Scorpius Magazine recently had the pleasure of talking to Jasmina Nevada, the author of The Mexican Dueña and learning more about her life, her writing process, and the possibility of a film adaption and upcoming projects.
Scorpius: You studied film in Los Angeles what drew you to the film industry and inspired you to be involved in that field?
Jasmina Nevada: Growing up, I had always watched the older generation of films with my family. My favourites that always struck me were some of the classic films such as Gone with the Wind and those without award status such as ‘This Property is
Condemned’ with Robert Redford and Natalie Wood. In both cases the films gave out a superb message to film audiences as well as great acting.
More modernly a range of genres from Brad Pitt, George Clooney to raw and striking indie films or documentaries which for me had an element of something that was different to the norm of storytelling in film.
Combined with today’s technological advances in filmmaking from using the latest Arri Alexa range of film equipment to using the iPhone or camcorder. Or the older style of filmmaking before digital became commonplace and used by filmmakers today to communicate their particular message. Two films with a similar genre or message could look very different according to the choice of the director.
Whether it’s fiction or truth, love or drama or war or documentary…. There is always a story that is always brought to life on screen and that remains as yet unchangeable.
Scorpius: The book originally started as a screenplay how was the process of changing it into a book format?
Jasmina Nevada: It really was a challenge and a tall order! A screenplay is a visual medium, which has to demonstrate in its entirety, literally how it would be seen and perceived on screen. For me writing in that style was similar to the improvisation classes I loved, which were spur of the moment actions and visually displayed
immediately. A screenplay demonstrates an emotion for example such as the inner and outward feeling of an actor in his location surroundings at any given moment. I was so used and was able to feel the presence of the story from setting the
scene in screenplay mode and point of view for the actor/director to visualise, as well as myself as the writer. I almost considered uploading the screenplay as an ebook, as I felt it reflected the events and the imagination of the reader or to be actor immediately and more accurately. But of course was halted by ebook submission guidelines of ePub, JPEG, or PDF, plus story writing guidelines!
Writing a book became a whole new ball game, I had to think out of the box, and format, in order to bring the story to life for a reader’s imagination to see what I could vision through writing. Drawing on my English essay lessons from school for guidance, and combining some speech and drama for effect. I felt it was important to also keep some Spanish words in the story for ‘sentido’ feeling & significance of understanding the story.
I did approach independently initially for quotes on formatting, etc but realised that I would be outputting more financially before the project was completed, and for a freelancer such as myself this would be impossible. I decided after much ado that self publishing means exactly that, so I stuck with that concept throughout the process, aside from a voluntary editor to polish the final draft, as reading one’s own work over and over for mistakes could be difficult.
I painstakingly, re wrote the story in essay or book form for the e-book using my original screenplay as guidance to ensure not to miss any small detail. Even though
it is considered a short book and not a novel type of 300 pages onwards. After that I re- wrote and edited a few times. I still was not satisfied as I got to the point where I could not see through the story. I had to print it out the old fashioned way to see it in black and white, to remove myself from the story and re enter it with a fresh mind The written story completed, I then set about looking at various images for self cover design. I was determined to find a vision & text that would be outstanding (from my point of view) to attract a reader at first sight, as this is their first visual on seeing the book. I was searching for a jigsaw piece to portray my vision of the beautiful landscape of the Pacific coast of Mexico until one day, I stumbled upon it by accident and added the title lettering.
I then set out to create a short synopsis, different to that of a logline or pitch in a screenplay to spark the reader’s attention. I thought I would publish with one outlet, rather than be mainstream, but that turned out to be unwise in today’s environment, so I stalled in a rut for a while, desperately trying to get the story seen.. As readers are used to different platforms and tend to go with a platform which they know, trust and are comfortable using. So I took to Twitter again to research a distributor, which took some time, as there were many. Eventually found one that would represent and distribute from Amazon, Apple books (iBooks) Nook, Kobo and all platforms including worldwide online libraries from Overdrive, Libby and Odilo and a few others.
Scorpius: The book is based on a true story of events that you had witnessed while travelling when did you decide that you wanted to write about that experience?
Jasmina Nevada: From the beginning, I always said I would write about it one day, as in Mexico the ‘telenovelas’ soap operas are very dramatic and generally based on a conflict and event with a landowner (dueno/dueña) and the people.
Mexico is a beautiful country with diverse landscapes, culture and Spanish language, but that can not always prepare one for challenges when moving to a new country. The events which occurred were shocking, due to an old law, that all land belongs to Mexicans, even though this has been modified now, for expats renting or buying land. I wanted to communicate that the path to living in tropical paradise as a new preferred way of life, may not be smooth and with unforeseen events.
Also, I always find myself thinking after an event whilst travelling, oh this should be common knowledge! I must write about this….
I was asked at a particular film writing class to provide a short summary of a screenplay, and I wanted to provide something that was different from the norm… So it went from there.. I was told it wasn’t ‘Hollywood’ enough, and it wasn’t what was selling now. But thousands of requests to read the final draft which I denied and locked in my virtual vault!
I continued to believe in my story and finished the screenplay. But it literally sat on my virtual shelf for a few years…whilst I travelled to various film festivals worldwide to interview film talent on red carpets, listening to their challenges which was insightful.
Scorpius: Do you plan on writing a follow-up book to this one?
Undecided as yet… As it depends how the book will be received, as there are millions and millions of books vying to be seen. I also have to see how it will work profit wise over time.
Scorpius: You had said that the book was intended for film, if it does become a film do you think that you would act in it or direct it?
Jasmina Nevada: Definitely, I would like to direct it, as the visual elements are firmly in my mind for storyboarding it to final product. Already have an idea of my ‘wish list’ of talented actors to act in it! I consider that I may also take a small cameo part too…
Scorpius: Your author profile on Amazon said that you plan on writing a series of books, can you tell us more about that project and what types of books you intend on writing?
Jasmina Nevada: Always will be based on true life experiences, and shared passions of mine, which are travelling, presenting and cooking varied cuisine and humanitarian issues.
The plan is for books relevant to today’s world, cooking/recipes and a small book relating to Latin American wildlife.
Though ‘The Mexican Dueña’ is my primary passion project at the moment and for the near future, still in marketing stage via Twitter and direct query approach via
email for film or a book publishing house. I am also working on a proper paperback version in a self publishing manner, as some still prefer a physical book as opposed to an ebook. So depends really on how this turns out……but fingers crossed…
To contact Jasmina – Twitter @JasminaNevada Or by email to Escondido Nevada Productions – firstname.lastname@example.org