Author Jeffrey Candelaria drew inspiration for his first novel, TORO: The Naked Bull, from childhood and teenage experiences. He began the book in 2008 and persisted another thirteen years until its publication in 2021. Jeffrey is currently the host of the radio show “Straight Talk with Jeffrey Candelaria” on KIVA 1600 AM, Saturdays from 1:00-2:00 pm. You’ll find him on RMKPublications.com, on Facebook, and his SouthWest Writers author page.
What would you like people to know about the story you tell in TORO?
First, TORO: The Naked Bull is a reminder that the lust for glory, self-aggrandizement and fortune seeking, when unbridled, can result in the destruction of the individual and the people they love. TORO is such a tale.
When readers turn the last page in the book, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
That love, loyalty, and courage are bigger than secular accomplishments. And that readers want a TORO II.
What challenges did this work pose for you?
The story and plot were not an issue as much as the editing and formatting. The logistics of the book were challenging more so than storytelling and content.
Tell us how the book came together.
I visited Mexico City as a child. While there, my grandfather took me to a bullfight. I fell in love with the pageantry, protocols, and juxtaposition of man against beast. Again, TORO is not about bullfighting per se, rather it is the stage for the story of four brothers and their struggles to find themselves as individuals, independent of “The Family Montoya Legacy.” The book took thirteen years to complete. I worked on it every Christmas season during vacation from work. I completed the book during the heights of the recent pandemic.
What is the main setting?
The setting varies: The Montoya Ranch, ongoing confrontations with toros (bulls), and various situations which evoke behavioral manifestations and strife amongst the four brothers. TORO: The Naked Bull could easily be told in almost any place or time. It is a story as old as time: the lust for power, the jealousy amongst family members, and the discovery of one’s nature. Bullfighting and the trappings surrounding the pursuits of becoming a famous matador are the catalyst for the development of characters and circumstances which reveal unvarnished motivations and the brothers’ temperament.
Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for the book?
Perhaps the staging of the corrida, or bullfight, itself. The bullfight is a choreographed event with numerous protocols and very particular ways of presenting the “Dance with Death.”
What was the most rewarding aspect of writing TORO?
When completed, TORO was an exercise in catharsis for me. Additionally, it was a tribute to my late grandfather who raised me. (He is a character in the book.) I also learned a great deal about the human condition.
Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you started your writing/publishing career today?
Nothing. I enjoyed the process or writing, construction of plot and the overall journey.
What book has had a strong influence on you or your writing?
1984 by George Orwell.
What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received in your writing journey?
Rose Kern’s advice about style. I have a background in journalism and I was writing in that stark style. For TORO, I shifted my style from that of a journalist to more of a storyteller.
What writing projects are you working on now?
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Please order my book on Amazon—TORO: The Naked Bull.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.