Digital Journal interviews Anne-Rae Vasquez about Doubt
The homepage featured author Anne-Rae Vasquez’s interview with Digital Journal about her latest work Doubt, book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy.
Here is the article from Digital Journal below. To read the full article, click here.
Vancouver – Young adult paranormal science fiction thriller is how author Anne-Rae Vasquez describes her newly released novel “Doubt”, book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy.
Digital Journal had the opportunity to interview Ms. Vasquez about her latest fiction trilogy.
DJ: Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Vasquez: The Among Us Trilogy is about a group of outcasts (online gamers) who band together to investigate who or what is behind the catastrophic events happening around the world. Doubt mashes fringe science, corporate espionage and paranormal encounters to catapult you into an out-of-this-world experience. When I first started writing Doubt, I was shaping out who would be the hero of my story and I decided that I wanted someone like the late Aaron Swartz, intelligent beyond his years, courageous and a seeker of truth and justice. Doubt is also a tribute to Aaron’s memory so that young people can be inspired to uphold Aaron’s determination for everyone to use their talents to help make the world a better place. I was also inspired by a young documentary filmmaker and activist, Harry Fear, whose coverage of the conflict in the Middle East was watched by millions on UStream all over the world. Both Aaron and Harry are real truth seekers, which were my main inspirations for the main character Harry Doubt. I have taken this same theme of Truth Seeking and applied it to the fictional story ‘Doubt’.
DJ: Why did you choose online gamers to be the protagonists in your novel?
Vasquez: My kids were asking me why I don’t write books that they could read. I made my writing something they would be interested in. I learned to appreciate how gamers’ skills in the gaming world could be applied to the real world. So why not have gamers as heroes who save the world from super natural powers?
DJ: If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?
Vasquez: I’d invite the unnamed seekers of truth out there especially those who gave up their lives to fight for truth and justice. In addition, I’d invite truth seekers: Aaron Swartz, Harry Fear, Heromine Granger, Linus Pauling, and Gene Shoemaker. And to entertain them, I’d invite John Lennon (my childhood hero), Johnny Depp (straight up good guy and actor), Jeffrey Dawson (good actor), Joshua Jackson (a Canadian actor) and Justin Timberlake and Jay Z (so that they can perform their hit song “Suit and Tie” for me and my kids).
DJ: Why do you write? Have you always enjoyed writing?
Vasquez: I can’t help it. I’ve always liked writing since I was a kid. When I was in grade school, I used to write and create humorous comic books with my fictional characters. This led me to turn the stories into a radio show which I recorded on my boom box and shared with friends and family. It was tricky because some of my characters highly resembled some family members (who thankfully didn’t connect the dots). Naturally for me, I started writing poems, short stories, screenplays, technical books, and novels. This is my first time to write a Trilogy.
DJ: What book genre of books do you adore?
Vasquez: I love thrillers, cultural fiction, supernatural, apocalypse, biographies, paranormal, mysteries, and probably anything that is written well.
DJ: What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Vasquez: All three. I’ve been published, I write, and now I market my own work. It’s all hard but the last two are the most fulfilling.
DJ: What marketing works for you?
Vasquez: I hate marketing to be honest with you. But I do love giving things away, sharing, reaching out to people, helping others, connecting with those who might enjoy my work. I guess that’s called marketing but I don’t see it that way. I don’t like the “buy my book” thing at all, although my public relations manager is going to wag her finger at me later for saying it again.
DJ: Do you find it hard to share your work? Vasquez: No, I’m not shy about sharing my work. Not everyone is going to like it. I know because I don’t like everything I read. But if someone wants to read my work, I’m happy to let them take a look. DJ: How often do you write? And what is the process?
Vasquez: I write in spurts. Then I drag my developmental author into a room where she can rip it apart and massage it or punch me out. Then we sit and rewrite it and then go through it again. We let it sit and then visit it again and re-work, re-edit. When we finally get to a point where we need more input, then we call on our beta readers and my critique partner to give us feedback. We have some that love it and some that hate it and then we go back and try to rework it again. Finally when it is done, we send it off to professional editors to polish the book off.
DJ: What’s your next project?
Vasquez: “Resist”, book 2 of the Among Us Trilogy.
DJ: What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Vasquez: My favourite quote is one that I wrote:
“Writing is emotional. It is baring your soul to the world and waiting for someone to acknowledge and love it, or shun and hate it, or worse be indifferent about it.” — Anne-Rae Vasquez
DJ: How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
Vasquez: I inject a lot of culture in my stories no matter what the genre. I come from a mixed background and witnessed many clashes between both sides of the family especially from the different cultural traditions and ways of life. I like to throw my characters into situations where they have to overcome cultural differences to achieve their goals.
