What better way to become acquainted with an author than through a friend!
Tui, a longtime friend and former banking colleague introduced me to author Evelyn Infante, who goes by the pen name of Evels. From the get-go, my interest soared as I realized Evels is akin to the Energizer Bunny - she doesn't stop going. Chock-full of determination, Evels has two published books and one in the works. She's one tenacious and ultra spicy self-published author.
In her research, Evels found “a huge market for women of a certain age who like to read about similar women enjoying the best sex of their lives.” With this in mind, Evels first book, The Essence, inspired by The Bridges of Madison County, but with a “Move over 50 Shades of Grey” twist, is a romantic tale about reunion – along with the added complications of life, love, and sex.
204 East Broadway, Evels second fictional novel is the story of strong family bonds, in spite of the one person who betrayed them all.
Evels diligently pursues writing stories, without the limits of one specific genre. The end results are worth reading.
A) I liked writing when I first learned my ABC’s. I loved the angles of the letters and the beautiful handwriting teachers taught. My mother had beautiful penmanship, which I tried emulating, but it didn't work. As an adult, I write too fast thanks to the speed needed for stenography - a lost art, but helpful when I want to write down a quick thought.
I tried keeping a daily diary when I was thirteen. It was the thing to do. I bought a pink diary book with a lock and key; it made me feel I belonged to a special club. I soon found it boring to write down uneventful, routine events that were repeated on a daily basis. How many times can you write, “Tony looked at me today. He’s so fine,” or “My mother won’t let me stay out late. She thinks I’m a baby.” I wanted to write interesting things not only for me, but also for others. Staring at a blank page in that beautiful pink book left me puzzled. I didn’t understand what the big deal was and never wrote in the journal again. My love of writing grew in high school. I enjoyed reading the books assigned in English class and afterwards writing a composition about the story. English class was my favorite part of the school day. It opened me up to great writers who inspired me.
Q) What does writing mean to you?
A) There was a time when I was an introvert. The process of creating a story allowed me to pour all of my emotions onto paper. The more I wrote, the better I felt. In my twenties, I began a dream diary and wrote poetry, especially romantic poetry - since I’m an incurable romantic. In The Essence, I start off most chapters with one of my poems.
Discovering how our nighttime images reveal what’s really happening in our lives and how we can get insight into our psyche, intrigued me. Some of the dreams depicted in my current novels come right out of my dream journals. Jotting down my thoughts gives me a clearer understanding of what’s happening in my life.
Not until my forties did I begin toying with the idea of writing a novel. Although I thought about writing all the time and sometimes made up stories, I didn’t have the confidence to write a full-length novel, until inspired by the love of my life.
I already had a few story ideas in my head and thought it would be fun to write a romance novel, but I didn’t just want to write the “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back” kind of love story. I wanted to write a tale full of passion for middle-aged women. Those love stories are rarely told. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller is the only one I've read that features two mature people in love/lust. It was gratifying as an author when I presented The Essence to the Sisters Uptown Bookstore book club in upper Manhattan, which is made up of my target audience. The ladies rewarded me with rave reviews, which gave me the impetus needed to write my next novel.
Q) How do you fit writing into your daily routine and with what priority?
A) By the time I decided to write my first novel I was living in the Poconos in Pennsylvania and commuting to my full-time job in New York City, a two hour plus commute one way - five days a week. Time is therefore very limited, but I carry my laptop to work and use my lunch hour to write my stories, or arrive early and snatch a half hour when the office is empty. Being in the city all week packs my weekends with chores I cannot get to during the week; that cuts into my writing time, but since I am passionate about writing, I make the time. Of course, I am always thinking and jotting down notes. Being an author has become very important to me. If I could spend all of my day writing, I would.
Q) You have two published fictional novels, with a third in the works; all have different genres. Is it safe to say that you will not pursue a specific genre?
A) I’m an avid reader, interested in all types of books. If it’s a good story, I want to read it, no matter the subject. As a writer, I don’t want to be restricted to any one genre. Therefore, my stories are very different and the next one will have a different genre too - a murder mystery, which I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. I’m already challenged knowing that mysteries are difficult to write, but I’m doing my research and taking my time. I know the title, the main characters, major clue, and the ending, but I’m still researching murder weapon, and flirting with different motives. I’m very excited to begin the writing process. Unlike my first two novels, where I did some research but mostly wrote what I knew, I have already amassed quite a bit of information through investigation. This fictional novel will mostly be based on research and pure imagination.
