What first gave this author an interest in the Mayan calendar? Which character is her favorite? When did she first have the desire to write? How does she feel about self-publishing?
What first interested you in the Mayan calendar? Was the calendar What was your inspiration for this book?
Early in 2012, my mom came to visit me, and she told me she wanted me to come home before December 21, “just in case.” Then I got the idea of writing a book about the Maya and their end of the world prediction. I wanted it to be a thriller, but with an optimistic ending so it could be comforting.
I decided to use agile publishing to write the story. So I created a blog, and regularly posted chapters of my book. I got a lot of feedback, most of it private, which I incorporated as I went along, shaping the story into something I and other people would want to read.
Which character is your favorite?
Probably Amara. I think we have the most in common.
Did any of your characters ever take over and change the way you had planned to write the story?
Yes, definitely. Both Amara and Mahaway, the two main characters, changed as I wrote the story. While both started out as strong female characters, they developed their own personalities along the way, and they ended up with different fates.
How did you choose the names of your characters?
I wanted all the names of the main characters to have special meanings, and to be authentic. The story is told through two timelines, one taking place in October through December 2012, and one in 900 A.D., in an ancient Maya city. So all the characters in the 900 A.D. timeline have Maya names, and Mahaway, one of the main characters’ names, means “Eternal.” It has special meaning because Mahaway’s secret is something that affects the world over a thousand years after her death. And, to link Mahaway with the present day storyline, I chose a name that also means “Eternal,” Amara.
How completely do you develop your characters before beginning to write your story?
I sketch them out, and write the story with a rough idea of their personalities. Then I tend to let the story unfold and let the characters evolve organically. In the future I might try to do more outlines, and write some dialogue between my characters before working on the story to get a better feel for them.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene was the hardest for you to write?
The ending, for both questions. After working through the whole story, I found it hard to find a way to end it that was climactic and satisfying. Fortunately, I had a group of readers who were just as excited about the story as me, and they gave me some helpful feedback to help me write what I think is a creative twist.
How long did it take you to decide on a title for your book? Were there many other possible titles you had picked out?
A long time. Naming things is not my strong suit. I probably went through 30-40 ideas for titles, and then I ended up asking my editor for advice. He actually suggested “The 13th Cycle,” and I immediately agreed to use it. It fits perfectly, because the number 13 was lucky in ancient Maya, and the last cycle before the December 21 end date was the 13th cycle in the Maya calendar.
How long did it take you to complete this book?
About three to four months. If it weren’t for the hard December 21 deadline, I probably could have spent more time tweaking it.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
I’m a big advocate. I think it’s a great opportunity for writers, and it allows people to publish more experimental, out-of-the-box kind of books. I also think writers need to be careful not to publish before a book is ready though, and it’s still important to work with an editor. i
When did you first have a desire to write?
I’m sure every writer has a similar story, but I’ve wanted to write since elementary school. When I was in second grade, we used to write short stories weekly, and I think I’ve been writing ever since.
This interview continues in Conclusion of Interview with Sabrina Ricci.