Silvio Sirias’s most recent novel is The Saint of Santa Fe (Anaphora Literary Press). He is also the author of Bernardo and the Virgin (2005) and Meet Me under the Ceiba (2009), winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for Best Novel. In addition, he is the author of a collection of essays titled Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions. The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature lists him among the handful of authors who are introducing Central American themes into the U.S. literary landscape.
Purchase The Saint of Santa Fe on Amazon.
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
The answer to that question has evolved over the years. I first I sought recognition—fortune and fame. Now that I’m older it’s about leaving behind something of myself.
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
Fame and fortune only happen to a lucky chosen few. If a writer can accept this reality, then the act of writing becomes a quest to learn more about the craft with each project. Perks? Touching others with your tales. Demands? Plenty! But if one is writing for the right reasons, then these are easy to live with.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I started off writing in the world of academia. Because of this, I’ve mainly worked with university presses. It is not a traditional route and a writer doesn’t ride it to fame and fortune; but publishing with university presses has certainly helped me create a readership base.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
My wife is a school administrator. Her job keeps her very, very busy. Also, we don’t have children—so you can say my family circumstances are ideal for writing.
This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
I am fortunate that our dog and four cats are grazers. We just have to fill their bowls when they’re getting empty. So I’m blessed in the pet front as well. In fact, the dog and one of the cats always keep me company, sleeping nearby when I write.
This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?
I live in Panama, in the tropics. Everyone has a green thumb here. But I also enjoy taking care of plants. When I water them, I use the time to think about writing.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
I am a teacher, but I’m also fortunate that, occasionally, I can take a couple of years off to write a book. When I am at home full-time, then, I don’t have a boss. All I need to do is to have dinner ready when my wife comes home. I write from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. After that, I do a few chores around the house. When I stay home to write I have a lovely schedule. In order to do this, however, my wife and I have chosen to live simple, debt-free lives.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
What happened while I was trying to place my second novel, Meet Me under the Ceiba, was actually rather sad. I had sent the manuscript to Sandy Taylor, owner of Curbstone Press. He was attuned to U.S. Latino and Latina literature as well as the history of Central America. He loved the idea of the novel and said would get back to me as soon as he read the manuscript. A couple of days later, I learned that Sandy has suffered a heart attack and passed away. We had both been excited at the prospect of working together. What had promised to be a wonderful publisher-author relationship came to an abrupt end. It still haunts me that his death occurred as we stood at that threshold.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
Facebook and Twitter help get the word out. Those are the two I focus on.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
So far I haven’t been blessed with impressive sales. But every time I put out a new novel the back catalog comes alive for a while. I take that as a sign that little by little I am picking up new readers.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
Although I should really be focusing on The Saint of Santa Fe, I am terribly excited about my next novel, The Season of Stories. It’s my first foray into young adult literature and I believe it has turned out quite, quite well. I can’t wait to see it in print.
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
It is true. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only thing I can wish for now is a long, long life because I have many, many more books to write.