Saturday, October 27, 2007

Enchanting Interview: Caridad Ferrer

Interview with Caridad Ferrer, author of ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing my entire life— always been a storyteller, always had a journal, always talked a lot. With respect to writing with the idea of publishing, however, I've been at this for about six years.

What's your favorite thing about writing Young Adult?

That it's just a different way of telling a story— a different viewpoint. I especially love being able to show teenagers as well-rounded, viable characters— they might be dealing with situations that are unique to that particular moment in their lives, but the fears, the emotions, how they might choose to deal with the situation—it's not all that different, really, with how adults deal with things. There's always going to be that spark of recognition, of kinship with our younger selves. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love writing stories that appeal not just to teens, but to the teen everyone once was.

What sparked the story?

Basically a combination of my love of and lifetime involvement with music and a "what if" scenario of "What would a show like American Idol be like if it was aimed at Latin American audiences?"

Music plays a huge role in the story. How much did it play in the writing of it?

Oh, just as a general rule, I listen to music ALL the time—I'd go so far as to say it's as integral to who I am as writing itself is. With respect to my writing process, it's there from when I first begin conceptualizing all the way through the writing of the manuscript. There are songs or artists that I'll listen to a lot because they resonate in some way with the story and I also create soundtracks that are representative of the story as a whole or a particular type of scene, so that when I'm writing and it's playing in the background, it's very easy for me to capture the mood and translate it onto the page. I simply can't imagine writing without music.

Did you have to do a lot of research?

Hmm...a fair amount, I guess. I'm a lifelong musician, but not a guitarist, so I had to research types and brands of acoustic guitars and playing techniques so I could create a believable vibe around Ali's performance scenes. Again, a way in which music comes into play, since I'd listen to a lot of guitar music, especially flamenco style to try to capture the passion and joy in playing such a beautiful instrument. The other place I had to do research was in some of the Spanish colloquialisms. Slang can be incredibly different from country to country in Latin America and what might be an endearment or a cute nickname to a Cuban might be incredibly insulting to a Chilean or Argentine. Last thing I wanted to do was to sling around an insult when I meant it to be a compliment!

Describe the book in three words.

AUGH— really?? Okay, um... Emotional. Lyrical. Sweet.

Favorite quality about Ali?

Her ethics. She's incredibly human and imperfect and maybe might fantasize about deviating off that high road, especially when confronted with a Fabiana, but in the end, she was so principled and so badly wanted to win her way. And it's why I loved her father so much too, because he instilled that in her, even if in a sense, it came back to bite him on the behind with her fierce determination to succeed on her terms.

Favorite scene to write?

Oh boy... This is tough. I think it's a toss up between Ali and Jaime's first kiss in the rehearsal studio which was this tender, very sweet moment between them and the scene near the end where she meets Pancho and learns what her future holds in store for her if she's brave enough to take the leap. Writing the exchange at the end of that scene between her and her father where he, in essence, says goodbye to his little girl and hello to the woman she's becoming was so emotional and heart-wrenching for me.

How long did it take you to write the book?

About two months, which sounds like an incredibly short amount of time, but I'm lucky enough to be able to write full-time and a lot of days, I was writing anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day.

Any chance of a possible sequel to Adios to My Old Life?

Oh... I love that you've asked this. I do have an idea for a sequel, or more precisely, a companion novel that would be set ten years after the end of Adiós, so Ali and Jaime would be adults and that's sort of the heart of what I'd like to do— to take these characters we met as kids and see where their lives have taken them. There have been so many fabulous YA books that I've wanted the follow up on the characters as adults— Judy Blume's FOREVER, is a prime example. I desperately wanted to know what happened to Kath and Theo and Michael five or ten years later. While it's not a young adult novel, but more a coming-of-age story, Anne Rivers Siddons' HEARTBREAK HOTEL is another one that has haunted me ever since I first read it, especially since Siddons teases us with hints as to the heroine's future and the definite implications that it's not what she expected it to be. I suppose there's something to be said for maintaining the mystery and allowing the reader to create their own future for the characters, but the idea of a story like that absolutely fascinates me and I'd love to take a crack at creating a viable, interesting future for my characters. Let's hope someone gives me the opportunity!

Interview by Lisa
October 2007

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