Doorman by trade. A writer by…..ALWAYS! Apart from his novel series, Hispanicus, Eddie H. Cisneros has two finished screenplays under his belt. A stylized thriller titled BEND about New York City homicide detectives on the trail of a serial killer and its sequel. He also served as a contributing writer for a real estate website with bi-weekly posts titled, “A Doorman Speaks” for a little over two years.
1. Mr. Cisneros this is your second interview with Write 2 Be Magazine and it’s a pleasure to be able to interview you again. I see that you’ve published the second book in your Hispanicus series. Can you tell us a little bit about what this book has in store for its readers and how the character has evolved since the first book? How long did it take you to write this follow up in comparison to the length of time it took you to write the first one?
Hispanicus: Abandoned Road picks up right where the first book left off. The main character of Antonio is still quite young but one of the plots in the story is the fact that Antonio has kind of gotten bored of just peddling weed to his schoolmates. He’s become obsessed at wanting to make more money but knows the only way to achieve that goal is by branching off and selling other types of drugs, an idea which his step-father basically forbids. So what does Antonio do? He goes behind his step-father’s back and does it anyway which sets off this huge rival type conflict between him and the character of Rolando, his step-dad.
In the end, Antonio starts to feel a lot of pressure around him. He has this constant beef with Rolando, throw in the mix two detectives who seem to be following him around and he also begins to have trust issues with his very own core group of friends. All this seems to become too much for him to deal with and Antonio decides he wants out, but to what lengths and how will he break free from this lucrative yet dangerous drug-dealing lifestyle he’s surrounded himself in?
One of the good things about writing this series was that I was so focused, call it “tunnel vision”. All I knew at one point or wanted to know was Hispanicus and my character of Antonio PIntero. I sat at my desk and just wrote and that’s all I did. Originally I envisioned this series to be four books but when I signed on with my publisher at Printhouse Books, it was decided to break the books down in order to draw out the series a little more but hopefully get readers so invested in the characters and the story itself, that they would continue to want more.
With that said, I’ve actually been able to finish like 75% of Hispanicus, giving me a bit of flexibility with starting some new projects for 2019.
2. So what other projects have you been keeping yourself busy with and where can our readers find your other works? What other publications are you currently writing for?
I continue to say that this year I’m going back to writing screenplays. I think my goal for this year is to at least finish one motion picture screenplay and also work on this other idea I have for a sitcom. I’m currently still signed with Printhouse and looking forward to the third installment of Hispanicus being released sometime during the summer. It’s about keeping busy. Like they say, “writer’s write”
3. You say that you maintain your job as a New York City doorman but my question is how do you find the time to write and work on as many projects with such a seemingly fast paced job such as that one? Do you ever find that the people you meet as a doorman help to inspire your stories in some way?
I don’t want to say exactly how many years I have on the job but, throughout my career as a doorman, I’ve always said I feel fortunate. While an author needs the imagination to create a world and its characters, some inspiration comes from situations or even real people someone may know. It helps. And working as a doorman, I’ve been able to meet and know so many different individuals from all walks of life that when it comes down to writing, I’d say yes, perhaps some of my fictional characters in my writing, whether its a certain way they speak or a particular mannerism, are based on certain people I’ve met while my time working the door.
Another secret? I actually have this memoir I wrote some time ago based on my life as a doorman. I haven’t really pushed it much once I got involved with my series of Hispanicus but, maybe 2019 also brings about the big doorman tell all. Fingers crossed.
4. Do you like to read the same style of books that you write in? Do you find it harder to find the time to read if you are currently working on writing a novel of your own? What other authors are you currently reading at the moment? Are you more of an e-book person or a traditional book person?
I have read a few in my time. What’s funny is that I am a huge fan of horror/ thrillers and my series of HIspanicus borders more on the lines of urban drama. Although I keep saying how eager I am for the third installment to drop because my love for horror kind of shines through at times during the course of the story. For readers of the series, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
When I’m in the zone as far as writing, yes, I do find it difficult to engage in a book, any book for that matter. And it’s simply for not wanting to be distracted by another storyline and different characters. I need to feel that what I’m writing is genuine and adheres to the parameters I’ve set forth in my fictional world and nothing more.
The last book I read was one my wife picked up for me while she was away on a trip. It was called Creative Inspiration by Vincent Van Gogh. There isn’t much text to read, essentially it’s a collection of sketches by Van Gogh along with quotes. There was actually one I posted on Twitter once. It went like this: “For the great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together.” To me, it was representative of the journey I feel that I’m on as a writer. While I can revel in the fact that I’ve been fortunate in various accomplishments with my writing, I also feel that each event is like a building block for me to grow as a writer and hope to continue to achieve greater things in life as an author, and all of that comes one step at a time.
I know times are very much changing but I can’t help it. I’m still and possibly forever will be team traditional. I just feel there is nothing better than to have in one’s hand a physical copy of a book and being able to flip through the pages. Listen, if, for nothing more, I think it’s still cool looking to have a den or a library in one’s home with a massive library of books. With so many things becoming obsolete I think it’s safe to say books are something we should collect and hold onto.
5. What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Have you had to deal with a lot of rejection within your writing career thus far? I see that you’re with an Independent publisher. What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing? How have you found working under contract of an Independent publishing company and how different do you think it is from traditional publishing?
One of the greatest things happened to me to finish off last year and that was finally, finally, after countless queries and emails sent to various literary agents throughout many years, and countless rejections, I am happy to say that I have representation as an author. While it came as a great relief, it also happened very fast that it wasn’t until I received some paperwork in the mail, and like going over it several times, that it truly sunk in. Apart from being published, it’s one of those moments as a writer, that you strive for. To have the backing of someone in the literary field that is basically serving as an advisor and a mentor, someone that is there to guide you and push you to be a better writer, it really is a special feeling and I am grateful for it.
