Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hispanic heritage month

Okay so I realize that this is more than a couple days late but I really wanted to post something for HHM. So since I am Hispanic I thought I would find a way to tie the culture with books. So the successful YA author Diana Wallach agreed to let me ask her some questions. In case you guys don’t know who she is she wrote the Amor and Summer Secrets Series. So here goes the interview:

1. Are you Hispanic? If so do your own experiences come out in your books?

I am. I’m half Puerto Rican and half Polish—not a very common mix (unless you watch West Side Story). And I decided to give my multicultural background to my main character, Mariana. So there are a lot of experiences in my books that are derived from my own.

For example in Amor and Summer Secrets, the town in Puerto Rico where Mariana spends the summer, 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, including a few of his childhood anecdotes.

But mostly, I wanted to show a little of what it’s like to grow up not fitting the Latina stereotype. I’ve got reddish hair and freckles, and I didn’t learn Spanish in the home. So I decided to give some of those traits to Mariana. In the Amor series, Mariana doesn’t identify with either of her parents’ cultures and I feel this is a very common experience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re half Polish and half Puerto Rican, or half Thai and half Jamaican, I think a lot teens can relate being torn between two very different ethnic groups.

2. What inspired you to write this series?
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 multicultural 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 in Utuado for the first time, and I got to see where my dad grew up. I wanted to share some of those experiences with my readers.

3. The titles are Spanish and English, is there a story behind it?
My late editor, Kate Duffy, actually came up with the title of the first book. And the concept stuck. The idea was to highlight Mariana’s multicultural background by taking a Spanish word that’s become “Americanized” and adding it to our title. Let’s face it, “Spanglish” is a very common language in our country. And I think it gives readers a glimmer of what’s inside the book, while not intimating readers who are not of Hispanic descent.

4. Last and definitely most important what is your favorite food (tamales, sopes, posole, menudo tacos, etc...)?
Well, if you mean Latin food, I didn’t grow up with too much exposure. My mom’s Polish, so I had more kielbasa and pierogies than tamales and sopes. However, my grandmom (my dad’s mom) used to make Spanish rice with chicken and sweet plantains (which I love). I also make a mean paella—I spent a semester abroad in Spain.
Thanks Mrs. Wallach I really appreciate you taking time to answer some questions.
If you want some more info check out:
And if this sounds like a series you might want to read check out my why we love books contest and you can choose this book if you win.
P.S. I got the pic from her site thats why it came with the text


  1. Nice interview! Me encanta <3 paella!
    West Side Story is a good movie (although I still don't understand why a Latina actress wasn't used for Maria? oh hollywood...) and great question about how the titles were though up. They're cute and (along with the covers) helped draw me to the books.

  2. Great interview. These books sound interesting.
    I gave you an award.

    Elie (Ellz Readz)

  3. I gave you an award at my blog!


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