Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Q&A with Eleanor Parker Sapia

Historical novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia was born in Puerto Rico and raised as an Army brat in the United States, Puerto Rico, and several European cities. As a child, she could be found drawing, writing short stories, and reading Nancy Drew books sitting on a tree branch. Eleanor’s life experiences as a painter, counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker, continue to inspire her writing. Eleanor loves introducing readers to strong, courageous Caribbean and Latin American women who lead humble yet extraordinary lives in extraordinary times. Her debut historical novel, A Decent Woman, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, has garnered praise and international acclaim. She is a proud member of PENAmerica and the Historical Novel Society. A Decent Woman is July 2015 Book of the Month for Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club.

Eleanor is currently writing her second historical novel titled, The Island of Goats, set in Puerto Rico, Spain, and Southern France. When Eleanor is not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor has two loving grown children, and currently lives in wild and wonderful West Virginia.

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older, wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change

1. What inspired you to write A Decent Woman?
I was initially inspired by a tribute I wrote on the occasion of my maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday, and by my grandmother’s stories about her midwife, Ana, who caught my mother, two aunts, and an uncle. I’ve always said Ana whispered her story in my ear. She was an Afro-Caribbean midwife of unknown origins, who my relatives said liked her rum and a cigar after every birth—a very colorful woman. Ultimately, Ana’s story was the inspiration. I wish I’d met her.
After writing the tribute for my Puerto Rican grandmother, which included stories about her childhood and adulthood on the island, I realized how much I knew about the daily lives of women in the 1900’s. Through my research, I was further inspired by the extraordinary lives of ordinary women during a complex and tempestuous time in the island’s history. There are many books written about Puerto Rican women’s experiences after leaving the island, but I wasn’t aware of any books in English with stories such as mine, about the women who stayed behind. I wrote what I wanted to read.
2.       How do Ana and Serafina relate to each other in the story?
In chapter one, midwife Ana Belén catches sixteen-year old, Serafina Martinez’ first child as a tropical storm threatens the little Martínez house. The women immediately bond, especially Serafina to Ana as her mother died in Hurricane San Ciriaco two years prior. Ana is very fond of Serafina, but she is afraid of getting too close to the young woman for many reasons: her childhood as a slave; Serafina’s young age; Ana’s place in society; and because of the secret Ana brought to Puerto Rico from Cuba twenty years before, which if discovered, could destroy all Ana has worked for.
Through sharing life experiences, despite their different places in society, and after a crime against Serafina that brings them together in an ill-conceived plan to avenge Serafina’s honor and protect her marriage, the women become close friends, close as sisters. Not only was Ana the young woman’s confidante and comadre, midwife, they are comadres of the heart. Their friendship continues until the end of the book.
3.       What are some of the main socio-economic issues that you explore in this book and why did you explore them?
I explored the issues of racism, misogyny, and elitism, as well as crimes against women and abuse within marriage and relationships. I thought it was important to portray life as it was for women of all socio-economic levels—the rich and the poor, white and black, the educated and uneducated.
Women suffered abuse at the hands of men at home, in the workplace, and in the street. Women struggled to feed their children and make ends meet at home with low-paying jobs, often going hungry themselves. They fought other women, vying for male attention, which at the time, was the only way a woman could survive in the world—with a man’s protection and money. Consequently, women were pitted one against the other. In some places in the world, this continues.
And finally, the US Department of Health sterilized hundreds of Puerto Rican women (more women in later years), against their will and by not telling them what procedures were being done on them. I believe once you know a truth—and this truth, a shocking truth in our history as a colony—you must tell it. If we deny or ignore a truth, it will revisit us. I didn’t and I don’t shy away from the ugly bits of life or the past. The women of 1900 Puerto Rico needed a voice.
4.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
