Debut Spotlight: An Interview with Gabriela Lavarello.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Gabriela Lavarello, I’m 20 years old, a giant nerd, animal lover, and a bit of a hermit. My family originally immigrated to the United States from Peru, so I am a first-generation American. I was homeschooled for the majority of my schooling career and always gravitated towards Literature, Art, and any subjects that let my imagination flow. I grew up between rural New Mexico and Peru, so I learned that the greatest friends one can have are books and movies, and of course, my older sister. I’m also an avid horseback rider, and use the hours that are not spent writing, training horses, and preparing for competitions.
What has your writing journey looked like?
I wrote my first story when I was seven, which was a one-page mess about a dragon named Spike who wanted to take over the world. After that, I began writing my first novel in third grade, which I would still like to get back to and eventually share, as I think the idea is pretty good. I never stopped writing after that, and have written about five full-length novels since then. In February 2020, I had the privilege of working with a writing mentor. He gave me so many resources and helped me realize that I could actually publish one of my stories. He instantly loved the idea of Of Liars and Thieves, and with his help, I made it into what it is today!
If you could step inside the world of any book, where would you go?
I’ve heard this answer from so many people, but Middle Earth. Hobbit parties sound fantastic.
What inspires you as an author?
Other books, movies, landscapes, and dreams. Usually, little morsels of ideas pop into my head after reading a really good book or driving through a beautiful place, but weird things happen in my dreams so the magical or fantastical elements are usually drawn from that. I also used to have nightmares all the time as a kid, so I’ve taken a few of the darker elements from the ones I can remember and turned them into something that my characters can conquer, or not…
Your debut novel, Of Liars and Thieves, released on September 7th! Can you tell us a little bit about this book?
Absolutely! Of Liars and Thieves is the first book in a high fantasy trilogy set in the realm of Raymara. For one thousand years, a peace law has ruled over the land with an iron fist, but one night everything changes. Five once extinct beasts suddenly appear and disperse throughout Raymara, throwing the land into chaos. A group of unlikely companions are sent on a quest to find the beasts and save the realm, but little do they know, they’ve been given a task much greater than they’ve bargained for. Prophecies are told and love is in the air, with betrayal and a looming war trailing right behind.
Where did the idea for this book come from? Has it changed much since the initial inspiration?
The first idea for any story usually starts with the characters for me, and this book was no exception. It was a scene between two of the main characters that popped into my head the day before NaNoWriMo 2017. I didn’t know what I was going to write for NaNoWriMo that year, so I just took that scene and ran with it. The story has gone through many seasons, but the final draft is very similar to the first ideas I had for the plot. The bones of the trilogy feel the same, the overall story arc only became bigger and darker.
What sort of reader might be interested in Of Liars and Thieves?
Anyone who likes quests, dragons, witches, and magic would probably find something in this story. It’s not super smutty, so if you’re looking for a story like that, this one is not what you’re looking for. But for those who are looking for something that has old fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Name of the Wind) type vibes mixed with newer elements, this story could be for you.
What was your favorite part of writing this book?
Worldbuilding! I loved creating Raymara, and I’m still learning and discovering more about it every day. Writing the first draft might have been the most fun, as it felt like I was going on the quest with my characters and discovering new places and creatures I’d never seen before. Writing the last three chapters of the book also might have been my favorite… I won’t say why though.
Which of your characters do you hope becomes a fan favorite?
This is a hard one! I’d want them all to become favorites for different reasons, but I think Lorian might have the best shot at winning over the masses.
Did you face any challenges in writing this book and getting it out into the world?
There were so many challenges, it’s not even funny. From my mental health getting in the way of writing to self-judgment, fear, and deciding to self-publish my book, it was a big internal battle for some time. After realizing that self-publishing is just as wonderful and fulfilling as traditional publishing, it was the learning of how to do everything myself that was super difficult. I almost gave up a few times simply because of how complicated and frustrating the process was, but I’m so glad that I persisted and made it happen. Through all of the difficulties, it was incredibly fun at the same time, so I feel like it was worth it.
Do you have any advice for fellow authors?
Keep going! Even when it’s hard, even if it feels like you’re all alone in this process, keep going. Self-doubt can be crippling, but trust me when I say so many people need your story. Believe in yourself, in your passion, and in your words. The world is a crazy place, so I know that sometimes you might ask yourself, “what’s the point?” The point is that you have a story inside of you that wants to be told. Don’t deny your creativity just because the world wasn’t designed for artists. No matter what route you want to take in your publishing journey (whether it’s self or traditional), know that it is valid! And hey, you wrote a freaking book! Give yourself a high-five, because that’s amazing.
Where can readers find Of Liars and Thieves?
Of Liars and Thieves is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and I have signed copies available through my website, gabrielalavarello.com
Anything else to add?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m forever grateful for the Agora community and am so grateful that Of Liars and Thieves got the chance to be shared with you all.
Follow Gabriela on Instagram