by Vashti Quiroz-Vega
Robbie is a meek boy in New York City who struggles with the desire to prove himself to his friends, his enemies, and himself. Robbie’s father is a stubborn man determined to teach his son through tough love. When he witnesses Robbie being bullied, he forces his son to face his fears. Robbie is sentenced to a frightening challenge––staying in the basement alone for a night. But what lies in the dark recesses of the basement? Will Robbie make it out alive and well? Will the urban legend about the terrifying creatures that hide in the dark basement prove to be true? And most importantly, will Robbie prove to his friends and his father that he is brave enough to take on the challenge? The Basement is a tale of angst, teamwork and solutions, treasure hunts and adventure, and facing fears. It focuses on the small world of one group of preteens and the very real and wondrous challenges they face.
I never expected a book like this from a lady like this. When I first approached Vashti, who I met through her blog, about an interview I wanted to learn more about the author behind The Basement. I still want to learn more but in truth, I want to know about this book and how it came to be and what else this author has planned for us. I’m going to get out of the way of this interview, simply ask the questions and let you meet . . .
RW: Vashti Quiroz-Vega. Love the name. Tell us a little about your ancestry. I am very into history. And your name spins all sorts of imagery through the echoes of my mind. And is there a meaning behind your name?
VASHTI: My first name, Vashti, is Persian in origin and has very little to do with my ancestry, I’m afraid. Vashti is the name of a queen in the old testament of the bible in the book of Esther.
RW: Your book, The Basement available on Amazon,where did the idea come from?
VASHTI: The Basement began as a short story I wrote in high school. I won an award for it and put it away in a box, along with a bunch of other stories. Years later, I came across it. After reading it again and with the encouragement of others, I decided to expand the short story into a novel.
RW: The book is about an 11-year-old boy and his troubles, how did you connect with the character?
VASHTI: I have a brother and two sisters. I’m close to all my siblings, but I grew up especially close to my brother (maybe determined by the fact that I was a tomboy). The Basement is loosely based on memories I have from childhood. The main character, Robbie, was inspired by my brother and my nephew, Joshua.
VASHTI: There has been no abuse in my household, but I did know a child growing up who was verbally and physically abused by a parent. The parent did not try to hide this from anyone. I saw and heard this child being abused on many occasions. This experience and the memory of this child have stayed with me till this day, which is why I tolerate no kind of bullying or abuse of any kind.
An ex-boyfriend once told me that I was a perfect mix of femininity and masculinity because I am feminine and very much a woman, but I am also assertive, straightforward and I love basketball, action movies, UFC and camping.
RW: What did it feel like writing the character of Robbie, the 11 year old boy in the book, as you had to basically become him for periods of time?
VASHTI: When I wrote The Basement, I essentially became an 11-year-old boy. I felt vulnerable––like my life was not in my control. I guess I felt like a child in a scary world.
RW: For those reading who may not be familiar with you can you give an example of an author and perhaps a book that would give them an idea of what this book is like as far as feel and style?
VASHTI: That’s a tough one. Some people have compared my storytelling to that of several other writers, including Stephen King and Anne Rice, who are two of my favorite writers and whose books I have been reading for years. So I don’t doubt that there is some of their influence in my writing, but I believe that I’m developing my own style. Not that I wouldn’t love to write as well as Stephen King and Anne Rice, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
RW: Are you a character in The Basement?
VASHTI: Let’s just say that several of the characters in The Basement have some of my personality traits.
RW: Tell us about your writing process. You took a short story and turned it into a full-length novel. How did you go about that?
VASHTI: As I re-read the story, I added, changed and rearranged sentences, and I replaced and deleted words. I had read so many books and learned so much since writing that story in high school that expanding it was not that difficult. Even now, I feel that I have learned so much since publishing The Basement. I guess that’s how it is with writers. We are constantly reading, learning and improving. I feel that my second book, Lilith, will be much better written than my first, and my third book, Dracul, will probably be better written than my second, and so on. That doesn’t mean any of my books are badly written. It just means that as I learn and gain experience, my work will reflect that. I have noticed this when I compare Stephen King’s earlier books with the books he’s written in the last couple of years. But I have always enjoyed all of his books.
RW: Can you walk us through how you went from complete and satisfied manuscript to now available for purchase? Many will be reading this who haven’t gone through it yet, and since you have on a number of occasions, I know I would personally like to hear it from a pro like you.
VASTHI: Wow! You flatter me, Ron. 😉 I’ve actually gone through the entire process only once with my book The Basement. The best advice I can offer anyone who has finished writing a story is to give the finished manuscript to several trusted people and ask for their honest opinions. Then after revisions (if any), hire a professional editor.
RW: Ah, I get the impression you have published several because of how professional everything seems. What other works do you have available and what are you working on presently?
VASHTI: I have written a variety of short stories, from horror and dark fantasy to sci-fi and romance. You can check them out on my blog.
I’m in the final stages of editing my book Lilith. This is a dark fantasy about angels aimed at a young adult/ adult audience. I’m hoping to have it available in early 2015.
RW: Is there a lot of romance in your work or sensuality?
VASHTI: There’s always a little romance because I believe that’s part of life and reality. There’s also some sensuality in my work-in-progress because that’s part of who I am, and that part of my personality comes through in the story.
RW: How understanding are your friends and family when the writing mania takes hold of you?
VASHTI: Some are very understanding, especially other writers because they’ve been there. Others––not so much.
RW: What would be your ideal agent be like to sign with?
VASHTI: I would love an agent who truly enjoys my story. The editor that’s working with me on my second book ‘Lilith’ truly loves the book. It is obvious by her enthusiasm, the comments she’s made and the questions that she’s asked me. It makes a difference when the agent loves the genre and story. Also, an agent that is hardworking and self motivated is great. One that will stop at nothing to get you the best deal possible for your book. I would love to get into one of the big publishing houses.
RW: Now for a few fun and trivial questions. What’s your go to beverage while writing?
VASHTI: Water. I know you’re thinking, “boring,” but I prefer to be sharp and focused when I write. Being well-hydrated does that for me. I don’t drink much coffee, beer makes me bloat like a blowfish, wine puts me to sleep, margaritas and rum are fun, but put me in the wrong frame of mind, and I get distracted easily. So while I’m writing, it’s water for me.
RW: What is your escape from writing when you need that break before burnout happens?
VASHTI: Reading, cooking, baking, hiking, kayaking, getting together with family and friends, watching one of my favorite shows on TV (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Castle, Modern Family . . .) or going to the cinema, playing with my dog, and other things I shouldn’t mention––not necessarily in that order.
RW: And finally, as a writer, what is your favorite word and why?
VASHTI: Wow! There are several words I love, but the first word that comes to mind is “Dulcet.” Why? Because it’s a beautiful word, I enjoy pronouncing it and writing it down. Meaning: 1: sweet to the taste 2: pleasing to the ear 3: generally pleasing or agreeable.
Thank you, Ronovan, for inviting me as a guest author to your awesome blog. I appreciate you.
I want to thank Vashti for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. And I hope she comes back when her next book is due out.
Her various contact information appeared in some links throughout the interview but I am putting them all here together so you can follow her everywhere. Also here are some some fan art of her and one of her characters from The Basement, Natasha. Don’t worry, she won’t mind, I already do and if she will let me follower her she’ll let you too. And we are all about supporting each other here, right?
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