What prompted you to write that first book/short story?
**I didn’t see many fantasies that had Latino protagonists. I was a bilingual teacher at the time and thought why shouldn’t there be a fantasy that showed Mesoamerican/Mexican mythology. So I wrote it.
You’re published in YA fiction, what prompted you to write a story about the Ixtumea?
**Ixtumea is a made up world and my former critique group helped me come up with the name. I wanted a world that reflected Lupe’s rich Mexican culture and heritage.
Did you have to do a lot of research? And, if so, would you share some of your favorite research books/sources?
**Yes, I did a lot of research. The mythological world and urban legends came from my Chicano Studies classes I took at CSU Fullerton while a grad student. I also took the research I learned while searching for my own Latino roots through SHHAR-Society of Hispanic Historical Ancestral Research and my church.
My favorite sources had to be from books in my Chicano Studies classes and from Professor Ortega.
During your research, did you find an interesting fact/situation that you just had to include in your book?
**I based the mother Concha loosely on la Malinche—who had a tragic history. She was presented as a ‘gift’ to Hernan Cortes when he conquered what’s now known as Mexico. She was Cortes married mistress and trusted aide, translating for him at his first meetings with the Aztec emperor Montezuma. Some considered her a sell-out, a traitor. Historians are divided. But all agree she’s the mother of the mestizo race.
Her history fascinated me. There’s even an urban legend based on her—la llorona—the weeping woman.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?
My upcoming book NO GODDESSES ALLOWED is about fifteen year old Jordan Lake who loves romance, vintage clothing, and Audrey Hepburn. When she finds out her favorite AH movie is based on the life of a mysterious aunt, she’s intrigued. Add a magical Egyptian bracelet and a mischievous goddess. Coming Christmas 2011 from Zumaya Publishing. EARRINGS OF IXTUMEA has a release date of March 2012
Do you plot your stories out or do you just start writing?
**I plot my stories out. I can’t write by the seat of my pants.
Which of your characters is most like you and which is least like you?
**Probably Stephanie Stewart from my YA paranormal Crossed Out. I question authority figures and have an issue with trust too. Though I don’t have her paranormal gift.
Least like me has to be Concha—Lupe’s mother, who deserts her daughter for her lover and goes back to get her for him. Her fate is very similar to a modern day La Llorona
Can you describe your office or where you normally write? Do you have anything in your office that helped inspire you to write the story?
**I usually write in my writing loft which is upstairs. For EARRINGS OF IXTUMEA I had an Aztec doll, a Virgin Guadalupe medallion and candle, a book of dichos—Mexican proverbs—and I also subscribe to Latina magazine. I tried to immense myself with Spanish and read a number of books in Spanish too.
Which came first the plot or the characters?
**Probably character. I had a dream in which I saw this teen follow this gorgeous Mesoamerican warrior through the jungle and then he pushed aside some huge leaves to show her the parallel world that was very similar to the world of her ancestors.
Have you ever gotten stuck while writing a scene or chapter? How did you overcome it?
**Yes, all the time. One thing I do is maybe write a scene on how that character is feeling and what he/she is experiencing. I also might step back for a few and go back to it later.
What is the wackiest thing that’s ever happened to you since you started writing?
**Wackiest? Well one day a bunch of teachers I taught with asked if I could ‘share’ one of my scenes from a very early version of EARRINGS. I read to them a passage when Lupe first encounters the Spider Goddess. Silence. Then one of them said, “Wow, you have quite an imagination.”