An Interview with Author, David Revilla!
David Revilla wrote his first book with pencil and paper, a work lost in the innumerable passages of time…i.e., his basement. Years of procrastination and several short-stories later, The River Styx is his first published novel. The only thing harder than writing the book, he admits, was restraining himself from editing it “just one more time,” because as everyone knows authors are their own worse critics.
A native son of NYC, he dreams of one day moving to someplace less sunny.
When did you start writing?
When does anyone start breathing? Okay, it's not like I was born with a pencil in one hand and a piece of paper in the other, but creating stories has been a part of me since as far back as I can remember. The first time I recall putting a story on paper was around third grade. A lot of kids today don't know what book fairs are, but my school used to host them. After reading a few great novels I started to think, "this is something I can be good at" and that's when it all started. I hand wrote my first novel before I was in fifth grade--on paper with pencil, erasing and rewriting like they did in olden times. It was fun, and before I knew it I was typing those stories on my computer. It seems like only yesterday when I penned my first opening line: "It was a dark and stormy night..."--------------Real original, right?
Is there a message that you want to communicate with your writing?
If there is a concept I want to portray, is that there are no perfect characters. I dislike characters who seem godlike, all-knowing, unbeatable. It makes them unrealistic and not relatable. Real people have faults, and it's how they deal with those faults and learn to overcome them that make those characters so memorable. It doesn't matter whether you're writing about a demigod or an alien, the reader has to be able to understand where the character is coming from or else the character is nothing more than a word on a page, not a person.
Who is your favorite author, and why?
I have no favorites per say, but if I had to choose one it would be the man who inspired me to write in the first place: R.L. Stine. His Goosebumps series were a collection of children's horror stories that made me lose sleep at night. I hold him personally responsible for putting me on this path. I'd like to meet him, to shake his hand someday and say "Thanks." Why do I like him so much? It was like he wrote his novels for me specifically. As a child, I felt that most intelligent books were written for adults and that children's stories were, well, childish. Stine wrote books that challenged his young audience. He made me appreciate sentence structure, plotline, foreshadowing, and of course, cliffhangers. When I wrote my first works, it was his knowledge guiding the pencil. Through years of practice I became better and better, but it all started with him.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A lot of people who are asked this question say "don't' give up on your dreams." But what many do not understand is that dreams take a lot of hard work and (more importantly) patience. In fact, I would say dreams are about one percent hard work and ninety-nine percent patience. When I began writing The River Styx it was a completely different story than what it is now. I went through so many rewrites, spent so many countless hours erasing entire passages, throwing away paper, changing one paragraph after another until I just gave up and started from scratch....again, and again, and again. If someone had told me I'd actually finish the novel back then I'd never have believed them.
So many young and new authors don't understand just how hard it is to write a book. From the moment of its conception, The River Styx took seven years to complete. That's right, SEVEN YEARS. Other books have taken longer. Some series have decade-long gaps between installments, meaning that an entire generation of readers can grow up without actually finishing the story. It's the main reason I decided to make my debut novel a stand-alone book, because I have no idea when, if ever, I'd get around to writing the next novel.
So my advice is this: be patient. Finish what you're working on no matter how bad it is. Remember that the next step is to edit the story. That's actually the fun part because you can hammer out all the details and make the story better than before. The first step is just to finish. Everything else comes later.
Tell us about the main character from The River Styx.
There are actually two main characters, Hope and Charon. Hope who is a fourteen-year old girl who has just survived a storm and is floating on the sea. She is rescued by a passing galley (that's an ancient Greek sailing ship) on its way to the city of Dis Pater, the capital of the Underworld. Hope has lost much of her memories after the traumatizing incident and has no idea how she wound up in the realm of the dead. She seems like an ordinary girl at first, but inside her is a unique gift that connects her to the gods of Olympus. Despite this special power, it is her humanity that defines her, and her spirit that inspires the crew on their journey. She is the only human on the ship and it is her humanity that is her greatest strength.
On the flip side, Charon is an immortal who is the captain of The River Styx. Cold, aloof, and apathetic, his only goal is to see his ship and crew to Mt. Olympus to discover why the gods have fallen silent. He's a tough commander, often manipulative, but overtime he begins to feel something for his crew. Much of this is Hope's doing as she's the first human being he's ever gotten to know. Through their interactions, Charon begins to appreciate what it means to be mortal and learns that all life is precious. He is willing to risk everything, even his own immortality, to make sure they are all survive.
Which actor would you like to play the main character in the movie?
Maisie Williams is the actress who plays Arya Stark on Game of Thrones. When I told my illustrator to create a few concept ideas for the character of Hope, I chose Maisie as my template. She has the look I was going for (the short hair, the eyes, the build) and the attitude. She's spirited, like Hope, and while not physically-intimidating or martially-inclined, it is her will that separates her from all other characters in the show. Hope's strength comes from her willingness to whatever it takes to protect those she cares about.
For Charon I'd go with Tom Wisdom who plays the archangel Michael on the SyFy series Dominion. Tall, stoic, cultured in voice, powerful, these are all traits that Tom displays in his portrayal as Michael and I believe he'd easily fit the role of Charon. He also carries that aura of mystery and deep introspection which I believe is crucial to understanding Charon's character and motives.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on several projects at once. I have been developing this dark YA story about two siblings, a brother and sister, who must save their village from things that live beneath the earth. It's a work in progress but it's something that would have chilled me to the bones in my youth. I definitely want to work on my first series. It will probably be science fiction and geared towards an older audience. My goal right now is to build up my portfolio and develop a fan base. After writing, editing and self-publishing, advertising is proving to be the biggest challenge of my career. The River Styx is my first voyage into the choppy waters of authorship, and it's a journey I don't plan to take alone.