Interview with Author Raquel Zepeda Fitzgerald

Let’s talk about the hottest topic right now. You write murder mysteries. How many of your stories include gun violence?

None of the murders in my stories are as a result of gun violence so far. Most of the deaths in my stories involve very unusual and creative methods such as curses and rituals. Actually, the only guns in my books are in Osiris the Second Coming, Osiris 333, and Dead Boss Cemetery Dot Com series.

Now the second hottest topic: #Me Too. Do any of your hooks deal with sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a serious problem everywhere. I’ve dealt with that most of my life, I even sued a company back in the 1980’s for that. I was constructively fired for not going out with the company’s CEO. I was actually dating his brother at the time. Is that twisted, or what? After that, I mostly worked for attorneys because they’re afraid to harass you.

Only one of my books is directed at sexual harassment, Morph: Curse of the Bitch. Morph is a supernatural solution to the world of misogyny. While it is fantasy, it leaves you with hope and a few giggles. In my “Dead Boss” series, there are a few chapters that deal with that issue, because the main characters are three young women.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

In a way, yes because you must. You can’t totally depend on editors. The less errors you make when writing your story, the easier it will be to edit the entire manuscript. And, it’s more than just grammar. Context, continuity, and style are just as important and some editors don’t seem to catch those errors.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

Disillusionment and its aftermath which came in three stages. Like most artists, I had a dream of working in entertainment. I am a singer and have also worked as a model and actress. After I realized that you have to almost be a prostitute to succeed, I became more of an entrepreneur.

So I moved on to fashion and started a cosmetics company for Hispanic or olive skinned women. It even got to trade on the stock exchange (Colecciones de Raquel “CRQL” and Raquel, Inc. “RAQL.”) I sold that company and got back to working in law offices as a paralegal – my “day job.”

I started placing my creative passion into writing. My first book, The Eye of Osiris, was originally written as a cathartic inspiration in 1987. In 2007, I moved to Florida and added a lot more to the story. I published it in 2010 via Outskirts Press.

By then, the self-publishing revolution had arrived and I decided to join it. It offered me a wonderful vehicle for self expression. Plus, I wouldn’t have to deal with as many obstacles like crazy musicians, night club owners, and so many creepy, sleazy people. The best part is the independence.

What inspires you to write?

Crazy, maddening events that lead to desire. A desire to cripple the people who put me in this state of mind, a state of helplessness. I wrote my first book like a stroke of lightening after a horrible attorney I was working for said just one more thing to insult me. I needed the job, it was Christmas time, and he was out of town for a couple of days. I had run out of work – I’m a workaholic who needs to stay busy.

So, I decided to murder that jerk. I killed him in a story! It was great! One of the legal assistants asked me what I was working on because I was typing so fast. At that time, I typed 100 words per minute. No wonder she noticed. Everyone in my office hated him too and my co-workers were actually fighting over the pages as I typed them. That is how The Eye of Osiris was born.

Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

People do say that my writing style is fun to read and unique. My stories are fast-paced. I like to weave a lot of philosophy along with humor into my stories. For example, who would think that Dead Boss Cemetery Dot Com is about three ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who start an employment agency? The Osiris Trilogy Mystery Series deals with Egyptology but the majority of characters are Mexican Americans – not British like most Egyptian mysteries. In the final book, Osiris 333, a connection is made between the Maya and ancient Egyptians.

I’ve also been told that I arrange my sentences differently. I believe I write that way because I’m bilingual. Although I don’t have an accent, my first language was Spanish. I also have a zany sense of humor.

You could say I have a different writing style because of my diverse nationality background, sense of humor, and the natural-born rebel in me.

Do your novels carry a message?

All my stories are about karmic justice. I worked in the legal field for many years and found that there is so little justice in this world. As stated on my website, I decided to make justice happen in my stories.

Being victimized is a powerfully negative event. My hope is that maybe one of my stories about karmic justice will bring a smile on a victim’s face. Nonetheless, victims should find a way to channel that feeling of being cheated out of their system so they may heal.

My final message: if you must get revenge, do it in writing. I mean that in every sense of the word. You can write and file a civil or criminal complaint, or you can write a story. You can’t get in trouble for any of these actions.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

One of my short stories, Unfinished Business is about a company who pirated my cosmetics business, Colecciones de Raquel. They marketed it to JC Penny as Raquelle, using my photograph, and sold it all over the country. I never received a fair settlement. What they did was a crime for which they were never prosecuted. While they sold over $5 million dollars worth of the product, I received a few thousand dollars. It was a very unsettling experience.

Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?

