Sunday, November 10, 2013

Featured Author: Gillian Felix

I'm happy to have Gillian Felix here today to talk about her young adult/contemporary novel, Changes (Family Portrait V.1). The second book in the series, The Banovic Siblings will launch on December 3.    

About the book:

Adriana Banovic's 15th birthday sucked! She was fired after eight years of playing Shayanne Montgomery on the #1 soap in the country, found out that her family was on the verge of bankruptcy and worst of all, forced to return to Westwood Academy. Her only saving grace was a chance glance at dreamy mystery boy Haze Lyndon. Armed with only his picture and a determination to find him--even if it means turning Los Angeles over on its ass.
In this young adult novel you'll meet Robin Banovic, Adriana's father; financially challenged, dealing with the death of a family member and his brother's disappearance. You'll meet Savannah DaCosta aka Savi, mother/manager; Savi enjoys the life her rock star daughter Leighann has provided. When Leighann makes a choice to end her career, Savi sees it as a personal attack. You'll meet college boy Haze Lyndon; New to Los Angeles, Haze soon realizes how quickly money changes hands in the City of Angels. Will he return to questionable ways to survive or go back to the safety of his family in Wisconsin?

Interview with Gillian Felix

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. It has always been a part of my life. I love it. I believe it really started in creative writing class back in primary school. I grew up in the West Indies and creativity is encouraged at an early age.

What’s the story behind the title of your book?

Family Portrait is the series title, it seemed fitting because the series is about family and their relationships. Under all the drama and mayhem at the end of the day it's about family. Changes (the first novel in the series) is the pilot episode of the television series which the book was originally. Changes introduces the characters and show how they are all connected through major changes in their lives.

What’s your favorite line from a book? 

“You’re too nice and I thought chivalry was massacred.” --Carys Wilson from Changes.
“What’s he gonna do? Go stomping down the hall, yelling who took my weed!” The Banovic Siblings.

How do you get to know your characters?

Before I start writing I build character profiles. I have a 5-subject spiral notebook that I use to break down the characteristics for each person-—from their favorite food to what they wear. It helps me set up conflict and make sure no two characters are exactly alike.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

In Changes, I enjoyed writing “the stoners.” The stoners are the comic relief of any scene they are in. They are 3 college guys Chellon, Kai, and Jason. I call them the stoners because they are always stoned, they don’t have many lines by they tend to steal the scene.

In The Banovic Siblings, I love love love writing Savi. She is just so out there and her logic is so left field, that she scares me. She’s not a particularly nice person but people still like her. She makes no apologies for who she is or her behavior and that’s a hard thing to pull off, but she does it well.

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

I would have to say I am a little like Leighann. She kind of reminds me of me when I was about 10 or 12 years old. Despite her rock star persona she is very shy and timid, and carries around her worries in the pit of her stomach, (the only time I was a rock star was in my mind, but in other ways she is like how I was). 

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

(I LOVE this question) That would be Savi. Savi would kill me in my sleep. I think she would put a pillow on my face and sit on it till I stopped breathing.

Ouch! I'd steer clear of her! If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

I’d be Adriana. I love Adriana because she is a wild child, she is carefree, she is not afraid to go after what she wants.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

I would like to be stuck with Haze. Haze is interesting because he is a thinker, he is focused and a generally nice person.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

When Haze finally shows up at Adriana’s door and she can’t believe he is real or there. Imagine your favorite celebrity showing up at your front door. How would you react? It would be a surreal feeling right? In that scene, that surreal feeling is played out in Adriana’s mind, like a scene from a romantic movie.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

There are a number of songs that would go with my book—-usually a song would go with a particular scene. There is a sound track I will be posting on the Facebook fan page soon-- there will be fan interaction.

Who are your favorite authors?

Gavin Weston and Jackie Collins.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I usually double read. Right now I am reading Come As You Are by Theresa Weir in e-book format. Success Principles by Jack Canfield in paperback.

