1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a Peruvian-American living in southern Germany with my husband and our pug, Roxy. I spent the last decade as a microbiologist in the pharma industry, then I was a translator for another company that makes filling machines for the pharma industry, and now I work in marketing. The job forces me out of the house and be social while I moonlight as a writer and blogger.
2. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing in preschool. I had no idea what I was writing, I used to just scribble in notebooks and then “read” the story out loud to my family. But I had always loved the idea of having a book filled with my words. I finished my first book at 15 (2001). It was a much earlier version of the trilogy I am now working on. I remember sitting in English class and realizing that I could expand this story into a trilogy. I have written at least four or five different versions of that story and eventually it evolved into The God Queen.
3. How did you choose the genre you write in?
When I first came up with the story, Star Wars Episode I came out (so…1999, I was 13). I loved the world and I am a huge fan of the original trilogy. I imagined a character having adventures in a futuristic world and I went from there. But I was also a huge fan of Sailor Moon (I still am), so I wanted my character to also have a foot in the magical girl genre.
4. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The Last Imperator is the sequel to my debut, The God Queen, which continues the story of my Volocio Rei and Bronx. They are stronger in their relationship but now that they’re in the spotlight, they try to take care of how their actions can influence the star cluster. I took everything I have learned from writing The God Queen to improve my craft and be a better story teller.
5. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Tamora Pierce. Tamora Pierce. Tamora Pierce. She taught me that girls can also be heroes of their own stories. I was 12 when I first read her books and it really shaped the way I saw myself as I was growing up.
6. Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I like to use a little bit of both. I have a lot of characters who are related and I delve a lot in familial relationships and how it affects people. I have a large family (both American and Peruvian sides) so I take a lot of what I write from personal experience. However, I don’t live in a world with spaceships and I don’t know how to channel lightning to see the future so there’s plenty that I have to make up.
7. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
My main platforms are my blog (www.adventuresoflamari.com) and my instagram account (@mltishner). I already had a relationship with my readers and fellow artists there who liked my stories of being an American in Germany and lettering so I knew I had people I could reach out to. I learned a lot about cultivating relationships from my mom and it has also allowed me to network with not only others in my genre but also other fellow indie authors and influencers. They have really been helpful in marketing my work.
8. If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
As Subtilis as a Flying Brick. It’s a play off of as subtle as a flying brick (since I am sometimes too blunt for my own good) and Bacillus subtilis which is a bacteria I used a lot in my years as a microbiologist.
9. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I don’t care that she’s older than me – she’s perfect.
10. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I do technically write under a pseudonym. Tishner is my maiden name and when I got married, I changed it to my middle name and took my husband’s name. But since I was a child, I have always dreamed of seeing a book with my name on it and it didn’t change when I got married. I also like the idea of using it to sort of separate my public persona from my private one.
11. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Most of my closest writer friend is screenwriter April Smallwood. Here’s a link to her IMDB page to see her works. She’s a brilliant writer and we’ve been besties since university.
12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
There was one dream sequence where a character has to go through a myriad of emotions: love, lust, and loss. A fellow writer friend flat out told me, “To be honest, I don’t care about these characters in this moment. This scene is about emotions and I am not feeling it. I know you can write better than that. Make me care.” It sounds harsh, but he was right. I had blocked myself because I was so afraid of what others would say if I truly wrote what I wanted. It was the moment I realized that I should be writing for myself and for other readers who are looking for a story like mine. So I let loose and dug deep. It became the scene that received the most compliments from Betas. The tough love paid off.
13. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I went to Vianden, Luxembourg when I was 17 and visited the house where Victor Hugo spent a few years of his life. I did a solo trip to Dublin when I was 25 where I walked around Trinity College where Oscar Wilde studied and I got to see the Book of Kells. During that same trip, I went to Edinburgh where I ate often at the Elephant House Cafe where J.K. Rowling first started writing the Harry Potter series.
14. What is the first book that made you cry?
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. The ending left me with a shattered heart. I was only 14 and had yet to truly experience such deep emotions. The book still has left its imprint on my soul.
15. What does literary success look like to you?
When a reader tells me they’ve enjoyed the adventure my book took them. That’s all I really wanted to do: entertain.
16. Does you family support your career as a writer?
Absolutely. They have a rather conservative view about it. My parents pushed for me to have a degree that would guarantee me a job (and I graduated from college right as the recession hit) and I could write on the side until it became lucrative enough. My family loves that I am an artist, they just don’t want me to be a starving one.
17. What’s your favorite thing to do in the fall?
Muswiese. It’s the oldest folks festival in Baden-Württemberg (the federal state in Germany where I live). The first recording of it was in 1434 and it takes over the village of Musdorf (the entire village turns into the festival and the houses themselves become restaurants). It reminds me of the Indiana State Fair (albeit a much much MUCH smaller fair), and it’s a fun week to hang out with friends over good food and drinks.
18. What’s your favorite dish to cook?
Lomo Saltado. It’s a traditional Peruvian dish made with steak, peppers, onions, over a bed of rice and fried potatoes. Whenever I introduce anyone to Peruvian food, I start with this dish – the ingredients are recognizable and not too exotic. It’s a great starting dish to get people to out of their comfort zone before I start feeding them cow heart.
19. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Editing. I speak three languages and together they have wrecked my ability to properly edit my work. Did you know that Germans don’t use the Oxford comma? I speak Peruvian Spanish, which is a dialect of Real (Royal) Español and use completely different prepositions? While I feel like I am decent communicator, it was worth having a professional make sure I have a product worth remembering for its story and not grammar mistakes.
20. What is your favorite childhood book?
You mean series? Animorphs. I first bought their book for the cover but once I started reading (I was about 8), I couldn’t stop. It was where my love of books and reading really took off.
21. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep at it, kid. Everything happens when it needs to. The times you couldn’t get published before? It’s because you weren’t ready and still had stuff to learn. Life is a journey, not a race.