Mario, in his own words:
When I was four years old, my aunt asked what I wanted for Christmas. My answer: “I want a machine gun.” So even at that tender age, my expectations from life were a little different than most.
Years later, I bought my first computer and decided to write a novel. Four computers later, and with six unpublished manuscripts gathering dust under my bed, I finally wrote a story good enough to get the interest of an agent and a publisher.
I was born in El Paso, Texas, and spent most of my childhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with travels to visit family in Pacoima, California, and Chihuahua, Mexico. After graduating from New Mexico State University, I was commissioned into the Army to serve in the Infantry where I finally got to play with machine guns. Later I hoodwinked the Army into letting me fly attack helicopters. (If you’ve ever seen me drive, you’ll wonder about the wisdom of letting me have the controls of an aircraft.)
Subsequent life as a civilian has been like living in a pinball machine. I worked as an engineer in corporate America and got downsized. Earned my masters’ in Information Systems from the University of Denver and found another corporate gig. Saw that job sail across the Pacific when I was outsourced and laid off again. Thankfully, I have two bright and handsome sons in college who will take care of me as I grow older.
What’s kept me grounded are my forays into art. The highpoints include being the artist-in-residence for Arte Americas in Fresno, California, and being called from the Reserves to serve in Operation Desert Storm (the easy war against Iraq) as a combat artist. Add teaching art to prisoners at the Avenal State Prison and organizing art fundraisers for various pet rescue groups.
All this time I was scribbling my stories, sending them out, and collecting rejection slips. What changed my luck was joining the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers which introduced me to real authors and the advice needed to get published. Now I’m busy writing my Felix the vampire detective novels. And I’ve decided that I no longer want a machine gun for Christmas.Mario Acevedo writes the Felix Gomez detective-vampire series for Eos HarperCollins.
Here’s the list of my favorite books of 2010. They’re not in order of preference as each book impressed me in a special way.
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
A friend recommended this to me. It’s a tightly-drawn family saga about a bi-racial daughter (African/Native American), and her Native-American mother and grandmother. What propels the story are Dorris’ mesmerizing prose and his keen portrayal of the injustices and humiliations we inflict on one another and the ties that keep us together.
A favorite mystery writer and his hard-boiled noir novels always land on the top of my to-be-read pile. In this book, we dig into the emotional trauma hidden beneath Joe Pike’s thick scab of stoicism. Along with sidekick Elvis Cole (who’s also no slouch in the badass department) the two PIs unravel the conspiracy behind the death of a forgotten friend at the hands of international gangsters. Crais’ smooth and well-crafted prose delivers an excellent and engrossing story.
These three books are the works of Juliet Blackwell though Arsenic was co-written with her sister under another pen name, Hailey Lind. All are cozy mysteries set in the present-day San Francisco Bay area. National bestseller Cast-off Coven gives us Lily Ivory, a young witch who runs a vintage-clothing store. If Walls was picked by Suspense Magazine for its Best of 2010 and is the first in a new series featuring haunted home restoration, with Melanie Turner, a late thirty-something owner of a home remodeling company. Arsenic has Annie Kinkaid, a faux-finishing artisan trying to keep her life going amid murderous capers. Despite the nearly identical settings, all three stories are unique. What holds each plot together is a crisp who-done-it (always a homicide), the marvelous details of her home city (which are not only interesting but integral to the story), and her wonderful and layered characters. Blackwell’s sparkling narrative, easy humor, and thoughtful insights keep the reader hooked and smiling in appreciation.
I enjoy losing myself in a good art book especially when the subject is Art Nouveau. Here, Sembach does more than catalog the major works of the style, he reviews the impact of the movement in cities that developed and promulgated Art Nouveau. While many readers are aware of the influence of Art Nouveau in Glasgow, Paris, and Barcelona; what about Weimar and Helsinki? Besides giving a good history lesson in decidedly academic yet engaging prose, Sembach unveils the major personalities behind the movement.
The winner of the 2008 Booker Prize, I picked up this novel, asking myself: Okay, why did Adiga deserve this award? Answer: because it’s a damn good story. It’s a breezy and incisive critique of modern Indian society. What do Indians think of working in those call centers and dealing with us whining Americans? Adiga spares little in this humorous and scathing tale that will upend your perceptions of the world’s largest democracy; one that remains hobbled by the caste system and corruption.
A favorite local author, Ramos tackles the mythos behind the Chicano movement through the life of a very flawed man, Ramon Hidalgo, who rises from migrant laborer to become a prominent activist in the 70s Mexican-American civil rights movement and then falls into obscurity. Ramos deftly weaves fiction with history in a story that both educates and entertains.
As for 2011, I'm still waiting on word back on my proposals.