Our interview is with Arthur J. Gonzalez author of The Photo Traveler (4.6 stars, 57 reviews). Before the interview a brief book description: Kirkus Reviews praises The Photo Traveler for its emotional realness and creative vision, stating, “In the hands of a lesser author, this concept might have been a difficult sell, but Gonzalez grounds his novel in emotional reality, making it easy for readers to suspend disbelief during the fantastical portions”.
Interview with Arthur J. Gonzalez
1. When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?
I remember writing as early as elementary school. I would create stories and drawings to accompany them. Recently, I found a series of drawings from when I was in about 4th grade.
Since then, I always wrote, but for some reason my interest surrounded poetry and song writing. I think I was very insecure at the full-length writing process. But in 2007 my father passed away. It was completely unexpected, and ambushed completely ambushed my life.
It was after this moment that I decided that I would dive into the realm of my dreams and bring them to life. Since then, writing has been an everyday occasion for me. A single day doesn’t pass by where I have not written. Because of it, I find myself feeling much more fulfilled.
2. What inspired you to write The Photo Traveler?
One of the most important people in my life was facing a difficult time when their grandmother passed away. I remember him crying, staring at an old black and white photo of his grandmother in Havana, Cuba.
He said, “I’d give anything to travel into this picture right now and hug her.”
I jumped off the couch and pretty much shouted, “What if you could?”
And from that moment…The Photo Traveler was born. It was perfect. It was as if she and my father plotted in the Heavens to gift me this story.
3. What’s your book about?
The story follows a seventeen-year-old teenager as he discovers his ability to time travel through photos and images.
Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents “died” in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father. Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.” Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all.
His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC. When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it.
He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can time travel through time and space through images.
But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!
His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials. Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love.
For Gavin, life will never be the same.
4. Tell us a little about your main character.
Gavin is a character comprised of self-hate and guilt. He believes he is not worthy of love. He holds himself accountable for nearly every bad thing that has occurred in his life. At his very core is a person who wants to fit in to a family and find his greater purpose. And though he is (rightfully) careless and immature at times, he is a loving and naturally nurturing person, and through his experiences he will discover what has been a part of him his entire life.
5. What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I love creating the story. There’s no right or wrong way to go. You can literally let your mind wander in any and every direction. Also, imagining the potential emotional reaction I may have on someone is priceless.
6. What was the hardest part about writing your book?
I think the biggest obstacle I faced was my own self-doubt. At some point I started questioning it all, becoming very insecure. I’d ask myself, “Is anyone going to like this?”, “Am I serious?” , “Should I just stop?”
I would read other novels and compare it relentlessly, thinking mine would never compare.
But fortunately, I drilled right through those doubts. I promised myself not to give up even if my mom was the only person to buy a copy.
At some point, you need to throw aside all insecurities and hand yourself over to faith. You just have to believe.
7. Where do you get the inspiration to write?
Ha! Where don’t I get inspiration to write? Inspiration is around us at all times, I think it’s just up to us to take notice. I’ve been inspired while I’m running, doing groceries, watching TV. You name it, it’s happened.
8. Who is your favorite author and why?
Rather than choose an author, I’ll choose a favorite story-teller. For me, there is no one that can measure up to the creative genius that was Walt Disney. He may not have illustrated the faces that were attached to such iconic films, but it was his constant vision and relentless creativity that paved the way.
9. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
I’ve been reading like it’s about to go extinct.
But when I’m not writing or reading, I like to laugh. I like to go to the movies. I am a fool for creating memories. Life’s too short. If I were to suddenly die, I want to make sure the last thing everyone remembers, was that I was smiling. <~~ Sorry for the downer.
Oh yea…and 99.99999% of the time I’m drinking coffee. -___-
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes! I love you all- stay tuned for my upcoming works.
I’m definitely working on the sequel to The Photo Traveler, titled The Peace Hunter. I cannot express how excited I am about this book! This story takes off in directions I, myself, could not believe!
My children’s novel, Monty and the Monsters, will hopefully be ready by end of summer/end of year. The story is about a newborn human boy, Monty, who’s taken from his world and raised by monsters (in a hysterical monster world I created, called Gloomsbury). Monty is raised by monsters his entire life, carrying the burden of feeling different, but never knowing he is actually a human. His life is filled with isolation and loneliness, constantly being the target of heavy bullying.
On Monty’s 15th birthday, he is informed of the truth of his origin and given the opportunity to venture to his human world; where there, Monty will have to decide if he will stay in the world he was stripped of, or stay with the monster parents he has grown to love, in a world that has always shunned him.
The story is about love, blended family, acceptance, bullying, and finding your way.
The second novel is part one in a still untitled YA series surrounding the end of the world. This story, though, takes place ten years after the fact, where five 5 teens wake to an earth that has evolved into a completely different planet than they remember.
They are forced to resuscitate their kind and reestablish civilization. But they soon realize why their world ended and discover that earth is still at its mercy.
And then I’m also working on an adult Fiction series surrounding Greek Mythology, The Olympian Chronicles: Hades. Think True Blood with Greek Gods, rather than vampires and werewolves. It’s an edgy, sexy, and modern take on Greek Mythology, with a 21st century twist. What would our favorite tales look like if they took place in today’s world.
This will be epic.
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