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Author Interview: Monique De La Uz
What I love about the writing community is that every once in a while I meet an author or two that has a heart of gold. I know several of them now. These people have a genuine desire to pour their hearts out onto a page and help others do the same, in whatever capacity they can. We share in the excitement of finishing a draft, critiquing each other’s work, seeing each other succeed, and sending our new friends off into publishing land. I can’t do them all justice in one blog post, but I can share their beautiful minds!
Monique De La Uz is a debut Psychological Thriller author. I’m proud to have been part of the critiquing process and to have watched her grow by leaps bounds. Her riveting book, called Eight Words, comes out on August 8th, 2019. Let’s dive in!
Monique, in a few sentences, tell us about your book
My novel chronicles a woman's journey in trying to save a student whom she teaches. He has no one and she wants to help but when her mentally ill brother accuses the relationship of going further than mentorship, she risks losing everything. She spirals down a path that jeopardizes her own mental health. Caught between her future and her family, she must decide if telling a vengeful truth and secret might be her only way out of this nightmare.
Tell us a little about your inspiration for this story
The biggest pillar of inspiration comes from my own journey of adopting my son who was my student. I also wanted to show that mental illness is still misunderstood and there is not enough support in the school system or for families who deal with mentally ill relatives. I wanted to show my reader that even when everything is taken from you, it's worth picking yourself up and fighting for what you believe in. Fighting for yourself over everyone else is not selfish. It’s necessary. Being a better you makes you better for everyone else. Sometimes the worst moments lead to the best ones.
Tell us a little about your protagonist
My protagonist Daniella Dean felt so sure of herself and her life when she was married and planning for her own family. She had a solid reputation in her career as a teacher and she was super close to her family. Unexpectedly she finds herself divorced, childless, and accused of the worst crime imaginable. She is so used to giving other advice and trying to save others but now she needs to take a good long look in the mirror and save herself.
The book launches on August 8th and is called Eight Words. What is the significance of that?
Ms. Deans life is shattered with just 8 words of an accusation. That’s all it took to flip her world upside down. Therefore, I wanted to release Eight Words on the eighth day of the eight month.
What was the easiest thing to write?
Ironically, it was the beginning. I read about many writers having a hard time starting but I thought of my own life and struggles and started with the sentiments from those experiences. For me, when I write what I know or try to think of someone I know that inspires a character and it flows easily.
What was the hardest thing to write?
The scene where Ms. Dean is actually confronted by the school with the accusation is a scene that was incredibly difficult to write. It made me angry and sad all at once. I understand what it feels like that despite doing everything right and being honest, it can feel like it was for nothing. She was punished for trying to help and I know that pain.
What is one of your favorite quotes from the book?
“You are where you choose to be. Again, you always have a choice. It may not be a choice you like but it is always there. You have to let go of what you thought would happen and accept was has happened. Don’t wait for apologies that might not come to start your healing process.” It is not the most profound quote in the novel but it captures what both Ms. Dean and I have had to learn. I had to let go of what I planned for my life and see that this new path while hard and unexpected is better. It is where I am meant to be.
How long did it take to write?
About four and a half total months. I started in September of 2018 and finished in January of 2019. I thought it would take longer but once I started I was a bit obsessed. The editing, marketing, and other stuff have taken longer than the actual writing process. But I love it ALL!
What is one of the most surprising thing you have learned while writing Eight Words?
It was so unbelievably therapeutic! I learned a lot about myself and to let go of the expectations I had about what should have been or could have been. I am where I am and have to accept that that both the path and destination were different than I planned. But I am happier now than ever. I’ve hurt a lot but I’ve been blessed even more.
Tell us a little about you
Hmmm….. I love spending my time with my son and husband going to family festivals, trying new restaurants, spending time with my book club, drinking martinis with my girls, reading crime fiction and any kind of thriller, especially psychological thrillers. I would die without my two son, coffee, books, my husbands support, my grandma, and my mom.
How do you juggle your work/life/writing balance?
I work a “normal” 8-5 Monday -Friday so I write on my lunch break, on weekends at coffee shops, and early mornings. I spend the evening during the week editing reading about marketing or how to make my book better. I love sitting on my patio with coffee or martini and thinking of how to make it all better.
Do you have any advice for other up and coming authors?
Accept that your journey is unique. There is not one magical thing that will make it work. Go to as many classes and read as many books about writing as you can. Take it all in. Accept the criticism because if 50 people tell you your blurb or cover suck it probably does. Learn that you aren’t all of your readers. There IS a balance between what sells and what your soul needs to share. Find the balance.
I am excited about Monique's novel release and can't wait to see her project come to fruition. I know there will be plenty more, but this is the second book launch I've been able to root for after months of critiques and hard work, and it's awesome to see.