Friday, January 17, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Eva A. Blaskovic

Eva A. Blaskovic, Author
Author Eva A. Blaskovic brings us BEYOND THE PRECIPICE, her first full-length novel described as  “a powerful story that many teens and adults will relate to.” The book features an 18-year-old and reviewers say it “captures exactly how young people think and feel, especially creative ones.”

Originally from the Czech Republic, Blaskovic grew up in Canada, where she worked as a teacher and writer of non-fiction and raised four children. A musician herself – she counted that she has played a total of eight keyboard, string, and wind instruments – she used music to “heighten the impact of the story.” She hastens to say, however, that readers can substitute any passion for music.   

Q:  Reviewers of BEYOND THE PRECIPICE recommend that all teenagers should read the book, but they also claim adults, too, should read it. Did you intend for it to reach out to youth especially? Or is the book targeted at both adult and youth?

Eva A. Blaskovic: Thank you for inviting me to do this interview.

Since the protagonist, Bret, is eighteen, his lifestyle and his internal and external conflicts hold insights for youth. However, due to the book’s complexity and life lessons, the book has a great deal of meaning for adult readers, many of whom find they relate to Bret on some level. The inclusion of older characters adds another layer of dynamic, which both youth and adults can view from their current perspectives. It became apparent soon after the conception of the book that it would speak to adults because of the psychology involved and the life experience required to digest it fully. However, I also hoped to appeal to a younger readership, in part because I wanted youth exposed to certain messages earlier in life than when I had discovered them, and because of the protagonist’s age. In addition, two of my four children were in their teens at the time of the book’s conception, with the other two soon to be, and I wanted them to be able to relate as well.

The book contains some mature language and material, but youth as young as thirteen have read it (“Hurry up and write the next book! I want to read it!”), students in high school English classes have found it realistic (“I like it because it’s relevant. It’s a story I can relate to and learn from.”), forty-something men (“Are you sure this isn’t about me?”) and women (“It’s intense. The suspense is incredible.”), including readers who don’t typically do fiction (“I don’t normally read fiction, but I couldn’t put this down. I’m going to read it again.”), and older adults (“Outstanding! … a depth and authenticity that should make a big impression on many readers.”) have all taken something from the book.

Q: Why do readers find your protagonist Bret a compelling character to care about?

Eva A. Blaskovic: Perhaps because, even though Bret is gifted on many fronts, he has significant character flaws; he’s thoroughly screwed up and conflicted, and undervalues each aspect of himself. Giftedness for him is a sentence, not an advantage. He tries hard but stumbles like the rest of us, if not more. He struggles through a difficult youth with the goal of doing some good in the world, even vindicating himself, which drives him onward. His heart is in the right place, but he is all too aware that just by being himself, he has already hurt people. When Nicole Willoughby and her family enter his life, he does not want his problems to affect and hurt them, but the striking contrast between Nicole’s family and his own drives him to a breaking point. How he handles this and the decisions he makes at this time determine his future. His family difficulties, the responsibility that comes with adulthood, and his struggle to find his path in life are things that many readers identify with.

Q:  You are originally from the Czech Republic. Did your background influence your story in any way? What led you to write BEYOND THE PRECIPICE?

Eva A. Blaskovic: I was not quite five years old when I left Prague, and was unable to go back until 2011. What I had all those years, however, was some of my family members’ values and beliefs. As I moved through my teens and into young adulthood, I collected many models, pieced them together, and began to define the kind of person I wanted to be at my core. One of the things I believe I inherited, but also consciously embraced, is the attitude of investing in people, especially youth. This attitude is strongly portrayed in Dr. Kern Willoughby. I believe Kern holds an important message for our society.

Q:  What is “The Precipice”? Please don’t tell us if knowing the answer is a “spoiler.”

Eva A. Blaskovic: I’ll say this much. The title BEYOND THE PRECIPICE has a double meaning: both physical and metaphorical. In the metaphorical sense, Bret stands on the precipice of his life. If he has faith in himself as well as in those who try to help him, will he fly? Can he confront, process, and move beyond the past that haunts him on so many levels?

Q: Did you write BEYOND THE PRECIPICE to entertain readers? To teach? To deliver a message?

Eva A. Blaskovic: I wrote BEYOND THE PRECIPICE because it had many messages—issues I had studied, observed, and harbored much of my life in one form or another. I hoped people would consider what youth such as Bret, and older adults such as Kyra, his mother, face in our society because of attitudes and beliefs about both the value of human potential and money. It is a complex story of character, revolving around social and family dynamics and values, and incorporates the psychology of grief, guilt, rejection, and abuse against a backdrop of the life-giving power of unconditional love, forgiveness, and the importance of being true to oneself. It is a dark story, but readers find the hope within.

Bret’s story is complex, and in order to get the most out of it, young readers should be willing to think and consider. Although it is not light reading, it was written with the intent to entertain, as any book needs to. But, along the way, it has the potential to teach and enlighten, depending on what a reader decides to take away from the story. Substitute any passion for music, and the same logistics apply. Many readers have identified with the family dynamics of Bret’s life, or even faced parental death situations. Readers of BEYOND THE PRECIPICE have spanned from age thirteen to beyond seventy, and all have enjoyed the book. Without a doubt, each age group defines a different message in terms of what the story means to them.

