Today we’re hosting YA author Diana Rodriguez Wallach, who we’re lucky enough to have at Fall Philly later this month! Be sure to say hi to Diana in the comments, and hop on over to her web site to learn more about her and her books, too.
Ooh, I just heard the door jangle….she’s here!
Hi there, Diana, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our cozy booth, can we get you something to drink?
Well, it’s fall, so I’ll have to get a salted caramel mocha.
I’m so happy it’s fall…I even decorated the cafe! See?
Okay, now how about a little something to nibble on?
While I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes, I do like pumpkin bread. So break me off a slice of that.
A thick slice comin right up!
First off, congrats in advance on the upcoming release of your Anastasia Phoenix series! Tell us a little bit about it!
The first book in the series, PROOF OF LIES, comes out in March 2017! I can’t wait. I like to think of the Anastasia Phoenix series as The Bourne Identify, The Da Vinci Code, and Taken all rolled into one. Essentially, after a wild party, Anastasia’s sister, Keira, disappears and everyone—from the cops to her roommate—believes Keira is dead. Anastasia is the only person who thinks her sister is alive, and when new evidence surfaces, she sets out to follow the trail through Italy—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy rooted in history. Everything Anastasia thought she knew about her family may be a lie, and the only person helping her make sense of it all is Marcus, a bad boy with a sexy accent whose own family may be as twisted as hers. Nothing is as it appears, yet Anastasia must believe in one impossibility.
She will find her sister.
Can’t wait to read it! Conspiracy theories + Europe + sexy accents works for me 😉
We’re so excited to have you as a speaker at this year’s Fall Philly. What are you planning on talking about?
It took many years of writing, revising, rejection, and flat-out perseverance to get to PROOF OF LIES to publication. Through all of that time, I learned a lot from rejection. So I’m going to talk about getting to a magical place where you can develop a thick skin yet still accept constructive feedback and remain true to your vision. It’s not an easy place to find, but you can get there.
When did you realize you wanted to write books for young readers?
After I woke up from a dream. Literally. About ten years ago, while I was still working in PR for a nonprofit, I had a dream that I was a young adult author, and I dreamt the concept for an entire series of books based on my bullying experience in middle school. The dream was so vivid and real, I decided to actually attempt to write that book. I had never considered becoming an author before that moment.
Ultimately, that novel landed me my first agent, but it has yet to sell to a publisher. Maybe one day. Like I said, I’m big on perseverance.
Diversity in YA literature is such a hot topic right now. Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to be more inclusive and sensitive in their work?
My first published novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, is greatly based on my multicultural background; I’m half Puerto Rican and half Polish. When I set out to write that novel, I wanted to create a character who was like me—a girl who had a Latina last name but looked nothing like the stereotype, who didn’t always identify with her roots, but who’s put on a path where she’s forced to learn more about where she came from. So my advice for writers would be this: think of your own experience, your own background, and treat any cultural group you’re writing about with the same sensitivity you would give your own. Then look at your life, your neighborhood, and make sure the faces of everyone you see are represented in your books. We live in a very diverse world, so it’s only logical that the worlds of our characters would be just as diverse.
And now, for rapid-fire favorites! Name your favorite….
Eagles player—Of all time? Brian Dawkins. Hands down. Currently? Carson Wentz. Come on, even Vice President Biden is on the Wentz Wagon.
Snowy-day activity—sledding with my two kids.
Place to write—I go on writing retreats to my best friend’s shore house in Sea Isle City, completely by myself for entire weekends. Last time I went away, I wrote 30,000 words in three days. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with no kids around.
Form of exercise—I do Stroller Strides! It’s an exercise class along the Schuylkill River where I push my two-year old in a stroller while jogging and doing burpies.
Travel destination—Europe. I studied abroad in Madrid in college and have been to many countries since then. Up next, I’ll be in England in November researching Book Two in the Anastasia Phoenix series.
Line of writing advice—There’s only one way to write a novel: BIC, Butt In Chair. So sit down and force yourself to write, even when it’s hard, even when you don’t feel inspired. Write every day.
Thanks so much, Diana! Can’t wait to meet you in just a few weeks!