Welcome to Maravilla (pronounced Ma-ra-vee-ya) is a contemporary story about the people who live in a remote village in northern New Mexico. The town was founded about 400 years ago when the Spanish settlers first showed up. So the book is partly about how the old ways find their place in modern society. Or not. It is also about love, ambition, greed, drugs and how a basketball game changed the fate of the town. Oh, yes, and about a UFO trying to reach Zeton-9.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in a multi-ethnic middle class neighborhood in Denver. It was a good place to grow up, I suppose, but when I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to get away from it. I went to college near Chicago, which was enlightening, but when I was about to graduate, I took off for Greece. (Do you see a pattern beginning to develop?) Over the next few years, I lived in a variety of cities and worked a variety of dead-end jobs, finally landing in Eugene, Oregon, where I put down roots, got married, had a child, got divorced, got married again, and finally moved to northern New Mexico, where I live today with my wife Shelley and our cats Jett and Lulu.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I just sit down and write. I tried planning my plots, but it made for very stilted writing.
Do you have a daily or weekly writing schedule, or do you write only when you are inspired? How many words or pages do you complete in a typical day?
I don’t have a schedule, and if I waited for inspiration to strike, I wouldn’t get any writing done at all. I usually start with a germ of an idea, or just an image in my head, perhaps a feeling, a scrap of news, a funny situation, a sad situation, etc. Most of the time it doesn’t go anywhere—I’ve got plenty of five-page beginnings in my computer—but when I get a live one, I just run with it. Then I’m eager to sit down and write every day—five pages, 10 pages, whatever. I guess I’m very undisciplined, but if I try to force it, poor writing follows.
How many drafts did you write before publishing your most recent book?
I don’t write drafts per se. When I am really rolling, I start out each day by editing the pages I wrote yesterday. By the time I’m done editing, I usually know what I need to write next.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Regarding writing: find your own voice. I know it’s trite, but no one wants to read imitations of your favorite author. Regarding publishing, you can try following the rules (sending out query letters and the first 25-or-so pages), but honestly, that hardly ever works. Better if you can find an agent, or if you know another writer who will give you an introduction to his/her agent. Getting published is harder than writing and less rewarding, so get creative.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Hmm. I think a high school senior or college freshman. “Welcome to Maravilla” has that same playful (yet serious) mood as Slaughterhouse Five, Fahrenheit 451 and Catcher in the Rye, which are classroom classics. Also, like them, it is short (55,000 words).
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Check out my website, rdouglasclark.com. It’s new, so take it for a test drive. The best way to find out about my book is to read it. It’s a quick read, and pretty cheap from Amazon or your local bookstore. Need I say more?