Interview with YA Author E.R. Arroyo

Hello Beautiful People, 

Today I want to bring you my interview with E.R. Arroyo, a writer I befriended and met via the Twittersphere.  The thing I like so much about E.R., aside from her amazing book (review to come soon), is she is the embodiment of never giving up.  

After writing a beautiful novel, that happened to be a dystopian, and facing rejection from agents because “dystopian genre is dead”, she decided to take a very brave step and self-publish Sovereign.

So without further ado, I present E.R. Arroyo…drumroll please 🙂

E.R. Arroyo

Hi! Thanks for having me.  I’m E.R. Arroyo and my book Sovereign is out now.  It’s a Young Adult Dystopia set in post-apocalyptic America.  It follows a seventeen-year-old with a rebellious streak fighting for her freedom.  Cori, the story’s heroine, is a tough chick, but the book also features a sweet love story.

What is your favorite place to write?

Honestly, these days I mostly write on my living room sofa or in bed.  Oh, and at work, I take my laptop and write in between clients.

What is the first story you remember writing?

The first story I remember writing was about a female FBI agent with amnesia.  It was…extravagantly naïve.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was ten or eleven, I wrote a poem and read it aloud to my older brother, who remarked that it was dark (for a kid my age, I think he meant).  In eighth grade English, we did a unit on poetry and I was finally able to share my writing with my teacher and a few peers.  Their (my teacher and two classmates) affirmation of my work is probably what built my confidence enough to believe, “Hey, I’m good at this.”  That was the beginning, I think.

How do you overcome “writer’s block” ? 

I don’t really believe in writer’s block in the traditional sense.  I believe if I’m stuck it’s because there’s a problem with my plot so I need to go back to my pre-writing/outlining to fix something.  Maybe I’ve gone the wrong direction or gotten off course.   But if I know where I’m going, I should know what to write to get there.  If I just can’t seem to get my head in ‘write’ mode, I just don’t write.  If I stay a funk too long, I might try to work on something else or get back to my prewriting, like I said.  Try to fix whatever problem is keeping me from progressing.

Are you a full time writer?

I am not a full time writer.  While I am always a writer, I make a living as a hairstylist.  Perhaps one day my writing could support me financially, but right now it doesn’t, and I’m totally okay with that.  I will always write regardless of the paycheck (or lack of one).  (By the way, salon chatter is great source material.)

Coffee or tea?

Tea, but only if it’s sweet.  Like southern style, syrupy sweet.  Though, I’m a soda drinker more than anything (horrible I know).  I forgive myself the soda as long as I get lots of water, too.

What’s a fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know?

This is random, but it’s what came to me.  I’m right-handed but I do left-handed cartwheels and even tried to bat lefty at a softball game once.  It didn’t go over in the game as well as in practice, but nothing ever did.  Performance anxiety, lol.

What was the publishing process like for you?

It was a huge learning process and I wanted to rip my hair out many, many times.  I’m thankful I had my friend and writing partner, Maria, to guide me, allowing me to learn from her experience.

–Why did you decide to self-publish Sovereign

I decided to self-publish Sovereign because I felt there was still a market for YA dystopia despite the fact that agents weren’t picking up the genre any more.  They’re calling it a “dead genre,” in other words, publishers aren’t buying it anymore.  It has run its course in traditional publishing.  You have to keep in mind, traditional publishing has to predict what will be popular once the book hits the shelves, which is a year and a half to two years after a book deal occurs.  So if I got an agent today, I might not sell the book for six months to a publisher.  Then you wouldn’t be able to buy it for potentially another two years after that.  Self-publishing is instant, so it hits the market now.  And as of now, people are still reading the genre.  So, I self-published!

As a fellow writer I know we don’t exactly choose what we write about, sometimes it just comes to us, but why, knowing how hard the industry is against Dystopian novels did you decide to write Sovereign and how did you keep yourself motivated to keep going when you knew the industry was against you?

Honestly, I didn’t know until after I’d written it.  I wasn’t looking at the market at all, I just had this book I was writing, and people were responding to it.  I was still very much a fan of the genre, and had no clue it was on the way out.  Like you said, it just comes to us and that’s what I was writing whether I wanted it to be a dystopia or not, it just is one.  Once I’d started getting queries ready for agents, I learned about the “dead genre” thing and I was disheartened, but like I said in the last question, I think there’s still a market for it right now.  Maybe not in two years, but today people still read dystopia.

What is some advice you would impart to writers who wish to be published?

Re-write.  Re-write a lot and get critique partners and beta readers who’ll give you the honest truth, good or bad.  Don’t publish too soon, make sure it’s ready.  Edit, edit, edit.  Proofread a lot.  And proofing shouldn’t only be done by you, get other people on it, even if you have to pay a professional proofreader.  Typos are the biggest thing hurting the self-published novels out there, in my opinion.  And I promise you, no matter how good you are at grammar, spelling, or anything else, no writer can catch all of his or her own mistakes.  I guarantee it.

If you could have breakfast with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?

I want to eat pancakes with Jesus.  That sounds like a book title.  “Pancakes with Jesus.”  Hmmm…

What is your favorite movie(s)?

Elizabethtown, Zombieland, Life as a House, to name a few.  I can’t pick one favorite anything.  And I love a TON of movies.

What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?

I remember really loving Tarzan when I was a kid for some reason.  I really wasn’t much of a reader when I was younger.  I was a horribly slow reader, so I only read when it was assigned.  I would get too frustrated and it made my head hurt.  My appreciation for reading came much later in life when I was several years into my twenties.

What is the next book you want to write?

I’m working on a sequel for Sovereign at the moment.  After that will be a book called “A Girl Named Jude.”  It’s contemporary YA that deals with much deeper issues and emotions than the Sovereign series.  I’m excited about it, but it’ll be more of a challenge, I think.

Thank you so much for having me!  I’m so glad you enjoyed the book and I hope fans of your blog will enjoy it as well.  If you want to learn more about where to find the book for sale or links to my Sovereign Pinterest boards and social networking, check out my website at  Feel free to follow me on Twitter and make sure to say hello!

Thanks for stopping by E.R.!  Someone…maybe you…needs to write Pancakes with Jesus, haha and for those of you who haven’t had Southern sweet tea, it should be on you bucket list 🙂  

What are you thoughts on dystopian novels and other “dead genres”???  Do readers still want them, should writers keep writing them/write for the market???

Whimsically Yours,



9 thoughts on “Interview with YA Author E.R. Arroyo

  1. Dystopian will never be dead! After all, Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 still lives strong many, many years after it was published (in 1948). That said, a smart move on an author’s part might be to blend another genre with their dystopian, to create a fresh fusion.

  2. Although many people say “write what you love,” it may be necessary to try different genres if yours is dead. You might even find one you like.
    I really enjoyed reading the interview with E.R. She’s brave to self-publish. Congrats to her!

    • Thanks for the comment, lexacain! I love many genres, and have written many, so there will certainly be other things in my future once I’m finished seeing the Sovereign series through. 🙂 Are you a writer?

    • Yep yep, I think trying different genres is great, I write what I love yet I also like to try new things and push myself…I think it’s a good balance 🙂

      E.R. is amazing!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I don’t think we can ever call a genre dead. Some might have considered horror a less popular genre but the rise of zombie novels has reinvigorated it. Likewise urban fantasy really ran it’s course a few years back, but I’m starting to see an upswing lately. Like weather and politics, genres tend to run on cycles.

    • Thanks for stopping by Sarah, I completely agree sometimes all it takes is one book or subgenre to come into popularity to revive people’s interest in a genre 🙂

      I love a good urban fantasy!!!

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