Interview – Liz Fichera, Author of Captive Spirit – Plus Giveaway!

Liz Fichera is an author living in the American Southwest by way of Chicago.  She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends.  When she’s not plotting her next novel, you can find her hanging out on Facebook and Twitter, dishing about writing, books, LOST reruns, and the best brands of chocolate.  Please visit her web site at http://www.lizfichera.com/.

Liz’s novel appealed to me because I used to live in Arizona and I’ve visited many of the same places she has, many times. Reading her novel will be like visiting my former home!

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Your main characters are Hohokam Indians.  Please tell us about the Hohokam and how they inspired your historical romance debut, CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

Well, first of all, CAPTIVE SPIRIT is set at the dawn of the sixteenth century in what we now know as Arizona in the American Southwest.  The Hohokam Indians are considered the original inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert, particularly to Phoenix, Arizona.  They arrived around 300 BC from ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures and existed peacefully as farmers and master canal builders until around 1500 AD when their population vanished for reasons unknown.  And that’s the little-known piece of history that inspired me to write CAPTIVE SPIRIT and include it as a storyline in my novel.  Why would the Hohokam vanish? There are lots of theories—fire, famine, drought, migration, war—but no one knows for sure.

Please give us a teaser about CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  What’s it about?

Here’s the back cover summary:

Sonoran Desert. Dawn of the sixteenth century.

Aiyana isn’t like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own…

When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana’s on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

The book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT will also give you a good sense of the setting, along with some additional cool photos of Hohokam petroglyphs and the Sonoran Desert where the story takes place.  Plus, I think the music that accompanies it is pretty awesome.  J  Many of the shots in the book trailer were taken near my home.

Tell us about the names of your characters in CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  How did you come up with them?

All of the characters in the book are Native American with the exception of three.  Naturally, I chose Native American names for the others and I chose them based on their meanings.  Aiyana, the heroine in the story, her name means “Eternal Blossom.”  Honovi, Aiyana’s love interest, his name means “Strong Deer.”  Then there’s Eyota, Chenoa, Sinopa, and Manaba and many others.  Each name means something special.  J  I got lucky with Aiyana, though.  Not only do I think the name is lovely but its meaning is just as lovely.  Perfect for a heroine.  She definitely grew into her name.

Do you have any favorite parts of CAPTIVE SPIRIT that we can look for as we read?

If I had to pick a favorite, I’d say that I love the part when Aiyana, Honovi, and Diego meet up with the Apache.  Writing the chapters with the Apache was a blast.  There was so much tension and build-up in those scenes.  My fingers practically exploded getting the words onto the page.  And it took place in an entirely new setting, much different than the Sonoran Desert that Aiyana was used to.

How about any parts that were difficult to write?

CAPTIVE SPIRIT was just one of those stories that flew into my laptop from my fingertips.  It was like I could see the story in my head and I couldn’t get it on the page fast enough.  I love it when that happens! I could immediately “see” my characters too, their personalities, conflicts, idiosyncrasies.  So, the first draft was relatively easy.  All of the editing and fine-tuning that followed was a little more tedious and difficult but that’s par for the course.

Did you try to sell any other novels before CAPTIVE SPIRIT?

At the time I wrote CAPTIVE SPIRIT, my agent was trying to sell a young adult novel that I had written and loved dearly.  And that young adult novel was getting kicked in the teeth and rejected by editors all over the place, unfortunately.  I tend to write stories that are out of the norm—my young adult novel did not include the currently very popular vampires, werewolves, zombies, and fae.  While I love a good vampire story as much as the next person, that’s not what my heart desires to write.

How difficult was CAPTIVE SPIRIT to sell?

Carina Press was the only publisher that I queried about CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  I queried Angela James last January when I saw a tweet where she said they were “hungry for historicals.”  I figured it was a sign.  By March, she called to tell me Carina Press was interested in buying my novel.  I got lucky.  Selling CAPTIVE SPIRIT was pretty easy.  And working with Carina Press has been a dream.

Why Carina Press? Why digital books?

Well, for starters, I love how Carina Press is not afraid to shake up the traditional publishing model.  Their motto intrigued me from the start: “Where no great story goes untold.”  They seemed less about trends and more about publishing stories and good writing.  Plus I think that it’s only a matter of time before more and more people begin reading books on e-readers.  I don’t think that hardcovers and paperbacks are going to disappear overnight but I do think demand for them will decrease while people will opt for the convenience and cost of e-books, especially as the cost of e-readers continues to plummet.  It’s already happening.

Which e-reader do you own?

I went for the Nook.  And I love it.  At first, I didn’t think I’d warm up to an e-reader.  But I said the same thing about email years ago too! Things change.

Final question: Tell us about yourself.

I live in Phoenix, Arizona, although I was born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.  I never in a million years thought I’d wind up living in the desert but here I am.  And I love it.  I write full-time, although I teach the occasional writing class at a local college near my home.  When I’m not writing, I like to travel (money and time permitting), visit museums, support local theatre, and I’m one of those freakazoids who actually likes to run and hike in the desert.  But it balances out my chocolate habit.

Giveaway!

Liz is here to answer your questions, and she’ll give a copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT to a random commenter.

39 thoughts on “Interview – Liz Fichera, Author of Captive Spirit – Plus Giveaway!”

