, [especially to] other authors. That’s what I do on my blog, I try to build good karma. And that has lead me to meet wonderful people that are supportive, honest and sincere in their advice. Another good one is to use an editor. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you think you are, you always need an editor. I’ve received a lot more advice as this “being an author” thing is an ongoing learning process. I truly enjoy it, and I hope readers give me a chance to win their hearts through my stories.

You can find out more about Mariana on her Amazon author page. Also, follow her on Twitter,Facebook and her blog. I highly recommend joining her Goodreads group. September 30th through October 2nd, Tristan Wolf Kindle edition will be available for $2.99. Worth every penny! (If you love the artwork as much as I do, I would also buy the print version.)

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