I'm embarrassed to admit, but I hardly read when I was growing up. I started dancing when I was eleven and spent most of my time committing myself to that. But I do remember loving The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and studying lyrics from Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan. Once I got older, the book that changed my life, was The Waves by Virginia Woolf. (Really, I'm a poet at heart, though I don't even write poetry.)
2. How did you decide to write from the point of view of a 11 year old girl for your debut, Loteria?
The idea for Loteria began as a memoir. I wanted to center my family around a single day back when I was eleven playing the game at my grandmother's house. But during that process I felt I was invading the privacy of my relatives, and so I dropped it. Then — since my mind had been so invested in that setting for about a year — I allowed my imagination to make up stories of people who might've lived down the block from my grandparents. That's when I saw I young girl running down the street, away from something that had terrified her. And it was Luz.
3. Describe your working schedule: mornings, nights, at a desk, on the go?
I like to wake up early, shower, grab my bag and head out to a coffee shop. I don't check my email; I don't make coffee; I don't even water the plants. If I don't get out of the house, the entire day will be wasted with too much internet browsing and I won't get anything done. Once I'm at a coffee shop, I put in my earplugs and often stay until about noon or one o'clock.
4. Advice for an unpublished author?
Don't daydream about what the book's end result is going to look like in the first stages of creation. Concentrate on the love —the time, commitment and passion—that you're trying to put into the work. Try to contain the shape of what you what the novel to become, then, when you feel you've birthed the dream you've been seeing in your head, start sending it out and having people read it for some constructive criticism. And don't be too precious during the revision process. Try to detach yourself personally from it, and do what's best for the work.
5. What's next for you?
Right now I'm working on a new project. Completely different from Loteria, but something I'm quite excited about. It requires a visit to Paris, so I'm not complaining.