My guest today is Misa Ramirez, author of Living the Vida Lola. Misa’s work combines elements of humor, romance and mystery. In this interview, she talks about her inspiration for the novel, her busy schedule, and her future projects.
Thanks for being here today, Misa. After reading your book, I was surprised to find out that you’re not Latina by birth, but by marriage. How did you come to idendity so well with Latinas?
A. I am thrilled that you feel I did justice to the Mexican culture and to Latinas! In a lot of ways, I do feel that Lola Cruz is my ‘alter ego’ if I were a Latina. I think it comes from being so involved with my husband’s family for so long. We’ve been married for 19 years. Various members of his family have lived with us at different times, including his parents. They have always been a dynamic family with so many strong personalities, yet their culture has always been a subtle part of who they are and how they live. That’s what I wanted to capture through the characters in my book. Not every Latino’s experience is the same. Not everyone thinks the same, has the same sensibility of cultural values or expectations, but they each embody some elements of the culture. I really wanted to have Lola be an American who was also Latina. I wanted her to balance all the different parts of who she is, all the while being true to herself. I think my approach, and being “Latina by marriage” made me super aware of not falling into stereotypes, as well. None of my husband’s family are ‘stereotypical’ Latinos. They are all complex, multi-cultural individuals and I’ve learned so much from them. I love the culture and my husband and wanted to write something that in some way represented who my children are on some level, as well.
When did you start writing? Do you have another job besides writing?
I wrote in college, but got a little more serious when I first started teaching middle school. But then I had children and writing took a backseat. I came at it again after my 5th baby was born and I needed an outlet. I’d had the good fortune of having a children’s book published and kept working toward getting another one published. But the magic wasn’t happening. I was writing to prompts and Lola was born. Her family came next, and pretty soon the whole book was pouring out of me.
Of course then I went back and rewrote it SO many times, working in more character development and adding plot points. I also went back to teaching which left little time for writing. But I persevered, landed the most awesome agent ever, and Living the Vida Lola was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur! Now I’m writing full-time, dabbling in some part time teaching, and loving my new career.
What compelled you to write Lola’s story?
Like I mentioned above, I really wanted to tell a story about someone like my own children. I wanted to capture the bi-cultural aspects of my husband. And I wanted to write a fun, sassy, strong, smart woman who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted most of all–a career as a writer–oh, no! That’s me!–a career as a detective.
I love Lola and her family. They really are real to me!
Describe to us a regular writing day in Misa Ramirez’s life. Are you a disciplined writer?
Unfortunately I’m not disciplined enough. Since our recent move to Texas (from California), I’ve jumped into some community work. It’s taking more of my time than I’d anticipated! But I’m definitely the type of person who will just keep working. In fact, I probably work better under a little pressure.
The typical day: Wake up; Wake up children (6 year old takes 15 minutes minimum to get out of bed!); supervise the kids’ breakfast and drink coffee (me, not the kids); make their lunches if they are running late, or supervise their lunch-making if they’re not (I believe in teaching them how to do things for themselves!); take them all to school; go for a walk (or do yoga on Thursdays); come home, clean up, chores (never-ending), and go into office to begin working (this is assuming there is nothing child related or community activist related on the calendar for the day); write, drink more coffee, tea, or water; eat something carby (argh!); pick up kids from school; help with homework; check email and do miscellaneous tasks on the kitchen laptop computer as time allows; do sports, piano, guitar lesson runs; dinner; reading to kids; playtime (if there’s time); bed for the kids; watch a recorded or Netflix show if one is available, read, or back to the computer. Next day, begin again.
More detail than you wanted, right?!
What’s in the horizon?
Book 2 in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series is in production. I believe it will be released in winter 2010. No date yet, and no title yet! Beyond that, I have books 3 and 4 in the works, a proposal for another series–this one about a curandera, am working on a middle grade proposal, and am doing some freelancing. I also am a columnist at www.romancingtheblog.com, and co-operate http://chasingheroes.com, a very cool website all about hero archetypes (and heroine archetypes) and so much more. Always something in the works!
Anything else you’d like to tell readers?
Thank you for having me, Mayra! And thanks to those of you who’ve read Living the Vida Lola. It’s hit the local (Dallas-Fort Worth area) bestseller’s list and I’m thrilled that so many people are loving Lola!
Visit my website at : http://misaramirez.com for contest information and more...
Thanks, Misa, and good luck with your work!
Read my review of Living the Vida Lola.
–Mayra Calvani, www.MayraCalvani.com