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Interview: Valentina Cano

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Recently, I spoke with Everest Contributor Valentina Cano. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for this interview. Read her thoughts on poetry, news about her debut novel, and her thoughts on inspiration, coffee and classical singing:

You’ve been busy since we last spoke. Where has your writing appeared in the past 6 months?

I am very bad at keeping track of the literary magazines that have published my poems, but I do know I have a short story that has been published together with an album of original music that will go help the relief efforts in the Philippines. A few days ago, my new poetry collection Winter Myths was also accepted by Popcorn Press.

Let’s talk about CHILDHOOD (http://www.everest-magazine.com/fall2013.html#page/27); give us a little background on the inspiration for this poem, and the images it pulls to mind?

I was born in Uruguay, a tiny country in South America. My family and I used to live in a lovely cabin in the suburbs (think fairytale, stone walls, straw roof and trees that were ancient all around us) and I wanted to capture that nestling feeling that I had when I was a child and what it meant to move and come live in a city like Miami. Of course, we do tend to idealize, so I know that nothing was as perfect as I imagine it.

Building on this, what first made you write?

I suffer from severe depression. It comes and goes. The most severe version of it I had a few years ago and I found that the most successful way of getting outside my own head for a while was to sit down and write. It could be anything: a blog post, a poem, or just the way I was feeling at the moment.

What does your process look like; how do you construct your pieces? Are you a stream-of-consciousness writer or do you meditate on each word and phrase?

I am definitely a stream of consciousness writer. I do lots of free writing and develop my poems from whatever images call out to me from the paragraphs and paragraphs of nonsense.

EVENT HORIZON: Where did these poems come from?

Event Horizon was the result of one of those batches of depression I suffered last year. The words “event horizon”, in science, are used to describe the space around a black hole. Once you step into an event horizon, you cannot escape the pull of the black hole, which I thought was exactly what being dragged into depression feels like. It’s a point of no return. The poems came right out of that depression.

Water, Tea, Coffee or Liquor?

Coffee. Always coffee.

What challenges (known or unforeseen) did you encounter with writing your first novel? What do readers have to look forward to?

I hadn’t really realized the stamina it takes to write a novel. Like everyone, I had just assumed that once you got an idea, a good idea , you could sit down and write a novel. It’s not like that at all, of course. Some days you just don’t feel like writing, or a scene you’re trying to write starts boring you, or you get hungry or thirsty, and a number of other things that get in the way. Remaining focused on what it is that you want to say is much harder than I would have expected in a novel. The other part of it is editing. There are no words to describe how much I dislike the editing process. I know that it is vital and my novel, THE ROSE MASTER, is infinitely better because of the edits my agent and editor have suggested, but I still hate doing it. Editing is the work side of writing without the wonder of discovery or surprise.

The novel is a Gothic Victorian, reminiscent of Jane Eyre and other Bronte novels. Hopefully, there are also quite a bit of scares throughout the novel and a good dose of romance.

Music is a big part of your life, how is your training as a classical singer going? What music do you listen to when you write?

I am, currently, getting ready to audition for a few young artist programs. These programs are designed for singers to get some experience on stage with roles that fit their voices. We will see what happens. I have the best voice teacher in all of Florida (and I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say he is probably the best in the country} so I know that he will guide me correctly.

I don’t listen to any music while I write. As a singer, I can’t put music on and then ignore it; I’m always listening for lyrics or for difficult vocal lines, or a million different things, so I like to write in absolute silence. Or as much silence as I can get with birds and dogs in the house.

3 Favorite writers and why?

I love Margaret Atwood. Her poetry is ridiculously good, with the kinds of imagery that have always struck me. Every time I pick up one of her novels or poems, I end up highlighting sentence after sentence.

Barbara Kingsolver is probably my favorite author when it comes to novels. The way that she blends science and nature with glorious prose is astounding. She writes the kinds of books that can keep me awake at night.

I also really enjoy Arthur Phillips. He loves to use one of my favorite literary techniques: unreliable narrators. When I pick up one of his books, I know that I am in good hands.

What does the future hold for your writing?

My agent is submitting a new novel and I am already working on another one, so there are quite a few projects coming up.

There you have it, from Valentina Cano. If you want (and you should) to read up on her, you can get her chapbook Event Horizon here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/valentina-cano/event-horizon/paperback/product-21012962.html;jsessionid=45C31C1E4C6BDE2D1DCB2861E89EC7AD?mid=social_facebook_pubsharefb?showPreview=true

Read her blog, here:

http://carabosseslibrary.blogspot.com

And all importantly, read her previous Everest Material here:
http://www.everest-magazine.com/contributors

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