I met Silvina Riboldi Niccum when she volunteered to be one of my Saturday Stories guests. And I am so glad she did because her upcoming debut novel Veiled is exactly the kind of book I like to read.
When you’re finished checking out the interview make sure you hop over to her website www.sbniccum.com for a sample from Veiled. The publication date for Veiled hasn’t been set yet but it should be announced next month so make sure you stay tuned to Silvina’s website for the details!
Q--Please share a little background with us.
I was born in Rosario, Argentina (the second largest city in Argentina) and at the age of nine my family moved to Buenos Aires, where my father worked for the L.D.S. Church as a manager for the South American region in the computer systems something or other. I am the youngest of three with two older brothers. I grew up two doors down from my grandmother and just around the corner from a several sets of cousins. I played with them almost every day, in fact all my best friends from my childhood are also my cousins. I still keep in touch with them via Skype!
Q--You said you were born in Argentina, how did your family end up in America?
While my dad worked for the Church, he had to travel to Utah for training a few times. One of those times he went on a hike with my mom and standing on Ensign Peak he said that we would live there one day. This seemed farfetched at the time, but the opportunity presented itself in 1989. I was fourteen years old and didn’t want to move. At first it was a little adventure, but then reality set in and I really hated it for about two years.
Frustration motivated me to learn English, I was sick of being an outcast, so I vowed to learn the language just like a native. It was a hard period in my life. No one likes being friendless at that age, but I learned a lot about myself and people during that time. I also turned to books for entertainment and companionship, which in retrospect was a good thing for me.
Q--Your debut novel is coming out very soon! Would you please tell us what the book is about?
Veiled is a supernatural fantasy about the eternal nature of the soul. Tess and her clan are a gifted group of spirits who together fight the combined forces of evil and become Secret Service Angels. They deal with the hardest and coolest Earth missions and are trained by twelve feet tall Cherubs with feathered wings, and golden half-human half lion Seraphs. But all their training will not prepare them for the Veil and it's forgetting effects. Once they cross over into mortality they will forget all about Heaven, each other and their soul mates.
Q--What was your inspiration for Veiled?
The scriptures. The idea came to me while reading The Pearl of Great Price and pondering. I was thinking about Abraham and how he was told that he was one of the “great ones”. Then I started thinking about the veil, and how we must have felt knowing that the minute we would step through it, we would forget each other and our heavenly home. Then I saw them! The two main characters! I felt their anxiety so keenly. Then the images and the scenes started coming at me in torrents! It was both very exciting and very frustrating. All those ideas and no time!
Q--What was the process you went through from writing queries to publication.
QUERIES!!! Arrrrg. That’s how I feel about queries. I’d be glad to share the one I wrote. When I was querying agents I loved looking at examples of the queries that had captured the attention of an agent or a publisher. But honestly I think that queries have more to do with how the agent is feeling at the time they read yours than anything else. Well perhaps knowing someone in the industry helps too.
I have a great friend who was querying people at the same time as I was, so we shared our experience together and that was helpful. I learned through her, that not all rejections are bad; some are good rejections, so we tried to make the experience as painless as possible. She was in fact the reason why I got published at all. She blogs, so through the blogging world got me in touch with a virtual friend who had just gotten picked up by a publisher. She put me in touch with her virtual friend who put me in touch with the publisher, and a few months later I was signing a contract.
Q--Can you tell us about the moment you learned your book was getting published?
Like I said, I was querying agents, but I was also reading a book that my brother recommended (he’s an author as well, but self-published) about the whole publishing industry and how it works. I realized then that there is a whole world of small publishers where agents are not needed because they work through the POD (Print On Demand) system and only set their authors up through Amazon, Kindle and Smashwords. The process is simple: They edit, typeset (a pain in the *&%^%*) design a cover and give you an ISBN #. They also help a little with publicity, but the bulk of it is largely up to the Author.
I realized that I could keep trying agents, but the whole thing was distasteful to me. There’s lifers out there who query agents for years and years! And I didn’t want to get sucked into that world. I wanted to hold my book in the near future.
An agent, actually, at a Writers Guild of Texas meeting, heard my pitch and told me to check out one of these small publishers. But they were so busy they were not taking any queries at the time. Agents and big publishers are for the books that fit a certain standard and I knew my book was not that.
When Linda Boulanger from TreasureLine books and I started talking I was relinquishing my agent quest and shifting my focus. We talked back and forth for a while with no definite agreement or feedback other than “It’s interesting” (a statement that I was used to getting). About a month later she started talking formalities and sent a sample contract over. I thought I was dreaming. I had to keep pinching myself and reminding myself and my husband that this was really happening. I’m still a little dazed!
Q--How have you incorporated your religious beliefs into Veiled?
It may not seem like it, but I put a lot of thought into how to present this story to a non-lds crowd. I knew that LDS readers would get it, but I also knew that it would sound a lot like si-fi to those not of our faith. It was difficult at times; I couldn’t be 100% factual about doctrine because I didn’t want to be sacrilegious or preachy. I had to take what I knew and turn it into a fantasy that anyone would enjoy reading.
Q--How did you get started writing?
When this story came to me, I wrote everywhere. By hand, or on the computer, it just poured out of me. Because I have three children that I homeschool and have with me all day long, I had to set time aside. I woke up two hours earlier than usual (not easy for me, I’m a night owl) and used that time to write. Once those two hours were gone, that was it! No more until the next day. It took me a year to finish the whole book and six more months to polish it.
Q--Was there a book or story that first got you interested in reading and/or writing?
I’ve always wanted to write! Always! In fourth grade I wrote my first little book and treasured it a little too much. In college I did pretty well with some of the things I wrote, but I never thought I could actually be a published author because English is my second language. I still think that sometimes, but I figure…oh well…it’s done. Like my mom said “You’re not Isabel Allende, but you wrote a good story.”
Q--Out of all the books you've read in the last six months, what is your favorite?
That’s like asking what type of chocolate you like most! Ok… Scaramouche , The Woman in White and The Scarlet Pimpernel I’m currently reading Inferno and I’m really enjoying it.
Q--If you could be any character from any book you've ever read (including your own), who would you be and why?
Mmm…I could always identify with Pip from Great Expectations. He has this “pie in the sky” idea of what he wants out of life, and then he realizes that perhaps those things or people are not the best for him. He learns who his true friends are and what true love is the hard way.
Q--If you could create your own real, magical fantasy world, what magical powers would you give yourself?
Ha! I did do just that and had all kinds of fun giving cool gifts and abilities to my characters. I think that Wolverine from X-Men is super cool, I would want his ability to heal myself and others with a mere touch!
I love getting the chance to interview fellow writers. I also love the chance to help spread the word so if you want to use Saturday Stories as a platform for publicity for your book(s) please drop by and let me know. I'd be happy to interview you and let you tell everyone about your stories!
I'm almost out of interviewees people, I need more volunteers or Saturday Stories will be over in a couple weeks : (