Hi everyone, and this week I’d like to introduce Reyna Favis to the Thursday Throng. Reyna spent more than a dozen years as a drug development genomics scientist before turning to write fiction full-time. Her previous publishing history includes scholarly articles. When not writing, she responds to callouts as a canine handler for search and rescue. She lives in Warren County New Jersey with her husband, a search dog and a coterie of pets.
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
I used to work for corporate America and I once gave a presentation where the introductory slide borrowed heavily from Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” It was one of those webinars where people from other company sites around the world called in to participate. While I concluded that corporate policy did not condone cannibalism, I have the strong impression that things could have gone either way if I asked for an immediate vote. About half of the audience was eager to go home at the end of the work day and the other half was just waking up. It was another episode of getting away with something that kept me entertained because no one else was really paying attention. I confess that I did quite a bit of this while working in the corporate sector and some of these stories are told on my blog, “Introvert Broadcasting Network.”
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
If you go to the Amazon reviews for “Soul Search,” you’ll see that numerous people have cited the inability to put the book down as a reason to buy it. As a writer, it is extremely gratifying to receive this kind of feedback from readers, especially since I put so much of my reality into this book.
“Soul Search” is a supernatural tale set in the search and rescue world. I have a Ph.D. in biology and bring a scientist’s critical eye to the unseen world, imposing logical consistency and mechanistic detail to the unexplained. As a nationally certified search and rescue technician, I drew from actual searches to bring rich detail to the story and used that to enhance authenticity. By anchoring the ghostly elements of the story in reality, I tried to suspend disbelief for the reader and deliberately aimed to create a book that could not be put down. For as long as the story lasts, the reader lives in that world.
What did the worst review you ever had say about you and your work?
One person told me that she did not like my book cover. I am generally open to criticism, but the cover depicts a stylized image of my search dog and I think it would hurt her feelings if she learned that someone criticized her appearance. She is a Plott hound, bred to hunt bear and she is an odd combination of fierce and loving. Like me, she is an introvert , but unlike me, she is also a sensitive soul. In matters of survival, it is important to never offend something that can take on a bear, so I haven’t shared this bit of feedback about the cover with her.
Are the names of your characters important to you?
The names of the human characters were carefully selected. I will give you the example of Fia. I liked the fact that the name origins include an allusion to fire. Fia is a fighter and the quintessential survivor. Emerging from a childhood where sensing the dead caused her to be institutionalized and fed a steady diet of anti-psychotics, she must now try to make her way in the adult world. Fia is still plagued by the often violent intrusions of spirits and she struggles to reclaim her life from both the stigma of mental illness and the path that she is being forced upon by demanding spirits.
The names of the search dogs mentioned in the story are not altered from their real life inspirations. As a way of giving back, 50% of author earnings are donated to the search team that these dogs serve (Search and Rescue Teams of Warren County) and to Wayward Plotts, a breed rescue organization.
How did you choose a title for your book?
Helping the lost living and dead run as parallel tracks in the story, so it’s important that both get equal billing in the title. I wanted something short and memorable for the title that could serve as a connection to the story and also for the other books in this series. “Soul Search” incorporated the search and rescue aspect of the story, as well as the ghostly element. I am currently working on the sequel and am calling it “Soul Scent,” highlighting the supernatural while emphasizing the role of K9 search and rescue in the story. ‘Scent’ is also a homonym for ‘sent’ and is used deliberately, since the sequel has a storyline that gives the spirits an opportunity to give back to those who sacrifice on their behalf.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Several people have asked me if I am a medium, if I can communicate with spirits. It is extremely embarrassing to have to admit that I am probably the least sensitive person that they will ever meet.
Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?
I have been a research scientist and have contributed to the fields of oncology and neuroscience biomarkers. I am an active member of a search and rescue team, specializing as a K9 handler. I currently write novels of supernatural suspense. If I were to choose another field to explore in my life, it might be rodeo clown because I could draw on my experiences in the corporate world to help me get started.
Have you ever written naked?
I have never written naked, but now I’m intrigued by the idea and might give it a try. One of the drawbacks to attempting this is that I have two dogs and two cats in my household. Each of them has five sharp ends. I think you can see where this is going.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t write naked without first carefully considering your work environment?
Seriously, I would recommend that writers take a page from Joseph Campbell’s life. He spent his years studying and teaching comparative mythology and was the author of “The Power of Myth,” “The Hero’s Journey” and several other great works. Joseph Campbell encouraged his students to become fully human by fully engaging with life: weep with all your being and laugh to the depths of your soul. Do that for your writing. Don’t be tentative; write passionately using everything in your being to give life to your characters and to drive the heart of your story into the heart of your reader.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT reyna and her BOOK?
You can find in Soul Search in paperback format here:
You can also catch up with Reyna on her website here: http://www.reynafavis.com/
WHY ‘THE THURSDAY THRONG’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.