Interview with Victoria Hanan Iglesias (Smashwords.com)

What’s the story behind your latest book, The Ballad of Cinderella Jones?

The Ballad of Cinderella Jones (formerly The Year of Yes) is a scapegoat’s tale and, although written like a novel, is autobiographical. Specifically, it covers a transformational journey I made along Spain’s Camino de Santiago. While tackling tough issues, there’s a hefty dose of fun and readers will encounter romance, adventure, unforgettable characters, and a birds-eye view of a 500-mile trek that is a grueling but indelible test of mind, body, soul and spirit.

Includes photographs and authentic local recipes that will absolutely transport readers—without a passport! For the record, Writer’s Digest* calls it “masterful”, a “gem”, and “a beautifully written memoir that reads like a novel.” Readers, check it out already!

*WD Self-Publishing Contest (2014)

The Ballad of Cinderella Jones is classifed as creative nonfiction. What, exactly, does that mean? Is this like James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” all over again?
No way! The only thing made up about BCJ is the narrative device. This story is an autobiographical account of a globe-trotting journey I made in 2006, and the radical life changes that followed. But to give the story more distance and juice, as well as protect the identity of family members, the decision was made to write it in the third person. Aside from the magical realism element in the prologue and epilogue, the only creative license involved tweaking names and settings. That said, even the prologue and epilogue has basis in fact: Deborah Robinson was an African-American military wife stationed in Seoul, Korea, and she really did take me under her wing as a baby—so much so that she wrote a letter saying she was my “real mother” and would someday come back to claim me! (I’m still waiting, Miss Deborah.)
What authors and/or books inspire you?
1. House of the Spirits & Paula – Isabel Allende
2. Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
3. A Mountain of Crumbs – Elena Gorokhova
4. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
5. All the Trouble in the World & Parliament of Whores – P.J. O’Rourke
6. Looking for Trouble – Leslie Cockburn
7. Caramelo – Sandra Cisneros
8. The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
9. The Little House – Virginia Lee Burton
10. Annie and the Old One – Miska Miles
11. Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion. 🙂
Tell us more about your latest offering, “A Beginner’s Guide to Sociopaths”, as well as your reports “10 Common Dream Killers…And How to Stop Them In Their Tracks!” and “Help! I’m a Black Sheep.”

You can think of these bonus reports as appetizers leading up to the mouth-watering main entree, The Ballad of Cinderella Jones. All explore themes prevalent in BCJ; namely, blocks (either self or other-imposed), sociopathy, and scapegoating. They are short, practical guides for handling these issues, whereas BCJ offers more sheer entertainment value. It tells the actual *story* of someone dealing with these issues. They’re designed to be enjoyed together, and I truly hope readers get something powerful and unique out of each one.

 When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m really into low-key adventure. Think discovery, not thrill rides. I love spontaneous road trips, training for a 10K, trying out new cuisines, cutting papel picado (a gorgeous Mexican craft) or, say, hanging out with theoretical physicists. Anything that expands the mind or pushes me mentally, physically, spiritually or emotionally—a good, practical challenge—is fair game. It also fires up the imagination!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

Yay, a practical question that will be helpful to fellow scribes! Well, I’m still on that road but am discovering a lot. So, here goes:

1. Invest in developing as a copywriter. Not only is this kind of writing fun and stimulating, it is a direct sales MUST—and, make no mistake, authors are in the sales business. I highly recommend the American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI) course. Not only will you develop as writer, you’ll also have access to freelance, FT, and PT copywriting gigs—all legit and many well-paying.

2. Check out well-respected blogs like Jane Friedman. This is a wonderful resource for writers, and covers all aspects of both traditional and e-marketing.

3. Create an awesome website and think of it as your permanent digital business card. WordPress is a great place to start (and free!), but if it’s a little too techie for you, check out Phil Kerner’s wonderful “WordPress for Beginners” series. It’ll be the best $14.95 you ever spent. Pssst… another reason to go for WordPress? Google just loves it, and great SEO rankings are a lot easier to achieve with it. You DO want people to find you online, right?

4. Consider advertising on Craigslist. I got a ton of traffic from this!

 What are you working on next?
From the beginning, I envisioned The Ballad of Cinderella Jones as the first book in a trilogy. The next title— tentatively called Cindy and the Prince—will deal with marriage, divorce, and the generational family patterns of the protagonist Talie Esquivel-Jones. The final book will be called A Tale of Two Sisters, and will more deeply explore the sibling dynamics between Talie and Liv. Actually, I haven’t decided which book to tackle next—I’d love to have readers’ input on that!
What do your readers mean to you?
I consider writing to be a form of conversation in which readers are treated as intimate friends and confidantes. Dark secrets are shared; confessions are made; inside jokes are exchanged. There is actually a photo of my readers on the office wall—all fun, fabulous, searching women (and a few men!)—some with broken wings—who REFUSE to stay down. I love my readers and, through writing, open my heart to them.
What was it like writing about your experience with scapegoating and child abuse? Did you ever have second thoughts about sharing this story?

No. I’m the beneficiary of many authors (Joyce Meyer, Mary Karr, Maya Angelou, Dave Pelzer, et al.) sharing their painful pasts, and figured if my sad tale-turned-redemption song could help even one person, it was worth writing. That said, the process was agonizing! Figuring out how to share the truth of what happened without blaming and shaming the people involved—or minimizing the impact their decisions made—was an absolute tightrope. While BCJ touches on their motivations and hints at redemption, I think a larger exploration of generational patterns and healing will come out in the next two books. BCJ remains dedicated to Talie’s journey toward emotional and spiritual wholeness and seems to work best that way. For the record, this book took seven years to make! Reliving some of the darker memories wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, and at times this manuscript felt like it was written with equal parts blood, tears, and ink. The result, however, is honest—and I think readers sense and appreciate that.

You’re dealing with some pretty heavy themes (child abuse, sociopaths, suicide) in this book, and yet I found myself laughing during some of the darkest passages! How did you manage to balance that kind of subject matter with humor?
While it’s important not to minimize the heartbreaking nature of these subjects or the fact they deserve compassion, I think it’s equally important to balance both the rain and the sunshine. To see the absurdity in things—e.g., what some philosophers call “the banality of evil.” I mean, look at Richard Pryor. His mama was a crackhead prostitute, entertaining everyone from the mayor to the milkman in their living room. But Richard saw the absurdity in the dysfunction, and could laugh at it. He cried, for sure, but he also laughed.
Tell me more about the website and how it relates to the book.

I consider it a marriage made in heaven because they complement each other so beautifully. The website, cinderellajones.org, provides practical, nuts-and-bolts advice on resurrecting dead dreams, recovering from creative blocks, and living life on purpose. Oftentimes trauma and heartbreak can lead to our dreams simply falling off the radar. As far I’m concerned, this is a tragedy. Dreams are at the very core of our identity. Tell me your vision, and I’ll tell you who you are. The Ballad of Cinderella Jones, on the other hand, tells a compelling narrative of a young woman on that restoration journey. It depicts the highs, the lows, and some of the issues you can expect to deal with during your emotional and spiritual recovery—and does it in a way that’s entertaining.