Monday, November 08, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is an award-winning journalist who was named one of today’s “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America” by Time magazine. The Three Kings is her sixth novel. She lives in Southern California and keeps a home in her native New Mexico.

THE THREE KINGS: A Christmas Dating Story

Who’s bearing gifts this Christmas? Three hot, single guys!

Christy de la Cruz has it all: a great career as an interior designer for the stylish homes of New Mexico, marriage to a tall and handsome man, and a great family—especially her cousin Maggie. But as the holidays approach, she’s down to two out of three—that handsome husband has walked out the door. Christy is so not up for dating . . . until Maggie takes Christy on as the ultimate romantic project. Just like the wise men in the nativity story, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar arrive bearing gifts and displaying their best stuff. One’s a pretty boy, one’s a rugged cowboy, and one’s an animal lover. Which one will win Christy’s heart?

How did you start out your writing career?

I got my official start as a professional writer in college, when I started writing music reviews for The Boston Globe newspaper. I began writing for pleasure much earlier than that, probably when I was about nine years old.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I experimented a bit with form in this book. There are no chapters, just a bunch of brief vignettes all run together. I saw it as a film in my mind, with just a few moments of dialogue or scene before fading to black and opening elsewhere in the story. I learned that even within the confines of commercial fiction there is room for creativity and innovative storytelling methods.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I want this book to be a relief for my readers. I hope it is a fun and funny escape from the stress of the holidays, with an uplifting message of hope, generosity, and love. It is sort of a Latina scrooge story, with three hot guys instead of the Christmas ghosts.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Yes. I love my life. It is perfect and I would not change a thing. Seriously. I work from home, set my own hours, am a single mom who has never had a nanny or put my son in an after-school program. I am able to do my job and be a full-time mother at the same time. I am incredibly fortunate.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

1. Dr. Alexandre Manette from "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. I'd like to pick his brain about the notion of revolution.

2. Songlian from "Raise the Red Lantern," the film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li. I'd kidnap her and never let her return to life as a miserable concubine. I'd send her to college.

3. Larry David from "Curb Your Enthusiasm". I'd ask him to marry me. He is the perfect man for me. Most people hate him, so I don't know what this says about me. Well, actually I do; I'm just in denial.

4. Natalie Portman as Ann Boelyn in "The Other Boelyn Girl". I'd ask her to marry me, too; and I wouldn't chop her head off.

5. The Guantanamera woman in Jose Marti's famous poem by the same name. I want to know what she makes of the idiot who keeps telling her how great he is.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I'd known how fickle the book business is. I wish I'd understood genre and marketing better. I wish I'd known that it was okay to stand up to my editor and publisher when I thought they were wrong about what book should have come out after "The Dirty Girls Social Club".

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do: Write every day and enjoy writing. Don't: Expect workshops or degrees to make you a writer.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That we writers have enough stories to tell and don't really want to write your biography for you, no matter how fascinating you think you are.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best advice came from Robert Crais: "You're never as good as they say you are, and you're never as bad as they say you are." Worst? "Keep writing chick lit."

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I try to memorize Eminem lyrics and rap along with him when I drive alone in the car. I think he's a genius with words and rhythm. And, yes, I am aware that I look pitiful doing this.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I'd want to be Aleida March in her autobiography, at the moment in the jungle when she first meets and seduces Che Guevara.

Our theme this month is Men In Fiction. What male writer are you reading?

Dean Koontz. I am always reading Dean Koontz. I idolize the man.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that Oprah asks too many questions. Oh, wait. Don't want to piss off Oprah...lemme think...uhm...I know for sure that in order to be happy a human being must derive her sense of self and worth entirely from within.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Next after "The Three Kings"? I am launching a very exciting young adult supernatural romance series next year, called "The Kindred". Book one, "The Temptation of Travis Hartwell," tells of a girl who finds her soulmate, only to discover that he is a revanant, or ghost in human form.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
twitter: @alisavaldes
Facebook: Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

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