Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Book Stories: Sunstruck by Mayra Calvani

Our First Book Stories special feature continues today with author Mayra Calvani. I've known Mayra for many years. I've read most of her books, including the one she'll be talking about today. Her books often rank as Amazon bestsellers, and she'll be going on tour in June with her latest children's book, Frederico, the Mouse Violinist.

Beginnings by Mayra Calvani

From the time I was about eleven, I loved writing stories. Writing fiction was my special talent, what made me stand out among my peers. Later, in my mid-teens, I seriously began picturing myself as a published author. The possibility of holding my own book in my hands and seeing it on bookshelves was a thrilling fantasy to have. I remember being asked in class what we planned to do with our lives. We were supposed to stand up and answer and, of course, I answered ‘I’m going to be an author.’ Agatha Christie was a big influence back then. I think I had read all of her novels by the time I turned fifteen. In those days, I also read a lot of Barbara Cartland and Janet Daily. I gobbled up their books and dreamed of becoming a known author just like them some day.

I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen. It was a Harlequin-type romance. However, that isn’t the book I’ll be discussing here because, naturally, that one never got published! It just ended up being passed around the class (behind our teacher’s back) and guiltily devoured in secret by my friends. I wrote many short stories and another novel during my early twenties, but it wasn’t until I was twenty four, that I sat down to really write a book intended for publication. Back then, the novel was titled At the Time of Dinosaurs, and it was a parody/satire about the artistic scene in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I grew up.

The conception of this book stemmed from two factors: my personal observations of Puerto Rican artists when I was a teen and my love for satiric writing. My mother was-and still is-an artist, and although she’s ‘retired’ now, back in the early eighties she was an active painter in San Juan, showing her works at art exhibits and galleries regularly. She took me everywhere with her, so I attended all these shows and activities and I observed.

Let me tell you something, the art scene can be extremely interesting and that is because so many artists are eccentric, unconventional people. There’s so much competition, jealousy and gossip! Anyway, I guess all these experiences must have made an impression on me. When the time came to write my book, I knew these were the people and situations I wanted to write about. I decided I would make the book a parody, this way I could keep it upbeat and have the freedom to exaggerate to the point of being ridiculous. I was sure an upbeat, sharp, satiric, darkly humorous style would be perfect for my novel.

Since that time, the novel has gone through two published versions. A final version, titled Sunstruck, was published by Zumaya Publications in 2009: http://zumayapublications.com/title.php?id=27

Sunstruck is now available in Kindle and Nook:



Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She’s co-author of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner. She’s had over 300 stories, articles, interviews and reviews published. In addition, she’s co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine. A reviewer for more than a decade, she now offers numerous book reviewer workshops online. Visit her website at http://www.mayracalvani.com/. For her children’s books, visit http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/.

Visit us again on Thursday, when our special guest will be mystery novelist Aaron Paul Lazar.


Pat McDermott said...

Mayra, you sound like one busy lady. I enjoyed reading about your road to publication. Best of luck with all your writing!

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks, Pat! And thanks Cheryl for helping me promote my work!


Nicole weaver said...


Now I know about the inspiration behind Sunstruck. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Nicole Weaver
Trilingual Children's Author

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

You have a great story to tell, Mayra. I'm glad to learn the background on your first published book. I'm reading Sunstruck now. You've created some very colorful characters. Can't wait to see what happens to each of them.

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Mayra, one of the many things I like about you is your ability to share your experiences and wisdom freely with all of us, to give of yourself, your paths, your insights. Best wishes on Sunstruck and all of your good works! It's good to hear about what has inspired you, as you inspire us. Take care.

terri.forehand said...

Great post, always a pleasure learning how others find success.

Donna M. McDine said...


Experiences definitely shape our lives. Your memory of going to art exhibits with your mom sounds like a fascinating time.

Warm regards,
Children’s Author

Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Kit said...

Very interesting stuff, Mayra
Enjoyed it,
Kit Grady

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. That Mayra is a talented lady.

Mayra, I hope more readers check out this book. I certainly enjoyed it.

Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

So interesting to find out how your childhood experiences entered into writing your novel. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How I wish more people had your love of words, Mayra.