iUniverse author Raphael Melis talks about Nicanor the Penguin, his international experience, and his literary influences.
Please briefly describe your book . . .
The book is a fictional story based on real events of a penguin my family saved from a huge oil spill that happened in Brazil. The story reflects the thrills and gratitude for saving that little guy named Nicanor.
And can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in the United States, but at a very young age, my family moved to Brazil, where I spent most of my life. I spent 17 years as an insurance broker, and there, by doing Fine Arts as well, I felt that I needed something much more meaningful and fulfilling in my life. At a late age, I made a profound decision to join the US Armed Forces in a way to explore myself and my place in this world. After my return to the United States I decided to finish my education and get a bachelor degree. Now I use my knowledge to tell stories of my discoveries and adventures in life and Nicanor the Penguin is my first book to do exactly that.
Do you have any particular literary influences?
I think my influences are all related to comic books. Frank Miller, Jack Kirby and the duo René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo are all my big influences, but for Nicanor the Penguin is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry my big influence. I still remember the thrill of listening and later on reading the book when I was a child.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
To remember that there is a lot of goodness all around us, and if you are smart enough to grab that, much of good deeds can be done to fix the evil we find in our road for happiness. Don’t be shy to do the right think. In my experience if you show kindness and friendship to people, animals and birds, they will give you right back the same. But I can’t say about reptiles, I never had one.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
No I’m not. Nicanor the Penguin was intended to be a one unique book for the public. But many other books with different characters will come for children audience.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?
In this department, not yet, but I’m still brainstorming ideas to promote the book and trying to find some time to promote the book as well. But I have received a good advice about the subject: to check the Author Learning Center and learn with other authors about how to promote a book.
What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with iUniverse?
My favorite part was the process of preparing the book for publishing. I learned a lot about ways of printing a book and how the publishing company maintains the market quality standards for publishing a book.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
There are a lot of people telling you point blank what to do. Don’t listen to them and follow what you think you should do, and do it. If you are in doubt about it, ask somebody you trust for advice. In my experience if you ask that person you chose to seek out for advice, he or she will give you the light to whatever insecurities and uncertainties you might have with your project. Don’t be shy and afraid to create something unique and out of the ordinary. If everybody creates the same ordinary stuff we see in the market these days, imagine how boring the world would be?