  1. Thanks for coming by my blog, Liz! I’m looking forward to reading your novel. You never know why your writings will appeal to you and in your case it was definitely because we appear to be interested in the same things.

  2. “Eternal blossom” and “strong deer” … such great images. I was reading your interview thinking, “I can’t wait to read this book” and then I realized… I don’t have to wait any longer. I bought it a few weeks ago but today I actually get to download it! This is me rushing off to download your book!

    Have a fabulous launch week, Liz! I just know I’m going to love your book.

    *Rebecca E. Grant *
    > Love is Unstoppable!
    > LIBERTY STARR–14 June, Carina Press
    > http://blog.RebeccaEGrant.com
    > http://www.RebeccaEGrant.com /

    1. Sorry it took so long to approve your comment. I’ve changed my settings to email me when a comment is held, and to allow three hyperlinks instead of two before holding the comment.

  3. Liz, congrats on your book. It must feel fantasic to have a book coming out. I wish you lots of success and hope there will be lots of more releases to come. I do love historicals, so this sounds great to me. Also the idea of having native Americans as characters is very nice.
    Thinking about authors that you like, who are they? What do you like to read? Warm wishes!

    1. Hi Tessa,

      My book tastes are kind of all over the place. I love everything from YA to historicals to paranormals to chick lit. I really like some of the earlier books from Diana Gabaldon, particularly her first book, OUTLANDER. I also like reading Sherman Alexie and, recently, I read Tanya Landman’s I AM APACHE, which I thoroughly loved.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments! I appreciate it!

  4. Congratulations Liz. The story sounds fantastic. I love historical fiction. The character names and research should really help the reader feel like they are right there with the Hohokam Indians.
    May you publish many more exciting stories!

    1. Hi Maria!

      Petroglyphs play a small part in the story. Onawa, Aiyana’s brother, is one of the White Clan’s artists and master carpenters. He paints/carves pictures and symbols on the pit houses and rocks to mark the passage of time, which is what many of the petroglyphs represent. So many of them still can be seen today, even after 500+ years! Very cool stuff.

  5. I’m a transplant to California myself, and I drove right through Phoenix to get here. Stopped there for lunch. 🙂 Your Native American setting sounds intriguing, and I like the irony of Aiyana desperately wanting to leave a place that she then desperately tries to get back to! I guess you don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone…

    1. Raven,

      Great analogy! And I couldn’t agree more because the grass is always greener, right? 😉 Glad you got to stop on Phoenix. Hope it wasn’t during the hot, sticky summer months, though!

    1. Hi Shelley,

      Oh, yeah. I’ve got lots more stories to tell in this world! 🙂 Thanks for the congrats and stopping by! I so appreciate the support!

  6. I’m downloading your book today! I’m so jealous that you can write full-time. Enjoy! I love running as well, but not in the heat.

  7. Hi Susanna!

    Thanks so much–and be sure to let me know what you think!

    Regarding running, it’s a sickness. When it gets too hot (like now) I run inside on a treadmill. Not as fun but it gets the job done.

  8. Congratulations Tessa!! You are the winner of a digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT. You’ll be getting an email shortly from Tia Nevitt.

    Thanks everyone for participating in the blog chat. I really appreciate your kind comments and great questions!

    Liz

  9. I like books that feature native american’s as characters. There aren’t enough well written ones.

    1. Sandy G,

      I agree with you, and I’d like to see more stories with Native American characters. The history, culture, legends–they’re all so cool. Do you have any that you can recommend?

        1. Cherokee legend? That sounds fascinating. I am in total awe of Native American legends. You can learn so much about a tribe’s culture and history by reading them. So many have been carried down generation by generation.

          Tia, you must finish that story! I’ve heard of Win Blevens. I will check out his series.

        2. I’m partway through Shadows in the Cave. Voice-wise, it’s sort of like he’s telling the story around the campfire. Hard to describe, but it has this sort of “more storyteller’s story than novelist’s novel” feel to it, if that makes any sense at all.

          I haven’t read Zadayi Red.

      1. Jamake Highwater’s books and stories can be good. He can get a little… odd… when he writes about anthropology at times, but he’s pretty good when he retells legends. {Smile}

        My favorite author of Amerindian-inspired stories has to be Owl Goingback. I’ve mainly seen short stories in anthologies by him, and I’ve enjoyed every one. They’re usually in fantasy, and feel like legends told by someone who’s in a playful mood. {SMILE]

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

        1. Hi Anne!

          Great list! Have you read anything by Sherman Alexie? I know that some of his latest work gets sold as young adult but I really liked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, at least as more of a contemporary read. Also loved Smoke Signals by him too.

          1. Hello Liz, {Smile}

            No, I haven’t met up with Sherman Alexie yet. I’ll have to look into him. I certainly don’t mind Young Adult fiction. I’ve found some pretty good books in that section, even as a full adult. {SMILE}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

          2. Anne,
            I know this is completely off-topic but the YA section in my local bookstore has literally taken over the bookstore! Growth in that area has been exponential. I think that’s why so many bestselling authors are writing YA at the moment. Example: John Grisham!
            Anyway, I love Alexie. He’s always got an interesting read and his voice is very authentic.

          3. I’m not surprised that YA has gained in popularity. The old stigma of being caught with a book you’re “too old for” is gone, and the books tend to be enjoyable. {Smile}

            I will have to look into Alexie. I’ve added him to a list by my computer, so I should remember. {SMILE}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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