Interview with Riya Anne Polcastro

What are you working on next?
Right now I am undoing all of the damage I did to my first (unpublished) novel in hopes of finding a traditional publisher. It is a super dark literary fiction entitled Jane. It started out at around 125,000 words and was subsequently cut down to under 90 thousand so I'm in the process of putting most of those words back and getting it ready for indie publication this fall. Jane. is a story about what it's like to go crazy. Willingly. And I really feel like without that extra meat the story and character development are lacking. Yes it will be one long novel but my beta readers were unanimous when they begged me not to cut anything and I am pretty confident in their judgement.

I also hope to have a middle grade novel out this fall. It is called Left Behind and it is based on the premise that there are others out there, but aliens are not who we think they are. They're the ones we left behind when we destroyed our first home planet. I am still trying to decide whether to release this under a different name as my literary work is very adult and I wouldn't want any young readers to pick up Suicide in Tiny Increments after reading it.
Who are your favorite authors?
My hands down favorite author / idol is Chuck Palahniuk. I also love Tolstoy, Christopher Moore, Ken Kesey, and Donald Ray Pollock.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Usually a hungry child or the dog that needs let out. No but really, needing to tell a story, get it out of me, well that doesn't hurt.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Mostly with my kids or at work. I also like to ride my bike, rollerblade, and, when I can find someone to play against, "Get it Bitch" Tennis . . . which is essentially where you have to hit the ball no matter what. Doesn't matter if it hits the fence or what you better run for it! Double courts are the best because the whole thing is fair game.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I read most of the same authors via ebook as I do in print editions. I also like to get the free public domain books so right now I'm re-reading Anna Karenina.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was about horses. I told it more than wrote it since I was only like four and couldn't actually write yet. My grandmother wrote it down for me and it was like two pages, which is probably pretty impressive for that age, and I illustrated it. We did a lot of that in kindergarten. We would tell the teacher a story, they would type it out, and then we would draw pictures and bind it all into a book with yarn and covers made out of construction paper. I'm guessing that's how this whole writer thing got started.
What is your writing process?
A story starts somewhere inside of me, I'm not really sure where or how, but it starts clawing and digging and I pretty much have to let it out. I write because I have to. Because the story has to be told. It demands it! Ideas come on their own, I don't have much control there. And once they're out of the box I kind of have to let the characters do whatever they want. If I try to force them to do or be what I want . . . well that's just a disaster in the making.
How do you approach cover design?
I start with a mock up and explore how to make it work. The cover for Suicide in Tiny Increments started as a hand drawn bathroom man symbol in the same position that you see him on the cover. I enlisted my best friend to create a computerized image. After a few tries she mentioned that it might look really cool made out of construction paper so I tried that, which evolved into the diorama that you see on the cover. I made it myself and then paid a professional photographer to take the front cover photo. Then I used GIMP to design the rest of it myself and voila!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Dark and hilarious. Enough said.
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Wow. Just wow. Tolstoy just has this way of understanding people and exposing their motivations. Perspective! It's all about perspective! In that manner I think Tolstoy has had the single biggest impact of any author on my writing.
3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. I saw the movie first and I loved it. When I finally read the book WOW! It kind of made me not like the movie for awhile. Too much was left out. Integral stuff!
4. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. Ok maybe this is one case where maybe just maybe the movie was better. But it's the spirit of the book that drew me in. The way that it challenges what crazy is, what it means to be crazy, how people come to be crazy . . . it had a huge impact on my thought process and how I approach mental illness in my own writing.
5. The Nuclear Age by Tim O'brien. I just love stories about crazy people.
What do you read for pleasure?
Dark literary fiction and comedy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth. My ebook is actually not doing very well at all. Almost all of my sales have been paperbacks and most of those have been face to face. Which is cool because I get to sign most copies in person, but on the downside those sales never show up in my numbers. I've tried various advertising for the ebook but nothing has been successful unfortunately. I have also been soliciting reviews and hope that will help. For better or worse the book I have out now, as well as the next one I will release, are the type that have to find their niche organically. They're not mainstream genre fluff. If they're going to succeed they will have to find a cult following.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Between Salem, OR US and Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. I call my hometown Crazytown because there have got to be more crazy people per capita in Salem than anywhere else in the world. It's hardly a big city but it's home to the state mental hospital and like five penitentiaries. And when people release where do you think they take up residence? We've got tons of group homes and halfway houses for people who are seriously mentally ill so you encounter a lot of interesting characters around town. Living in Salem really prepares you for anything. Not much can phase you after this place. On the other hand, since I lived in Tecate during my formative years I actually learned to read and write in Spanish before I learned to do so in English. Spanish has a completely different sentence structure and verb conjugations are way more intense andI think this taught me to use language and words in a very different way than most American storytellers.
Published 2014-08-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Jane
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 116,800. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Transgressional fiction, Fiction » Urban
Somewhere out there is a line in the sand between sanity and insanity. Jane searches that line out, toys with it, revels in it, and then takes a running leap right over it.
Left Behind Book Two: Brave New Planet
Series: Left Behind Trilogy. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 46,870. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
After learning the truth about their home planet in The Forbidden Voyage, thirteen year old aliens Endirion and Harlo find themselves on the run and blasting through space in a stolen ship, hurtling toward a whole new world, a Brave New Planet,and a whole new adventure complete with new friends, disguises, a high speed chase, a heroic pitbull named Daisy, and much, much more.
Left Behind Book One: The Forbidden Voyage
Series: Left Behind Trilogy. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,150. Language: English. Published: June 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Children’s books » Dystopian
What would you do if everything you were taught about your home planet was a lie? What would you do if you were Left Behind? Join Endirion and Harlo, two alien boys determined to find out the truth, who set off on a dangerous journey that pits them against angry marshals, mysterious animals, mutant humanoids, and lands them in the belly of a Monstruwhale.
The Last Magdalene: A Novella
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,890. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure, Fiction » Women's fiction » Feminist
Set in a dystopian future so obsessed with physical beauty that girls and women are kidnapped and dismembered for their perfect body parts, The Last Magdalene is a fast paced novella that is sure to give even the most jaded reader goose bumps.
The Truth about Cows: a Polcastro Reader
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 26,930. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
With everything from heart wrenching memoir to dark transgressive laughs and unexpected tales of noir, The Truth about Cows is a collection of shorts perfect for a quick read wherever you might need one.
Suicide in Tiny Increments
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 53,440. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy, Fiction » Literature » Literary
(5.00)
Too scared to kill himself but also too scared to live, Daniel Long is a sad, pathetic man; a miserable martyr of depression. Trapped in his self-made ennui, the smartest decision he ever made was to take a hit out on his own life.