Q) Of all your developed characters, which one remains with you after the story is completed and why?
A) All of the children in 204 East Broadway are unforgettable, but I have to admit that Solange is my most powerful character. She’s a brave little girl whose mission in life is to protect her siblings any way she can. Without her inner strength and sacrifice, suffering for the other kids would have continued longer than it did. She is my hero.
Q) Do you write what you know, or do you research?
A) It’s a combination of both. I think every writer inserts life experiences and beliefs into their work, but research is very important to lend authenticity to the story.
Writing 204 East Broadway, allowed me to get off my chest something I had wanted to shout from the rooftops all of my life and to help heal the children depicted therein. As I wrote, I realized that my book would further bring attention to what’s happening to children every minute of the day, all over the world. I went to the library and tried researching why sexual predators do the things they do. I found numerous books written from the victim’s point of view, but very little information of why sexual predators harm children. There are studies done on prison inmates accused of child molestation, but the research mostly led me to what psychologists deem are the reasons people do this. I quote some of the research at the end of the novel.
There are similar books such as mine; each with their own level of horror. Although based on a true story, I wrote 204 East Broadway as a fictional novel to protect the privacy of people I love very much. This is the story I have always wanted to tell; an emotional experience for me, but after numerous edits, I could stand back and read it as an impartial observer. I had exorcised all of my feelings, set them onto paper, and felt lighter for the effort. I hope this book will help heal those who have suffered under the hands of a sexual predator or abusive spouse.
Q) Is there a message in any of what you write?
A) The message for The Essence is that you’re never too old to find love and enjoy great sex, even when you don’t think of yourself as attractive. The world is a big place and if you close yourself off, you might never find someone who will make you happy. Life is short and we all deserve to be loved.
The message for 204 East Broadway, contains a subject - once taboo, that is coming out from the dark; as parents or caregivers, we must have a conversation with our children to respect their bodies and not let others inappropriately touch them. It's a conversation we don’t want to have but must since most often than not, children keep these terrible secrets which affect them for life. Above all, listen to our children no matter how young.
Q) What aspects of writing do you find the most difficult?
A) The most difficult part is editing. No matter how many times a manuscript is read, there is bound to be something missed. Being a Virgo, I strive for perfection; it’s frustrating for me to find mistakes after publication, which happened with my first novel. During my editing process I thought, “Writing is a piece of cake. Editing is a slab of liver.” Of course, marketing too is extremely difficult when time is limited. Since my next novel will be difficult to write, I'm not taking any chances, and will hire an editor.
Q) Why do you self-publish as opposed to traditional publishing? How successful has self-publishing been in regards to marketing your work?
A) Writing The Essence was fun. Trying to get it published was not. I made lots of rookie mistakes and got frustrated when publisher after publisher rejected it. Sometimes I’d get a nice note complimenting me on my writing, but it boiled down to, “Thanks but no thanks.” I tried getting an agent and realized that is a catch 22 endeavor. I gave up. My manuscript sat untouched for a few years until I again approached publishers with the same results. By this time people were downloading books and publishing houses were taking fewer chances with an unknown author.
Amazon came along and opened the world of self-publishing. Formatting the manuscript was not easy. I thought I could edit my document myself. I read the book so many times looking for errors that when I finally published, to my horror, a friend of mine pointed out the mistakes I missed. Feeling chastised, I immediately made the corrections and republished. I thought The Essence would now sell. Well, if an author doesn’t devote most of her life to marketing, her novel does not float to the top of the Amazon sea of books. It’s a learning experience discovering all the many ways to market a book.
I joined Facebook, a platform I had resisted for many years, but necessary to acquire fans. I also joined Twitter and Goodreads. I don’t have a blog other than the one on Goodreads which I enjoy posting to. I’m feeling more comfortable promoting myself and have had success with book signings and interviews. It’s nice to be recognized for hard work, but writing is more than fame. Developing a story in my mind and setting it to paper is what makes me happy. Writing is a way to shut out the outside world and delve into my imagination to create something that will hopefully resonate with the people I am trying to reach.
You can find Evels’ books at Amazon.com.