I don’t claim to be an expert on writing, but there are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

Spelling errors make me CRAZY.

Do you have a routine for writing?

My routine if I am starting a new book is the story arc. That is the first thing I do. I have a white board that I do scene breakdowns on like you would see in the writer’s room of a television series. Then I make notes in my 5 subject note book, and then I hit the computer for the manuscript.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I write week nights from 9p-12a. On Sundays, I write from like about 5p-11p or later, depending on how the ideas are flowing. I enjoy writing from home--anywhere in my apartment would do.

Where’s home for you?

Port of Spain Trinidad is home for me. I was born there and most of my relatives and childhood friends live there. I have adopted Albuquerque New Mexico as my 2nd home (where I live currently). When I’m away from Albuquerque I miss it and can’t wait to return.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

Lucky by Jackie Collins.

You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?

Funny you would mention that. Earlier this year, I visited my home country for the first time in 15 years. I totally missed the food! The last thing I ate was Mario’s Pizza. OMG seriously the best pizza on the planet! It still tastes the same from when I was a kid.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

I think I’d rather work in a bookstore. I volunteer at a library, and it is too quiet.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Hike and then get a massage.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries. Why? One word...Damon.

What would your dream office look like?

My dream office would have floor to ceiling windows, with a view of the mountains. It would have a draughtsman’s desk with a high stool (I love to stand and write), nice plush carpet, plenty of books on built-in shelves. My printer, laptop and a wall with my white board, radio with a remote. Positive quotes would adorn the wall, good storage for my research files and scripts and a nice comfy couch. The room would be light and airy painted in mild colors.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I love the flexibility of being able to tell the story how I want to tell it. It’s a lot more work but you have more control. How successful you are depends on the amount of work you put in.  A traditional publisher is great, but I see now that a lot of big name authors are going indie/self published. They get to keep more of the profits, and have more creative control. I’m also an entrepreneur, so I enjoy the business part of it and forming connections with bloggers/writers like you.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish?

I am very happy with that decision. About 3 years ago when I’d first written Changes (at the time it was called Family Portrait), I queried it to several publishers. It got mixed results but no takers. Some I never heard from again. It can be very disheartening sitting around and waiting. I don’t like to do that, so when the opportunity to self-publish came up, I did my research and just went for it. It was the best decision I’ve ever made for my career. I feel like I actually have some kind of control over my career.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do?

I do all my formatting and marketing. I hired someone to proof read, story edit, and design the cover.

Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

For proof reading, I use Pauline Nolet, I cannot rave about her enough. She totally gets my style and the tone of my work. She is thorough, patient and very good at her work.  (

For story editing and cover concept, I use Sherrian Felix, my sister. She worked as a Production Manager at Warner Brother’s television animation for years and is very good at breaking down my work and telling me what works and what doesn’t.

For cover design, I use Kendell Clarke

For book trailer, I use Jovon Tucker at Book2Buzz Production

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison.

What’s your favorite candy bar?

That would be Caramel by Tunnocks. It’s not big in the US, but you can get it at stores that sells British foods or at world markets.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Harmattan by Gavin Weston. Harmattan is a story about an 11-year-old girl forced into marriage to a 60-year-old man. It is very heart wrenching.

Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson. LOVE him! It is his autobiography.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jefferies. Great for if you need a little motivation.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Hike. I love to go out in nature, and I make it a point to do that every weekend.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Amsterdam! I love their culture. Or anywhere in Northern England.

What are you working on now?

I am in the process of publishing The Banovic Siblings (Family Portrait V.2) which will be available December 3, on Amazon. I have just finished the story arc for the 3rd book in the Family Portrait series. I am aiming for an April/May release.

And you'll be back to tell us more about them--right?! See you soon!

Book Trailer

Excerpt from Changes

Chapter 8: The Muse

Adriana strutted into the audition hall, pleased with herself that she snagged an audition for a national television commercial. No thanks to her useless agent, Stanley Jenkins. This was all her; she found the audition on a website, submitted her headshot, and called to follow up.

