R.J. Garcia Interview Published on: 26, Mar 2020

Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

I spent most of my childhood in Indiana but went to high school in Texas. My parents were amazing, but my mom passed right before my first book came out, which was so hard. She was a reader and my biggest fan. I have two brothers that I'm very close to. I have dyslexia and learning to read was a challenge, and I was bullied a lot in grade school. By high school, I withdrew from being social. I was a definite wallflower. I loved to escape in books and movies. I read and wrote obsessively, mainly poetry and short stories.

Writing has been your other great love. What inspired you to start writing?

The first book I really connected with was The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. After I read it, I knew I wanted to write more character-based stories.

How would you describe your experience of working with foster children and as a school social worker?

I love being there for kids and just listening to them, empowering them. Being present can mean so much.

At what age did you begin writing short stories?

I scribbled stories down on cheap notebook paper since third grade. I wrote my first decent story around thirteen. It was about a young boy who had an older brother with mental illness. Some elements echoed my own life. I won Young Authors. It was the first thing I ever won.

If you had to describe your experience of publishing several non-fiction pieces in one sentence, what would it be?

Publishing gave me the confidence to share my stories.

What inspired you to write "Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced"?

Nocturnal Meetings was inspired by two foster kids that I had worked with as well as a boy I met years and years ago in detention. They were kids with a lot of heart that came from dysfunctional and even abusive families. Incredible kids who took on the role of caretaker to younger siblings. Nocturnal Meetings was also inspired by my fascination with cold crime cases.

Who inspired the character of Hannah Priestly in "The Call of Death"?

Hannah is a composite of more than one person. She has qualities from a girl I counseled in school, and a celebrity's daughter I read about. There is also some of Hannah in me. In high school, I didn't have many friends. The girls I met would be your friends one day and not the next. I ended up hanging around a boy who I met at a comic book shop and his two best friends. So like Hannah I did have boys as friends. I think I could have even talked them into going with me to a serial killer's house as Hannah does in the story.

Why did you decide to set "Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced" in Summertime, Indiana?

It is a lot like the small town I grew up in, so it was the easy choice. I just changed the name.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title? Have you ever designed any book cover?

A good cover and title are both immensely important in attracting readers. As a book hoarder, I know it's what draws me in. I came up with the titles, but Shayne Leighton from the Parliament House designed my first two book covers. The collaboration was exciting. She captured the mood and vibe of my books.

What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

My favorite part is writing the story and having some readers connect with it. That is so amazing! My least favorite part is saying goodbye to your characters once it’s out in the world. You can't change or add anything. I miss them being in my head. All the rejection along the way wasn't fun either.

What challenges did you face while writing a fourteen-year-old romance in "The Call of Death"?

It is safer to write about young love in some ways. The level of intimacy is much more innocent. The challenge was to write a love story without promoting the idea that romantic love is the living end. I've worked with teens that were heartbroken after breaking up with their first love. They need to know the pain is temporary. It is rare for first love to last forever. It can still be a beautiful thing, and a learning experience. Besides the scary story arc, The Call of Death is about that rare kind of love, but it also shows that the world is gaudy with potential, and you shouldn't rush to grow up.

How does writing make you feel? When you're not writing, what does a normal day for you look like?

Writing feels like an escape. It releases ideas I collect in my brain. To be honest, it is addictive. I can't wait to find time to write…On a normal day I work and spend time with my super, cool, smart kids and husband. My kids are twelve and fourteen and I chauffeur a lot, cook dinner and do dishes. The regular mom stuff.

What do you most enjoy about writing in the supernatural suspense genre?

It gives the writer more freedom. As a fan of The Twilight Zone it is fun to write the weird and unexpected.

Which is the next book you are writing? When is it due to be released?

I just finished a first draft about a teen boy who believes his new house is haunted until he discovers a runaway girl living there. A girl who brings evil and supernatural beings into his life. Think Lost Boys meets Stranger Things. I'm not sure when it will be released… My story, The Axeman Among Us in the Masks Anthology from Filles Vertes is available March 31st. Inspired by true events: In 1918, two teen boys encounter the deadliest serial killer of their time, The Axeman of New Orleans. Fearing the killer's return, the boys implore the service of a voodoo priestess.

How were you first acquainted with the AllAuthor website? What motivated you to sign up and how would you rate your experience with it so far?

When I noticed some author friends used AllAuthor, I thought I'd give it a try. It really helps when you don't have time to tweet and promote your work. This service uses pictures and videos that spotlight book reviews. It also gives you access to tools to create book pics and videos on your own. It has been a great experience.

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