Interview with Anna-Marie McLemore

 

It’s Monday again, and time for another author interview! This time with the lovely Anna-Marie McLemore, author of “The Weight of Feathers” and the upcoming “When the Moon was Ours”. Please consider pre-ordering her new book!

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When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Pre-order the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Indiebound | Barnes & Nobles

And now, for the interview. I hope you guys enjoy her answers as much as I did.

1) What is your favorite part about being a writer?

The people I get to meet—publishing industry professionals, fellow authors, book bloggers, librarians, booksellers, readers… so many wonderful book lovers!

2) How has your cultural background influenced your writing? Do you write many Latinx characters?

Writers of color should never feel obligated to write their own heritage, but for me, my work doesn’t feel like mine without it. My debut, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, features a Latina girl and a Romani boy, and my second novel, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which comes out in October, is about the decade-long friendship Latina queer girl and a South Asian transgender boy. I’m not sharing too much about my 2017 novel WILD BEAUTY just yet, but I will say that centers on a Latinx family.

3) As someone who comes from a diverse background, did you have any experience in publishing that put that in a negative light?

Because of my last name, a lot of people don’t realize I’m Latina if they don’t know me, so I did have some people say some offensive things about my culture, probably because they didn’t realize they were talking to a Latina writer. But those experiences just make me appreciate the publishing professionals I work with now even more, because for the most part the diverse aspects of my book have been celebrated, or just treated as an organic part of the story. I’m very fortunate to have an agent, editor, and publisher who welcome the multicultural and queer aspects of my stories.

4) How important do you think diversity is in publishing, especially regarding Latinx representation?

Without diversity in publishing, bookshelves aren’t representing the wider world. We have a long way to go until the percentage of books by Latinx authors and about Latinx characters reflects our place in the world, but I’m incredibly grateful to We Need Diverse Books and all who’re fostering conversations about and efforts toward inclusion.

5) As a young writer, what books influenced you? Did any come from your own background?

If I name them all, we’ll be here all day, so I’ll narrow it down to a few of the authors whose work helped make me a reader. Isabel Allende, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Federico Garcia Lorca, Nella Larsen, Laura Esquivel, C.S. Lewis, Jean Rhys, Gioconda Belli. Esquivel is the only one of those I know of who shares my specific background (Mexican), but Allende is Chilean, Lorca is Spanish, and Belli is Nicaraguan, so voices with a connection to my heritage definitely spoke to me.

6) Where do you get inspiration for your books?

Inspiration usually comes to me in very odd ways, so for me the main thing is to be open to it. The inspiration for THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS came not at all once, but a little at a time. Years ago, my father told me about a mermaid show he’d seen when he was in his twenties. Ever since I’ve wanted to write a story about performing mermaids, but it wasn’t until a photographer friend had me out in the woods while wearing a set of wire and cloth wings that the idea for the book came to me. Women swimming in mermaid tails, and winged tree performers. The story grew from those two images coming together.

7) Any good advice for Latinx and POC writers out there?

Write what feels true to you. I’ve tried to write my Latina heritage and my queerness out of books, and those stories never came to life until I let those parts of me back in. Does that mean you have to write your own heritage? Absolutely not, not if you don’t want to. But go where your heart is.

  • Hogwarts house? Ravenpuff! 😉
  • Favorite food? All kinds of berries, mi madre’s secret-recipe rice, rainbow sprinkles.
  • Favorite movie? I love sweeping, magical films, and I have a whole list of favorites, but my favorite movie is actually a quiet, black-and-white play adaptation from the 1960s called A Thousand Clowns.
  • Favorite TV series? Right now I’m really into unReal.
  • Favorite soap opera? I’m always onboard for my mother’s telenovelas. She has a new favorite every season.
  • Favorite place in the world? Salzburg
  • Favorite superhero? Rogue. That *might* have a little bit to do with the fact that, in X-Men canon, her real name is Anna-Marie.

Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, Anna-Marie. I confess I laughed out loud with the superhero one.

6434877Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, raised in the same town as the world’s largest wisteria vine, and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS (out now from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press), was a Junior Library Guild Selection, named to YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award. Her second novel, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, will be released on October 4, 2016, and WILD BEAUTY is forthcoming in 2017. You can find Anna-Marie at annamariemclemore.com or on Twitter @LaAnnaMarie.