It called for a female spokesmodel between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Even though she had just turned fifteen, she was confident she could qualify. She was on the number one soap in the country for eight years.

The audition hall was like a cattle call. Girls of all ages and sizes turned up, but that did not faze her. She was prepared to give it a shot. Adriana signed in and waited.

Meanwhile, down the hall Haze Lyndon was gearing up for a teen magazine photo shoot. He was in between demographics. That in between age where he could be a teenage girl’s fantasy and at the same time women could easily lust after him and that would be okay, kind of like Justin Timberlake.

The obviously gay photographer was very smitten with Haze. Haze was sure of himself enough not to be freaked out. He even ‘worked it’ at times, sending the photographer into a frenzy of excitement.

“Where did you say you were from again?” Luca, the photographer, asked as his camera snapped away at Haze. Haze was quickly becoming his favorite subject. He marveled at his chiseled body and that face, those eyes, those high cheekbones. It was like God himself had sculpted Haze with his own hands. Haze was truly a work of art. To Luca, a precious work of art.

“Wisconsin,” Haze replied as he positioned himself to catch the floodlights. A trick he’d picked up from his photographer ex-girlfriend, who taught him how to use light to accent his natural features. At first he was camera-shy, but she quickly put him at ease. At first he only worked with her. Slowly she eased him out of that and encouraged him to spread his wings. She knew she couldn’t hold on to him. As much as she loved him, she knew he had something special that the world had to see.

“You have a good look; you'll go far. Your mixed race thing could put you at an advantage against the blond, blue-eyed California boys,” Luca said as he paused for his assistant to reload the camera.

Down the hall, Adriana waited for her turn to audition. The place still had lots of girls even though the process seemed to be going by quickly. She got up to stretch her legs and get some water at the water fountain down the hall.

She noticed a photo shoot taking place in the room adjacent to the water fountain. Curious, she headed toward the window and peered through the glass.

Everything was random, large floodlights illuminated a gray backdrop cloth. The room was divided into two parts by a portable screen room divider with an opening at either end. The dimly lit back room was closest to the room entrance; there was a table with a laptop and camera equipment, story boards, a notebook and other items.

Adriana spotted the photographer, a handsome-ish petite Italian talking to his butch assistant, dressed all in black. She was about to walk away when she spotted Haze. Her eyes fixated on him. He emerged wearing jeans and a graphic tee. Adriana was simply mesmerized by him. He was the handsomest man she had ever seen. She entered the room for a closer look. ‘Was he for real?’

The photographer instructed Haze on the next set-up. At first no one noticed Adriana as she stood in the shadows. She was unable to take her eyes off him. ‘Who is he?’ she wondered.

The photographer received his freshly reloaded camera from his assistant. Just then Adriana noticed a Polaroid of Haze on the floor; she picked it up and stared at it. Her fingers traced his smile. His brown eyes were lit up, and a naughty but sweet smile blanketed his face. Adriana felt her inside get soft and mushy; she felt a flash of heat and excitement. This was new territory for her. Whoever he was, she knew she would never forget him.

The butch assistant interrupted her thoughts with a disapproving tone. “What are you doing in here?!”

Adriana was startled.

“You're not supposed to be in here. This is a closed shoot! Get out!”

Adriana slipped the picture into her pocket, then left.

About the author:

Gillian Felix has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She enjoys creating characters that could be your next-door neighbor, but would you want them as your neighbor is another story.
Originally from the island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Felix moved to the United States in 1998. Since then she has been involved in the entertainment industry for over ten years. Her experience ranges from script supervisor to production manager on many independent features. She is trained in the Meisner and Stanislavski technique of acting, which she credits as an asset to her character development and writing.
Miss Felix is an entrepreneur and advocate for children's and women's rights.

Connect with Gillian:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble