Cora J. Ramos writes short stories of mystery and suspense that have won awards and been published in the anthology, Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious.
Her first novel, Dance the Dream Awake, was published in June 2015, a paranormal romantic suspense set in present day, but with a past life of a Mayan life lived in the Yucatan, around 900 A.D.
Her second novel, Haiku Dance, is a historical romantic suspense set in the Heian, Japan of 980 A.D., when the pillow books (like Tales of Genji) were written and inspired this work. It was published May-2016.
Cora is a trained artist and loves to paint for her own pleasure and helps design her own book covers. She keeps journals of dreams, poems and inspiration for paintings and stories. Currently working on Dance the Edge, sequel to Dance the Dream Awake.
She is a member of International Sisters-in-Crime; San Joaquin Chapter (President); Central Coast Chapter and Romance Writers of America & local Yosemite Romance Writers Chapter
Beverley: What do you think makes a hero, either in real life or in books?Cora: A vulnerable character we feel for that pushes through to achieve something he/she desperately wants, especially in spite of their weaknesses or obstacles that may threaten to destroy them. It is central to human experience
Beverley: Is it important to have strong conflicts? If yes, inner or outer conflicts, or both?
Cora: Strong outer conflicts grab and hold our attention, but it’s the inner conflicts that engage our hearts and make for a more satisfying story when resolved.
Beverley: Who are your favorite heroes, and why?
Cora: They would be the wounded ones or the creative ones willing who go against the norm to bring forth changes. The men and women that struggle against some deep psychological wound that keeps reappearing in different circumstances until they recognize it and either resolve it or not.
Like Greek tragedies or Gothic romances. Odysseus or Jane Eyre. The heroes fight against not only the dangers in the real world, but the decisions they have to make within themselves that cause them to grow. Not always the best decisions, either, which is much more real. By their failures, we learn.
Or Alice who follows her heart and goes down that rabbit hole into the world of Wonderland and all it has to offer/teach her. Fearlessness.
Or James Bond with his no holds barred approach to life. Tongue-in-cheek cheekiness.
Beverley: Tell me about the heroes in your book/s.
Cora: In Dance the Dream Awake, Tessa has buried issues around her inability to open her heart to love. She struggles with fear and trust until these issues, stemming from an event from a Mayan past life. Those issues are revealed through the unfolding of archaeological finds, deceptions and three men she encounters in the jungles of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
In Haiku Dance, Shino, a young boy in 10th century Japan, is angry at his grandfather’s decision to send him away to be trained as a samurai because he lacks self discipline. As a young, disciplined samurai, he becomes dissatisfied with the state of the warrior class that fights for petty land lords. He envisions a solution to the injustices but struggles to bring about those changes. Then, after many years, he encounters his childhood love, Miyoshi, once again. He realizes he’s always loved her. Is he disciplined enough now to do what is necessary to keep her safe and find a way to transcend the obstacles that forbid the fruition of their love?
Beverley: How do you develop the characteristics for your hero?
Cora: I try to get inside their skin and write from their POV. I use psychological/Jungian tools of archetypal patterns of human nature—like the hero’s journey of Joseph Campbell and the Tarot. And the simple things people around me do, maybe magnified and more logical (because humans are not always logical).
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Cora: I’ve been writing for 28 years—a lot of short stories during that time while learning to write a novel. I have an anthology (with two writer friends) of some of those award winning short stories (Valley Fever, Where Murder is Contagious). I feel lucky to have learned to write a good short—a very important skill in my writer career.
Beverley: What genre do you write in and why?
Cora: I write romantic suspense (Haiku Dance is a historical romantic suspense) and I write short stories of mystery and suspense—with a touch of horror in some. As I mentioned above, I like stories that have a challenge to them, a hero’s journey—either successful, happy endings, or as in my short stories, not so much). Because everything in life does not end well and we learn from that—sometimes more than the happy ever after stories.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Cora: Not a person but a place. I had a déjà-vu event that happened in Mexico at one of the pyramids that inspired that first novel and got me writing. I helped found the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime (International Organization to support and advance the writing careers of women who write mystery) around that same time and my writer friends there suggested a writing teacher that taught me to write that first novel (while writing short stories for our local chapter and other contests). When you make that decision to write, opportunities open up.
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Cora: Making time to write. I had a very stressful job during the day and I would come home, take a nap, eat dinner and then apply myself to writing for a few hours every night instead of watching T.V. It’s too easy to relax and put off that writing time, but if you decide you want to be a writer, you must get disciplined about your writing habits. And, not listening to everyone that has an opinion about your story/your writing until it’s done, especially family and friends that are not writers and may not understand what you write.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Cora: My first novel got its start when I free-form painted an image that inspired me. A line from a poem, an article in the newspaper, a stranger on the street that does something to start your creativity asking, “What if….” Anything can be an inspiration if you are open. Lots of training to write a short story to a theme or title helped me get my juices flowing early on.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Cora: Stress. If I don’t stay calm and balanced, it can throw me off. I meditate and write in a journal daily which helps keep me maintain a writer mode most of the time. Until life happens.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Cora: I start my day with coffee and toast. It perks up my brain enough to get focused, and then I usually have a green drink made of kale, fruit, almond milk and vitamins/herbs. Brain food.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Cora: I try to get dressed for the day after journal writing, meditation and pool exercises. I like to be ready for my day early—like going to a job.
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Cora: I have a home office I write in.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Cora: Not really. I left behind my cartoon characters long ago—Little Lulu, Felix the Cat, Woody Woodpecker, Mighty Mouse, Mr.Magoo, Tom and Jerry, Road Runner, Wonder Woman, The Invisible Man—then there’s all the horror comics I loved to read. . . .
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Cora: J.K Rowling. I admire her for writing what was in her heart, against all odds that it would get published—her unique vision. She didn’t compromise and she persisted.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Cora: It depends on the weather. A good day, I think I would head to the beach for the day—or out in nature somewhere. A cloudy day I might just like to sleep and read and be lazy.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Cora: I’m working on the follow-up story to Dance the Dream Awake. Jack, who Tessa dismissed in that novel, now has his day—and he’s coming back strong. In Dance the Edge, his story is an exciting one and he will not be deterred. I wish I could write faster but it comes when it comes. I’m trying to push it now, though.
Blurb for Haiku Dance
Thirteen-year old, Shino, rebellious and undisciplined, is sent away to the Tendai monks to be trained as a samurai warrior. When leaving his childhood friend Miyoshi behind, he carelessly crushes her young heart.
Years later, weary of senseless battles fought for selfish lords, Shino is thrust into the world of Heian Kyo where he finds Miyoshi once again. Now blossomed into the beautiful and charming Lady Lotus, she is courtier to the emperor’s court and soon to be betrothed to another. Finally accepting that he has always loved her, he risks everything to keep her from the fate to which she is destined but does not want, and the dangers that threaten her life. Does he dare hope for more?
Blurb for Dance the Dream AwayEvery night, a Mayan priest adorned in a feathered headdress enters Tessa’s dream and rips out her heart. Taking her friend’s advice, she books a trip to Mexico to try and get past these nightmares.
On her trip, she meets three men. Which one can she trust? Which one will she fall in love with? Which one is trying to help her?
When all their lives have become entwined and the warnings of the female shaman curanderas have shaken her to her core and reached breaking point, she’s convinced someone is out to kill her. Only then does the shocking revelation come forth. Will she survive the dangers and the men? Is she running for her life, or from love?
Amazon: Dance the Dream Awake http://amzn.to/2lw5N43
Haiku Dance http://amzn.to/2maIiKR
*Amazon, all listed Amazon.com: Cora J. Ramos
Dance the Dream Awake http://bit.ly/2lSGvt6
Haiku Dance http://bit.ly/2lw6ZEs
Barnes & Noble:
Dance the Dream Awake http://bit.ly/2lSHCsG
Haiku Dance http://bit.ly/2lw5037
You can find Cora at: @corajramos
Website: www.coraramos.comAmazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cora-Ramos/e/B00BAKLGXOBlog: http://coraramos-cora.blogspot.com/
Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview. This time it's another discussion on Heroes.