Interview with Romina Russell

One of my ideas for Pitch América was to feature writers who are Latinxs, to encourage new writers as well as feature the awesome authors we already have who have made it into the market. I’m proud to present Romina Russell, author of the Zodiac series. Here’s more about her book:

zodiac-book-coverAt the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….

Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in a galaxy inspired by the astrological signs.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Nobles | Indiebound

 

As you know, it’s so important to support authors, so if you have money to spare, please consider buying Romina’s book. (I’ve read it and personally think it’s AMAZING).

Without further ado, let’s get to the interview:

1) What is your favorite part about being a writer?

My favorite part of this career is diving into my imagination and inviting people from all over the world to play with me there!

2) How has your cultural background influenced your writing? Do you write many Latinx characters?

My family immigrated to the US from Argentina when I was 5, so as soon as I started school, I was separated from the other students and placed in smaller ESOL classes so I could learn English. As I got older, I never really found where I fit in–I felt like I wasn’t American enough for the American kids or Argentine enough for the Argentine kids.

In the ZODIAC series, our real world races don’t exist–rather, one’s Zodiac sign is their race. So I think it was therapeutic for me to create a universe of diverse cultures where people must learn to see past their differences and embrace the things that unite them–our humanity and our hope.

3) As someone who comes from a diverse background, did you have any experience in publishing that put that in a negative light?

I came to publishing thinking that it would be an industry where everyone is equally embraced, yet when the diverse books movement came around, I was hurt to find myself excluded from it. I’m never invited to be part of any diversity discussions, nor am I ever included as a diverse author on any lists, and I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t know the right people or I don’t write the right characters or I don’t look the part of a diverse author.

4) How important do you think diversity is in publishing, especially regarding Latinx representation?

I think it’s SO VITALLY IMPORTANT that every voice be represented in our books and our art. This is the only way we can truly get to know each other.

5) As a young writer, what books influenced you? Did any come from your own background?

When I was younger, I loved reading books that were too advanced for me, like Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and pretty much ANYTHING by the brilliant Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favorite authors of all time and a fellow Argentine.

6) Where do you get inspiration for your books?

I find inspiration everywhere–world events, other people’s art, my imagination.

7) Any good advice for Latinx and POC writers out there?

TRUST YOURSELF. Don’t wait for anyone else to validate you or tell you you’re a writer–believe in your voice and have faith that you are on the right path for you. Band together with other writers who are at the same stage of creation as you and form critique groups (aka support groups) to help each other grow and improve. Remember that writing isn’t a competitive industry–when a child falls in love with a book, she becomes a reader for life.

  • Hogwarts house? RAVENCLAW
  • Favorite food? SANDWICH DE MIGA (argentine specialty)
  • Favorite movie? ALMOST FAMOUS
  • Favorite TV series? THE WIRE
  • Favorite place in the world? HOGWARTS
  • Favorite superhero? MOM

Thank you so much for the interview, Romina! It was lovely to have you.

avatoar_circleRomina Garber is a Los Angeles based YA author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on a YA novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

 

on selecting entries

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Pitch América blog! I’ll be posting interviews with Latinx authors, lists of books and hopefully in the future, success stories that will feature you guys and your agents.

This first post will be to clarify how we will be selecting entries. Me and other judges (Nicole Tone and Debbie Oliveira for now, but if you’d like to be a judge as well,  please feel free to contact me) will read all submitted entries and vote which ones we like best and think should be featured in the contest.

As of now, we have determined that 45 entries will be selected to feature on the Agent Round of the contest — 10 middle grade, 10 new adult, 10 adult and 15 youg adult. Depending on the number of entries we receive, this numbers can change.

According to submission guidelines, we’ll ask to see a 35 word pitch and the first 500 words. We’ll judge entries according to the clarity of the pitch (character, setting, plot and stakes especially) and if the tone of the pitch translates into the first 500 words, and also if the word count is reasonable for the genre you’re in. We’ll read all the entries and select them from the slush pile that comes. I’ll also be giving away a Free Pass when time comes closer.

I’ll make sure to do another post with good examples and how your pitch/entry should be crafted in the future, so keep an eye on the blog.