Interview with Kermit Lopez: Author of Cibolero

Talking about his works, his writing habits and some advice to aspiring authors, among other things.

By Mayra Calvani
Published on LatinoLA: February 1, 2010

Interview with Kermit Lopez: Author of Cibolero

My guest today is Kermit Lopez, author of the novels Cibolero--a 2008 New Mexico Book Award Finalist!--and The Prodigy. He's touring the blogosphere with BronzeWord Latino Book Tours. In this interview, he talks about his works, his writing habits and he also offers some advice to aspiring authors, among other things. I hope you'll enjoy the interview!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

A: I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico with my wife and son and daughter. I grew up in Albuquerque and have been writing fiction off and on since high school.

After graduating from the University of New Mexico (UNM) with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, I attended the UNM School of Law and graduated with a law degree. My law legal practice specializes in patent law.

My writing interests range from historical fiction to science fiction.

Q: You're the author of Cibolero and The Prodigy, two very different novels. Would you tell us a little about each story and what inspired you to write them?

A: "The Prodigy" is a suspense thriller with an intellectual property (patents) component. In my "day job" as a patent attorney, I have wondered why there is not much popular fiction dealing with the subject of intellectual property and in particular, patents, inventions and inventors. There was a novel from the 1960's ‘«Ű "The Paper Dragon" by Evan Hunger ‘«Ű which dealt with copyright issues, but very few that deal directly with patents.

In "The Prodigy," inventor Neil Dressler is found murdered in his home and his work destroyed. Suspicions turn immediately to Neil's son, fifteen-year-old Patrick Dressler. Determined to clear his name, the boy flees from the authorities. He is pursued relentlessly by a shady patent attorney, a determined FBI agent convinced of the boy's guilt, and a billionaire industrialist who knows that Patrick is more than simply the troubled adolescent son of a would-be-inventor. These men soon learn that Patrick, a former child prodigy, is the only living person who possesses the knowledge necessary to reproduce his father's invention, and they will do whatever it takes to find him.

"Cibolero" is a completely different story, and stems from family stories I heard growing up in New Mexico. My family is descended from the colonists who accompanied Juan de O??ate to New Mexico in 1599, and from later waves of settlers from Mexico in the 1600's and 1700's. We are also descended from the Genizaros ‘«Ű Hispanicized Indians from New Mexico whom the Spanish settled in the frontier outposts of New Mexico, in the late 1600's and early 1700's. It was this research into my family history and the history of New Mexico in general that formed the basis of "Cibolero".

"Cibolero" is set in a later period and tells the tale of Antonio Baca, a former "Cibolero" or buffalo hunter, who pursues his daughter's kidnappers in Post-Civil War era New Mexico and Texas. "Cibolero" is a fictionalized account of the Hispanic experience before and after the conquest of the Southwest by the United States.

On one level, "Cibolero" is an action-oriented adventure tale as Antonio Baca sets out to rescue his daughter from an invading band of Texas Rangers using his skills as a Cibolero hunter. On another level, "Cibolero" deals with racism, ethnicity and society in the "old West" and the historical ties of large parts of the present western United States to Mexico and Spain. "Cibolero" is a fictionalized account of a true but overlooked part of U.S. history.

As someone in New Mexico once said: "If the pilgrims had gone to Santa Fe instead of Plymouth Rock, they would have a warm bed and a hot meal that night."

Q: How is your writing schedule like? Are you disciplined?

A: My self-discipline sets in when I finally set out to work on a project. However, several years may actually pass between projects as was the case with "The Prodigy" and "Cibolero". During my last project ‘«Ű Cibolero ‘«Ű I tried to write for about a half-hour to an hour during the weekdays and longer during the weekends.

Q: What comes easiest for you--narration, dialogue, or description? What do you find the hardest?

A: I would say dialogue comes easiest, particularly when I am in the "zone" of drafting conversations between characters. During those times, it's easy to become caught up with the dialogue and it seems to flow as if I'm actually watching the characters in front of me. Narration and description, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult. I approach both narration and description slowly, sometimes outlining a scene before actually attempting to write the scene.

Q: Who are some of the authors you admire?

A: To name a few: Ken Follett, Gore Vidal, Isaac Asimov, Larry McMurtry

Q: Are you an aggressive book promoter? Would you share with us some of your book marketing techniques?

A: Sorry to say that I'm not an aggressive book promoter. I go through periods of intense marketing activity, perhaps several weeks of book promotion only to be followed by long periods of inactivity. I have found, however, that the Internet has become an invaluable tool for marketing my book, via the Cibolero promotional website and various types of social networking media.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring novelists?

A: Just keep writing and don't give up. There will always be naysayers and negative people. My advice is just to ignore such people, but of course, be open to constructive criticism. You can always learn something new.

Q: Do you have a website and blog where readers may learn more about your work?

A: http://www.cibolero.com
Click here to find out more!

About Mayra Calvani:
Award-winning, multigenre author of 8 books for children and adults and the Latino Books Examiner for Examiner.com.
Author's website

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