Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Gaby Triana! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: February 17th 2021 Links:  Am...

Author Spotlight || Gaby Triana

Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Gaby Triana!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: February 17th 2021

The Craft meets The Shining in this slow-burn Florida gothic horror.

As the only daughter in her Cuban-American home, 18-year-old Valentina Callejas has been raised to do what her Catholic grandmother and mother say to do. But Valentina feels a different pull--an affinity with nature, a desire to read tarot cards and study the occult. After ditching her church's retreat and fighting with her family, Valentina flees her Miami home and ends up five hours away at Macy's house, a sister she's never met until now.

When a mysterious wolf leads Valentina to nearby abandoned Sunlake Springs Resort, she meets the "clairs," young psychics drawn to the hotel's haunted history. They've been waiting for her, they say, to open a magical entryway to the spirit world. But Valentina's sensitive hands tell a different story--of anguished spirits, menacing cracks, and hooded ghosts of Florida's hateful past. Even the local legend, the beautiful Lady of the Lake, all hint to the hotel's sinister history. To protect her new friends from the horrors awaiting them on the other side, Valentina must use her growing powers and decide, once and for all, if she's the witch she was always meant to be.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I'd always wanted to write a story set in a haunted hotel. In fact, my first ever completed novel is a middle-grade story called FREDDIE AND THE BILTMORE GHOST, set in the famous Biltmore Hotel of Coral Gables, FL. It was never published, but it's the book that got me started in fiction writing. The hotel in MOON CHILD, The Sunlake Springs, is loosely based on the Biltmore. Also, for three years, I kept having visions of an opening scene of a book where a Catholic girl would hide her witchcraft away from her strict grandmother and decided last summer that I had to write it next.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Valentina presented herself to me long before I wrote the book, as I said. She was always a witch in the broom closet, and I always knew that would be the basis for her character. Aspects of her personality and story developed later, of course, and some, like her suppressed rage, ended up becoming an important theme of the novel.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

Besides Valentina, I loved her older sister, Macy. I felt it was really important for Vale to have one person in her life that she could trust, who wouldn't lie to her and would always be there for her, even if she was new in her life. At times, we're not sure if to trust Macy, but that's not because of anything she did. It's because we're experiencing life through Vale's eyes, and Vale doesn't know who to trust.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

In my Haunted Florida series, it's plot a little more than character. In MOON CHILD, I decided early on, it was going to be character all the way. If the plot ended up weak as a result, I'd be okay with that, because this story had always been, since the beginning, about a Catholic Latina's struggle with her hidden identity, and that's what the focus needed to be.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I was shocked to discover how much of this book was about me in many ways. Valentina are not copies of each other, but aspects of her personality are, such as all the anger she was holding back. That was like therapy for me.

What books or authors influenced your own writing?

I've always been a fan of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lois Duncan. Nowadays I don't try and write like anyone else, but these folks definitely influenced my writing.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

I do read them, because I'm curious to see what people liked or didn't like. Also, because I like to see when people are happy with what I've given them. It's the reason I write--to entertain. Bad reviews don't affect me, though. I just shrug and move on.

What led you to start writing?

I've been writing my entire life. My ENTIRE life. :)

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I love gothic horror because of its moodiness and atmospheric quality. I love old Hollywood black and white 30s movies, I love the notion of abandoned castles, and violins playing in the middle of the night from somewhere behind a hidden passageway. I'm intrigued by secrets and by veneers covering something dark and rotten underneath."

What are you currently reading?

Right now I'm reading Christina Henry's The Mermaid, part of her series of dark retellings of classic fairy tales, although this one isn't about The Little Mermaid, as it sounds. It's about PT Barnum's famous Feejee Mermaid scandal. I just finished reading her other book, The Lost Boy, her take on the origin story of Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

I actually can't listen to any music while writing. I have a lyrical brain as well as a musical one after years of playing violin, and I can't listen to any kind of phrasing without wanting to hum or sing along when I'm supposed to be crafting a novel. It just doesn't work.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 

One day, you're going to be co-writing YouTubers Sam and Colby's book PARADISE ISLAND based on their creepy trip to Kauai, and it's going to be fun as hell.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

Young Frankenstein is one of my October classic favorites. I also love Dirty Dancing as a guilty pleasure. It's feminist, sexy, the dancing is great, and the soundtrack is the sound of my high school years. Moana is another favorite. The characters, the music, the grandmother's spirit as a stingray, omg I can't. It's a perfect movie.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?

A cat. They're cool and aloof, warm and loving to a few select people, loyal if you're loyal to them, and they give silent, deadly looks. When nobody is looking, they're total goofballs.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Oh, haunted mansion without even question. My husband proposed to me at the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, I convert my house to a haunted mansion every October, and I throw badass Halloween parties.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Everyone tells you "write from your heart." I'm going to give you a little bit of weird advice here: Yes, write from your heart, but to a certain extent. If you want to make it as a commercial writer and live off your writing, you also have to learn what readers want. You'll be writing for them more than for yourself. Learn everything about the genre you're writing in, listen to what the readers want, read reviews for other authors, and create a product that only YOU can give. Writing for ONLY yourself yields books that no one but you want to read. There has to be a balance. :)

GABY TRIANA is the bestselling author of 17 novels for teens and adults, including the Haunted Florida series (Island of Bones, River of Ghosts, City of Spells), Wake the Hollow, Cakespell, Summer of Yesterday (a tribute novel to Walt Disney World's River Country), and Paradise Island: A Sam and Colby Story. She's a short story contributor in Don't Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute Anthology to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a flash fiction contributor in Weird Tales Magazine, and the host of a horror-based YouTube channel called The Witch Haunt. Published with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Permuted Press, & Entangled, Gaby writes about witchy powers, ghosts, haunted places, and abandoned locations and has ghostwritten over 50 novels for bestselling authors. Her books have won IRA Teen Choice, ALA Best Paperback, and Hispanic Magazine's Good Reads Awards. She lives in Miami with her family and is at work on her next novel.

Visit her at
Twitter: @GabyTriana
IG: @GabyTriana
YT: The Witch Haunt

Gaby, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Be sure to check out Moon Child on February 17th!