What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
I’m currently obsessed with Lisa Jewell’s novels so I would recommend The Family Upstairs.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I recently started The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, but I haven’t finished it yet.
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I used to, but there is so much new stuff I want to get my hands on that I don’t re-read anymore. The last novel I re-read was Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I just love that book!
What are your go-to genres?
My favorite genres have changed throughout the years. A couple of years ago, I was reading a lot of historical and Women’s Fiction. Lately, I’ve been reading tons of domestic/psychological thrillers. They are my guilty pleasure as I don’t think I could write such dark stories! But I like humorous, lighter novels, too.
What is your favorite childhood book?
My Plant of Orange-Lime by Brazilian author Jose Mauro De Vasconcelos, hands down.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Spanish version)—I need it!
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
Bookmark (but if I’m about to fall asleep or can’t find a bookmark quickly enough, I’ve been known to dog-ear a tiny little corner of the page).
What is your ideal reading setting?
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
One of my favorite bookstores in Albuquerque is Bookworks. First of all, it’s set in a beautiful part of town—the valley—and it’s right next to a popular coffee shop/restaurant. In addition, there are several cute stores next to it. Bookworks frequently hosts writers for book signings and in the early 2000s, I saw Carlos Ruiz Zafón there when he was promoting The Shadow of the Wind. I’m so glad I got to meet him before he passed away.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I went to college in the US, I never spoke in class. Not only because I wasn’t confident in my English, but also because I didn’t think I had anything to add. When I had to talk about my work in my art studio classes I said as little as possible and since there were many students eager to speak, it wasn’t a problem for me. In my second or third year, I took a Modern Art class and the teacher had a slide of a painting from an Ecuadorian artist called Guayasamín. The teacher knew I was from Ecuador and asked me questions about him. For the first time I had a lot to say and the entire class, including graduate and PhD students, turned to me and listened. I realized then that people I respected didn’t know everything and could learn from someone else’s experience.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
My favorite literary pilgrimage was visiting Margaret Mitchell’s house in Atlanta. It’s a cozy, one-story house where they told us the story of her life and how much she had in common with her famous character, Scarlett O’Hara. In addition, I saw the typewriter where she typed the first chapter of Gone with the Wind 60 times! I wrote an article about my visit here.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
I wish I had an exciting answer for this, but the truth is I write and edit in my very ordinary study.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It energizes me!
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have four complete manuscripts but one of them (The Spanish Daughter’s sequel) will hopefully be published soon. I have three half-finished projects that I don’t know how to complete yet.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Most of them. After so many years of trying to get published and receiving so many rejections from agents and editors, I learned the hard way that not everybody is going to like my work. It’s so subjective that on the same page I can get a five-star review saying my novel was brilliant and another saying it was boring.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her not to be ashamed of telling people she’s a writer.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
Pre-Covid: going to the theatre, painting oil portraits, dancing salsa. Post-Covid: cooking endlessly, watching movies and series, having coffee/lunch with friends.
What are your three favorite things right now?
Podcasts, audio books, and Rummikub.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
I love the south of Spain, especially Sevilla and Málaga. Aside from its natural beauty, music, and food, I have fond memories of a trip I once took there.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Mojitos and empanadas (wherever I can find them!)
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner a party?
Harry Houdini, Lucille Ball, Jerry Seinfeld, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Isabel Allende, and my grandfather (who I never met).
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
When I was in college, they used to tell me I looked like Deanna Troi in Star Trek, but the actress who played her is older than me so I’m not sure it would work for a coming-of-age, which is what I had in mind…
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
“Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood or “It’s Too Late” by Carole King. I think I could get a lot of emotion from a crowd with one of those.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
A survival guide!