As with viewing a work of art, what the viewer/reader ‘sees’ is subjective. We filter our life experiences through everything we read, hear, observe, and experience, and come to an understanding. We each take what we need and discard what we don’t need in most situations. It’s no different with books. So, it’s tough to say what I hope readers will gain from my book. However, I do hope readers who usually shy away from historical novels will see through my story that people of the past weren’t that different from us. Our ancestors dealt with the same pains, tragedies, and joys in life as we do today. Life was harder, of course, because people had few modern conveniences and fewer opportunities, especially  women, and that is still true of many people around the world today.
One reader loved that I showed how important women friendships are throughout a woman’s life. I agree. Women should continue uplifting their fellow women when they can. There’s plenty to go around.
5.       What inspired you to be a writer?
I was an exhibiting artist for over twenty-five years before discovering my passion for writing books. One day, the paint brush and canvas weren’t ‘saying’ what I wanted to convey. I began writing on the dry, painted canvas with a colored pencil. Soon, I wrote personal thoughts and quotes, on the painted images. Words appeared on the side of painted images, around the edges, until finally making their way inside the piece. It was then the little light illuminated in my brain—I needed words as well as paint to tell my stories; to express what I had in my heart and soul. I believe I inspired myself. It was then my inner world opened up, making connections where up until that point, I’d kept separate.
After a few years, writing took over, and I wrote the first draft manuscript of A Decent Woman. Looking back, however, I see my artist side revealed in how I describe settings, characters, and objects in my stories; the play or light and color and texture—that all comes from an art background. I now paint to relax, as a reminder that I am a creative person, when inspiration strikes, and when I get stuck during the writing process. Writing has become an obsession, and I am happy when I visit with my old friend, painting.
6.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
I love being alone in my head with my characters, and seeing where they lead me and the story. What I like least is when I must be on social media instead of writing. I understand the importance of social media to an author and love getting to know my readers, I really do, but I much prefer sitting at my writing desk. I came to writing in my late forties—I feel the urgency to get my stories to readers before it’s too late!
7.       Who are some of your favorite authors?
A few of my favorites are, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Jack Remick, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Milan Kundera, and Cormac McCarthy.
8.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)
I love this question! I’ve always thought A Decent Woman would make a great film. The incredible actress Viola Davis would be perfect to play adult Ana and Selma Hayak as the adult Serafina. For the younger Ana, I would love to see Lupita Nyong’o and Melanie Iglesias as young Serafina.
9.       Are you working on anything right now?
Yes, thanks for asking. I’m currently writing a novel called The Island of Goats, which begins in 1920 Puerto Rico, and moves to the pilgrimage path of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and then to Southern France. It is the story of two young women, Magdalena and Nadya, who will meet and forge an unlikely friendship on the medieval pilgrimage route, while trying to make sense of a new world before WWII.
My first published novel, A Decent Woman will always have a special place in my heart, but I am very excited about the second book.
10.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
Latino literature has evolved for hundreds of years, and will continue to evolve as Latinos in the United States continue writing culturally-rich stories in Spanish and in English, or begin writing books in genres where there are few Latino writers. I’ve read comments from Latino writers who are tired of reading stories of one more Latino/a drug addict, prostitutes, or another story of coming into the United States. I say just write. Tell whatever story is in your heart.
What comes to mind when I think of the future of Latino literature is the need for more Latinos in publishing and more Latino agents, who specialize in Latino literature. It’s difficult for all writers to get published, and my personal experience was that I had an extra hurdle to get over—writing a historical novel about a diverse heroine in 1900 Puerto Rico—not easy to sell, but as it turned out, Ana’s journey has been embraced by readers. I’m glad I didn’t give up, and I still need an agent!
I’d like to think that the future of Latino literature looks bright and promising.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers. Happy writing to all!

