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Author Q&A with Allison Garcia: ‘It takes power and courage to stand up and fight’

Today we have a special guest — fellow Virginia author and friend Allison Garcia, in the first of what I hope will be many author Q&As, from time to time, at this blog.

Allison K. Garcia

So tell us about yourself and your writing. What type of writing do you do?

I write Christian fiction. Inside this genre I’ve experimented with a variety of subgenres, including speculative, mystery/thriller, children’s fantasy, and Latino. I really feel called to write Latino Christian fiction, and my book, Vivir el Dream, will be coming out on Amazon mid-May. My other favorite is my children’s fantasy series, called Prince Miguel and His Journey Home.

When did your passion for writing begin?

I can’t remember not wanting to be a writer. My first book, “My Future Car,” I wrote in 2nd or 3rd grade and included some pretty awesome pictures that still might be my current drawing level. It was revolutionary in its ideas about televisions and refrigerators in cars. Though the swimming pool car hasn’t made it to market yet, I think Honda might have stolen some of my ideas. ūüėČ

You have a new book coming out. What’s it about?

Vivir el Dream is about an undocumented college student and her mother, trying to make their way in the world. It’s about their old and new struggles, the faith that keeps them going, and, of course, there’s a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

The subject matter is incredibly current to what Americans are (and have been) dealing with. Was it difficult to approach the subject of undocumented immigrants?

Not really. I really feel like God was calling me to write this book by putting people in my path who have been through similar situations that my main characters experienced. As my job as a counselor, I have heard some pretty rough stories on why people take the risk to cross the border undocumented, the traumas they’ve experienced in their countries of origin, their hopes for their children. I have also been to several Virginia Organizing events, including rallies for The Dream Act. The power and courage it takes to stand up and fight for justice is overwhelmingly inspiring. We have also had several people in my church get deported, so I’ve seen first-hand how it breaks up a family and how unwavering faith has allowed them to trust in God’s plan in the midst of chaos. That’s what impacted me the most.

What do you hope readers will take from Vivir el Dream?

I hope my book gets people wrapped up in the beauty of Mexican culture. I hope it helps people understand why people come here undocumented and why things need to change. I hope other Latinos find their voice in this book and see their people represented as strong, loving, faithful, invaluable members of American communities. And I hope it shows how trusting in God and holding onto your faith can get you through some horrible circumstances.

Though your book is in English, you also weave the Spanish language into dialogue and chapter titles. Could you tell us about that process?

I wanted to make it authentic. I’m bilingual so it came naturally. I have loads of Latino friends, plus my husband is Mexican, so I especially know a lot about Mexican culture. I wanted the dialogue to represent how intergenerational Latino families interact. Juanita, the mother, came as an older teenager but never went to school, so Spanish was her primary language, and I wanted it to be represented accurately. Linda, the college student, is bilingual but there would be times she would need to say things in Spanish so her mom would understand. The chapter titles are all Mexican songs or movies or phrases used in Latino communities. In the end, my editor advised me that the Spanish was too advanced for non-Spanish speaking audiences, so I’m adding in footnotes for my English-speaking peeps. It wasn’t until I started using footnotes that I noticed how much Spanish was in the book. 400 footnotes and counting!

You’ve written other books, too?

Oh my, yes. Many. In terms of readable ones, I’ve got 4 adult books and 6 books in a children’s fantasy series.

Prince Miguel is a children’s fantasy series that was inspired by a real life event, right?

Yes, it was based on events after my son’s birth. In the hospital, I started writing a story and things just progressed from there.

What was it like writing a baby (your son!) as a hero of his own book series?

Weird, at first, because babies can’t do much, and I wasn’t sure how to represent how strong he must be and the journey he had to go through. In the end, my friend, Josette (wink, wink!) helped me decide to use a spirit animal to show the journey. So when Prince Miguel awakens for his journey, he is a turtle.

How’s the series coming along? Do you have more books planned?

I have 6 out of 8 books written. The first book is close to being finished while the others are still in early editing mode. I plan to finish the last two during NaNoWriMo this year.

Many of your books were started during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) — for which you volunteer as a Municipal Liaison. (As do I.) Would you share a little about your experience with NaNoWriMo?

Oh, man. I love it!  Previously it would take me years to write a book and I would be editing it the whole time and I was like a lone wolf. Then, I found NaNo and realized I wasn’t alone; there was an entire community of writers to help me through my writing journey. Plus I wrote a book in a month, so that’s pretty boss!

Have you noticed a difference between writing a novel during NaNoWriMo and writing during other months?

Haha, ever since I started NaNo I’ve only written during NaNo. The rest of the year is spent editing that book usually.

What’s next? Publication? More projects in the future?

Vivir el Dream is coming out mid-May. I have another Latino book, Finding Amor, that needs to be edited, plus the Prince Miguel books are nearly ready as well. So many choices! I’m also planning to translate Vivir El Dream into Spanish.

Which other authors do you like to read?

I love Barbara Kingsolver. I love classics like Jane Eyre, And Then There Were None, and Heart of Darkness. I love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. I’m a sucker for diverse fiction, so I love Como Agua Para Chocolate and The Joy Luck Club and Beloved. So pretty much I’m all over the map.