You mention rejections and as I said, I’ve dealt with all kinds and many of them. I can’t even tell you how many agents and publishing companies all said no to me for whatever reasons. And I think that as a writer, while those rejection letters and emails I would receive are sometimes depressing, and you kind of feel like saying sometimes, “that’s it, I give up” you can’t. You have to keep sending out queries, you have to keep writing. I had to change my line of thinking and believe me, it’s hard but, by doing so, it actually helped me a great deal with learning how to cope with rejection and staying positive. Suddenly my attitude wasn’t about sulking and wanting to quit writing forever but more on the lines of, “okay, this person doesn’t feel I’m good enough, oh well, that’s their loss”. I started taking the rejection emails and putting a positive spin to them. If someone said no, then that just meant I had to push myself as a writer even more so, I had to fine-tune and be better. And by staying positive, I was able to take what would be deemed as a setback, and turn it into a step forward.
When sending out queries for Hispanicus, I did try and reach out to many of the mainstream publishers. But, for whatever reasons at that time they just weren’t interested, it is what it is. Enter Printhouse Books, and I’ve been signed with them since and I feel comfortable and happy that so far everything has been on the up and up. And even though they are considered an independent publisher, I’m just grateful that I have the backing of a publisher and it’s not about trying to make money but I genuinely feel that they have shown support and believe in my project of Hispanicus the same way I feel about it. I’m not going to knock traditional publishing, in many ways, doing research the last several years I learned that publishing, in general, was changing. I think both traditional and independent nowadays do so much as far as getting an author’s name out there but for the most part, the author themselves have to really work hard to promote and push their book and name as well. Be it through social media and going out to book fairs and making the rounds to all kinds of ways in order to attract readers. So on that level, I believe publishing has changed compared to back in the days where an author was given a contract and all that person did was sit back and hope his or her book did well and that was it.
I also feel that the independent route gives more opportunity for those authors who have stories to tell, that may be dark, that may deal with issues considered gritty or risque. And some of these stories are what mainstream pubs don’t seem to want to get their hands dirty with. Again, no knock, but, I’m happy where I currently stand and like I mentioned before, looking forward to the release of the third part in my series.
6. Do you outline your novels? Do you have a schedule for when you write? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
There were times when I used to write things down in a book. Sort of like an outline. I guess it had a lot to do with me thinking I was going to be this big rapper back in the days. I would walk around with my pen and pad and jot down lyrics and things like that. But for me now as I’ve gotten older, as crazy as this might sound, I think it’s just easier for me to retain information in my head and go into my cerebral cortex when needed and pull out what I have to for whatever project I’m going to work on. I think if I were to jot down random ideas on paper, I’d eventually confuse myself. I have all these ideas in my head right now but if I need to write about my series Hispanicus, then I know already where to continue and how it’s going to play out. If it’s an idea for a screenplay that I want to write, I know what characters I have in mind, what the plot of my story is going to be, all of that. If anything, the hardest part for me would be physically sitting down in front of my laptop and start writing what I need to.
The good thing is that I’ve never had a deadline or a time frame in which something I was writing had to be finished. Perhaps that changes a bit now with having an agent/manager, but for me, it’s really about getting into a nice flow and when that happens, I might be able to write several pages a night. If anything, the one negative that I have is this bad habit of writing like four or five paragraphs of material and then I’ll go back several pages and re-read everything up to the newest parts I’ve written. By doing that I tend to prolong either finishing up a chapter of a story or even wrapping up a project.
7. So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?
I know it’s going to sound a bit vain but I do admit when I first received my first shipment of books. My head was like yeah big and I kind of found myself thumbing through the pages of my own book and began reading it. Although, for the record, I didn’t read the entire book from the first page to last. So, I don’t think it’s that bad.
8. Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My entire series of Hispanicus out and a ton of readers having picked it up and read it and basically having fallen in love with it. Having several movie scripts sold, perhaps a sitcom. Not working opening doors anymore, although there’s nothing wrong with that. I may come off as a dreamer but, I am grounded. I do take things in stride, one day at a time. But when it comes down to writing, that is something I am truly passionate about and I really do feel in my heart that by pushing myself, I’m destined for some great things.
9. Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
Definitely not! Detracting a bit from the question as far as the writing part, I think in general, it’s never too late to do many things. If someone has a passion for something, all you have to do is try. To me, the biggest regret in life would have to be dealing with the “what if?” If someone has always felt they wanted to pursue something, I say go for it, at least try because someone will never know how truly successful they may have been, or how good they can be if they never stepped up and took a chance and tried.
10. I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
The written word has so much power behind it. And I think it’s quite special when one can put together a story and have someone read it, and their reaction is on the lines of having been moved or having felt connected with a certain character or even understanding a situation in the story. I remember being on the phone once with my now agent Sam David, and she asked me a simple question, which was “What makes your writing different?” I would have to say when it comes to my series of Hispanicus, the writing is raw, it’s gritty, it basically pulls no punches, and it’s from the heart. And while the story is fictional, it still has this depth of realism to it that readers are drawn in. To me, the greatest part of reading some reviews of the book that were posted by readers was things like, how much they hate a certain character or love another, that they were sad, mad and even a bit depressed at times throughout the story. Again, that shows me that I was able to connect with readers and engage them on some kind of emotional level. And if I’m able to do that, then yes, my writing does have a purpose, and to me, it’s quite possibly one of the coolest feelings a writer could have.