Please join me in welcoming Allison Garcia, author of Vivir el Dream and Finding Amor.
N: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
In college I DJ’d a radio show with my roommate…It was called The Allison and Charlene Show, and we won DJs of the Year. We were very silly and had loads of fun!
N: What’s your favorite scene in “Finding Amor”, and what makes it a fave? Would you care to share an excerpt from the scene with us?
Sure! My favorite scene is…oh my…this is hard. I’ve been staring at the screen for five minutes. I can’t pick! Also I don’t want to pick a scene toooo far into the book and give anything away. I kind of like the scenes where Emanuel meets his grandmother, Mami Sandra. I know a lot more about the character than everyone at this point, so the way she connects with Emanuel is pretty miraculous and outside her normal character. Also it turns out she has a pretty good sense of humor. Who knew?! Here is a scene where they are eating breakfast together in Nashville. I apologize for the large amount of Spanish. There are footnotes in the book! J
Mami Sandra let out a sigh and took another swig of her coffee. “Regresemos al río.”
Emanuel nodded and walked alongside her until they got to the railing overlooking the flowing waters. The sunset was brighter and glowed with a mixture of orange and red, like mangos and jocotes.
“Vamos a comer por allá. El puente tiene bancos.”
They walked up the steep bridge until they got to the top, where they sat on a metal bench, looking out over the river below, its surface reflecting the changing colors of the sky.
Mami Sandra swallowed another gulp of coffee and passed Emanuel a warm wrapped sandwich from the paper bag. “Okay, I’m awake now. ¿Qué querés saber?” She checked her watch. “Tenés quince minutos para preguntarme todo lo que quieras.”
Emanuel stopped with his biscuit sandwich halfway to his mouth. “¿Por qué habla español con acento?”
“Out of practice,” she responded with a full mouth.
“I don’t like speaking Spanish.”
“Because.” She picked off a piece of her biscuit and threw it to a group of nearby pigeons.
Mami Sandra narrowed her eyes but didn’t answer.
“Me dijo ‘todo lo que yo quiera saber de usted,’” Emanuel reminded her, taking another sip of the flavorless juice.
She swallowed hard and looked out over the river. “Me recuerda a la Guerra.”
Emanuel sat back. “Oh. Por eso salió del país, ¿verdad?”
She nodded and tossed another crumb to the birds. “It really messed me up.”
He had a million other questions floating around in his mind. Why had she abandoned Mamá? Why hadn’t she helped her get papers or waited so long to help Emanuel? Why did everyone seem to hate her so much?
He nibbled on his sandwich and studied her saddened face and her leg that restlessly shook the bench, deciding that la Guerra might be the answer to most of his questions. So he chose an easier one. “¿Por qué me está ayudando?”
Mami Sandra glanced at him, a strange far-off look in her eyes. “I don’t know.” She shook her head and finished off her biscuit and coffee, tossing the garbage into the trash. “Fifteen minutes are over.”
Emanuel laughed. “Ni llegué a cinco.”
“Oh, well. Son mis reglas.” Mami Sandra shrugged. “If I’d known you were so smart, I wouldn’t have let you ask me questions.” She ruffled his hair and stood up. “Let’s go.”
Emanuel swallowed his last dry bite of sandwich, gulped down the juice, and followed his grandmother down the hill. He smiled. Mami Sandra was strange, but for a moment, she’d reminded him of Mamita. Despite everything he’d heard about her his whole life, he couldn’t shake the feeling that somewhere deep inside, she was actually a good person.
N: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
Emanuel, hands down. He is a cool kid. He is so strong and has been through so much, and yet the world hasn’t dragged him down. He has a good heart and a lot of love to give.
N: On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?
Carlos. He is the worst. When my editor made me write scenes from his POV, I bucked back hard. But, alas, it helped grow the story. And, don’t worry, horrible things will happen to him. Mwahahaha
N: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre/sub-genre?
I’m a sucker for the classics. My fav book is Jane Eyre. But I also love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and The Giver and And Then There Were None. My favorite recent book is The Hate U Give. I’d say I read whatever, as long as it has a good story and characters I care about.
N: What are your least and most favorite things about being an author?
I love writing. I haaaaate editing, though I love the final product. It is really awesome holding a book you wrote in your hands and seeing it on the shelves of a bookstore. Also I only have 2 books out, so next year I would looove to be in the black. J
N: Have you ever written a line, paragraph, or passage, and thought, “Darn, that’s pretty amazing, even if I do say so myself”? What was it?
Yes. There is one scene in Vivir el Dream, my book that has won 5 awards, where it talks about Juanita and her 3-yr old daughter Linda’s traumatic border crossing. So…I think the last line is the most powerful, but it needs context so here ya go!
Juanita had heard stories about people dying in the desert. Hundreds of people, maybe thousands. Searching for freedom and a better life for their families. She had heard other stories, too. Stories about what the coyotes did to women, stories she didn’t want to believe were true. She took a deep breath and looked ahead with determination. She wouldn’t be one of those bodies lying out for the vultures to find. They were going to make it.
All of a sudden, the old man in front of her stopped, swayed, and dropped onto the sand, dead. She made the sign of the cross over her chest and stepped around him, continuing on.
N: When you sit down to start a new book, how do you decide whether it will best be told in the first or the third person?
I almost always write in 3rd person, and starting with Vivir el Dream, I have written stories from usually 3-4 POVs. I usually decide the main people I’d like the story to be about and go from there. I am a “pantser” so the story develops as I write.
N: Let’s talk tropes: do you have a few favorites that you enjoy both writing and reading? If so, what are they and what makes them your faves?
I sort of hate tropes. I don’t like things to be predictable at all. Though…I suppose I would say that I am a sucker for the underdog or for surprise declarations of love.
N: Describe your ideal fantasy writing environment—the beach in Monaco, a sidewalk café in Paris, a thatched cottage in the English countryside—wherever you can dream of.
I have written some really good stuff while down visiting my in-laws in Guadalajara. But I’ve already been there and I’ve never been to Italy, so I think there!
N: If you could choose one of your books to be adapted for the silver screen, which would you choose? Why do you think it would translate well to film?
This is hard because I see all of them in my head like a movie, but people seem to really love Vivir el Dream. I think the characters are lovable (most of them!) and it is very poignant. Finding Amor would also be cool. I can see people falling in love with sweet little Emanuel.
N: If I were to interview Ana and Emanuel what would they say about you?
Give us a break, Allison! I think they’d be mad about the next shoe that is dropping in Finding Seguridad (book 2 of the Buscando Home series) and the following shoe in Finding Paz (book 3). I like to make people squirm and care and worry, because these are real things that happen in the real world. I hear stories like theirs every day as a counselor. I want it to be authentic and not a fake, happy, perfectly-tied-up-in-a-bow ending.
N: Thank you so much. Finding Amor sounds very interesting. I wish you all the best in your writing career and hope you visit us again soon.