First Sale Stories: Mario Acevedo, "The Nymphos of Rocky Flats"
Lynda: What is the name of your book?
Mario: The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Lynda: When was it published (or when will it be published)?
Mario: It’s out of the crypt March 14, 2006.
Lynda: Which publishing house?
Mario: The Rayo imprint of HarperCollins.
Lynda: What's it about?
Mario: Felix Gomez goes to Iraq a soldier. He comes back a vampire. He needs a job to pay bills so he works as a private detective specializing in tough cases. An old friend hires him to investigate an outbreak of Nymphomania at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.
Lynda: What was the inspiration for the book?
Mario: I worked at Rocky Flats and somebody had to write an exposé. This next part is true. I had to submit my novel for review by the US Department of Energy, making Nymphos the first and only vampire book to be declassified by the Federal government. So tax money that should’ve been used to catch Osama bin Laden was instead spent to make sure you didn’t learn too much about vampires.
Lynda: Is it part of a series?
Mario: I’m under contract for a three-book series.
Lynda: What do you like most about your main characters?
Mario: Felix is taller than I am and has more hair.
Lynda: What's your favorite aspect of your book?
Mario: It retails for $13.95 and is therefore more affordable than an iPod or cable TV. Plus it’s in trade paperback so people will think you’re reading high-minded literature.
Lynda: How long have you been writing fiction?
Mario: I’ve been telling lies all my life but writing them down? From first draft of my original sucky attempt at a novel to selling this book took seventeen years.
Lynda: Is this your first paranormal manuscript?
Lynda: Is paranormal your main focus?
Mario: For any novel to work, you have to focus on a good story. Since these are vampire novels I had to address the details of the fantasy/paranormal world I created and then make fun of everything.
Lynda: What attracts you about vampires (or whatever persuasion your paranormal characters might be)?
Mario: I didn’t start to write a vampire novel. I simply began with the most ridiculous premise I could think of--a vampire detective investigating an outbreak of nymphomania at a nuclear weapons plant and went from there.
Lynda: How long did it take to sell your book, from the time you finished your manuscript?
Mario: About a year.
Lynda: Thinking about the notion of "It's always darkest before the dawn," what was the lowest point in the process for you? Was there a time you almost gave up?
Mario: No, I’m in denial about most aspects of my life.
Lynda: Did you have an agent when you sold your book?
Lynda: Do you recommend that a pre-published writer focus on finding an agent first, or do you think it's OK to submit directly to the publisher?
Mario: I’d look for an agent first. It’s not an easy process. I’ve collected enough rejection letters to use as ballast for a tug boat.
Lynda: You don't have to mention numbers, but did you get a nice advance?
Mario: I still have a day job.
Lynda: What was the process of revisions/rewrites like?
Mario: Very straight forward.
Lynda: Did your agent suggest changes?
Mario: A few. All good ones.
Lynda: What was it like, working with the editor at your publishing house?
Mario: It was a good experience learning from a professional in the writing business.
Lynda: Do you have any words of wisdom for us about revisions/rewriting, etc.?
Mario: Don’t fall in love with your words. Even if you have a sterling-silver line of prose, if it drags the story, pitch it. Phrases are like Doritos. You’ll make more. I have a file of my absolutely favorite lines waiting for the perfect time to get recycled. And guess what? I’ve never used them.
Lynda: Were there any surprises for you about the contract you signed?
Mario: Only that it was for me.
Lynda: Do you get a lot of help with marketing your book, or do you have to do most of it yourself?
Mario: The book’s not out yet and there’s some behind the scenes stuff going on. I’m sending letters and postcards introducing myself to bookstores.
Lynda: Did you have input about your cover?
Mario: No. It’s a marketing decision.
Lynda: Have you done any events or book signings? If so, what was that like?
Mario: I haven’t yet done a signing. Right now, speaking at events such as conferences and workshops is a head rush. I haven’t been in front of so many people unless there were chasing me and throwing rocks.
Lynda: If you could go back and do something differently, what would that be?
Mario: Find a like-minded group of writers sooner.
Lynda: What would you do exactly the same way?
Mario: Join Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and my critique group.
Lynda: What's your next manuscript about?
Mario: My hero, Felix Gomez, is hired to investigate the murder of a porn star in the San Fernando Valley. The title is X-Rated Bloodsuckers.
Lynda: What advice are you willing to give to all the pre-published writers out there?
Mario: Have faith. Keep writing and improving. Writing a novel is like running a marathon through a swamp with a horde of spider-faced bill-collectors after you.
I'm having a book launch party: 7:30 p.m., March 23, 2006, Tattered Cover Book Store, LoDo, 1628 16th St, Denver, CO 80202.