It’s amazing that you set out to write a slice-of-life piece instead of the common tale. Maggie is growing up in San Benito just like you did. Which parts of your own life did you include within her story?
So what I took from my own life…uhh… is it’s hard to write a story that’s set in a place you live because people always think it’s autobiographical. I tried to keep everything as far away as depictions of real people or situations I have been through and just take the universal story of the feelings of confusions. The feelings of feeling very deeply about the people around you and the feelings of uncertainty for your future, and like being unsure about if the people you love will love you when their image of you changes.
So I wanted to take those universal feelings to deliver them and translate them into a way people could see and latch onto, so I took the aspects of growing up bi and closted bi and all the things I was wondering at the time:
“Oh I have all these intense feelings now because I’ve entered puberty, and I don’t know if I can trust my own intuition on whatever I am doing?”
“Do I have a crush on my bestfriend, or do I just feel very deeply for her?”
“Do I want to date my ex, or do I not want to?”
“Did I fall in love with the new girl, or do I just think she is cool?”
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN… and taking all the feelings of familial pressures, college dreams and navigating the process of figuring out how to carry your family’s legacy and represent them well and fulfill their dreams for you; while wondering what your dreams are for yourself.
So I took those big universal feelings and the setting and gave Maggie all these feelings and made her deal with them.
How do you feel being a published author?
…It feels so weird. A lot of people use the metaphor of having a baby. I don’t like using that metaphor because *whispers* It’s not a baby, but it is a baby.
It’s like whenever people ask me if I am going to have a baby. I say “I already have a book baby”, but it’s weird because it’s like a chunk of my heart. Even if it’s not about me, it’s a place that I loved and this place that I wanted people to see.
Working in publishing, were you prepared for criticism by reviewers?
I think the book engages a lot of the reactions for reviews because I work in publishing, so I know how those things work. So I was ready for the pushback, which I got, like “your character is not painted in a good light” or “she doesn’t have good morals,” and a lot of characters that are nonwhite and non straight in the book world get really crushed by reviewers when they make a questionable choices because they are held to this standard that white straight characters are not, where they are not allowed to mess up because then it casts a bad light on the rest of the community, so that was a little bit easier to stomach because I was kinda more prepared for it.