Author Interview "Dámaso Avilés"
Dámaso Avilés was born and raised in Puerto Rico. From a young age, he developed an interest in writing, from poems, short stories, and novels, to plays and songs. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle and Secondary Education in Spanish and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Interamerican University. Prior to his career as a writer, he was a teacher in Puerto Rico; later, he moved to the United States where he began teaching in public schools in both Clayton and Atlanta, GA. Along with his passion for education, Avilés is inspired by his love for the environment and his vivid imagination, which can be seen in his upcoming release, The Yanira Island.
Avilés also has a passion for music and is skills in various string instruments like the cuatro, the guitar, and the bass.
You’re originally from Puerto Rico, tell me a bit about your journey to the United States?
The idea to work in the United States was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but at the same time it was a difficult decision to make because it was hard for me to leave my Island because I lived there for my first 37 years. In Puerto Rico I worked at two of the best Private Schools in the west of the Island and both were Bilingual Schools that offer all classes in English, except for the Spanish class. Clayton County Public Schools went to Puerto Rico in the summer of 2016 and I was interviewed and recruited to come to the United States to work as Spanish Teacher. I worked for one year and then I saw the opportunity to work in Atlanta Public Schools.
When did you start writing?
When I was in fourth grade. I started writing poems when I noticed that in Spanish we have a lot of homophones and homographs so I started to use both because both have a lot of words that rhyme. Then in fifth grade I wrote a script with rhymes and my teachers noticed my talent and told me to start writing plays for the school. They also recommend me with my Middle School and my High school. After that, working as a teacher I wrote plays for schools and also I wrote some songs.
The Yanira Island is your second book, tell me a bit about the first one
The first book was a novel with the intent of making a love story but because I utilize a lot of social issues the first publisher classified it in social criticism because I was asking to Puerto Ricans about the different ways that the racket (cheating, fraud, swindle, trick) apparently was existing everywhere there. The title was a question but some people took it as I was pointing some issues instead of asking about them. Another example is that I was watching on the news that some workers in the airport were making bad transactions but nobody saw them doing it, and that for me was very surprising because in the airports they have cameras everywhere. Then when that Publishing company went out of business they gave the wrights to another Company and they classified my novel as a politics novel. The thing with this novel was that I create it in that way, so it depends on the point of view of the person who read it that may classified it because I mix different situations related to social issues and each person reads the novel as they wanted to. For me was an awesome achievement.
What inspired you to follow up your first book with a fantasy series?
The series of fantasies has been due to several experiences that I have had in Puerto Rico where there are rivers, waterfalls and beaches everywhere and also the experiences I have had traveling through several places in Europe. And it's something I've always used since I was a teenager because the scripts I wrote were almost all related to fantasy, because I find it very easy to create fascinating characters and creatures. Twenty eight years ago in 7th grade I wrote as Script in which the animals were the protagonists and almost all the school loves it.
How did you come up with the concept for The Yanira Island?
I had the idea of this concept because water means life. There's no life without water. And I think it is very important to raise awareness about this and it made me very fascinating to think about the possibility of creating an island that would produce all the water on the planet, since it is something innovative and hard to believe and that led me to challenge my imagination. Nobody has this in any book yet and is something that makes me feel so proud because of the way that I create how that Island produce and conduct the water to the whole Planet Earth.
How would you describe the book?
My book is a mix of Innovative with Classic. Innovative because I create the creatures and the characters are from different parts of the world, and this is part of a different novel that I’m writing, and is also Classic because the characters use classic weapons like bows and some kind of knifes, and they also can make spells using potions. This book is also full of magic and enchantment, because the way that the gods make this Island was something magical. It’s also Intriguing because almost every chapter gives you a hint in the title but when you finish the chapter you can discover another things that maybe you weren’t thinking about it when you started to read. And I consider this book Inclusive in many ways, but I’m only go to share one of them (because the others are things that people need to discover in the Second and Third Part of the trilogy) and is the fact of the different origins of the characters.
What would you like your readers to take away from reading the book?
I expect my readers to want to know more about the characters and the Island, since there are many things that remain unfinished in both Part I and Part II. The trilogy is designed so that people try to come to their own conclusions which may or may not be what was expected. For example, since the beginning I talk about the gods but I didn’t mention any names because those gods are not the common mythological gods that people are used to hearing about, but at the same time when you are reading it you think about those gods because is the way that we learned about mythology, and this is something that I love to do: make people think and give them the chance to reach their own conclusions while they are reading.
About the book
The Yanira Island - For a long time, the Yanirens lived in peace on the Yanira Island. Their place in the world was to keep watch over the flow of the River of Life – a river that gave sustenance and life to the whole planet. But human life on the rest of the planet was not as peaceful as it was on their beautiful island, and the gods were divided on how to fix it. Some of them, disgusted and angered by the human beings, waged war. In a fierce battle between gods and humans, they cursed the river, obstructing its flow with a massive stone that no god or human could lift. But, in their anger, the cursing gods forgot one thing – the possibility of a demigod who could remove the stone. It was then that the gods who loved humans saw an opportunity to break the curse with the help of Terronius, a young peasant who had survived the battle.