Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. For those of you who are not a member of the clubhouse won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or an invite to the clubhouse tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation I’ve had with a guest over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today I’m welcoming Ximena Escobar to the Clubhouse Tearoom. I’m so glad you could join me today, Ximena.
Hi Paula! Thank you for having me.
Let’s start by order our refreshments. So what would you like to drink?
I’ll have an Aperol Spritzer please, not my usual drink, but I was just reminiscing about a summer in Italy with a friend! Lots of ice.
Now we have our refreshments I will start by asking you when you first began your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I mostly publish speculative fiction, but I don’t really have one. Deciding on a genre is not something I ever did or even considered when I started writing, nor when I chose what to read… I always read and loved literary books, but that has more to do with author voice than anything else. There’s not much demand for literary stories in the indie world though, so I’ve had to pull myself out of my comfort zone, and I delve into all genres. Usually it’s a theme or subject matter, which draws me to write for a given call; if the theme inspires me, it doesn’t matter too much if its fantasy or horror or paranormal romance. If I had to choose, dark fantasy and magical realism are the genres I’m most easily ready to write. And although Horror as such appeals to me least of all, I’m drawn to the dark.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
My imagery is strong, and the poetry in my prose. Also my characters. Because an emotion is what prompts me to write, I always know my characters intimately. I don’t always know what they do for a job—it’s not necessarily relevant—but I know their personalities, their fears, their secrets, aspirations, habits. My writing can be a little obscure, so I need to work on making certain things more explicit, without sacrificing the subtlety. I can get carried away describing abstract ideas which can be hard to follow. But I’m getting better at grounding these.
My plots can be a little weak. Writing genre fiction has made me better in this regard; helped me write fiction as opposed to blatantly writing about myself. The plot is never what inspires me to write a story, it’s always a deep emotion or a situation that represents it.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only writing short stories, do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you.
Oh, I’m not a planner at all and the characters and emotions always lead. But if it’s a longer piece, I’ll stop once the idea has taken a little shape and brainstorm, write a plot. It’ll invariably change as I go, but that structure helps push the writing forward.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order with 1 being the top of your list, and say how have they influenced your writing?
- Anais Nin – She was a diarist interested in psychoanalysis. Her non-fiction writing—about herself as much as about those around her—is deeply introspective. She shaped me as a person, not just a writer. I read her books in English, and this of course also influenced me (Spanish is my mother tongue)
- Virginia Wolf – She goes so deep, and her writing is metaphorical and poetic, describing the many thoughts and emotions one experiences simultaneously. It’s such an intimate reflection of the human experience. I don’t try to do this consciously in my writing, it just happens to a greater or lesser degree.
- Marguerite Duras – I love the cadence of her writing, it’s almost like it is spoken and not written. I hear what I write as I write it (I also went to the theatre a lot when I was young). This isn’t always a good thing. The reader probably won’t read it as I do, and, I often tend to add a word just because I my ear wants another syllable, but not because the content needs it. She’s French, and I always read her in Spanish.
- Henry Miller – I love the alcohol infused philosophical rambling, and his very masculine voice. There often is a little philosophy in my writing and it not may always survive the editing, but it gushes out.
- Gabriel García Marquez – He has been less of a direct influence, but his colourful and magical vision of the world is a big part of me. His writing showed me a naïve kind of beauty, that of the simplest things, which I think I sometimes I incorporate in my work.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
A few. Some are completely made up though. And when they’re not, sometimes it’ll only be an aspect of that real person. Sometimes I’m inspired by real fictional characters, from a movie or book.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
Nope. If I’m not feeling it I don’t see the point. I won’t like the result. I usually have several projects on the go so I can tweak, rewrite, edit instead. Or read. That usually gets the juices flowing.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Only after I’d published my first stories! I felt so exposed and painfully embarrassed, instead of the pride I wanted to feel; I wished I’d called myself something else. Especially as I don’t shy away from anything!
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My wip is an invite-only secret project I’m in the final stages of, so I can’t say much other than it’s super exciting and that it’s meant working with other authors, exchanging story and world elements to connect the stories.
My latest publication is “School’s In”, a Highschool Horror anthology by Black Hare Press. It wasn’t the Horror element that appealed to me; I had to take the story to places I didn’t particularly need to go to make it fit; but just enough, and probably for the better. I love my main character Scarlett—which is also the title of the story. She’s self-destructive, but out of love for herself.
Also Unity, a Magical Realism anthology by Penned in the City, of which I’m one of the editors as well as a contributing author. We have compiled a number of wonderful stories, poems and art and, best of all, is all proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. My poem “The Veil of Happiness” and my story “Portrait in a Velvet Dress” will feature within. Coming soon this October.
Thank you for join me, Ximena. Good luck with your secret project. I look forward to reading it when it’s published.
Here’s is some of Ximena’s links
Flash Fiction – Me and My Pen
SCHOOL’S IN – Anthology
UNITY – information link
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.