Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Exclusive - Interview with Author: Art Aguinaldo

Over the summer at Comic Con, I was lucky enough to meet and talk to author Arthur Aguinaldo. Here exclusively at Phamtom Zone is an in-depth look at the author also known as loujen haxm’Yor.

Can you tell us what your novel is about? Did you provide the illustrations as well?

The title of my novel is ChaulE A Barbarian Fantasy.  It is the story of the ChaulEr Guardians of the Holy Well versus the evil Qortlite Empire, which seeks domination over the Lynk Star system as well as control of the Well.  The main characters are Paun—rise-to-fame Sinner Chieftain of the ground forces of ChaulE and one of the most powerful warriors on Lynk Star.  

She is betrayed by her lover, kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned.  Eventually she is rescued by a mariner from another planet.  His name is Jyl.  Suspicious of his true intentions, the ChaulEr nobility have assigned their council sleuth to construct him as the enemy.  His primary interest is the location of the Well of Sut UnBii.  It is a tale of ferocious battles, elite female warriors, witchcraft, serpentlords, flying elkstallions, very foreign lands, romance and treachery.  All this takes place on a star system of two primary planets periodically connected by a great river in space.

Currently my only illustration for this novel is the book cover.  Within the next few weeks I am going to upgrade my story with at least three illustrations, each of them reflective of their chapter content.  My final goal is to have at least one illustration per chapter.  I got the idea for this from when, as an eight year old, I checked out Robinson Crusoe from the library and was excited about the black and white drawings throughout the story.

When did you starting writing? Has it always been something you were passionate about?

I began writing as a poet in high school.  I wrote a poem about a possible end-of-the-world situation using the meter from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.  I later transposed it into an Elizbethan sonnet for a senior English class.  Since then I’ve continued to jot down poetic notes, some of them in my making of holiday and special occasion cards to friends and family.

Barbarian fantasy/ancient history movies were my favorites as a kid.  Hercules, 300 Spartans, Ulysses, Helen of Troy, and Demetrius and the Gladiators to name a few.  While in the military between 1968 and 1972, I had this story in my head about well-trained women sworders defending a mysterious land and an armada of parasailed enemy ships sailing a great Lynk Sea from one planet to another.  Finally, in 1982, I took out my banker’s box of partial hand-written chapters, scribblings, index cards and doodle drawings and put everything to an old fashioned typewriter.  

What's the hardest thing about writing a novel and how can you overcome that obstacle?

The hardest part was how to end the story—with real closure—and not let the audience hanging.  When the finale light bulb cracked my brain I had to change some of the inner guts of the story to make it work.  But it was fun doing it.  

Of course, the other hard part of story writing is deleting, not just small, but even large areas of content.  In 2011 I found out about e-book publishing by way of a one-day free seminar.  By then I had written some short stories as well as a collection of about fifty poems.  I reread my novel, ChaulE, cringed a bit—actually a lot—then did some major editing to make the story more reader friendly.  

My original version was too full of grammatical correctness (people just don’t converse that way) and too many poetic lines (I remember using a whole page of prose to basically say “It was a dark and stormy night.”)  I just had to tell myself that major sacrifices, despite how much work was put into them, have sometimes got to be made.  

You mentioned you also do a series of self-help books with your wife. Could you give us some details about those?

My wife, Jenny, collaborated with me on two self-help e-books.  One of them was Retirement on a Sea Level Budget.  One day in our mid-forties we took a hard look at our economics.  We always paid our bills on time.  Did dinner and movies on weekends.  Took all our yearly vacations.  But how much did we have saved up?  And by the time we’re in our sixties, how exactly will we live?  We figured that if we continued our current middle income lifestyle, we’d never be able to retire—or at least not comfortably.  So we put together some really helpful advice on what we did since that time to achieve our retirement goal.

Our other book was Going with the Flow: Life’s Triumph over Dementia.  When my brother and sister-in-law on the east coast both lost their jobs, they were stressing hard, both economically and over the care of my 83-year-old mom.  Despite her dementia and other health problems, they found it hard to put her into a nursing home.  But the round-the-clock care was taking a toll on them.  I agreed to have mom come stay with us in California.  I figured it would be easier for us, since I was already retired and home most of the time.  After three months of sleepless nights, Jenny and I knew that mom needed more professional quality care.

This story is about our manner of helping my mom as well as the nursing home staff during our visits—myself on a daily basis, and my wife on weekends.  In the long run, it made everyone’s life—especially my mom’s—much more pleasant and rewarding.

Under his pen name, Aguinaldo has written the following books, which can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites as e-Books:

A novel—Chaule    A Barbarian Fantasy
Short Stories—Kissers
 White Box
 The Job Interview
            Collection of Poems—When Apricots Had Wings
Using our real names, Jenny and Art Aguinaldo, my wife and I have written:
Retirement on a Sea Level Budget
Going with the Flow: Life’s Triumph over Dementia