DJ: Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Vasquez: I usually write by myself but I learned that being the Lone Ranger is not the best way to write. Thankfully, when I was writing Doubt, my developmental editor was by my side. It was mostly a collaboration of minds, although we frequently butted heads. But the outcome, once we ironed things out, was pure magic. In addition, my team of beta readers participated in missions (in the theme of the book) and also provided further feedback of each chapter. I also worked with my critique partner who helped shake up the story and make it richer. Finally, the manuscript went through copy and proof editors to refine the work and polish off the writing.
DJ: How did you come up with the title?
Vasquez: Aaron Swartz who passed away in early 2013 and Harry Fear, two young truth seekers were the inspiration for my book’s main character Harry Doubt. The title Doubt not only is a play on the main character’s last name but also reflects how the characters question the reality of the world they live.
DJ: Can you tell us about your main characters?
Vasquez: Harry is a former child prodigy and tech genius. He created the popular online game the Truth Seekers. His best friend, Cristal is also a talented and intelligent programmer. Her father went missing when she was a child. She senses that there is something different about her but she cannot bring herself to admit it.
DJ: How did you develop your plot and characters?
Vasquez: The story mixes social media communications such as text messaging and video messaging as a form of communication between characters as they go on missions to find their family members. All characters have aliases and avatars, which are displayed as a splash page image at the beginning of the book. The official website of the book (amongus.ca) also has detailed M.O.’s of the characters so readers can also view and interact with the characters on the website.
The story although geared to young adult/ early adult readers is also entertaining for general readers who are interested in the supernatural, sci/fi urban fantasy, apocalyptic genres with themes similar to the TV show Fringe (by J.J. Abrams).
As an indie filmmaker, journalist and web design programmer, I tell stories in multiple mediums. Doubt (book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy) was literally created from an interactive online reality game that I created with the help of my developmental editor, Josefina Rosado. The official website www.AmongUs.ca interacts with visitors allowing them to participate as Truth Seekers following the theme of the story. I wanted to give readers another way to connect with my story. Entertainment does not need to be contained in one medium. I believe in telling your story in many mediums. Using this approach to write Doubt, I also allowed fans to participate and shape the story. This has helped build the fan base and also promote the book launch. The release of the book was on November 9, 2013 and because of this approach, Doubt was featured at the Raindance Book Festival.
DJ: How do you promote this book?
Vasquez: We’re currently doing a book launch tour online and at live events. Fortunately, the Raindance Book Festival on November 9th was a perfect venue to launch “Doubt”. The festival provided us the platform to have a live event attended by hundreds of people which we UStreamed to our fans all over the world. On our book launch day, we connected with other authors at the festival and exposed our book to a lot of attendees. Currently, we are marketing “Doubt” to book review bloggers and social media sites; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, our blog, GoodReads, Amazon, Kindle groups, etc.
We also are hosting giveaways on our blog, GoodReads and Library Thing. We are really excited to be doing an Orangeberry Book Blog Tour, which starts on Dec 30th with over 25 blog stops. During the tour, we are scheduling more giveaways, interviews and social media events.
Recently, we did a KDP Select free day where almost 6000 people downloaded my novella “Truth Seekers” which is Part 1 of the full novel “Doubt.” It is like a ‘Try before you buy’ approach. If readers like the novella, we know they will purchase the novel Doubt for the whole story.
DJ: Will you write others in this same genre?
Vasquez: Yes, I will be writing books 2 and 3 of the Among Us Trilogy in the urban fantasy paranormal apocalyptic thriller genres. Although the books will mainly appeal to fans of young adult/ early adult fiction, readers of all ages will enjoy the story.
DJ: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Vasquez: I believe that there is a truth seeker in all of us whether we want to admit it or not. Some people will reject the idea while others will open their eyes and embrace it.
DJ: How much of the book is realistic?
Vasquez: The time travel part. Seriously.
DJ: Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
Vasquez: I plead the fifth.
DJ: How important do you think villains are in a story?
Vasquez: In all my stories, I am particularly fond of my female character villains. Evil characters are the spice that bring the story to life. As an author, the best part of writing is writing in the wicked characters, as it allows me to let loose my dark side . DJ: Have you started another book yet? Vasquez: My developmental editor and I sketched out a storyline prior to writing the first book in the trilogy. So technically, yes I have started the next book but it is still in the early stages of development.
DJ: Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
Vasquez: It is because of my readers that I continue to write. Without them, my work is meaningless. I thank them for their support and encouragement.
DJ: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Vasquez: The thrill that readers are enjoying the book and telling me they can’t wait to read book 2.
About Anne-Rae Vasquez
Anne-Rae Vasquez is a freelance journalist for Digital Journal, author, filmmaker and web designer. Her latest novel, Doubt, is the first book in the Among Us Trilogy series. Her other works include: the novel and screenplay for the award winning feature film and web series Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, Salha’s Secrets to Middle Eastern Cooking Cookbook Volume 1, Gathering Dust – a collection of poems, and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by Sams.net (a division of Macmillan Publishing). Almost a Turkish Soap Opera was her feature screenplay and film directorial debut.
• Twitter: @write2film
• Website: AmongUs[dot]ca
• Official book trailer: YouTube channel – AR Films