1. When you were my age (11), did you like to read?
Unfortunately, no, I did not like to read. English was my second language and books in Spanish, my native language, were not accessible. It took me a while to learn English and I was often frustrated by it. I did, though, enjoy very much listening to family stories from my mom and other relatives, and I also enjoyed telling them.
2. What is a book that made an impact on you?
The first book I read from cover to cover was at 16 years old. It was a late evening and I was riding the city bus from work to home. Inside the bus, I found a tattered book someone had left behind titled Catcher in the Rye. I could not believe the magic in it and how through its story, I’d been transported to another world. That book not only changed me forever, but it also instilled in me the desire to become a writer one day.
3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
Ideas are everywhere, so for me it’s not difficult to come up with them. I have a green, little notebook where I jot down every idea that comes to me, from characters, settings, to dialogue. The hard part is making something concrete and substantial out of these ideas. It’s daunting, and also very humbling, to take an idea and be able expand it to have a life of its own, to make it grow and see to it that it has a beginning, middle, and end.
4. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
Payal Doshi is a new author (and also a great friend!) who wrote a fantastic story about a girl with magical powers who stops at nothing to save her brother. The book is titled Rea and the Blood of the Nectar.
5. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Read everything you can get your hands on. Read for pleasure but also find books that you enjoy and analyze them. Like a biologist who dissects a specimen to learn more about it, do the same with your favorite books. Dissect each scene, each paragraph, each sentence and read it aloud to learn how it flows. Don’t forget to write everyday (you’re a writer, after all!). Read your own writing aloud and listen to its rhythm and flow. See if you stumble anywhere. Don’t be afraid to share your writing with people you trust. It takes courage but improvement will always follow. Seek a mentor to guide you through. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. And learn to listen to your own voice. Always remember that writing is HARD, HARD work!
6. What do you like best about being an author?
I like that I get to use my imagination a lot. I also like that I can research things that I don’t know and learn more about them through the process. But what I like best is when you know your characters so well that they start taking on a life of their own, and before you know it, they take actions on their own too!
7. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
I would love to portal myself into Because of Winn Dixie. I love the community Kate Di Camillo created for the setting. I wish I’d grown up with a loving father and in a place where neighbors were like family.