Blasquez Figueroa, the author of The Big Day, was born in Brazil. He’s been an avid reader since childhood, mostly due to his mother’s influence. On his teenage years he came in contact with writers such as Edgard Alan Poe, H. P Lovecraft and Stephen King, and that drove his interest towards the horror and suspense genres.
Even though he acknowledges the impact of the “terror trio” on his literary tastes, he enjoys a big deal of other authors and genres, being a huge Tokien fan. He is currently writing short stories for a collection, which he intends to release on later 2021.
TBE: Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created.
Blasquez Figueroa: For some time I had a character on my mind. I start to picture him doing some uncommon, beyond natural, things. He did that because he lived an uncommon life. The more I tried to think about that uncommon life, the more I felt the need to know more about the past of that character. It got to a point where I, as writer, realized I had to know how that particular character came to be the character I was trying to picture. So that’s how The Big Day was born, as a personal effort to know more of a growing character. A little later on, the whole story became deeper to me, so it wasn’t just an issue of telling a kind of origin story, but also of telling it in a proper way.
TBE: How do you come up with the title of your book and what is the significance of the title?
Blasquez Figueroa: The Big Day is, for the main character, the day when things are set to change for real in his life. Although it’s a dangerous day, he thinks he can handle it easily. He also believes only positive things will come out of it. However, as the day progresses, he is faced with a moral dilemma and choices which, he knows, aren’t devoid of consequences. So what starts as a buoyant and euphoric day, evolves into a darker and complicated one.
TBE: How this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
Blasquez Figueroa: As a matter of fact the book started on my mind with the word “Chosen”. I knew I wanted to have a kind of origin tale, in a effort to know more about that particular character I was trying to build, so the whole Chosen thing came to mind and got the train rolling… There’s a odd side answer to this question because, the last three paragraphs of the part two of the book were the first things ever to be written on the first draft, when it was still a manuscript. I think it was when I moved from manuscript to typing that I saved that “beginning” to almost the end of the book. After that I rewrote the first lines, in a kind of paraphrase and went on typing…
TBE: I found the atmosphere in the book deliciously dark. How conscious do you have to be of language to create such an effect?
Blasquez Figueroa: Well, thank you! I think descriptions are key to create atmosphere. Before writing some scenes, I would close my eyes for several minutes, trying to create a living picture of what I wanted to write. I tried to pay attention to small details, like, would this place be windy, or would the air feel clogged, and how it would affect the characters. I really wanted readers to see the picture within my mind. However, even though they are key, descriptions can become tiresome after a while. So I tried to keep a balance of good descriptions, while maintaining the unfolding of the narrative.
TBE: Do you have the details in the story planned beforehand, or do you develop the story as you are writing it?
Blasquez Figueroa: Usually I like to know where I want to get with a character or the story itself. My basic plan might be to get from point A to point L, for example. Also I have some ideas of what points B, C and D might or should be. However, I try to leave some room for the characters to move a little by themselves. This is one thing that The Big Day has showed me, I mean, not to overthink about what characters must be doing. Instead of planning every single step of the characters I try to listen to them, try to focus on their personalities and how it affects the unraveling of the events.
TBE: Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?
Blasquez Figueroa: I think I based much of main character’s naivety on my own teenager self. He believes in what people say. That is not a bad thing, because he owns to his words, but unfortunately, as we all know, the world isn’t a liable as this. When I was about his age I would find myself in awkward situations. Like one time when, after school, I got home with a new watch. It was shiny and expensive looking, but I had bought it from a classmate for a really cheap price. It was ridiculously cheap, like buying a watch for 5 when it real price was beyond 100!
My parents were mad at me, because they saw through the lies of my classmate, but at first I couldn’t understand their concern! I was like, come on, my classmate told me this is a good watch he got from his uncle or something… So, although there are no stolen watches on the book, I definitely took my naive self as a pattern for the main character.
TBE: Who’s your favorite character from the book and why?
