A few weeks ago Julie Israel nominated me for The Next Big Thing Award, which gives me the chance to discuss my current WIP which I’ve just sent off to my last round of beta readers. I’ve been a little tight-lipped about the project so far. If I’m going to be honest, I know it’s not very commercial and I haven’t really felt that drive to devise any kind of marketing plan or to even approach book bloggers to potentially review it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of this project. I love the characters and I loved writing it. But it feels like it was just that, a labor of love, and not necessarily some kind of stepping stone towards becoming a full-time author. I think I knew that going into it—that, much like my first book, it wouldn’t be for everybody or not even most everybody. But that’s not why I wrote it. I wrote it because I wanted to, because I know that for the small group of people who do buy a copy, it might stir in them some of the same revelations I had while writing it—that no one is disposable, that forgiveness isn’t an olive branch but a kind of spiritual molting.
So, with that said, here is the culmination of everything I’ve been holding back and have yet to say. Maybe it will persuade some of you to buy a copy when it comes out, or maybe it will inspire you to do some of your own research on the female drug traffickers weighing the well-being of their family’s over their own every day. Or maybe you will read this post and it will give you permission to write the story you know won’t sell just because you love it. Just because you want to. Because that’s really all it takes.
What is the working title of your book?
Orphans Of Paradise
What genre does the book fall under?
A cross between the most literary of Urban fiction and Contemporary New Adult.
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmmm…I think I’m feeling another post coming on. I just spent the past hour trying to find some kind of database of Latino actors. Yeah, doesn’t exist. So I’ll definitely need to allot some time to scour the Internet and find the most ethnically qualified individuals to portray my characters.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A seventeen-year-old girl tries to protect her family and navigate a foreign country after she suspects that her sister has been kidnapped by the cartel.
Will your book be self-published or be represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 6 months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Honestly, I can’t say. I haven’t read anything like it before.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been interested in cartel culture and especially the role of female drug traffickers. A few years ago I saw a movie called Maria Full of Grace about a drug mule who smuggles drugs into the U.S. to earn money to support her family. I started thinking about all of the things that make women such easy targets when it comes to experimenting with that kind of lifestyle—our devotion to our families, especially our children; our selflessness when it comes to their well-being.
There are so many women out there risking their lives just to keep their families afloat, while at the same time further perpetuating a culture and a global addiction that cripples so many communities. I couldn’t stop thinking about that film or the numerous other women I had read about and I wanted to explore the issue more intimately and to write about my discoveries in a way that highlighted these individuals. Not just drug mules. But the mothers and sisters and daughters who were swallowing latex capsules full of cocaine, who were trembling in a cold metal chair in a holding area in a foreign country after being caught, who were sitting in a prison cell while the men who arranged their flights and paid for their passports were shuttling some other mule to the airport. Women whose names we’d never know. Women we don’t even realize exist at all. I wanted to change that, to give them a face. That’s why I wrote this book.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
So far my projects haven’t been the most commercial. But growing up bi-racial has made me hyper aware of the lack of Latin characters in fiction, film, and television and I always felt underrepresented. It’s a personal mission of mine to not only highlight but celebrate diversity in my fiction. And not just through the ethnicity of my characters but also through their personal experiences. Orphans of Paradise is not a contemporary romance or a suspense thriller. It’s just a story about real people, a story you might not have heard before, and if non-traditional adventures pique your interest then I hope you’ll think about getting a copy.