Shanna Swendson (shanna_s) wrote,
Shanna Swendson
shanna_s

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Diana Rodriquez Wallach

I actually got praised for doing something really well at ballet class last night -- and then I promptly messed up the next thing I did. It doesn't look like ballet will be a viable fallback career if this writing thing doesn't work out. In writing news, I think I've settled on a setting for the Nagging Idea, but the danger of doing location research is that it makes me want to travel (and in this case, it also makes me homesick for a place I used to live).

Before I go dig through old photos and wear out Google, I've got another Girlfriends Cyber Circuit guest author, Diana Rodriguez Wallach, author of Adios to All the Drama.

Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn’t easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobby—and they don’t exactly go unnoticed.

Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only “boyfriend” and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents’ recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who’s tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is who will Mariana kiss at midnight?



Now the interview:
What was the inspiration behind this book?
Well, Adios to All the Drama is the third book in the series. So it was inspired by the two books that came before. However, the first book in the series, Amor and Summer Secrets, was initially inspired by a conversation with my agent, Jenoyne Adams. She had mentioned seeing a recent increase in interest from editors seeking multi-cultural novels, and she asked the infamous question, “Got any ideas?” I didn’t. But by the end of our conversation, I had pitched the story for what became Amor and Summer Secrets.

Part of the inspiration was derived from my first trip to Puerto Rico after I graduated from college. I met my relatives there for the first time, and I got to see where my dad grew up. I wanted to share some of those experiences with my character while showcasing that the stereotypes about Latinas are just that—stereotypes.

What (if anything) do you have in common with your heroine?
Well, clearly I gave my main character, Mariana, my ethnic background. There aren’t a lot of Polish Puerto Ricans out there. So that’s a dead giveaway. And many of the experiences that Mariana faces while coming to turns with her multi-cultural identity are similar to my own.

Additionally, the town in Puerto Rico where Mariana’s family is from, Utuado, is the same town where my dad grew up. And I gave Mariana’s father, Lorenzo, some biographical tidbits from my dad’s life. But the story is entirely fictional, as are the character’s personalities.

How does this new book relate to the previous books in your series -- could readers jump in here, or should they read the earlier ones, first?

I would definitely suggest reading the others first. While each book is a story in itself, there is background information needed to full appreciate each tale. And I think it’s important to see how Mariana grows from the first book Amor and Summer Secrets to now the third book Adios to All The Drama. The stories are a direct continuation. So each book picks up exactly where the last left off; and by that I mean the next day.

What was the biggest drama you faced as a teen, and how big does it seem now to you, in retrospect?
Physics. Wow, do I suck at physics. You have to take into account that I was in the National Honor Society, and I’m a typical Type-A overachiever. As a teen, I wasn’t used to having to work hard for anything. And then along came Level 1 Physics. It was the first time I was actually studying and still failing tests. I fought with my parents constantly—screamed, stormed out, the whole works. They eventually got me a tutor, and it still didn’t help. I seriously thought I had a Physics-specific learning disability, because I could not solve those word problems for the life of me.

Ultimately, I insisted on being dropped down to Level 2. My parents weren’t happy (hence, where I get my overachiever gene) but the decision saved my sanity. It was the first time I stood up to my parents, did what I thought was best for me, and was forced to realize that it was okay if I wasn’t good at something.

Now, when I meet a physicist, I give them the Wayne’s World “I’m not worthy” wave, because I truly know their brains work on a level completely separate from my own.

(That's one drama I was spared, and boy, was it potential drama, as my dad was the physics teacher at my school. But I had to have two years of Spanish to get into the college I wanted, and the only Spanish II class was at the same time as the physics class.)

Do you have any writing quirks or habits?
I’m not a morning person—at all. So I usually don’t start writing until the afternoon, and consequently I don’t turn off my laptop until midnight. Overall, I wouldn’t say I’m very ritualistic, but when it comes to the first draft, I almost always write at the desk in my house and listen to music on Comcast TV (either the ‘90s channel or ‘adult alternative’). For revisions, I’m more flexible. Since I live in Philly, I’m a slave to the seasons, and often a victim of cabin fever. So when it’s warm, I’ll work on my patio. And when it’s cold, I’ll move to a coffee shop.

Chocolate: dark or milk?
Dark, always dark. And it has less calories.

What are you working on now?
I am hard at work on a new young adult story. It’s a complete departure from my Amor series—lots of spies, suspense, fight scenes and, of course, a love triangle. I’m really excited about it. Plus I get to travel because I’m setting some scenes in Europe. And the main character is a lot of fun to write. She’s much cooler than I am, all about girl power, and her dialogue is very punchy. I hope to have it ready for the publishing world soon!

For more info, check out Diana's web site. Or buy the book from Amazon.

And now I think it's time to start chocolate loading so I can watch Battlestar Galactica tonight without feeling the need to slit my wrists.
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