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Interview with Matilda Reyes

She was born and raised in New York City. After an eight-year stint in Los Angeles, she moved to South Florida, which she's still trying to love. She loves living by the ocean. She owns more books than she could possibly read in this lifetime and has no compunctions about buying more. 

Her favorite genres to read are urban fantasy and paranormal romance though she'll read anything you put in front of her. Matilda lives in the Miami area with her husband and dog, Jon Snow.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I was a baton twirler in high school. I loved it so much that I didn’t quit after my disastrous missing a catch at an all-school performance.

Q.2 What inspired you to write the Black Cauldron Detective Agency series?
This series is a long-time coming. After publishing my last book in the Vespers Chronicles, I took a four-year break from writing due to medical issues. I knew that I wanted a detective or some sort of law enforcement officer as my main character. 

She was Latinx and an earth mage. There was a New York City supernatural underground. A potential love interest. English and Spanish text. I tried so hard to find the right stories around it, and nothing fit until I came up with the right set of details. I knew who Ava Ramos, the main character, was from the moment her name came to mind, and everything fell into place around her.

Q. 3 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
Yes! I’m re-releasing the Vespers Chronicles. Order of Vespers came out in October. The second book in the series, The Circle, will come out in June, and The Black Knights, book three, will come out in late July of this year. Scorching Magik, the second book in the Black Cauldron Detective Agency, comes out in December. It’s a busy year.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I struggled with this issue just yesterday. I know how my friends talk, but finding the right voice and word choices for fictional characters is more difficult. Everyone has their own cadence. People speak different languages. Regional dialect is always something that comes up. Writing people of the opposite sex forces me to listen to a cadence that’s not familiar.

Q.5 Do you plan out your books before you start writing, or do you just write and see where it takes you?
I’m a plantser. I start with one or two sentences and slowly build out from there. When I begin writing, I generally know what beats I have to hit and at different points in the book. Usually, I know the beginning and middle, but I let the characters decide how it ends.

Q.6 How long, on average, does it takes you to write a book?
I can take anywhere from six months to two years. It depends on how close I am to the characters and how well I can “hear” them in my head and visualize them.

Q.7 What’s your writing schedule while working?
I’m currently reorganizing my life to have a more concrete schedule. Most days, I’m at my desk by 8:30 AM, and I spend the first two hours working on social media and marketing. I do warm-up writing with one of those books the public will never see that I write for fun. 

I settle down around 11 AM and work until my dog reminds me it’s time for his noon walk and our lunches. I’m back at my desk at 12:30 PM and write until five or six in the evening. My husband works from home, so I try to end my day around the same time as him so we can have dinner together and hang out for a few hours.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Goodness, this is a great question! Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve never thought about the possibility.

Q.9 Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
It’s a little bit of both. I want to keep on top of trends, but I want to make it original within that category.

Q.10 It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing. Tell us about your marketing campaign?
I’m terrible at marketing. When I ended my four-year break from writing, I realized that I’d lost most of my active fanbase. It had been too long since I’d written a newsletter or released any content, so I’m starting from scratch.

One of the biggest things I’m doing is pushing out content so when the podcasts, interviews, and reviews come my way, there are actually books to enjoy. I’ve also started working with a marketing company to help schedule appearances and events.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
I’d be an earth mage. Before I had to stop working due to a disability, I worked for nonprofits, and the majority of them were focused on environmental justice. I connected with the cleanup and revitalization efforts, and while I have a black thumb and kill every plant I try to grow, I want that connection to the earth, trees, and everything.

Q.12 If you could invite one character to dinner from your books, who would it be and why?
I’d invite Dakarai from the Vespers Chronicles or Ava from the Black Cauldron Detective Agency. They’re very different people, but they have wisdom beyond their years.

Q.13 What three things can a reader expect from your books?
Great question.

1. Detailed fight scenes that I’ve acted out with the help of very patient friends.
2. Slow-burn romance.
3. Best intentions went wrong.

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your books, who is dear to you and why?
In the Vespers Chronicles, it’s definitely Mikael Sokolov. He’s a painfully shy cinnamon roll. He’s also an assassin and will kill when necessary, but at his core, he just wants to be loved. In the Black Cauldron world, I’d say Lucas. He loves Ava and Nadia more than his own siblings, and they’re always getting into trouble and pulling him along with them.

Q.15 Who designed your book covers? How do you select them?
I have such a great cover designer and I love shouting her out. Bridgette at Dark Unicorn Designs has done the covers for both series, and I love every one of them. A fellow writer introduced me to Bridgette and suggested her for my projects. I fell in love with her work, and the rest is history.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
Most just pop into my head as I’m creating the character. When I’m looking for names from certain ethnic groups, I go to my favorite - Fantasy Name Generator.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I detest reading my reviews, but I still do. I found that there are some comments that are legitimate, while others are about personal preferences and not the content or spirit of the book.

Both good and bad reviews are fine with me. I don’t presume to be a five-star writer all the time, and it’s natural that some people won’t like my work.

Q.18 If your book would ever make it into a movie, then whom would you like to play the role of Ava Ramos?
Lindsey Morgan. She played Raven Reyes in the sci-fi show The 100 and Michelle “Micki” Ramirez on The CW’s Walker. She’s strong, has a sassiness about her, and she means business.

Q.19 Are there any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!) you are excited about? What are you reading right now?
I’m reading The Night Angel Nemesis by the well-established Brent Weeks. I’ve been hoping for a book like this for ages, and he doesn’t disappoint. The series is about a supernatural assassin in a feudal kind of world. It’s so long that I don’t have time to read other fiction books.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
It’s a long journey, but I’ll give you the short version. I was diagnosed with lupus in 2007. In 2013, I got very sick and was subsequently unable to work. After a year of sitting at home watching Netflix, I got bored, went to the writing prompt subreddit on Reddit, picked a prompt, and started writing. I had no intention of showing anyone my work until a writing friend read the early version of Order of Vespers and suggested publishing it. So, I did. I didn’t think anyone would read it, but the book got positive reviews, and readers wanted more.

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