I’m reading Without Conscience by Dr. Robert D. Hare. It’s about learning to identify the “psychopaths among us.” Since I do write about crime, it’s good to have a point of reference. Haven’t you ever met someone, then learned something about them that appears so out of character? I have so many times. This book gives you a glimpse into the criminal mind. If only there were an app for that!

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Even though all of my stories are fiction, it’s very important to keep it believable. I research every aspect of the subject matter in my books. In my work as a paralegal, research was probably one of the most important things I did.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

I’m working on Dead Boss Cemetery Dot Com, Vol. III. I’m so furious about the current events involving the school shootings in Florida that I’m going to put a lot of that fury into this installment of my series. Karmic Justice will prevail.

Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

The underdog, the working girl or guy. People who have been ripped off and need justice. I give them stories to make them laugh a little and give them hope that karmic justice will come. It’s an entertaining, fun and enlightening approach to deal with feeling cheated.

Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?

Nickie Blair, who was the “best-known unknown” in Hollywood, expressed a lot of interest in converting The Eye of Osiris into a screenplay in the early 1990‘s when I was living in Los Angeles. I think all of my stories could easily be converted into screenplays. They’re brisk and suspenseful with interesting characters along with a message we all embrace: justice and fairness.

Which writer’s work do you believe most resembles your work?

Tricky question! When I write, I don’t really consider style. I’m mostly consumed with writing as fast as I can to capture the pictures in my head on to paper. Or should I say, my computer. So I don’t have an opinion about that.

However, there are two online websites that compare writers’ work and I’ve used them both. On the “I write like” website all of my books except the Osiris Trilogy rated Agatha Christie. For the Osiris trilogy, the site said I write like Dan Brown.

On the other website by Mark Allen Thornton, the rating system is different. It gives you a list of several authors with varying degrees of similarity. According to the site, I write somewhere between Washington Irving and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ironically, I haven’t really read much from these authors and I’ve read over 350 murder mysteries by many of the top best selling authors. I do love Agatha Christie, but I’m mostly familiar with her works on film.

Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?

I do read a lot. Although lately the Nazi editor in my brain has taken over because I spent so much time writing in the last two years. Once the editor takes over, I edit EVERYTHING! I think I need to pick up a comic book to get rid of it. Or, I should just binge-watch a sitcom with horrible grammar.

Anyway, I love a lot of authors’ works. My favorites include: William Lashner, James Patterson, Linda Howard, Steve Martini, John Dunning, Sandra Brown, Arvin Reed, Heather Graham, Jane Staton Hitchcock, Greg Iles, and many more.

Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?

Yes, I make notes on whatever I can. You just never know when a great idea is going to pop into your head.

Do you have specific culture you like to write about?

I’m Mexican American so I tend to write about us. The Osiris Trilogy Mystery Series is about three generations of Mexican Americans immersed in an Egyptian mystery.

In the Dead Boss Cemetery series, one of the main characters, Francesca, is Mexican American. Body Craft and of course, Unfinished Business have Mexican American characters.

How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?

Music is very important to me. That was my very first love and form of creative expression. I like to listen to jazz when I work.

How many books have you written?

I’ve written eleven books and published twelve: Cozy Cringe is a collection of all my short stories and novelettes. Most are in ebook format. Here’s the list:

The Eye of Osiris (Print & Ebook)
Osiris the Second Coming (Print & Ebook)
Osiris 333 (Print & Ebook)
Unfinished Business
Body Craft
Bone Garden
Buyer’s Remorse
Torrent Tragedy
Morph
Dead Boss Cemetery Dot Com, Volume I
Dead Boss Cemetery Dot Com, Volume II
Cozy Cringe

Your books are not on Amazon. Why?

Yes, but my books are available in Kindle format. I removed my books from Amazon in 2016 when I learned that all of them had been pirated. I don’t know for sure if it was through their lending program or not. It was unfortunate that I had to send out numerous cease and desist letters to many website owners.

Still, there were other problems. I am one of those struggling writers and need all the reviews I can get. Amazon would remove reviews for no rhyme or reason. When I asked what their due diligence process was for removing reviews, they said they didn’t need a reason.

I downloaded the Nook App on my Kindle and never looked back. In fact, ebooks read more beautifully on it than the Kindle.

At present, my books are sold on iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Selify (Kindle format). While most of my books are in ebook form, the Osiris Trilogy Mystery Series is available in print via Barnes and Noble: The Eye of Osiris, Osiris the Second Coming and Osiris 333.

In 2018, I hope to publish Cozy Cringe, a seven book collection of novelettes and short stories, in print.

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