Her latest book is the romantic comedy, WHITE GIRL IN LA CASA. Visit www.christajeannebooks.com to learn more.
1. How did you come up with the story of WHITE GIRL IN LA CASA?
White Girl in La Casa is based on some very funny and eye opening experiences I've gone through since I met my husband. I am indeed a white girl and I'm married to a hispanic hunk ;) The Hispanic, and specifically Mexican, culture is so family-oriented and when I met all of my husband's family, I have to admit, it took me a while to get used to it and to remember everyone's name. I'm an only child with a very small immediate family so being welcomed into a huge familia was wonderful, but it did lend itself to some moments that were lost in translation. I've always had the writing bug and admittedly, there were some times when dating my husband that I thought to myself, this is better than fiction, I have to write about this!
2. What character features were you seeking for Calliope? How did you come up with her name?
I love not so common names. Maybe because my name is Christa and is also somewhat uncommon. I'm not sure how I decided on Calliope, but I thought it was different and would be very hard for my poor Margarita to pronounce, so again adding to the humor is always my motto! She had to be vegan. I knew that from the beginning because not only is it sometimes difficult to be the odd man (or woman) out in some situations, but my Mexican mami Margarita who will cook every part of the cow had to square off against someone completely opposite, which would mean Calliope had to be a vegan. I'm all about making situations awkward for my poor characters.
3. There is a culture shock as soon as Calliope meets Peter’s mother. Did you have any personal experience with culture shock? Please describe.
Personal experience with culture shock...hmmm...uh yes! Absolutely! I don't want to give anything away but there's a certain scene with a bowl of posole soup that actually happened to me. I played it off a little better than my character, Calliope, but it practically gave me a heart attack none the less. My mother-in-law is nothing like Margarita, thank goodness, but it took her and I awhile to understand each other. I understand a lot of Spanish now but I'm horrible at speaking it so we have this weird communication where she speaks in Spanish and I speak in English but somehow it works.
4. Can you please compare and contrast the relationships Calliope has with Peter and Eddie?
Calliope has always been friends with Peter and I think deep down, she knew they were always just friends. It really changes when Peter comes home to his mother. It's a very blind-siding situation when Peter becomes this instant mama's boy and leaves Calliope on her own, especially since Margarita speaks a different language. Peter is one of those guys that has his own demons and puts on quite the facade to get everyone to love him, Calliope included. Eddie on the other hand doesn't put up with any BS. At all. And he somewhat kick starts Calliope finally having to admit to herself her true feelings about Peter and about the kind of love she deserves. Eddie is Calliope's truth.
5. What are your thoughts concerning those who still possess “old school” values and prejudices like Margarita?
My thoughts on "old school" values…hmmm…well, I think they have their own value in any culture really. When you peel away all the layers of complication in any relationship, I feel like the "old school" values will shine through. And that's definitely the case with Margarita. She is the typical old school, hard working Mexican mother that loves her sons and loves her family and sometimes that's all you need. Take away all the stress and artificial nonsense of our technology driven texting, messaging, facebooking, tweeting lives and you end up having to look at each other and be honest with each other. Plus, you have to love and respect an old school Mexican mami's cooking, it is second to none.
6. Do you think Calliope learned anything from living in La Casa, and, if so, what?
I think Calliope learned a little something about love and being honest with herself. Plus, she learned how to make a mean tamale!
7. What is your writing process like?
I write copious notes before I begin any new project. I know the funny scenes that I want to include and I build around those and outline the entire thing. I make changes along the way here or there but I sometimes laugh at all my notes. They tend to look like the scribblings of the serial killer from Seven or something. I have a good time writing and since I work a full time day job and then have two kids and a husband to come home to with happy but hungry faces, I usually don't get to write until after my kids got to bed at night.
8. What do you like about being a writer? What do you dislike?
I started writing in college for fun and have stuck to that motto. I just have a lot of fun with it and don't take anything to seriously, obviously since I write comedies. I wrote my first novel My Midlife & Married Romance Novel Life and it got the writing bug in me. I couldn't stop because it's my avenue to be creative and share my stories with all those that are willing to enjoy them. The part I don't like is the marketing. I'll be honest, it's a tough sell to get readers and I've heard so many of my friends tell me that they don't read for fun, they don't have time…so sad really. I've always been a bookworm, I thank my dad for that since he always was buying me really cool books to read when I was a kid…oh wait, he still does that. And I love it.
9. Do you feel your book is an inspiration to our Latina readers? How so?
Well, I really don't write to inspire anything but a smile and a laugh. I read a ton and sometimes I'm in the mood for something deep and tragic and tear jerking and then sometimes, I want something to make me laugh. I would love for Latina women to read my book and just enjoy it, laugh at it, identify with it on some level since I love comments that I've gotten from my Latina friends and family like, "oh, that is so my mom." I love that, I love making people laugh with a funny love story. Sometimes life is just too serious, we need stuff to make us laugh, so I hope to inspire some smiles.
10. What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working on the first book of a new series. For now, until I change my mind ten thousand times, it's called The Dating Disasters Anonymous Club and the first book is titled Hazel Mae and the 5 Losers Who Loved Her. I'm hoping to have it ready to go late this year.
Up Next: A review of WHITE GIRL IN LA CASA