Albert A. Correia is a native Californian, having grown up in Tracy, located in that state’s vast and agriculturally rich Central Valley. He had a rewarding career as a Chamber of Commerce executive in the U.S. before moving to Costa Rica. While attending the California State University at Fresno, he interned at the Fresno, Oakland and San Leandro Chambers of Commerce. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Fresno State and was a reporter for a newspaper in Fresno while attending college. Following graduation, he served as assistant manager of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. He then went on to serve as chief executive officer of the San Fernando, Pasadena, Pomona, and the Mid San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, all in California. Among other honors he received in the field, he was presented the Russell E. Pettit, “Executive of the Year Award,” by the California Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in 1986.
Since arriving in Costa Rica in 1995, Mr. Correia has devoted his time to the arts. In addition to his writing, he paints, and a number of his oils hang in prominent buildings in and around San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city. He is a devotee of Costa Rica’s renowned symphony orchestra. He lives in a quiet suburb of the capital with his wife, daughter, two stepdaughters, and one of his wife’s nieces. Two of his sons live in California and the third lives in Las Vegas. When not in San Jose, he spends time in Jaco Beach where he lived a number of years before moving to San Jose.
Q; Bear with me this is my first interview. I’m a little nervous interviewing a former reporter. What inspired you to write Even in Eden?
It started as a single book, EVEN IN EDEN. After living in Costa Rica for several years, it became obvious that the people, although a bit more tranquil that most, have the same dreams, aspirations and weaknesses as people everywhere. I had a couple of doctor friends and I’ve dealt with people in most fields, including charitable works, so an idea was born. Toss in the fact that there are really dedicated people trying to do good, and others who are adept at making people think they’re trying to do good while they’re ripping them off, and the story flowed. The flow continued with the sequels, EDEN: HEALTH, POLITICS, RAGE and A PRESIDENT FOR EDEN. They make up The Eden Trilogy.
2. Q: What in your past best prepared you for the difficulties you face as a writer?
My degree was in journalism and the jobs I had in my early years as a chamber of commerce executive required my writing news releases and monthly newsletters. True, that kind of writing involves the recording of facts and novels are a test of the imagination, but in many ways, writing is writing. Although, like all writers, I get “writers block” from time to time, writing is too enjoyable to be called difficult. On the other hand, once the writing is done, the difficulty begins. Finding ways to get books out for public consumption is not an easy task. It’s not often that a good writer is also a good marketer. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, I’ve run into difficult situations before, so I’ve learned to be patient. It often takes time, but I get there.
3. Q: Do you find past life experience helps you when you give your characters life?
Absolutely. I’ve met, worked with, befriended and watched some of the best people in the world, some of the worst, some who are quiet, some who are loud, some as sane as can be, some just plain nuts. I’ve worked in dynamic situations, sailed in dangerous ones, and tramped through countries in hostile environments. In so doing, I’ve run across some of the most intriguing personalities imaginable. Those personalities find their way into everything I write. Sometimes I pick and choose characteristics from different people, but there’s no need to make up those characteristics when the world is so full of colorful people.
4. Q: How much research did you have to do for your trilogy?
That depends on your definition of research. Research can be reading through a knee-deep stack of thick, dusty tomes in the dead of night, or it can be personal research – doing things yourself. I needed to do some reading of the Costa Rica constitution, and asked some questions of people, such as newspaper editors, but much of what is in my books represents things I, and others I know, have done.
5. Q: How does your wife handle all the demands on your time?
She has her own busy schedule taking care of the kids and so forth. She also represents some cosmetic companies. Family is very important in Costa Rica and she’s from a large family, so there’s always something to keep her occupied.
6. Q: Is there anything special you do that helps you with your writing?
I read, of course. And, I belong to this group of writers and another group in Costa Rica that meets regularly. Every time I read something a group member writes, and every time someone reads my work and critiques it, I learn something. And, I write. Even when I don’t feel like writing, I write (even just in my head – yesterday, as I was riding on a bus, it hit me what I need to do next with Zist, the invisible planet). Sometimes when I do that, and I think what I’m writing is really dull because I wasn’t in the mood, it turns out to be better than that piece I thought was brilliant when I was writing it, but turned out to be pretty lame. One trick that many writers have found works is listening to classical music. Researchers have proved that a person’s IQ goes up 10% when listening to classical music (alas, it’s only temporary). I’m listening to Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto at the moment (so, I’m sure you’re wondering, why isn’t he wording this better?)
7. Q: Your doing great. That’s a good tip. Maybe I need to listen to some classical music. What is the one person or event that most encouraged you to write.
There are many, but I’ll go back to my last year of high school and Bill Milhizer, an English teacher. At the time, I had no idea what my future held, or that I even had one. Bill thought I put words together fairly well for a farm boy who never bothered to study. We became good friends and I went on to do something I had no idea I’d ever do when I was seventeen – I went to college.
8. Q: What is your favorite genre to read and to write?
I like to read thrillers and humor. I like to write thrillers and humor.
9. Q:How much does the place you live feature in your writing?
The Eden Trilogy takes place in Costa Rica, where I’ve lived for the past eighteen years. It’s a small version of the United States (a little over four million people), but more tranquil.
10. Q: Is there anything you would like readers to take from your books?
One theme that runs through The Eden Trilogy is that people should look for what really is there, not what they’re told is there, or that they want to be there. And, of course, that life is really pretty humorous. Laughter, or even a little chuckle, beats a sour puss every time.
Al Correia’s books are available on Amazon.com, BN.com, Kobo.com, Appleibooks, Google.com, BooksOnBoard.com and Sanyo.com