Recently, Caridad and I talked about her book, Beethoven, and Jason Mraz.
Ali is not only a singer but a guitarist and pianist as well. Do you sing or play any instruments?
I'm as big a music geek as Ali is. I've played piano since I was four, been singing almost as long, played trumpet and French horn during my band years and even dabbled in percussion by playing in what's known as "the pit" (the xylophone, marimba, etc.) when I was in drum corps. To this day, I still get regularly busted in public by singing out loud to whatever music is wafting through overhead speakers.
Ali's love for Sting and Rob Thomas is apparent. I'm guessing you might fancy them as well. . . ?
Among others. *giggle* If you check out the acknowledgments, you'll see that I put a shout out to musicians who inspired me throughout the creation of the book and my buddy Sting is definitely there. He's pretty much been my hero for years, just like with Ali. And Rob Thomas just has such massive songwriting chops and is so unbelievably talented. So yeah, I think you could say I fancy them. :-)
Was the character of and relationship with Jaime planned from the start?
aime was planned, but his function as a character came as a bit of a surprise. He popped up as I wrote the first couple of chapters -- someone associated with the show who was a contemporary for Ali, age-wise, since it would have been tricky to keep Sosi a constant presence throughout the whole contest. In terms of becoming boyfriend material, though -- that's where he surprised me.
Ali's best friend Sosi cracked me up. Do you have a Sosi in your life?
She's a kick, isn't she? My sister is essentially my Sosi, even though she's older than me and fairly computer illiterate. *g* But she's the one who's always egged, erm, encouraged me on to do things that I might not have had the guts to do otherwise.
How and why did you pick the name Alegria for your leading lady?
I knew I wanted something that had a very Latin sound to it, yet wouldn't be difficult to pronounce. Something a bit unusual and with an easy nickname. And because I'm just that much of a music geek (here we go again) and one of my favorite pieces of music in the world is the last movement of Beethoven's 9th, aka "The Ode to Joy," Alegria just seemed like a really good fit.
What did you hope to accomplish with the book by way of culture / Latin American music?
One thing I really wanted to try to show, in some small way, how many different flavors of Latin there are and they're not all created the same although there are definitely some universalities that cross all borders. And show at the same time that even though Ali does come from a very distinct culture and is very proud of it, at heart, she's still an All-American sort of girl who loves cute shoes and Rob Thomas and gets nervous when it turns out the guy she really likes, actually likes her back. Again, that so many things are universal.
Why did you use your middle name of Caridad for the byline of this book?
Two reasons, really -- one was to distinguish my teen fiction from my women's fiction/romance writing. And since I'd already been writing the women's fiction as "Barbara Ferrer," I decided to use Caridad (for the teen fiction). It also serves as a nice homage to my cultural background as well. While it was a difficult name to have as a kid, I'm rather proud of it now and I'm glad to be able to use it.
What are your ten favorite books of all time?
Oh boy -- in no particular order:
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough
The Last Convertible - Anton Myrer
Wifey - Judy Blume
Those Happy Golden Years - Laura Ingalls Wilder
North & South - John Jakes
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg
Maggie-Now - Betty Smith
A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle
Roller Skates - Ruth Sawyer
Visit Caridad's official website.
Read the first chapter of Adios to My Old Life.