A DECENT WOMAN is available on Amazon
and at La Casa Azul Bookstore,143 E. 103rd Street  New York, NY 10029 (212) 426-2626 
Twitter: @eleanorparkerwv



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Q&A with Melanie Furlong-Riesgo

Melanie Furlong-Riesgo was born in 1971 and grew up in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. After graduating from Acadia University with a major in Spanish, she completed a B.Ed T.E.S.L. at Brock University. She taught English in the Czech Republic for three years and met her Cuban-born husband there. They now live in Nova Scotia with their two beautiful children. Melanie has been writing for various publications since 2001. The Last Honest Man in Havana is her first novel.

1.     What inspired you to write The Last Honest Man in Havana?

I wrote The Last Honest Man in Havana in an effort to truly understand the way my Cuban-born husband, Roberto, grew up and how Castro's reign has affected his family and everyone around them.

I met Roberto in the Czech Republic in 1996. I was a young Canadian English teacher working in Prague and he had just arrived from Cuba. We had a whirlwind romance and married the next year. I knew my husband left Cuba because he had no freedom. But it took me a very long time to realize what that meant.

Although Roberto was not a member of the Communist Party, the question I wanted to answer with this novel was: how did someone who believed so strongly in Fidel Castro and the Communist Party, someone who'd been indoctrinated since he was a child, finally realize that Cuba's system would never work?


2.     What are some of the issues and themes that you explore in your book?

The primary issue is freedom. Some themes include the effect of Communism on the individual, patriotism and self-reliance.


3.     What was the development process like?

This was quite a long process that began with me writing a short story about my main character, Rafael, in 2008. The next year, I was lucky to win a spot in a mentorship program through the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia. When that finished in 2010, I joined a group of local writers and kept working on my drafts for the next four years.


4.     What was the hardest part about writing this book?

This is my first novel so I have to say all aspects of it were somewhat challenging. But perhaps the hardest part was doing research in Cuba in 2010 with Roberto.

We hired a driver take us to the funeral home at Calzada y K, the Colón cemetery, to visit a santera's place, the Canadian embassy and more. On the third or fourth day, when our driver and I were alone in the car he started asking me what I was up to—admittedly it was a strange list of places to visit—and, because he was so nice, I told him.

That was my mistake. I wasn't supposed to tell anyone what I was doing there because writers need official permission to work in the country. The driver dropped us off that night and never came back the next day. That was frustrating. I'm terrible at being sneaky. I guess I'm lucky he didn't report me.


5.     What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I want my readers to get an understanding of what life was like for average Havanans during the country's Special Period. They should also get an idea of what it means to grow up under a dictatorship and how the corruption that comes out of those tight controls affects everything from family life and social infrastructure to work and morals.


6.     What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

My favourite part is the excitement that comes with an initial idea for a piece or a character. What I like least is going back to my original rough drafts and realizing how much work they need.


7.     Who are some of your favorite authors?

David Bezmozgis, Carlos Ruíz Zafón, Yann Martel and Isabel Allende.


8.     If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)

Cuban actor William Levy.


9.     Are you working on anything right now?

Yes, I am mid-way through the first draft of one project and another is in research stages.


10.  And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

I think the future of Latino literature is incredibly exciting. Latinos are a varied people and as more continue to come to the U.S. and Canada from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other countries, they will be the source of a rich and vast literary pool.


 For more info, please refer to the links below:

Friday, September 4, 2015


Somewhere between stealing cold cuts from stray cats and watching a stranger leave her mother’s bed after breaking in through their bedroom window, Mary figured out that her family was dirt poor. Worse than her empty stomach, she was hungry for acceptance and love. She thought she found it when her baby sister was born and she became her “mommy”, taking care of her needs as best she could at the age of seven. Then she had to say goodbye over a small white casket.

Mary’s grandparents, first generation immigrants from Puerto Rico, took her in and gave her a glimpse of faith and stability. For a brief, shining spell, she had a real home—until they decided that Mama needed her. They may have been right, but Mama needed more than a little girl could give and Mary lost her way again.

Just out of Juvy Hall, Mary found a knight in shining armor to take her away. She became a teenage bride to a man twice her age—a man as deeply enslaved to booze as every “step-dad” she’d had as a child. She loved him anyway, even wearing the bruises he gave her, even when she tried to leave him to give their children a better life. Despite her fear and loneliness, she never imagined it would take a gunshot in the middle of the night to teach her courage. She was even more surprised when rediscovered faith paved the path to forgiveness after so many years of pain.

Running in Heels is a memoir of the grit and grace that carried a young girl through the shadows of her mother’s choices and on through an abusive marriage. Mary A. Pérez narrates an incredible story of survival in the face of hopelessness, and learning to forgive against all odds.

Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: This is the true, inspirational story of a girl named Mary. Her story includes the battling elements of alcohol, abandonment, poverty, hunger, and domestic violence. “The term ‘upper class’ didn’t mean us. Neither did the term ‘middle class.’ We didn’t move up in the world, but we did move way down. Down into a hellhole.” (16)

From girlhood to womanhood, Mary narrates this cunning and deeply profound tale of strength and hardship. The reader will see her pain and struggles while taking a seedy tour of America’s history. The story chronicles the life of a girl, transforming from a neglected child to an abused wife. Details were brief and fleeting, yet, I felt that certain areas a lagged a little too much.