Q:  You are a writer of non-fiction as well as fiction. Do you prefer one to the other? Can you exploit your non-fiction skills to apply to fiction?

Eva A. Blaskovic: In truth, for me, the two cannot be compared in terms of preference, since they target specific areas and have different motivations behind them. The processes and approaches are distinct, although non-fiction benefits from the creative abilities of fiction, and fiction exploits the tight writing I learned through non-fiction. But fiction deals with transcribing images and moods into words, which must then be processed by the reader to recreate the events back on their sensory levels, whereas non-fiction comes generated in words, and is therefore faster and more straightforward to write. That’s the biggest difference for me, I would say; non-fiction is faster, although it, too, undergoes rigorous processing, and fiction is comparatively slow. Except dialogue, which is simply taking dictation. Then it’s just a case of getting the tag lines right to ensure the reader has the correct pacing.

Q:  Are you a musician? How important is music to your story in BEYOND THE PRECIPICE?

Eva A. Blaskovic: Yes, I am a musician—or, rather, was. I had to sit down the other day and count up the number of instruments I’ve played. It’s eight. I’ve played keyboard, string, and wind instruments, which is a broad spectrum. Was I Bret? Not by a long shot. But music is something of a food group for me.

As for importance to the story, a reader can substitute any passion for music. But in the specific sense, music gives the book its own flavor and living element. The music components and descriptions heighten the impact of the story and give it a personal touch.

Q:  How do you define villains and heroes? Is the concept relevant to BEYOND THE PRECIPICE?

Eva A. Blaskovic: Real people are not at one end of the extreme or the other; they display varying degrees of goodness, or lack thereof. The terms “hero” and “villain” may serve to provide placement bearings along the spectrum. Perhaps a hero is ultimately someone who succeeds at generating net goodness, whereas a villain does the opposite. That’s not to say a villain cannot have some endearing qualities, or a hero inspire you to slap him silly and shake some sense into him. Some people have kinder hearts than others, but what begs explanation is why. Are people who come across as villains innately evil, or are they victims? And, when put to the test, why do some people come out on top in spite of their circumstances? Is it the goodness in their heart? Their resiliency? The formative power of some critical aspect of their childhood? These are the questions BEYOND THEPRECIPICE invites people to contemplate.

Several characters in BEYOND THE PRECIPICE can be considered heroes, and a few, or at least one, depending on what the reader determines, can be perceived as villainous. I can’t say much more or it will interfere with the discovery process and subsequent conclusion each reader makes for himself. BOOK TWO exposes additional detail about several of the characters and the reasons behind their motivations.

Q:  What’s next? Will you continue to write fiction? Can we anticipate another novel?

Eva A. Blaskovic: Technically, it’s not a choice. I’ve been a fiction writer all my life, since before I could physically put pen to paper, compelled to write no matter what the obstacles or consequences. I’m targeting late 2014 as the release date for BOOK TWO, and my publisher, Ashby-BP Fair-Trade Publishing, wants a third book to complete the trilogy. (In theory, there could be a prequel as well.) Sadly, I am unable to write full time at this point, so weaving my writing around the necessities of daily life and work is an ongoing challenge, especially since fiction requires large blocks of unbroken time in order to plug in all the subtleties, foreshadowing, and links that made BEYOND THE PRECIPICE the book it is today. BOOK TWO requires more research and has big boots to fill.

Q:  Tell us about Eva Blaskovic.  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Eva A. Blaskovic: I’m a single parent. Most of the time, I’m working to make ends meet. The question works in reverse: when I’m not working, I’m writing. I’ve just finished a phase of life that involved concurrent jobs, courses, martial arts, and the raising of a young family. As the future unfolds, I hope to devote more of my time to writing, enjoying live music and festivals, and frequenting fine cafés and restaurants.  

About Eva A. Blaskovic

Eva Blaskovic was born in the Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where she raised four children. Eva has worked in science labs and has taught literacy, writing, math, and science. She is both an accomplished writer and editor of non-fiction articles on business, education, how-to, parenting, and travel. She is also an author of short fiction. BEYOND THE PRECIPICE is Eva Blaskovic's first full length novel, but it has already received rave reviews from literary professionals and aficionados the world over. When Eva hasn't buried herself in writing or editing, she may be found taking her teenagers to Taekwondo, exploring the Farmers' Market, listening to Celtic music, or sipping a latte.

A young man with a dark secret must choose between his family and the girl he loves.

For six years Bret Killeen is trapped by the wishes of his dead father, blackmailed by his brother, and rejected by his uncle. Meanwhile, he watches his mother descend into the depths of poverty.
As Bret wrestles with guilt over the death of his father, he is helped by Nicole, a young cello player with big dreams. She stirs the embers of his longing both for music and for her - and ignites a fire he can't extinguish.

But can he brave his past in order to seize his future?

The award-worthy debut novel by Eva A. Blaskovic is a riveting blend of suspense, dark humor, and compelling inter-personal drama. Once you engage this roller coaster read you won't be able to stop.

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**Tour sponsored by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours**

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