Blasquez Figueroa: This might sound odd at first, but I really like Tonico. It’s a character that has grown over me. Although he is not an antagonist, not in the strict sense of the word, he is not on the side of the good guys either! I like him because, as he says at some point in the story, he consciously treads a gray path. He perceives himself as criminal with a moral code, an unique compass which guides him amidst choices that are never completely wrong or right. I think it makes him a vivid and believable character. Even though he is criminal, in his mind he tries to act with decency, and that makes him special.
TBE: How do you see the relationship between fantasy and reality?
Blasquez Figueroa: I think both can be employed on the writing of good fiction. No matter how different and unique a fantasy might be, the character’s interactions will retain some level of our objective reality. Also, when dealing with reality in fiction, a certain dosage of fantasy is common. For example, if you think about “The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas”, by Machado de Assis, you will see it’s a fiction which has deep roots on reality, however, the protagonist, who is also the narrator, is dead. He tells us the whole story from “beyond the grave”, something which is only possible due to fantasy. So, on the literary field, I think that fantasy and reality, can be employed as two sides of the same coin.
TBE: You must have done a lot of research on fantasy and reincarnation in particular and learned a great deal about them. Did you learn anything that surprised you?
Blasquez Figueroa: I have to tell you that I did not research anything about reincarnation for the writing of The Big Day. My knowledge of the issue is just cursory. As a matter of fact, when I was writing the book, I tried to stay away from any explanation that would scream “Reincarnation!” on the pages, letting readers to name it for themselves, if they wanted to. For me, reincarnation is quite subjective, and I didn’t want to offend any belief readers might had. So I tried to employ it as a plot device on my book, rather than a theme on itself, but surely I can understand readers who perceive things at another terms.
As for the role of the fantasy genre, I guess it’s just because I am a fan of Tolkien and Stephen King. Stephen King is mostly known for his horror books, but readers of The Eyes Of The Dragon and The Dark Tower series will understand why I’m putting good old Steve under the fantasy umbrella… And, did I mention Tolkien? Oh, yes, I did…
TBE: In your view, who are the best fantasy fiction writers?
Blasquez Figueroa: Oh, my… Well, Tolkien is my favorite. He is so good, on many levels of writing. He is also quite challenging, which I think is something very important when dealing with fantasy. You have to challenge your reader, not just gift him/her with beautiful and enticing vistas, but instigate them to chase those vistas.
J. K. Rowling is another obvious choice. You can’t just ignore the whole universe she created for the Harry Potter series, while dealing with the coming of age trope in such a classy manner.
TBE: Have you ever learned anything thing from a negative review and incorporated it in your writing?
Blasquez Figueroa: Yes! When you write with a purpose, when it gets written down they way you wanted, there are no negative reviews. People will judge based on their biases and expectations. If your writing does not match such expectations, it’s not your fault. It’s not the other person fault, either. It’s just a matter of communication not happening in the way you thought it would. That doesn’t mean your writing is garbage. Keep writing with a purpose, keep writing the way you want it to be.
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about any book?
Blasquez Figueroa: Every book should present a challenge. When you have a Saramago in your hands, you have the language challenge. If it’s Tolkien, there’s descriptions aplenty. When you have J. K. Rowling, you have the challenge of following the chain of events. When you have a Stephen King, mostly, the challenge is not to die of fright! Challenges in books are like taste, it’s what makes them delicious.
TBE: What are some must-read titles in your genre?
Blasquez Figueroa: How not to mention Tolkien again? Well, the fantasy genre is full of grandiose characters and events, and I think people really like that. However, there’s Terry Pratchett, a lovely author, whose stories are full of the best humor the human race has ever created. I don’t see Pratchett mentioned outside the inner circles of sacred nerd fantasy, not as much as Tolkien or Rowling, for instance, so I’d say Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series are a must-read, like, believe me, for real.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Blasquez Figueroa: I am currently writing short stories for a collection. I have six already done, and at least another five waiting to be completed. They fall, mostly, under the suspense and horror genres, and although some are quite short, like three pages or less, some of them may become longer. I plan to finishing them until the first half of 2021, maybe sooner. Also, I have two books being hatched on my mind. So I have a lot to think about before sleeping every night