Generally well-written and soulful, Running in Heels is a raw and colorful piece of art. Although the pace was slightly offsetting, readers will still be amazed by this simple recollection and will be able to relate.

A good story!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Q&A with Mary A. Pérez

Born in the Bronx, raised in Miami, relocated to Houston – I am Puerto Rican descent, blessed to be the mother to four grown children, “Mimi” to a couple of gorgeous grandchildren, and happily married (the second time around) to a phenomenal man for twenty-one years.
Life is not always easy (and I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth). When you’re going through struggles, you sometimes feel you are all alone. The pain is real. The hurt feels as though your insides will burst, and in your brokenness you feel hopeless, like it will never end. Instead of reaching out, you become a shut-in … medicate yourself with either alcohol, drugs, or even food. But God gives us life, and life is precious and worth living.
Even before attempting to blog, I had begun to write about my childhood journeys into my adulthood. At first I thought it would be something for my kids one day. But then I’d been told that I have a story worth sharing so that others may hear and become inspired.
So what exactly do I share? I share about life’s lessons through some hardships, but also how it is possible to confront your past, live in the present, and look forward to the future. ¡Wepa!
Within the past few years of writing, I joined a writers guild and attended weekly critique groups. The end result: I completed an 88,500-word manuscript and sought representation for publication … God began opening doors! I found Megan LaFollett, Director of Publishing at Chart House Press who introduced me to Jeff Hastings, President of Chart House Press, LLC. I am blessed to be a part of their family.
“Running in Heels” is more than a memoir. This is a promise of hope and survival to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for anyone who was abandoned as a child or an adult, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body. Find out more about Mary at
1.       What inspired you to write Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace?  
 Initially, my inspiration came in wanting my grown children to understand some of the hardships their Momma endured. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that this was a universal problem that needed to be told that others might be inspired to overcome.
2.       What was the development process like?
I just started jotting down my memories from as young as I could remember them. Sometimes, those memories would surface by glancing at a photo, other times in listening to stories from family members, and other times by going through a box of letters that I had stored away.
3.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Since my book is a memoir, re-living some of those stories was tough. No one really enjoys remembering dark times and the raw emotions during those periods. I honestly believe if I hadn’t experience inner-healing, those deep, dark stories would have affected me too much to revisit them.
4.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
Don’t be ashamed of your pain. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a product of your environment. My story depicts a girl’s refusal to be defined by her environment while seeking inner-healing from her brokenness. There is help for the helpless, hope for the hopeless, and forgiveness for the inexcusable.
5.       What inspired you to be a writer?
I have always loved expressing myself with pen to paper. In the comfort of my surroundings, alone in my thoughts, words come to me which I feel are a gift from God. As a child, my grandmother instilled in me the importance of writing to family members whether by letter or in a card. I enjoyed escaping by reading and doing book reports in school.
6.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
What I like best about writing is that my train of thought goes uninterrupted where I can calmly hone in on ideas and write down my sentiments without reprieve than if I was in the company of others. What I like least about writing are the distractions and the pressure of deadlines.
7.       Who are some of your favorite authors?
Just to name a couple of favorite authors: I was ecstatic the day I discovered “When I Was Puerto Rican” by author Esmeralda Santiago, who had also written a coming-of-age memoir.  Our stories are similar in that we shared the loss of childhood innocence even having to gaze upon a baby in a coffin and were expected to take on adult responsibilities. Then “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls was recommended to me by a friend. I was amazed over how our stories shared the survival of terrible parenting and relentless poverty, also finding the grit and grace needed to break the pattern of bad choices and find a “happily ever after”.
8.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)
Well since I’m the protagonist, a young Rosie Perez and an older Sara Ramirez as me!
9.       Are you working on anything right now?
I am a blogger and post new material about heart-to-heart topics about life on a weekly basis. I also enjoy entering creative writing contests and essays. My next published work may be told in a series of vignettes.
10.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
More and more, the Latino culture is advancing strong and finding their place in being recognized and respected as gifted and talented writers, poets and musicians. According to Wikipedia, “Latin America literature has a rich and complex tradition of literary production that dates back many centuries.” As long as we continue to receive education and desiring to advance ourselves in keeping up with the America way – we are here to stay!
 Up next: A review of Running in Heels

Thursday, August 13, 2015


In this sexy contemporary romance, a Swedish pro hockey player with a rough reputation meets the American girl next door in a steamy twist of travel and adventure. Will they be able to overcome a dark past to turn their sensual nights into something more?

