Interview with A.G. Rodriguez
How did you become a writer?
I guess I started when I was kid. I would write stories for my mom. She still has one that is several pages long with the word “very” repeated about a hundred times. That desire to tell stories never left. I have been writing ever since, short stories, poetry, comic strips, and in the past five years, full-length manuscripts.
What inspires you to write?
There are a number of things that inspire me to write. I love hearing and telling stories, whether short anecdotes or novels, stories are what drive me. If you take the time to be still and listen, you can find a story everywhere and I absolute love that.
I also find inspiration in my family, our history, and our culture. Those things are what moved me to write fantasy and science-fiction completely immersed in the Latinx experience.
How do you develop plot and characters?
Most of my plots and characters are born from my own experiences. STONE FEATHER FANG came about during a time of deep discovery about my history and that of the people and island of Puerto Rico. I was reading The Silmarillion and wondered what fantasy would be like if it drew from history and mythology of my people just as Tolkien drew from the legends of the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic peoples. Soon after that, I was brainstorming ideas and reshaping writing I already had to better represent that. The plot became grounded in those stories of the ancient Taínos and my own journey to a deeper understanding of who I am.
I’ve always kind of felt like my characters were simply different manifestations of myself. So in developing certain characters, I would write some traits I wish I had or I would over-exaggerate a trait or flaw of mine and then flesh that out as a character. It is amusing to me, though, to see different versions of myself, sort of parallel mes, come to life and interact with each other. Very rarely I’ll encounter someone with such irresistible personality or interesting mannerisms that I just have to turn them into a character in my stories.
Tell me about your protagonist. What’s your favorite trait and/or weakness?
STONE FEATHER FANG has two protagonists: Hildy, a teenage priestess struggling with her calling, and Jenaro, a prince who forsakes his birthright to sail the world. I love Hildy’s genuine compassion and concern for others. She’s always worried about her family and friends and even those who look up to her as a priestess. That love for others is her greatest trait. Jenaro has the confidence and swagger I never had. Yes, it may get him in trouble, but he never looks back and never regrets his actions.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
Yes and no. I always start my writing with rough outlines. From there I grab my pen and paper (yes, I still put pen to paper to write most of my first drafts) and write. I will also type sections out but my flow is better when I handwrite. I try to stay away from rituals and routines like favorite pens, certain times of day to write, and things of that nature simply because it makes writing very mechanical, strategic, and calculating and, at least for me, I prefer my writing to flow more naturally, to come about in a raw and emotional way.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
This is always a tough question because I never feel as if I am in a position to offer up advice. But, I guess I would say the same thing I said to myself. Don’t be afraid to fail. Writing is hard work, and much of that struggle will never be seen by others. You’re going to fail, whether it’s to finish a project, or get that piece published, or write that story that you’ve always wanted to write. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, or take chances, or challenge yourself. Write that story you’ve wanted to write. Try a new genre or style. Send that query. Submit that story. Take every opportunity you can get.
Readers are welcome to follow my social media and interact with me on Twitter and Instagram! @agrwrites