Monday, January 5, 2009

Interview with Author Jeff Rivera

Recently, I got the chance to interview Jeff Rivera, author of the novel, Forever My Lady released at the end of last year by WarnerBooks/Grand Central. About Forever My Lady:

Dio "Playboy" Rodríguez grows up poor with a drunk single mother in gritty Las Vegas, leading him into gang life at 13. Now 17, Dio hides a softer side beneath a fierce exterior that's known only to his middle school sweetheart, Jennifer. But when a drive-by leaves Jennifer wounded and sends Dio to prison boot camp, their soul mate relationship is put to the test. Rivera, who originally self-published this debut, traces a classic redemptive arc: perpetually scowling Dio resists the authority of drill instructor Jackson and clashes with fellow inmates, but he pours out his heart in letters to Jennifer, forms meaningful peer relationships and gains an appreciation for discipline. A genuine care for dynamic Dio allows Rivera to deliver a sincere story of transformation.

Jeff has appeared on such shows as NPR, American Latino TV, SITV, and interviewed by the Boston Globe and Miami Herald. He also runs a service which helps authors polish their query letters to agents and publishers at GumboWriters; please visit his blog to learn more.

Jeff has also graciously offered to give away one free copy of his book to one of the commenters on today's post. I hope you enjoy this short interview with a most facsinating writer.

CM: How did your book go from being self-published to catching the eye of an agent? Did you query with it?

JR: You know Candace, I did everything out of the box. Sure, I knew the way you were supposed to do it but I did it the way, I wanted to do it.  So, I set out to be one of the few that would self-publish then lead to being acquired by a major publisher. I didn't want any more rejection than I had already received from the screenplay version of the book so I decided to self-publish and build such a big audience online that they'd have to say, "Yes."  My approach for attracting an agent was out of the box too. I decided to spam the publishing world with nothing but my excerpt and the book cover in the body of an email. I knew that the right person would see it and respond. Well, I had like 5 editors at publishing houses and 2 agents request to see the whole book. My email didn't even have a Hi, how are you? All it literarily was was my excerpt and cover. One of those agents who responded signed me. The other told me I'd never make it in the world of publishing and I was sure to send them the email from Warner/Grand Central when they made an offer a few weeks later. (How evil of me... but I had to!)

CM: Your book has a definite romantic theme... how are you finding being a "romance" author as a male?

JR: You know I love it. I was looking at the list of books that I plan to write and they all have some type of love story element to them. Candace, I am a lover of love. I believe in soul mates and twin flames and I believe there's the right person(s) out there for everyone, including me! In the meantime, you have to just enjoy life right now the way it is and that person will come around at the right time. For example, I met someone recently who I would marry yesterday, right person but probably not the right time for them.

CM: What is your favorite book to read?

JR: I go back to when my fourth grade teacher used to read to us, books like Where the Red Fern Grows and The Outsiders have stuck with me and made an impression on me even today.

CM: What are you working on now?
JR: I'm working on some books for Young Adults. I love working with young people Candace and so it's right up my alley.

CM: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Jeff! I've enjoyed getting to know you better.


  1. Good interview. I especially relate to his comments as a male author writing romance. I also write suspense with a romantic core and really enjoy it. What is a suspense without love at its core ... its boring, cause life is about love.

    Big Mike
    Michael Davis

  2. What an interesting interview. I like how he did everything HIS way and still got an editor. It's food for thought.


  3. Maybe if more authors did it their way the publishing world would be more receptive to new authors. Thanks for an interesting interview.