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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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Going to the mattresses

Like almost everyone I work with, I’ve been sick all week. The bug spread like, well, a disease through the halls of our newspaper office infecting everyone within hours. Some in our midst, for many weeks now,¬†have been fighting their way along¬†the slow ascent back to health, while others of us fell ill late in the game, just as the prospects of our formerly stricken comrades became decidedly rosier.

I was joined by two others that I know of, whose symptoms began over the weekend, and though I have managed to make it to work each day since, I feel like every new morning brings with it a return to sorrow, a reminder of the war within, a realization of the trials that the day will bring.

Maybe it’s fitting that this week, while battling cold and flu season, I also wrote a story about a couple — he’s 85 and she’s 87 — who published a book that would be suitable as a sweeping epic drama for the big screen.¬†You’ve never met anyone like these two … or maybe you have, and just don’t know it yet. Fenton and Evelyn Babcock lived completely different and separate lives and never even met before he was 75 and she 77 (give or take a few months)¬†… but, as they would find out, their lives had been much closer (in proximity and meaning) than either ever could have imagined.

I won’t go into detail here, since I wrote about them already for the Daily; suffice it to say that talking with and writing about them helped me to realize that it’s never too late to change your life and that we’re never too old to accomplish great things. The Babcocks published a book in their 80s. Oh, yeah, and they also married each other in their 80s too.

I’ve been sick all week, so I’ve accomplished very little outside of work. If I weren’t obligated by a sense of pride and the willingness to accept¬†the¬†job title¬†of a candle with a flame at both ends, I might not have accomplished as much as I did at work either. I’m not saying I feel bad about not having accomplished anything after hours while being sick — after all, my white blood cells have accomplished quite a lot.¬†They need me to be drowsy right now, right?¬†That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Right now I need to rest up and look to tomorrow when, day by day, I’ll feel better and come out on the other side all the better for having had to battle for the sake of my health. It seems fitting, too, that this Saturday will bring a program I plan to attend about how to get publishers to say yes. If there’s anyone I need affirmation from in the near future, it’s book publishers. I’m guessing that the same is true for those of you who are writing stories you’d like to see published. If you’ll be in the Winchester, Va., area this Saturday at 1 p.m. stop by the Handley Library on Piccadilly Street and see what you can learn from publishing consultant and professional writing coach David Hazard. It’s free, so there’s nothing to lose.

After a week of feeling like I’m fighting a losing battle against this cold and allowing it to suppress any interest in writing or editing, I think choosing to end the week on a high, learning more about the world of publishing is the perfect treatment.

 

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