Q: Your story Boundaries made it to the top 10 of the 2014 edition of World’s Best Story. Did you think you were going to make it so far? How did you react when you got the news live from The Toronto International Book Fair during the live finale this past November?
Clearly, I was hoping that my book would make it or otherwise I wouldn’t have entered it. Though Boundaries had been written some time ago, it was not edited. I am usually a very realistic person and though I knew the story was compelling, I didn’t think it would make it that far because of the editing issues. Keep in mind that Boundaries was competing against books that were already published and had hundreds of reviews for crying out loud. I was very happy to see that the judges were able to look past those grammatical and other mistakes and see the story’s potential.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about the story and how you came up with such engaging characters?
Initially, Boundaries was a romantic Sci-Fi novelette (only about 17000 words,) titled Crossing Boundaries. It had sat in my drawer for about a year, but Gabriela, Landon, and Jack kept nagging, telling me that the story wasn’t finished.
Needless to say that the trio disturbed me from watching funny cat videos and interacting with my Facebook friends. But I finally gave into their demands and once I started writing it, the words kept flowing. I felt as if I was in the scenes with my characters. I immediately fell in love with Landon and though Gabriela is a little “undecided”, she is funny, prickly and terribly sarcastic. Jack comes in the picture only vaguely in the beginning, but he sure creates a lot of problems for everyone. He turns out to be the twist in the story that no one expected. I had a lot of fun writing it, and found myself laughing at their jokes and almost try to comfort them when they were sad or frustrated.
Q: Part of your prize package includes being published with FastPencil. How has the experience been so far?
The word amazing comes to mind. Mariena Foley is the one I’ve dealt with the most and she is truly amazing: prompt, honest, and courteous. The publisher in general is very responsive and very involved with trying to help their authors succeed.
Q: What story has influenced your life?
The Chick by Ion Alexandru Bratescu-Voinesti – a children’s book from the Romanian literature, though I re-wrote it with a happy ending (grins) – has shaped my childhood and to some extent my adulthood. Yes, I read other books as a child but this is the one that stayed with me all these years. It taught me respect for my parents (and others), it taught me that breaking the rules always, always has consequences – sometimes deathly consequences – and it taught me the importance of teamwork, but most importantly, this book has taught me compassion for animals.
Q: Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?
If you think you can write don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Write a lot. Read a lot. It’s important that you read the kind of books you aspire to write, but don’t limit yourself. If you have published a book and get a bad review don’t take it to heart. If you get a lot of bad reviews, start listening to what others have to say. Not every reviewer is there to “get” you and your book.
Constructive criticism is a good way to improve your writing. Follow your heart. Write about what you’re interested in and what excites you. However, don’t ever confuse being good at telling a story to your friends with being good at telling a story in the form of a book. Writing a book is so much more. Get involved with writers groups, share your work and ask for feedback.
Q: What are the ingredients for a blockbuster story to you?
I love cross-genre stories. Flawed, realistic characters that you can identify with. Less hip-hop verbiage (I don’t think that belongs in literature.)
Q: What story do you enjoy reading over and over again?
I don’t usually read anything more than once, but a long time ago I read several of Karl May’s Winnetou novels at least twice.
Q: How would you increase literacy?
Increasing the budget on education is always a good start. My children are grown up and I no longer have to deal with tuition fees but have you seen the cost of post-secondary education? Skyrocketing. The average cost of a year’s tuition at a Canadian university is over $5,000 according to Statistics Canada.
That does not include books, learning materials and other living expenses. However, there is more than one determining factor, starting with parenting your kids at a very young age and instilling in them the love for learning and reading. It can help them develop not only their reading skills but also their writing skills. I always feel sad when I hear someone say, “I don’t have time to read.”
Q: What is your favorite drink while writing and/or reading?
Q: What is your favorite tech brand? App?
I love Google.
Q: What is your favorite genre of music, artist?
I love all kinds of music and I must have at least one favorite artist from each genre. Shania Twain for country, Latasha Lee for soul music, and so on.
Q: What is your favorite movie, tv show, superhero?
My favorite movie of all times must be Ghost (I watch it every time is on) though I loved all of Patrick Swayze’s movies.
Q: What is your must have snack?
I wouldn’t say must have, but I like to reach for a fruit between meals. I like mostly melons and pineapple.
Q: If heaven exists, what is the first thing you would like to hear from God when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Please, come right upstairs.
Q: What ice cream flavor would you invent?
I come too late to invent it, but I love coffee flavored ice cream. What can I say, I love everything coffee.
You can follow Ica on: https://www.facebook.com/brokenhomesociety