Interviews

Interview with The Martinsburg Journal, April 2001

 

The Journal

Martinsburg, WV April 17, 2001

Rubio’s Rubies: Local author publishes satirical trilogy.

By Crystal Schelle

In today’s high-tech world, Carlos Rubio of Martinsburg doesn’t have an answering machine.

“I don’t talk to walls, so I don’t believe in talking into a machine, ” he says.

He does own a computer. However, the 57-year-old author doesn’t always follow society’s rules, even in his writing.

His recently published novel, “The Neophyte” is the first in a trilogy of satirical novels.

But it wasn’t the first novel in the series to be written.

It was the second.

“The Neophyte” follows a young boy called “Neophyte” throughout his early teens. Neophyte is first discovered in a locked trunk and then is taken to live at the Convent of the Righteous Path.

“He’s just an average teenage boy surrounded by unusual circumstances who is trying to live up to adults’s expectations,” Rubio explains.

Rubio says the idea for the second of the books, “Bullwhip,” came about from his days teaching high school Spanish and psychology.

“Students would say that they hate to read,” he explains. “I was fed up, so I wrote ‘Bullwhip’ with a protagonist who is their age and has the experiences that students only dream of.” Rubio has made sure to include literary devices and vocabulary students needed to study for the SATs.

But, Rubio knew that he had to involve something more than SAT words. Both novels involve a teenage boy’s dream: high school girls and fast cars.

Although “The Neophyte” deals with a teenager’s racing racing hormones, the Catholic chuch plays also plays a prominent role in his novels. A Catholic, Rubio says he wanted to show the church in a positive light. “They are always out there doing good work,” he says.

During his summer break, Rubio says he wrote “Bullwhip” in a matter of three months. “I worked constantly and had such a good time,” he says.

His other works tend to have more of a somber tone, but he wanted to be a little more free with his trilogy. “I tend to be such a serious person. From time to time I let myself not be so serious,” Rubio says.

After he was finished, Rubio let a friend read the manuscript.

“She said she liked it and she wanted more to read.. But I didn’t have any more to give her,” he says with a laugh.

With that encouragement, he went to work on “The Neophyte.” That process took three years.

“I was working full time and I have a family, so it was hard to find such a block of time to write like I did with “Bullwhip,” he explains. Rubio is married and has two sons and ad daughter.

But once he started writing, Rubio says he found it wasn’t too difficult working backwards.

“I already had my parameters,” he explains. “In ‘Neophyte’ I already knew (‘Bullwhip’)

had a GTO convertible and that he was good dancer. I also knew that he had tattoos on his fingers. I just had to find a way to explain why in the first book.”

The third book in the trilogy is called “California Fever,” which Rubio is currently writing.

Because Rubio has written the books out of order, he says there is no reason they have to be read in either order. “I wrote them so that each should be able to stand alone,” he says.

“The Neophyte” and “Bullwhip” are both published through Highbridge Press in Tupper Lake, N.Y. Rubio says he is very pleased to be working with the independent publishing house. “You get so much individual attention,” he says.

Writing is nothing new to Rubio. He grew up at his mother’s knee listening to her poetry.

When he migrated from Cuba to the U.S. at age 17, Rubio kept that love of words close to her heart.

In those early days he worked his way through Miami, learning English and American culture. It was during his sophomore year at Concord College, that Rubio published his first short story.

Since then, Rubio has published many other short stories and novels in both English and Spanish including “Dead Time.” That novel was a finalist in the 1995 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner literary competition.

But it is his Spanish novel “Quadrivium,” which won the annual Nuevo Leon International Award for Novels in 1990. Three judges in different cities and working totally independently from one another chose Rubio’s work for the prize.

The part-time Hood College literature professor says writing is something he plans to continue with.

“I have only one goal: to know myself. With every book that I write, it’s a piece of al puzzle that I use to construct a composite of who I am.”

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