I was working on a follow-up to my post on indie publishing, thinking I would go into a little more detail about the path I'm taking, when I was rudely interrupted by...well...one of my characters, and he is insisting that my next entry be an interview with him. Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: sometimes my characters talk to me. No, I don't actually see them, and it's not voices-in-my-head-loony-bin stuff (at least I hope not). But when you spend months, sometimes years, with even fictional people, they have a way of becoming part of your life.
This particular character is one that's been around for a while, but who plays a fairly small yet entertaining role in The Last Word. He has a bigger part in the sequel, but don't tell him that; his ego is too big already. So without further ado, allow me to introduce the one, the only: Luis Ortiz.
Me: Good morning, Luis.
Ortiz: Good morning, bro.
Me: So what exactly are you so eager to talk about?
Ortiz: My new novel, of course.
Me: I think you mean my new novel.
Ortiz: You are merely a scribe. I am the star.
Me: Actually, you're a fairly minor character in the book.
I can see that saying this was a huge mistake. Ortiz is indignant, and rises from his chair (at least in my mind I see him rise from a chair).
Me: Where are you going?
Ortiz: Ortiz is never a minor character. Remove me from your plot and watch everything fall apart. I am the straw that stirs the drink.
Me: Fine. Sit down and we'll discuss it. Wait, is that a turkey leg?
Ortiz: It is indeed. Delicious.
Me: It's 9:00 a.m.
Ortiz: I am not constrained by insignificant matters such as time and space. I will feast like the kings of old whenever the mood strikes me, bro.
Me: Uh, right. So why don't you tell our readers what you think of the book.
Ortiz: It goes without saying that any scene in which I am present is on a level with Shakespeare, Dante, Dickens, or any of my countrymen from Puerto Rico (we are natural storytellers). The rest is quite good as well; how can you go wrong with mobsters, books, and the lovely Camden?
Me: That would be Camden Templeton.
Me: Now she's a major character, along with Sal.
Ortiz: Mira, you are starting to anger me Paco.
Me: Calm down.
Ortiz: No, I will not continue to take this abuse. You could have just as easily made me the male protagonist instead of Sal. A guy from New Jersey over one from Puerto Rico? A travesty!
Me: You'll get your turn. You just have to wait a while, like Michael Corleone had to wait in The Godfather.
This slows him down; he has a near-religious reverence for The Godfather films.
Ortiz: I will accept this for now, out of respect for Don Vito, but if you do not keep your word...
Me: I'll sleep with the fishes?
Ortiz: Nothing so painless.
Me: You do realize that I could just delete you, right? After all, I created you.
At this Ortiz laughs so hard I'm afraid he'll choke on his turkey leg.
Ortiz: Silly Paco, you did not create me, I simply allowed you to find me. As with all "characters," I have always existed and always will exist. And sometimes I allow you to confine me to a fixed time and place with paper and ink.
Me: You seriously believe that? This conversation isn't even real, you know. It's all happening in my head.
Ortiz: To quote Albus Dumbledore...
Me: From the Harry Potter books?
Ortiz: Yes, and do not interrupt. To quote Albus Dumbledore: "Of course this is all happening in your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it's not real?" A great man, Dumbledore. We're playing racquetball when I tire of talking to you. In fact, I really should be going.
Me: You barely talked about the book at all.
Ortiz: Further proof that you are not the puppet master you fancy yourself. I said what I wanted to say.
Me: You're not even going to tell people to be sure to read it when it comes out?
Ortiz: Everyone should definitely read it when it is published (and you really should hurry up with that, Paco). It not only prominently features me, Luis Ortiz, as well as some of my very best friends, I also came up with the title.
Me: You did not. You wanted to call it Ortiz Almighty.
Ortiz: Is that not the title you chose?
Me: No, Luis. The title is The Last Word.
Ortiz: I see. I like mine better. Well, I must be off; not good to keep a wizard waiting.
Me: Thanks for dropping by. See you soon.
There you have it, dear reader. This is what I deal with on a semi-regular basis, and what you can be a part of when The Last Word debuts later this year. Ortiz is right about one thing: I really should hurry up with that.
Sal Terranova and Camden Templeton are cousins separated by upbringing, the Atlantic Ocean, and a common language. Then fate (with help from a run of bad luck and a dead uncle) throws them together in the least likely of places: Texas. Exiled in this strange land, they must band together in order to save the family bookstore from financial ruin, from its own insane employees, and probably from themselves. This is the story of what happens when The Sopranos meets Fawlty Towers...in a bookstore.