Photographer Caroline Mendoza finally sheds her safe life in Michigan for adventure and a fresh start, and her first stop is Sweden. But Stockholm suddenly becomes more than just a casual stopover when Caroline discovers her reclusive next-door neighbor is ex-Red Wings player Niklas Almquist, whose high-profile alpha bad-boy image, both on and off the ice, has followed him back to Sweden.

While Niklas’s darker side draws her to him, she knows the sensible decision is to move on from Stockholm before she gets too attached. Her time in Stockholm is running out. She must choose between what is safe and what her heart tells her is right. Is she strong enough to take the risk?

Reviewed by: Bela
Rating: 3.5 stars


Review: This is the story of Caroline Mendoza living life in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Her job is an interesting one: she is supposed to write an article (max two) in various countries throughout the whole summer.  It doesn’t pay much and she has “to fund the rest of [her] way around the world.” (9) Still, I wish I could get a job like that. I’m always marveled by Latinas in travel.

Then she meets Niklas, the “friendly” Swedish neighbor. Strange how he always looks like he’s been in a fight. Was he a hockey player? Of course, he was!

I did wonder why Caroline was attracted to this rude brute of a man—and he was a man, a BIG man. Mmm, maybe that’s why.

Hockey seems to be a major thing in Sweden and it played a key role in the book. Too bad I’m not a sports fanatic.

Story was a bit mediocre with mild portions of wit and playfulness. However, I believe readers will be able to relate to Caroline, especially her stubborn independence, her bleak finances, and her relentless ambition to see the world. It’s true how Mexican fathers will insinuate that traveling women are less likely to find a husband, which, according to them, should be #1 on the list, and I like that Caroline and Veronica are two Latinas that don’t follow the tradition. Go, chicas!

The real battle, of course, is the painful, confusing one between love and sports. Can Caroline and Niklas make it work? "Would the electric attraction between them run its course by the end of her time in Stockholm, or would it change into something much harder to break away from?" (61) Will their unexpected love survive?

