Interview with Victoria Hanan Iglesias (Smashwords.com)
What’s the story behind your latest book?
The Year of Yes is a scapegoat’s tale — and, although written like a novel, details my personal story of rising from the ash heap of abuse. Specifically, it covers a transformational journey along Spain’s Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route stretching from the foot of the French Pyrennes to the Portugeuse border. Along the way the reader 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.
Even better, I included photographs and authentic local recipes that will really make the reader feel like they’ve taken this pilgrimage with me!
Tell us more about your latest offerings, “10 Common Dream Killers…And How to Stop Them In Their Tracks” and “Help! I’m a Black Sheep”
You can think of these two mini-books as little appetizers leading up to the mouth-watering main entree, The Year of Yes. Both explore themes prevalent in BCJ; namely, blocks (either self or other-imposed) and scapegoating. They are short, practical guides for handling these issues, whereas TYY offers more sheer entertainment value. It tells the actual *story* of someone dealing with these issues.
These are designed to be enjoyed together, and I truly hope readers get something powerful and unique out of each one.
The Year of Yes is classified 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 TYY 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, the decision was made to write it in the third person. Aside from the magical realism element in Miz Deborah’s prologue and epilogue, the only creative license I took was tweaking names and settings. Truth be told, however, even the prologue and epilogue has some basis in fact: there really was a Deborah Robinson, she really was an African-American military wife, and she really did take me under her wing as a baby — so much so that she wrote me a letter saying she was my “real mother” and would someday come back to claim me! (I’m still waiting, Miss Deborah.) Needless to say, she’s been an angel of mine ever since.
What was it like writing about your experience with scapegoating and child abuse? Did you ever have second thoughts about sharing this story?
Honestly, I never really had second thoughts about sharing the story because, if it can help even one person, I’ll consider the pain redeemed. That said, I had HUGE issues about how to bring out the truth of what happened without blaming and shaming the people involved. At the same same, didn’t want to gloss over the impact their decisions made.
I think their redemption, if you will, will come out in the next two books. TYY is really dedicated to Talie’s journey, and seems to work best that way.
For the record, this book took 7 years to make! Re-living some of those childhood scenes and memories wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, and at times this manuscript felt like it was written with 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?
The last thing I wanted was to put yet another thick, depressing, whiny cryfest out on the market. That’s not to minimize the importance of these subjects, or the fact that they’re heartbreaking. They are, and they deserve compassion. But, at the same time, I think it’s really important to balance the rain and the sunshine. To see the absurdity in things. I mean, look at Richard Pryor. His mama was a crackhead prostitute, and entertained everyone from the mayor to the milkman in their living room. But Richard saw the absurdity, 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 eachother so beautifully. The website is meant to provide practical, nuts-and-bolts advice on getting your groove back. So many times when people have gone through trauma and heartbreak, their dreams simply fall off the radar. As far I’m concerned, this is a tragedy. Dreams make us who we are, and are at the very core of our identity. Tell me your dream, and I’ll tell you who you are.
So, my website is for those who either lost or are re-claiming their dreams, and need a boost. My book, on the other hand, tells a compelling (I hope!) narrative of a young woman who is on that journey. It shows the highs, the lows and some of the issues you can expect to deal with — and does it in a way that’s entertaining.
What authors and/or books inspire you?
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. 🙂
What are you working on next?
I’ve always envisioned The Year of Yes as a trilogy. The next book is tentatively called “Cindy and the Prince”, and will deal with marriage, divorce and the generational family patterns of my protagonist, Talie Esquivel-Jones. The final book will be “A Tale of Two Sisters”, which will explore more deeply the dynamics between Talie and Liv. Actually, I haven’t decided with book to work on on next — I’d love to have the readers’ take on that!
What do your readers mean to you?
I consider writing to be a form of conversation, and my readers are intimate friends I’m confiding in. There is actually a photo of my readers on my 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 my writing, open my heart to them.