Today I have the privilege of sharing fellow author R J Mirabal, who lived in the Middle Rio Grande Valley most of his life. Recognized with awards for teaching, RJ taught high school English, speech, and drama. Now retired, he purses writing and music and volunteering. RJ enjoys exploring New Mexico’s wilderness on his four-wheeler, hiking, and hanging out with his wife, Cheryl. The Tower of Il Serrohe (Finalist for 2013 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards) is Book I of The Rio Grande Parallax series. Extreme Dust Storms May Exist, Book II of the series, was released in 2015 (Finalist for 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards) while Zero Visibility Possible, Book III, released 2016, concludes the series.
The Rio Grande Parallax series starts with The Tower of Il Serrohe, Book I. After his wife kicked him out of their house, Don Vargas rents a dilapidated casita which – unknown to him –is actually a portal to another world.
A bat, Nightwing, lures Don through the dusty Portal on a quest into the Valle Abajo, where local clanspeople urge him to save them from the wily Soreyes’ and their mysterious Tower. Complications arise, spawning the dramatic conclusion.
Five years later, in Extreme Dust Storms May Exist, Book II, Esther, a sixteen-year-old honor student athlete and cousin to Don, suffers a mysterious accident and dreams of an ominous valley much like her Rio Luna home.
Esther hears whispers in the darkness when the bat, Nightwing, slams against her window during a wind storm. The bat persuades the resourceful Esther to drive the Soreyes from the Valle Abajo – the valley of her dreams. Once there, new dangers threaten Esther and the clans while mysterious presence lurks in the background. The saga continues, leading to a gut wrenching cliffhanger…
In Zero Visibility Possible, Book III, adventure continues at a breakneck pace to the shocking conclusion of the series. Impossible odds face two companies of comrades who have traveled far to the Mountains of the Sky and the forbidding lava field of the Malpais seeking answers to mysteries.
New Soreye terrors abound. No one knows whether the travelers will return. Back in Rio Luna, Esther’s disappearance continues to confound her parents. New riddles—including those surrounding Don—and unforeseen threats add confusion. Facing challenges more insurmountable than bringing down the Tower of Il Serrohe, can the hapless clanspeople hope for freedom?
Hi RJ , Please tell us, What Inspires and stirs your creativity?
RJ: My main source of inspiration is “walking through the tail of a comet”—a brilliant idea that came out of nowhere striking me almost fully formed in a flash. Several great ideas in my Southwest (USA) based fantasy series either occurred in a moment or in the twilight zone between dreaming and wakefulness.
In a less dramatic fashion I have been inspired by my life, interesting people I have known, and the locale where I have lived my whole life: Central New Mexico—the lush landscape along the middle Rio Grande River that flourishes alongside the high desert and the pine-covered mountains within sight of that well-known river. The small towns and their people near the river are ingrained in my life, memories and imagination. So when I sought out a landscape for my tale, this is the only place I could write about with authority and passion.
Finally, I’ve always been fascinated by the concepts of perception. Everything we know about the outside world, if it truly exists, is through our perceptions and our mind’s ability to make sense (or not!) of what we think is outside ourselves. This idea intrigues me because none of us can prove the universe and everything in it really exists. Or if it exists as we perceive it to exist. My story explores throughout.
Even at the end of the trilogy, the question is implied: did this really happen?
What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors?
RJ: Write. And when you can, write some more. About anything. Any time you can. Only by writing can you find your voice and perfect your style (and the fundamentals of good writing). I’m still working on it. So it’s not a done deal and I suspect that’s true of all writers.
Once you’ve written something you would dare to reveal to the world, find your audience and the vehicle that works for you. It might be a blog, a web site where you publish your work, something like Kindle Direct Publishing (eBooks), CreateSpace, an independent publisher, or a mainline publisher (which includes magazine publishers). There are so many options available to writers, many of them as easy as logging online or as challenging as getting an agent and a major publishing contract.
Start at a more down-to-Earth level and as you elicit positive responses from an audience, work your way up or stay wherever you like.
But… Don’t Quit Your Day Job! Very, very, very few (far less than 1 %) of people who publish anything make any money at it or even enough to live on. It’s a passion, an artistic expression, and a desire to share your vision with the world. If you make the big time—Wow! Good for you! But don’t count on it. Don’t even need it because it’s likely you’ll be disheartened.
If you find some good folks who like what you do, that’s golden. The rest of gravy.
Now quit reading this and start writing!
When you are NOT writing, what is your favourite pastime?
RJ: Plural pastimes is more appropriate. I love music and took up a new instrument, the hammered dulcimer (HD), a few years ago when I completed my career as a high school teacher. I belong to a “support” group of fellow HD players, I’m on the board of directors for a dulcimer festival (including mountain dulcimers as well as HD) here in New Mexico, and I play with another lady at local retirement homes and folk venues.
Growing up in farm country, I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. I find satisfaction now days by riding a 4Wheeler all over New Mexico on wilderness roads in the mountains and across the deserts. It’s not only the outdoors but the power and sound of the engine taking me places that appeals to my heart and soul. It was that way when I rode motorcycles all over the USA for many years until a few too many close-calls grounded me from searching out the remote highways.
Today, I’ve also taken up hiking in a way more serious than any other time in my life and I love the exploration, the direct contact with the terrain, and the physical challenge of a great climb. Related to that is urban exploring while walking my dog and watching her take in the environment in ways human beings can only imagine.
Of course, there’s some volunteer work with organizations because all former teachers are great organizers if they are to be remotely successful.
Yet I desire more traveling and mutual projects with my wife, so there’s still a lot of living to do before… “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (King James Bible). I’m hoping for five score!
Thank you RJ for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing.
Please be sure to visit RJ at his social places:
RJ’s Blog and web site: http://rjmirabal.wordpress.com/
Please contact RJ with questions and comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch/Listen to RJ the Story Guy (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC8htvttHV5lKiCgDU6qP0g) read chapters from The Tower of Il Serrohe on YouTube