Like sports, the romance is an intense and powerful one; it is hard to decipher and tough on the heart.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Q&A with Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca is a writer, editor and translator who has always loved to read and travel. Though she has been involved in book projects for many years, she only recently branched out into writing her own fiction. Actually, writing her first novel was a birthday present to herself... her 29th birthday, in case you're wondering, though possibly not her first 29th birthday.
This first novel dissolved into a complicated mess, but out of its ashes rose a new idea, an idea for an entire series, in fact: Stockholm Diaries. The stories are born from the author's love of and longing for Stockholm as well as all the wonderful romance potential that the city holds for both visitors and long-time residents. And, as you may have guessed, it is also part of the setting for her own private Stockholm Diaries story.
Rebecca has, over the years, called many places home, including Michigan, where she grew up, New York City, San Francisco, and, of course, Stockholm, Sweden. After their most recent move from Sweden back to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her husband assured each other they'll never move again.
Well, probably not.
1.       What inspired you to write STOCKHOLM DIARIES, CAROLINE? My husband is Swedish, and we have lived in Sweden twice. Both times, I met women from around the world with interesting, unique stories about meeting Swedish men and moving to Sweden. These stories involved chance meetings, uncertain risks and sacrifice, all in the name of love. The whole Stockholm Diaries series is a kind of tribute to all these stories.
2.       What was the development process like? I started this book with character ideas. In Caroline, I wanted someone who was completely new to Sweden and in some ways completely out of place, but I also wanted to create a character that was already intimately familiar with the aspects of belonging or not belonging. This is where her father’s history comes in: As an immigrant from Mexico, he struggled with the pull of duel loyalties, and to some extent Caroline does, too. So when Caroline contemplates her friend Veronica’s situation in Stockholm and then, in Book Two, considers the possibility of moving there herself, I wanted her to understand the complexity of that decision, both for her and for her family.
Niklas was a little more straightforward. I'm (morbidly) intrigued by the idea that many professional sports reward aggression, but the players are supposed to be able to shut that part of them down off the ice/court/field. This can’t be easy, and I wanted to explore how that might play out in an essentially good guy.
3.       Did you relate to the main character, Caroline, in any way? If so, what? There are many pieces of Caroline’s life that came from my own experiences. I myself grew up in Michigan and studied at the University of Michigan, and like Caroline, I had early tastes of the world beyond the Great Lakes and wanted to explore it. Also like Caroline, I fell in love with a Swedish man, and we have lived together in Sweden twice.
But I should probably also add that Caroline’s life is certainly not my own!
4.       Why did you choose Stockholm as the setting for Caroline? Stockholm was my own home for three years, so this is a tribute to a city I know and love. One fundamental idea behind my Stockholm Diaries series is to explore romance and love with someone who comes from a different background—both the appeals and the difficulties.
5.       What was the hardest part about writing this book? The hardest part for me was to stick closely enough to the romance plot and not travel too far down the roads of other sub-plots. In the end, I cut some of Caroline’s personal history from the story because it didn’t add to the momentum of the plot. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to stick within the boundaries of a romance plot, but it’s the genre that connects with the most readers.
6.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book? The book is romance fiction, so first and foremost I hope that readers immerse themselves in Caroline’s world and enjoy the journey. But I do believe there is a place in genre fiction for ideas. At the recent Romance Writers of American national conference, author Piper Huguley was quoted as saying, “Fiction helps see the humanity in others, regardless of culture or sexual orientation.” This is where I hope to make my mark, however small. I hope audiences of all different backgrounds will see my Latina character as interesting and relatable, as our anchor of familiar in a foreign world. In this small way, I think genre fiction has a place in influencing the way we think of “us” in the United States.
7.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer? Both the best and the worst thing about begin a writer is taking a jumble of ideas and turning them into a coherent story! Taking kernels of characters and plots and following them through to a finished product is a long project full of unexpected turns, much like juggling a dozen or so balls at the same time. The moments of realizations, the moments where the process moves along smoothly or the dialogue comes together in one, tight bundle—those are the best moments of being a writer. But for me, the worst part is the flip side of that same process, the unsuccessful struggle to figure out what isn’t working and how to fix it.
8.       Who are some of your favorite authors? Hmm… where do I start? George Orwell’s 1984 is a masterpiece I can read again and again, as is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Donna Tartt, Thomas Pynchon… I guess you could say I'm a typical U.S. English major in my tastes! My favorite romance is probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, a book I’ve read at least ten times. The book explores romance and love without falling into cliché—a rarity!
9.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.) I imagine Caroline as sexy but understated, quiet and introspective. As is typical in romance, the couple is on the cover of my book, so it’s a little hard to think outside that! But if I were to cast someone, I think I’d pick Odette Annable, who seems to have the right demeanor, though she’s played a wide range of characters.
10.   Are you working on anything right now? Always! I'm usually working on at least two projects in various states. Right now, I'm making the last changes in short story #1 of 4 in the Stockholm Diaries, Alice series. It’s out on submission for an anthology, but if it’s not accepted there, I’ll release it myself later this summer on Kindle Unlimited. I'm also in the middle of the first draft of a non-fiction book called The Reading Writer: An English Teacher’s Guide to Better Romance Writing Through Reading.  And, as if that weren’t enough, I'm getting started on a short story that will fit between the two Stockholm Diaries, Caroline stories: working title is “Niklas in Italy.”
11.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature? I'm not sure I can speak about the future of Latino literature, but I do think I can speak on the future of North American literature, especially in the romance genre. I am not Latina and did not not set out to write Latino literature per se, but my starting point is based on experience: I visited my then-boyfriend’s family in Puebla years ago. My book features two Latinas with very different personalities and backgrounds. This is where I think North American literature is headed: writing complex, nuanced characters who represent all different experiences and backgrounds. My characters are the creative outcome of the ideas I wanted to explore—Caroline is a relatable romance heroine first, and her Mexican roots are one important part of her among many. I do believe literature shapes our culture and the way we relate to each other. I think North American literature is broadening the concept of “us,” and I hope to be a part of that.     
 For more info, visit
UP NEXT: A review of Stockholm Diaries, Caroline.