Tell us about the book.
Here’s the synopsis:
“For centuries members of the nine circles of hell have infiltrated our society at every level. Calling themselves the Aristocracy, they have sought to replace humanity on the surface. The only ones who have stood in their way are members of the Dante family line.
This time, it’s Haven’s turn.
Seventeen-year-old Haven Irena comes from a dysfunctional family where the absence of her workaholic father is filled by a loving mother with a mysterious past. A past that ties the Dante family to the inherited task of fighting the nine circles of hell. But when her mother is killed the hole that in Haven’s heart is filled with trials that will challenge her soul. But if she emerges, she will be different and all of hell may not be enough to stand against her.”
Why did you write this book?
I wondered what someone would do if they were at the point of death and they were given the choice to remain in a suffering world where all they had experienced was heartache and pain or go into paradise. The catch would be to return to this world knowing that there was a chance they could fix their relationship with a loved one. This is where the idea stemmed from and led into the inclusion of Dante Alighieri’s cantos which represent the ills of mankind and our struggle to overcome them. Our protagonist needed to have more than enough reason not to return so we also included a violation. This was not done gratuitously. My wife had suffered the same experience and today she is alive and well. I wanted others to have gone through this horror to have the same chance and be an encouragement to them.
What is the one message that you want readers to hear coming from this book?
The one resounding message that I want folks to (hopefully) get is that no matter how bad the cards that have been dealt to you are, you can still make good choices. You might stumble along the way. You might fall. You might be angry and hate for a little while. But after you’ve allowed yourself to experience those feelings you can still make constructive choices for your life. The road to heaven sometimes goes right through hell.
There is a violation on the main character that occurs in the story but this is not done gratuitously. My hope is that the book will be an entertaining source of encouragement in its message that you can make some good choices despite the cards that have been dealt to you.
Which social network worked best for you?
I think it depends on how you define “worked best”. When it comes to building relationships I would say Facebook. The problem with that is that relationships don’t always transfer to sales. Don’t get me wrong, I love the relational aspect of writing. I love getting to know other writers and have featured them on my website from time to time. But what I’m finding is that Facebook is slowly turning into Pinterest and losing its relational prowess. I can’t help to sometimes feel bad about plugging my book on Facebook when not everyone who is there goes there to see a book plug. I like Goodreads because its intent is clear and there is no appearance of ulterior motive. People go to Goodreads to read and check out books and I like that I can go there and plug my book and not feel bad about it. I’ve done a couple of giveaways there as well and they’ve worked wonderfully for exposure.
What about a Writer’s Group?
I think that it’s very important for writers to belong to a group that supports him/her. Writing is a very tough profession that can be taxing in every way. . . emotionally, financially, etc. No man/woman is an island and we need all of the help that we can get. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade being a writer for anything but there are times where I wish I was something a little more predictable. . . something that I would just report to every day and earn a paycheck and be happy doing. Even though I have a full-time job that does just that, what I do during the day is not me. It’s not who I am and it can be discouraging at times. The want and desire to do well enough to write full time can become a heavy weight that bears down on us (as well as our families) so every once in a while we need a word of encouragement from a peer. I belong to a great group of indie authors who support each other and respectful. Mutual respect between writers is important. So is mutual encouragement.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
I tried that once with The Jupiter Chronicles. The number of downloads came in around over 700+ and it was with an organization that promoted relational dads. It got a lot of people interested in the book and that’s always a plus.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I did two versions of a press release for Haven of Dante. One was a short version that is more PR friendly and was automatically generated by a PR Buzz template. Very easy to use. The information is tight. The other press release I created was an extended version which included a link to the audio drama and the trailer for the book. I will probably do a Goodreads book launch. We’ll see how it does.
Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
Viktor Aurelius has an awesome blog talk radio show called, Whispers in the Dark which I’ve been on a few times. Once I did a reading of the prologue for Haven of Dante which features Dante Alighieri himself making it out of the last circle of hell. He and Jeff Niles enjoyed it so much that they did an audio drama of it complete with background music and special FX. They did an amazing job. You can go to my website and check it out there.
I have done some print media in the past and although it’s kinda cool when friends walk up to you and say, “Hey I saw your article in the paper!” it really doesn’t translate to sales.
What are you working on at the minute?
Right now I’m writing the 2nd book in a Children’s Steampunk series titled, The Jupiter Chronicles: The Ice Orphan of Ganymede. It’s geared towards struggling readers in the 2nd grade and on up.
What’s it about?
The series focuses on two kids (Ian and Callie Castillo) who have just discovered their missing father had been the ruler of the steam-powered world of Jupiter. It also explains how steam technology arrived on Earth and forever changed our world.
In closing . . .
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never, ever give up. I know that sounds a tad cliché but because this is such a difficult road for the writer there are too many opportunities to quit especially when you’re turned down by publishers and agents. I have a file folder full of rejections letters that I keep for the sole purpose of showing them to my daughter when she feels like quitting something that she has a passion for. By no means am I saying that I’ve arrived at the place that I want to be in my career but someday I will get there.
So will you.
Leonardo Ramirez is a husband, a father, a Karate instructor with a 3rd degree black belt, and a writer. His first graphic novel, Haven, is a supernatural Young Adult story centered on an ancient war between the Dante family and the nine circles of hell. His follow up is a self-published children’s Steampunk book called The Jupiter Chronicles: The Secret of the Great Red Spot. It follows the adventure of two children as they are transported to the steam-powered cities of Jupiter, find their long-lost father, stop an attack from Mars, and witness the birth of Steampunk.
“My heart and motive have always been for people who are hurting. These can be kids who have had to suffer through child abuse or neglect or an absent parent which can be equally torturous as was the case in The Jupiter Chronicles. It can also be young girls who have suffered an assault like Haven did in Haven of Dante. Young or old it doesn’t matter. Those are the kids and adults I want to speak to because I’ve been there.”
It’s not just Science Fiction.
It’s Science Fiction for the Human Condition.
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