Rising Star Spotlight: Reina Torres!


Tell us about growing up in Hawaii!
Growing up in Hawaii was a rush. I think I grew up in a rather interesting time. The backyard of our first home as a child was up against a pineapple field. Now there are thousands of houses behind that development! I was a tomboy who loved to play softball like my dad, but he didn’t want to sign me up for bobby sox so I ended up in dance. My school was a K -12 school with a strong dance program. My mom was also a graduate of the same school and became an assistant teacher. I did too! It was crazy fun to find out that some of my students were the children of some of her students! Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Acrobatics, Hula, Flamenco… dance carried through my life until I had a back injury. Now I’m working through rebuilding my strength so I can get back to dance. I still feel it in me, it’s just locked away somehow.  
You say you were a very shy child.  How did that translate into telling stories?
It’s a bit of journey really. In Elementary School it became very apparent that I had a speech impediment. I stuttered. The more nervous, frustrated, or upset I became, the worse it was. And that meant when other students teased me about it, the problem only worsened. ‘Peopley’ places were not my thing, and a playground? No thanks.
So for fun, my ‘go to’ hangout was the library. It was a great place to sit and absorb books. When one of the librarians asked me why I’d check out the same books over and over, I told her it was because I didn’t want to lose touch with the stories I really loved. I liked imagining what happened after the end of the story. She smiled at me with a wink and said, “Then write about it.”
So I did! Although I never thought I was any good, they were fun for me to write. I don’t think I shared them with many people. I didn’t have the confidence to do that.
What did you aspire to become when you were in high school or college?
I was not prepared for college because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I went to a liberal arts college in Los Angeles and it took me a bit to figure out where my passion was. I ended up with a Major in Theater Arts (Technical and Stage) and a Minor in Voice Performance – so I was destined to make TONS of money!! [laughing]
Looking back on it now, I didn’t know how to reach for my dreams. My sophomore year roommate knew she was going to be an author and she focused on that, but I couldn’t see myself achieving something like that. I wrote fiction while in college, but I didn’t have the courage to show it to anyone. I wish I could whisper in my ear back then and tell myself to reach for that dream! But, I was more concerned with graduating and getting that degree in my hands and making my parents proud. It was all very much an achievement driven thing.
What did you do after college?
I did work in theater, but the Hawaii theater community is small and people keep their positions forever! I enjoyed the technical work, but it wasn’t enough of a career to live on. I ended up using a lot of my skills in educational positions with museums. I did a LOT of educational tours. And yes, I had bosses who joked about my ‘degree’ since it was an arts degree, but hey… you give me a group of people (some up to a hundred or more) I had learned that I could not only keep people entertained… I could also teach them!  
At what point did you write your first full length book?
During college. I crafted a sprawling fantasy fiction novel which was stored on hard disks from my HP word processor. I didn’t have a computer back then. Later, when I married, I loaded them all onto our home computer only to find out that he’d reformatted the machine while I was at work and the disks had been thrown away.
Yet he’s still alive.
What was that experience like?
It was a lot of little images in my head. I blame it on my world history classes. I drew maps and plotted out a series and cobbled out scenes and chapters. It wasn’t until I had my degree, was married, pregnant, and working part-time that I decided to put it together.
Holy Moly I had NO CLUE what I was doing, but I did it!  And then lost it ( see above answer).
When did you decide to actually try publishing a book and how did that go?
I wrote fan-fiction in earnest for over 15 years. It was fun to write and share my stories and have feedback on them. I wrote for a number of fandoms, but the one that I was really into was a TV Western. While I was writing in that fandom, the creator of the show become a really close friend of mine. One day during  lunch while I was visiting California, he looked at me across the table and told me to stop writing for his show and go and write my own stories. 
I began publishing short stories in Steampunk, Weird West, and other genres. An author asked me to publish in his Kindle World for his graphic novel. I was the only female in the group of authors. Some of the men joked that I was the one that wrote about Emotions and Relationships! I thought that was kind of needed since it was a graphic novel about female suffragettes in England. Females? Emotions? Relationships? WHAT?! 
After being the butt of those jokes, I finally admitted to myself that Romance was calling me home. Romance was the reason I spent hours and hours in my local Waldenbooks as a teen! I looked at the Romance Kindle Worlds and the rest is history.
What would you say is the very best part of writing a book?
Goodness… Okay, I’ll just admit it. Making readers happy. When I hear back from readers that they loved a character, a storyline, a moment, a book, whatever it is that makes them happy… it makes me happy! I’m a feedback junkie! I remember how happy books made/make me, and I love that I get to share that with my readers!
Are you still very shy? If so, how do you overcome that to connect with your readers?
I call myself an intrexovert. When I graduated college and entered the cold, cruel world (jk) and began working at museums, I had to use my theater skills to be a more public person. It’s hard to interact with people; it’s more my own hangups than anything else. I don’t want to stutter or look like a dork in front of people. But I LOVE meeting readers so much more!! That’s why I try to get to more events beyond my online presence. It’s a true joy to meet and talk to them. Living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes it soooo much harder!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I have a lot of different ideas going on in my head at the same time. Ideas pop up, interrupting what I’m working on and I have to shelve it, let those percolate in the back of my mind so I can concentrate my thoughts in one place. My beta readers will tell you that I have a huge issue with that. My muse is either one muse with multiple personalities or a whole bunch of muses. 
What are your dreams for the future?
To keep writing and publishing forever!! I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I have so many books to write. I’d love to grow my readership and one day be on a Best Sellers List. I’d like to move to the continent in a country-ish area. Have a bunch of little homes on the property. Lots of animals and a HUGE garden. I would love it to be a place where authors can come and have a retreat/holiday and hopefully have a bunch of grandkids visiting. I plan on teaching those kids to dream big and go after those dreams with everything they have. That’s also why I’m going to keep working on my dreams. I want be a good example too.