How can people find out more about your writing?

I have a Facebook author page  (https://www.facebook.com/allisonkgarciaauthor/) where I announce my books that are coming out. You can also check out my blog (http://allisonkgarcia.wordpress.com), find me on twitter (@ATheWriter), or look out for Vivir el Dream on Amazon mid-May!

Allison K. Garc√≠a is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, Allison has absorbed the love and culture of her friends, family, and hermanos en Cristo and has used her experiences to cast a glimpse into the journey of undocumented Christians.

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Ten years I almost forgot

Usually when people who haven’t seen me in the long time ask what I’ve been up to, my answer is the same: Nothing.

Everything is the same, nothing has changed, this is my life.

But it’s not true.

I might not be where I¬†expected to be by now, or have what I thought I’d have, but my life has been far from tedious, and it’s about time I¬†admitted it. So, without much emphasis on details, here’s just a quick list¬†of some of the things I might have forgotten to mention if you ever asked me what I’ve been doing since 2006. And after reading this, I hope you’ll make your own list — for your blog, for your Facebook page, or for yourself – just¬†a reminder of all the little things in life worth remembering and celebrating!

latte

At Le Pain Quotidien, with my niece, in NYC

  • Bought a house
  • Started playing the old clarinet again
  • Photographed three weddings
  • Went to my 12-year high school reunion
  • Gave the sermon at church five times… with a¬†sixth¬†coming up soon
  • Took four overnight skiing trips — and didn’t die
  • Met my best friend
  • Ran a 5K
  • Wrote a 50,000-word novel¬†in November — seven times
  • Performed the Verdi Requiem, Carmina Burana, and Bach’s St. John Passion with the Masterworks Chorus at Shepherd University
  • Was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding
  • Attended a Pakistani wedding reception
  • Become an aunt twice over
  • Took my husband’s niece on a “Christma-Birth-uation” road trip to NYC
  • Took another niece to the local premier of a 14-year-old writer/director’s horror movie
  • Saw Aerosmith and Hootie and the Blowfish in concert
  • Interviewed LeAnn Rimes over the phone and Candace Cameron Bure in person
  • Saw Phantom of the Opera twice at the Kennedy Center
  • Saw various other local stage productions
  • Traveled the entire East Coast, from Montreal to The Bahamas
  • Went tubing and kayaking on the Shenandoah River

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A new day

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In a special Saturday edition of my blog, I voice an issue that has caused havoc here at The Unwritten Chapter: Thursday is not the best day for blogging — not anymore.

In considering the merit of the week’s other days, I’ve always shot down each one. After all, something always can present itself on those days to make blogging difficult. I recently read or heard somewhere that if you want to give God a good laugh, just tell Him about your plans. The same goes for Thursdays.

In recently weeks I’ve been able to contend with the challenges that Thursday brings by writing ahead of time, usually on Wednesday during my Shut-up & Write online group session¬†with Shenandoah Valley Writers. But when I use that two hour writing period for blogging, I’m not using it for noveling, and my novel has a vicious jealous streak.

Then this week, I abandoned all forms of creative writing. My enthusiasm for the writing I do at work suffered. When you’re on deadline and the writing has to happen, you’ll find a way to do it, but it won’t necessarily be good, and it definitely won’t be fun. I’ve been living in a sort of fog all week, and it wasn’t until Wednesday at 8:55 p.m. that I really noticed. It was time for Shut-up & Write, and I didn’t care.

It was the first time since December that I didn’t participate in that Wednesday night session, the first time that I hadn’t been looking forward to it all day. This time, it totally fell¬†off my radar.

I guess we all go through periods of feeling like life — or whatever —¬†has thrown one too many punches and has to expend very little effort to keep us down for the count. It’s the “whatever” that’s so…well, whatever.

To feel blindsided by the attack is to feel like it must have been my fault: Why wasn’t I more dedicated to what I do? How could I have let a whole week go by without breaking out of the wake up/prepare for work/drive to work/work 8 hours/drive home/have dinner/watch The West Wing/go to bed cycle? I guess I should be glad it didn’t last longer than a week.

But now the question becomes, Do I go back to how things were before, or do I try something else? Do I choose a new day for posting my blog each week or return to jumping through hoops in order to make Thursday work? I did choose Thursday for a reason. It wasn’t as menacing as Monday or Friday seemed, and I knew of at least two other bloggers who already have Wednesday, and it’s silly but I didn’t want to steal their day. Likely I’ll have to write the blog ahead of time to make¬†any day¬†work. So I return to Thursday.¬†And Thursday pummels me into the ground. Again.

I remember when Thursday was my favorite–my high school love. It was the only day that let me breathe, the only one not scheduled with an after-school activity or job. Now, 16¬†years later,¬†it’s stifling, but still I want it to be my day, even though I know it’s ridiculous to think it would be the same. We’ve grown apart, Thursday and me.

So, I’ve come to a difficult conclusion. Since no one day will work every week, I’m¬†choosing a progressive schedule: A new day every week. You can’t see me, but¬†in just thinking of the possiblity,¬†I’m smiling. Really smiling.

Today’s post was on Saturday. Next week’s will be on Sunday, Feb. 24.

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