1. What books/authors have influenced you and why?
I wish I could say that I love the English literature classics, or that I know all the best known Brazilian authors ... but that would be a lie. My family was never a fan of reading, and I was one of those kids who does everything to skip the required reads for school. (Though I’ve always enjoyed the writing projects.)
The books that really got me into reading were the ones I recognized myself in. The ones that spoke to me in my own teenage language. The ones that told the stories I wanted to live.
Stephenie Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, Lauren Kate, and Stephanie Perkins are some of the authors who made me discover these kinds of stories when I was already in my early twenties. And I haven’t stop reading them since.
2. How do you develop your plot and characters?
To be completely honest, I don’t know. LOL
So far it has always started with an actual dream that excites me enough to keep me daydreaming about it. And if I can’t stop obsessing with this idea for like a week, I know it’s time to sit and write. So I usually take some days off from work, buy enough ready-to-eat food, and let my imagination flow onto the pages for about 4-5 days straight.
I absolutely love this part! It’s when I immerse myself in this imaginary world and feel every emotion my characters are living, discovering the story with them as it unfolds itself. I do nothing but write what comes to my mind, no place for rational thinking or judgment at this point. And when I’m done, I usually have a 40-50K word first draft with most of the scenes and dialogues.
Only when I start the rewriting part (that will take me months!), I allow myself to actually think about structure, character development, and plot. But, to my surprise, the story never changes much in the end. I basically just add the descriptions, dialogue tags, and some “blurry parts” of the plot I couldn’t properly “see” the first time. It usually takes me months to finish because I spend too much time doing research, fixing the spelling/punctuation, and worrying about all the errors I might be making from writing in a foreign language.
That’s probably why I developed this special editing technique. When I finish rewriting a chapter, I record myself reading it with my phone and make an audiobook! Listening to it again and again helps me see the whole story all at once and find the mistakes/repetitions in the text. I feel much more confident then, knowing that if I missed something with my eyes, my ears will help me catch it!
3. Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
Linda loves with all her heart, and that’s both her trait and her weakness. Love makes us braver, stronger—so Linda uses that in her favor and doesn’t hesitate going after what she wants.
She trusts those she loves unconditionally and is willing to do anything for them. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they actually deserved her trust. So, she ends up being naive and making a lot of mistakes along the way, for only listening to her heart.
4. Same with your antagonist.
“Impostor Alec” definitely doesn’t deserve Linda’s trust. But his actions are also guided by his heart and this overwhelming love he feels for her. Sometimes when we love too much we end up going too far, and—like in the catfish’s case—doing the exact opposite of what we wanted to do: hurting the person we love the most.
5. What are your current/future projects?
Right now, I’m writing the second book of THE GUY HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE series, the last one in Linda’s point of view. And I may or may not be jumping into a third one after that, in which I’ll go back to the first time Linda talked to “Alec” online, and tell the other side of the story, from the impostor’s point of view.
6. What has been a fascinating writing research experience for you? Does a memory stick with you?
OMG, the research for this series was the most delicious thing ever! Bringing Alec Brock to life made me discover all these young artists and bands—that I considered myself too old to listen to—like Harry Styles (and One Direction), Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, 5 Seconds of Summer, The Vamps! I got completely obsessed with them, especially with Brad from The Vamps and Harry Styles!
During the writing process, all my breaks were spent watching their videos on YouTube—even when I didn’t have any research to do. So, Alec definitely ended up having a lot more of Brad, Shawn, and Harry than I’d initially planned. And my iPod is still (shamelessly) monopolized by their songs. LOL
7. Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I’m a huge morning person, so I like to wake up before the sunrise and go exercise/meditate. That’s when I have my best ideas.
Then, after my shower and a good healthy breakfast, I’m ready to write for the rest of the day (or until I have to go to my “day job”).
8. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you? (website, blog, social media?) Please include links.
I’m very active on social media and they can find all the links on my website (https://www.lalalopes.com). I’ll be more than happy to connect and have a chat with them!
9. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
“It’s just a wave.” The pain, the despair, the darkness, nothing lasts forever—it will all pass. So stay strong, never give up. “You’ll emerge from the water, you’ll break through the wave.”
10. What does literary success look like to you?
Being proud of what you’ve written. Regardless of how much recognition it might have someday, to me, being successful means that I’ve done my best and I’m proud of my work. I don’t think success can be measured by what others think of you, only by what you think of yourself.