Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Author Interview with Margo Candela

Today, Latina author, Margo Candela, has come to tell us about her writing.

Can you please tell us a little bit about the kinds of books you write and how your culture affects your craft?

I write women’s fiction, which and I’m hoping to branch out into different genres including writing for young adults and screenplays. I’ve had four novels published so far and each has featured a Latina or Latino as a main character, but I like to explore the fictional lives of other types of people, also. I write a lot about family and identity--two subjects I find complex and interesting--and my books tend to be more on the funny side.

Authors bring a lot to the table when they’re writing a novel, but I’m a big advocate of separating my fiction from my reality. Even though my upbringing has influenced my work, I know there’s a difference between my private life and what I end up writing about. I’m not my characters and my characters aren’t me, but I can relate to them and hope readers can too.

Please describe the Latina heroine(s) in your book.

In my first novel, Underneath It All (Kensington Jan. ’07), Jacqs is divorced and has a job that’s supposedly very glamorous, but is just a mini-version of the relationship she has with her estranged family. In Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct. ’07), Natalya’s goal is to seek perfection in her professional and personal life even though it’s ruining her chances at happiness in both areas. In More Than This (Touchstone, Aug. ’08), I have two main characters, Evelyn and Alexander, who come from completely different backgrounds but both are hiding from who they really are. And in my latest novel, Good-bye To All That (Touchstone, July ’10), Raquel is trying to keep her family and work life together, but is failing at both while learning some hard truths about herself and others.

There are key traits all my characters share--a good sense of humor, the ability to be honest with themselves and they make lots of mistakes. I like to write about essentially good, but flawed people because those are the types I find most interesting in fiction and real life.

Who is your intended audience, if any?

I write with a heavy dose humor for women anywhere from their late teens and up. Whether they call my books chick lit, mainstream fiction or women’s fiction, my readers are willing to keep an open mind about what constitutes a “happy ending.” My books don’t end with a marriage proposal, dramatic weight loss or the main character moving into a corner office. I’m also very conscious that my reader wants a good story that’s funny and entertaining while being insightful and smart. I do deal with heavy subjects (divorce, job loss), but I’m not one to let my characters be melodramatic about it…unless it can be played for a laugh.

How do you feel your books influence Latinas?

While my main characters are Latinas, I don’t write exclusively for a Latina audience. I explore universal themes in my novels (family, identity, work) with the intention of giving my readers a satisfying experience. My only overt attempt at trying to make a point is that my main characters have been college graduates. That’s as much shepherding as I think I’ll ever do since my main goal is to write an entertaining story, not a preachy one.

What does being Latina mean to you?

My background and the life I’ve lived so far have given me a unique viewpoint that comes across in my writing. Depending on the reader, this may or may not read as Latina. I really can’t worry about that too much because it would be a pointless distraction. I know who I am and I know where I came from. I’d rather think of myself as a woman first and then round it out with other relevant labels. If I had to name five things that make me me, they’d be: writer, mother, Democrat, Latina and failed circus acrobat. Those are in no particular order as some days one role is more important than the others.

What do you think the future holds for today’s Latina?

The future is what you decide to make it, no matter who you are. The one thing I do know about the future is that it’s up to you (and me) to do something to make sure it goes in a positive direction. There’s a growing awareness of the importance of community support either on a more personal level from friends or families or through professional network associations. If we build on harnessing our combined strength and diversity, there’s no limit on what can be achieved both individually and as a whole.

What are some of your favorite Latina authors and why?

I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve gotten to know a handful of authors who happen to be Latinas and are good people on top of that. I always look forward to seeing and hearing from Julia Amante, Mary Castillo, Reyna Grande, Jamie Wood Martinez, Sandra Lopez and Sarah Rafael GarcĂ­a to name a few. I’ve had so much fun doing panels with these ladies and I always know that I can reach out to them for some support when I need it.

Do you have a website or a blog? If so, please list the URL.

I try to blog at least once a week. I write about whatever I find interesting or amusing and it’s my space to just let me be me which is why it’s all over the place. I’m also active on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. My website, http://www.margocandela.com/, has links as well as a contact page and information about my books.

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