by Gaby Triana
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Today is the interview that I had with Gaby Triana on her YA book, Wake the Hollow. It’s a creepy tale that uses the old tale of the headless horseman! Meet her and try not to be excited about her book as much as I was.
Hi Gaby! We’re so glad to have you at A Leisure Moment! When I saw your book, I knew I had to read it, and it did not disappoint. To start off, why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi! Thank you for having me! I used to be a teacher and a cake designer, all while writing YA the last 15 years too. I live in Miami with my three boys, I love Disney World, Halloween, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and cats. Yes, just having taken in my 4th cat at home, I’m officially a cat lady.
How is this book different than other things that you have written? I read in your acknowledgements that it’s a story you’ve been working on for quite awhile!
I wrote WAKE THE HOLLOW in 2008, and since then, it’s gone through quite a few revisions. It used to be YA, then it was new adult when NA was new, then it was teen again. I wrote it when editors were saying things like “paranormal books are on their way out,” SO I wasn’t having luck getting it sold and the timing was just off. But I never gave up, because this is and will always be my favorite of my YA books (but please don’t tell the others). I’m just happy knowing that readers will finally get to see it.
What inspired you to write a “Sleepy Hollow” inspired book, where did you get the idea?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” As a teacher, I used to read it to my 4th grade students, and it was a great story to analyze, especially when teaching about open endings. I knew I’d have to write something LOSH related when I started plotting my next book. While researching the life of Washington Irving, I discovered lots of interesting facts that could work amazingly well together if I could make the dots connect, so I made that my mission.
Each chapter begins with a quote from the original “Sleepy Hollow” story. Did you pick the quotes based on what happened next in the chapter?
I’m really proud of those opening quotes. After writing each chapter, I’d flip open my old copy of LOSH and search for a quote to foretell what would happen in that chapter. When I had to revise the book several times, it was a challenge having to remove some quotes and replace them with new ones, but it worked really well to build suspense. Plus, if you’re a fan of the classic tale, it only boosts the atmosphere even more.
The main character, Micaela Burgos, hates Sleepy Hollow and dreaded coming back, partially because of the broken relationship with her mother that she knew she’d be forced to face, and also because of a tight-knit town. How did family and heritage play into your writing?
Not many readers know this, but I include my Cuban heritage into every book I write. Every YA novel of mine has either a Cuban-American main character or supporting character. When I began plotting WAKE THE HOLLOW, I thought how on Earth am I going to include a Cuban heritage in a story about a man as American as apple pie? When I began doing research on Washington Irving, whose history features into this novel, it became clear to me and I began to connect the dots. Without giving too much away, I think it worked rather well, yes?
I think mostly everyone knows the story of the headless horseman, but Mica and the rest of the town know a lot about Irving that I had never heard. How much research was involved in writing the book?
A fair amount of research, but like most novels with historical content, I had to fill in the blanks with some of it. One challenge in writing WAKE THE HOLLOW was keeping it from having too much history. I mean, I found it interesting, and many others might too, but I didn’t want the history to take over the story, only enhance it.
Mica’s mother had an obsession with dolls, and I must say, it added to the creepy factor of the book. Why dolls?
I chose dolls because Mica’s mother was growing increasingly distant, so much that Mica felt she had to live with her father six years before the book begins. Her mother’s research took up most of her time, but I wanted Mica’s resentment to go deeper than just the Sleepy Hollow folklore. The idea of lots and lots of dolls, other girls, evil stepsisters, to replace her in her mother’s heart seemed just the right thing. Of course, we learn more about the dolls as we go along, things that shape Mica’s perceptions.
You threw me for a loop toward the end. I was questioning who I could trust the entire time! There were characters that I couldn’t believe I had started to question and others where I thought, “Should’ve seen that coming!” Did you know how you were going to end the book when you started writing?
No, and for me, knowing the ending in this book wasn’t going to help me keep an even keel. I was afraid I’d give it all away, so I kept even myself in the dark. In fact, the ending was one of the things that changed multiple times from earlier versions of the book.
Is this all we’re going to see of Mica, or will there be more to her story (I would love for there to be more, just saying)?
I have the story of what happens next brewing in my head, so I would love to write the sequel! It all depends on how much readers want to see it too, and from what I’ve been seeing so far, there’s lots of interest!
Lastly, I must know, do you watch the show Sleepy Hollow, too?
I did watch a few episodes at the beginning, but I haven’t been a huge viewer. In part, because I didn’t want it to affect my view of the classic tale, but also because I’m just so busy writing these days, I rarely watch TV anymore. I heard it’s good and many like it.
Thanks for having me!