Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Witches Moon Over Santa Fe

Writers have been playing The Next Big Thing for a while now, so I was pleased when poet, writer and editor, Sarah Cortez tagged me.  I reviewed Sarah's most recent book of poetry Walking Home here, and one of my stories (Death and Taxes . . . and Worms) appeared in Hit List, the mystery anthology she edited .  Read Sarah's Next Big Thing post here.  Update:  Sarah just got word that Walking Home received an Honorable Mention in this years Los Angeles Festival of Books. Linda Quinn also filled me in on the dynamics, mystery and allure of playing this game.  She's working on her first novel, The Search, a YA multicultural mystery about a teen who must reveal a long-held family secret in order to make her dream of being a police detective come true.

What are you working on?

My Next Big Thing is ongoing.  I'm happy to report that The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood continues to be read and is receiving good reviews.  Much of it has been through book club referrals. I will visit your reading group if you're local or Skype in if your group is far, far away. 

Where did you get the idea for your book?

The simple answer is at my mother's knee. A family legend concerns two Sandoval spinsters in the 19th century who adopted two orphans whose parents had died on the trail to Santa Fe.  The original premise was an exploration of what it would mean if an old, moneyed and mysterious Hispanic family brought into its fold Anglo children and raised them as Sandovals.  It gets at the heart of multiculturalism in New Mexico in all its variations.  I wrote that book.  Sent it to an agent.  She said I had the makings of a family saga, and asked if I'd noticed how the youngest generation kept referring back to their adoptive aunts and to what they had learned from them?

It's true that the Sandoval sisters spoke to me: while I carpooled my kids, in my dreams, and when I worked out, their stories unwound behind my eyes. I rewrote the book, and brought the past forward into the present to let them speak for themselves.  The issues confronted by the sisters are contemporary: racism, sexual and religious intolerance, and the power of superstition.  It's a story of what constitutes a family.


The book is literary fiction set in a dynamic and seldom-addressed period in American history: the Mexican-American War.  

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato for the tomboy Pilar.  Pilar is the most joyous of the sisters and actively sought a varied sex life (with her husband, and . . . spoiler alert!), so while Selena has the elan for the role, not sure she can break from innocent teen.  

America Ferrara or Salma Hayek could play Oratoria, the wise woman.  

The beautiful, but treacherous, Consuelo, is perfect for Eva Mendez or Michelle Rodriquez.  They both kick nalgas (buttocks, and for those readers who need a further translation: ass).

Alma is difficult. Well-mannered and demure, she experienced more personal tragedies than her sisters.  Her fair complexion was a contrast to both Oratoria and Pilar. I vote for Bitsie Tulloch. Never heard of her? She plays the wife on the TV series Grimm. When I heard her speak Spanish, had to look her up.  She's half-Scottish and half-Spanish. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Santa Fe, New Mexico was the first foreign capital captured by the U.S. An unbelievable influx of men occurred, but nary a word has been written about how that affected the New Mexican women.  Until now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  

Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches, Isabel Allende in the House of Spirits.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
From an Amazon review:  "Everything you could want from historical fiction-a largely unexplored part of Mexican-American history, the spectacular vistas of New Mexico, a dynastic family with not one but three incredibly distinct, sensual, powerful female voices." Cindy D. Oh, and there are witches!

I've tagged Jill Smolinski, Rudy Ch. Garcia, and Estella Gonzalez to tell us about their next Big Thing.  First, a brief introduction:

Jill Smolinski writes fun, sophisticated and loving women's fiction that is sold internationally.  Her latest novel, Objects of My Affection will be out in paperback on March 5 wherever books are sold. It tackles hoarding, prickly mother-son relationships, art, and the sometimes slippery slope to getting laid. Wait! Can't believe I wrote that, but we've all been there, so deal. Jill has an excellent sense of humor and puts up with a lot from me. She'll post more on March 14 here.

Estella Gonzalez' novel in progress is Angry Blood, which is also the title of her Pushcart nominated excerpt which can be read here. Her work has been anthologized in Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature and Kaleidoscope.  Her writing has also appeared in Puerto del SolKweli Journal and Huizache. Estella has not yet been inculcated into the dark and sensual world of blogging, so  I'll be hosting her responses on my blog next week.  Where you are now just in case you're not sure.

Rudy Ch. Garcia is at work writing a YA fantasy about disillusioned and damaged teens who overcome their fractured pasts on Earth, but find hope and understanding in a dangerous, dismal and repressive Otherworld.  It can happen: mythology is full of heroes/heroines who journey to a dark and tangled dimension and find their way back, scarred but whole. The book is tentatively entitled Bruised Hearts, Mended Dreams.  He's finished the second draft and will soon send it on its way to agents.  Rudy's debut novelThe Closet of Discarded Dreams, is a thrilling rollercoaster of a story: magical realism crossed with hip-hop and with a schmeer of spanglish to go with that. He'll tell you more about both books on 3/2/13 here.

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