My name is Anthony Avina. I’m 25 years old, and I live in Southern California. I have a Yorkshire Terrier named Sammy, and am an avid horror fan. I’m venturing out into the romance world for the first time, and am proud of the work I’ve done in this upcoming novella.
Tell us about your latest book.
VOID is the story of six friends who must band together to overcome great tragedy or hardships in their lives to find hope. I’ve written this contemporary romance/drama to serve as a modern day play of sorts, taking the reader through three acts to showcase these six characters’ lives. I delve into many current topics in this novella, from sexual identity and marriage to loss and blossoming romance. It takes place in Los Angeles, and revolves around six friends in their twenties who must navigate life together.
What do you have coming out in the future?
I’m actually working on a few projects. I am writing two short stories, a science fiction novel (the first chapter of which is featured at the end of VOID), and I have already finished a Noir/Thriller set in modern times that is set for the editing stage.
Is your book a stand-alone or a series?
I had actually intended this to be a stand-alone story, but as I wrote the story I realized that there is room to grow these characters, and explore their relationships in future books, so now it has become the first in a series.
Why romance and what makes your particular brand of romance special?
I’ve always been a romantic at heart. I’ve always believed in the power that love represents, and ever since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to thoughtful, drawn out characters with deep seeded romantic relationships. While others were drawn out to films, tv shows and comic books for the goofy or action they might have, I was drawn to the relationships. My particular brand of romance focuses on equal love. That means I’m not really about writing the classic stories of strong men who take control and sweep a woman off her feet. I write romances in which each individual in the relationship is equal, and they must work at the relationship. I also make sure to write equal relationships in that there are straight and gay relationships, showcasing that love knows no sexual orientation.
Is romance the only genre that you write in or do you write in other genres? If so what other genres do you write in?
No, this is actually my first foray into the romance genre. I’ve become known as a horror writer, and have also written science fiction, fantasy, and even comic book related stories.
VOID explores the lives of six friends, each dealing with personal struggles that are difficult to overcome. This novella is written almost like a modern play. The story is set up in three acts, taking the reader through an emotional roller coaster ride through the lives of these six characters.
VOID explores a lot of themes that reflect the lives being led throughout the world now. Sexual identity, marriage, loss, abuse and more themes are showcased in this novella. Through their tragedy, these six friends will learn the true meaning of family, friendship and love.
Actually yes, I use people in my life as characters all the time. I even have one character in VOID that is loosely based on me, so I’m constantly using people in my life for inspiration.
What authors inspire your writing?
Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Green, Cassandra Clare.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I am either playing video games, reading, watching shows or going out with friends or family.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
Interestingly, the title for the book was not my original title. The working title had been Notes of Hope and Despair, but as I wrote the story out, I realized VOID sounded better, and it fit right into the story. Often times when people go through hard times, they find the road back towards those they love and true happiness is like crossing a great chasm, or like they are trapped in an endless void, but with a little help they cross that void and reach the other side of that chasm.
What is your absolute favorite book or books and why is it special to you?
My all-time favorite books are The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. This series enraptured me from the beginning, with its infamous opening line, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed”. You instantly wanted to find out what was going on, and that one line sparked an entire subculture of Stephen King fans. The series has all my favorite genres and elements, from fantasy and horror to action, adventure, and deep seated romance and true relationships that are palpable and addicting to be invested in.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
For the purposes of this question, I’ll single out two of the six characters. For the character Javier, I’d choose Tyler Posey, because if he put on a little weight, (Javier is a bigger guy), this could be a good chance to showcase his talent outside of his typecast as a supernatural TV actor. For the role of Pamela, I’d choose Shailene Woodley, because she captures that soulful, powerful presence that Pamela has, and can melt you heart while standing firm on her own two feet, which would make a good pairing with Tyler.
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
Although I have a special place in my heart for Javier and Pamela, my favorite character to explore was Jasper Collins. One of the six friends, his struggle is with coming out to his parents as a gay man. His father is a strict, hard-nosed religious man, (a pastor in fact), and his mom follows his dad like he’s the direct line to God. Jasper, who is not religious and who is getting to a place in his life where he’s accepting of who he is, struggles because he knows he’ll lose his parents once he comes out to them, but he also doesn’t want to hide who he is any longer. I love this character so much because I’ve been a big supporter of the LGBT community for years, and I wanted to include this character to showcase the struggles a young man would face in today’s world with parents like that. I also am excited to explore his story more down the road in future installments as well.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences?
It may seem cliché or unoriginal, but my biggest inspiration and influence on my writing and my life in general has been my mom. I’ve struggled with physical disabilities for years, and they were passed on genetically through my family, so I had spent most of my life watching my mom struggle with the same diseases. She’s been such a big supporter of me over the years, and has never once judged me, held back on letting me know when something works and when something doesn’t, and has always pushed me to believe in myself. She’s shown me through her own work as a journalist and head of her own entertainment magazine that these disabilities don’t have to define you, but that they are just one small part of us. She’s given me the strength and courage to venture out into the unknown and pursue my dream of writing. She’s the strongest person I know, and she’s always let me choose my own beliefs and views on life, never once influencing me or pushing me towards one direction or another, and for that I’ll always be grateful. Thank you for everything mom, (if you’re reading this), and I love you.
What is your preferred writing environment?
Although I currently have to write in a small room in my house in a desert town in California, my optimum writing environment would be in my own office in my home, which would hopefully be located in or near a big city like Los Angeles, where I could hear the sound of the people from the streets and hear the city come to life all around me. I feel more inspired and creative in a city environment.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
I usually write out a general guideline for the story, but as I write it out I let my mind go and let the story kind of write itself, taking it in different directions I may never have thought of if I’d planned it all out.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
When I was a sophomore in high school. I was taking my first creative writing class, and I fell in love with the writing process instantly. I usually went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to writing assignments, and found the homework was actually fun, rather than work. I’ve been coming up with ideas for stories in my head for years, and when the opportunity presented itself, I knew that writing was my true path in life.
What is your favorite quote?
There are so many, it’s hard to choose just one. I have my all-time favorite quote from the movie Memento, but because it’s a long one, I’ll choose this really nice quote that I’ve always loved. If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
Do you have any advice for other writers and what is it?
My only advice would be to stick to what you love, and don’t conform to anyone’s ideas of standards. There are writers who are more intellectual with their work, and there are writers who prefer to entertain. Neither one is better than the other. Just be yourself and keep working at your craft. I’m still learning new things each and every day. That’s what makes a better writer.
Wild Card Question.
As an author, what is the one question that you wish people would ask you, but no one ever has and what would your answer be to that question?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. The one question I wish people would ask me is, “What do you think is waiting for us as a society in the future?”
My answer to that would be this: I think that our future is what the future for previous generations has always been. It’s a brighter future, filled with endless possibilities. There is so much to be fearful of, from disease and crime to climate change and war. It seems like there is always some new scare, some new threat to our future that makes the future seem bleak. I’m sure the people living during WWII felt the same way. With technology advancing us towards a more innovative future, and the judgmental people becoming a minority in the world rather than the majority, people are becoming more independent. Gay marriage is finally legal in the United States. No one would have thought that possible for years to come, and yet it happened. Other freedoms and other deadly thought processes will be changed as the years advance, and new outlooks on life will hopefully help change the things we cannot in this day and age. So how do I see the future? I see myself sitting with the one I love, watching the world venturing out into the cosmos, and extending what it means to be human. The possibilities are limitless, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.