November 30, 2010

PART II: Q&A WITH AUTHOR…..RAUL RAMOS Y SANCHEZ (includes book trailer)

(Also, Today, Nov 30--Raul will be discussing the Latino Vote on HITN cable TV. See bottom of this post for more details.)

By Raul Ramos y Sanchez
Grand Central Publishing
To watch Book Trailer, click here.
To read the Book Review, click here.

Q:   You started writing AMERICA LIBRE in 2004. Your America has an ex-black president and a lot of civil unrest due to prejudice against Hispanics. That’s about 4 years before Obama was even on the Democratic Ticket’s radar, before the Texas border wall, before the Arizona immigration controversy. Where did you get the idea for the book?
A:   For over 20 years, I’ve made a living in advertising. In that business, it’s important to spot trends. And one of the trends I noticed were early reports from the 2000 about the explosive growth of the Latino population in the United States. As a student of U.S. history, I sensed this might create trouble. Because many times in the past, when immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in large numbers, the reaction by some has been hostile. The idea for AMERICA LIBRE came from a public television documentary I was working on in 2003 based on that theme. While waiting for funding on the film -- which has yet to arrive by the way -- I began a work of fiction using the same basic research.
Sadly, what is happening today in the U.S. has happened before with Germans, Jews, Irish, Italians and other immigrant groups. To me, it seemed only a matter of time before history would repeat itself. What I imagined was a worst-case scenario based on the historic U.S. hostility to a large influx of newcomers – especially when members of this group have ancestral roots on U.S. soil. Hopefully, my talent as a prophet will end with the current level of conflict we’re seeing across the country. But the embers for a wider conflict are there. And unfortunately they’re being stoked by extremists at this very minute.
As to a Black ex-president, I must confess that was a last minute edit I made just before AMERICA LIBRE went to press.

Q:   You self-published AMERICA LIBRE, then within five months sold it and a sequel to Grand Central Publishing. What was cut out of the “new” book version?
A:   Actually nothing was cut in the second edition. My editor at GCP had some excellent suggestions which included deepening the character of Rosa, the wife of protagonist Mano Suarez. I think the book is better for it.

Q:   Tell us about the AMERICA LIBRE trilogy. What should we expect in Books 2 and 3? Was it always three books?
A:    I started writing AMERICA LIBRE with the very last scene. I won’t tell you what that is, but I will tell you I finished that scene and started working backward from there. The more I wrote, the more I realized the story was too complex to fit one book. There were too many dramatic arcs. After plotting out the entire saga, I decided it would work best in three books.
The sequel to AMERICA LIBRE is HOUSE DIVIDED. Grand Central Publishing will release my second novel in January 2011, which is not far off. I don’t want to give you any spoilers but I can tell you that AMERICA LIBRE is centered on a romantic triangle while HOUSE DIVIDED centers on the age-old friction between fathers and sons. The third book in the series, PANCHO LAND, will be another romantic triangle, this time of the next generation.
While we’re talking about my books, I should mention that I can sometimes phone in to discuss my novels with local book clubs. I’ve done this in the past and it has been engaging and fun.

Q:    Should Americans – Hispanics, whites, blacks, et al – fear separatist movements in the SouthWest? Do these groups fuel racism? Why aren’t they being stopped?
A:    I think extremists of every stripe are their own best friends. They need each other to sustain their agendas. Unfortunately, the rest of us can get caught up in their games—especially today when we have a media environment that makes news into a marketable commodity. The perspective I’d like AMERICA LIBRE to give readers is that ordinary people like the central character Mano Suarez can get caught up in events triggered by extremists. Each of us needs to be aware that we are being sold the news with the same aggressive hype used to launch a new sitcom. Extremist groups have always existed. But today, they get attention like never before. And that makes their presence more dangerous than ever. So whether they are separatist or supremacist, they are equally divisive.

Q:   AMERICA LIBRE “paints a nightmare scenario” – riots in the streets, Hispanics adorned with scarlet letters, quarantine (aka concentration camp) zones. Can you see this happening in today’s America? Can there be another Civil War? Can there ever be a Hispanic Republic of North America?
A:   I hope not. I wrote AMERICA LIBRE as a cautionary tale, the way George Orwell wrote 1984. It’s a warning. It’s a way of making people realize that words have consequences; that politicians who demonize and demagogue are playing with fire. The scary part is that the kindling to start the blaze is already there.

Q:    You won first prize in the “Books into Movies Awards” from Latino Literacy Now. What does this mean for AMERICA LIBRE? How do you think Hollywood will react to the book? What other awards has AL won?
A:   Like any author, I’d love to see AMERICA LIBRE become a movie. At the same time, I worry about the way the story and characters might be changed. In AMERICA LIBRE, I tried to portray a more diverse view of Latinos than is typical for Hollywood. It will take a brave producer and director to buck the stereotypes and stay true to the story. I trust that Latino Literacy Now will help me keep the vision intact as the book goes from page to screen. Of course, the Books Into Movies award is not a guarantee the book will ever become a film. But the support of LLN and Edward James Olmos are a powerful influence.
I’m happy to say that along with the Books Into Movies Award, AMERICA LIBRE has also won Best Action Adventure Novel at the 2008 International Latino Book Awards and was a Finalist in the Violet Crown Fiction Awards from the Writers League of Texas.
By the way, if Latina Book Club readers are interested in playing Hollywood casting director, they can go to my author’s site and vote on who they would choose to play the starring roles in a film adaptation of AMERICA LIBRE.

Q:   Tell us about the “real” Raul. Are you a full-time writer or do you have an outside job? Personal life?

A:   My working life these days is divided between fiction, editorials and working on selected marketing projects. I’ve also had the privilege to speak at several colleges over the last few years on Latino issues. Meeting tomorrow’s leaders has been one of the best rewards of being an author. In my spare time, I occasionally play golf because I feel it’s important to strive at something for which you have absolutely no talent. Sometimes I play guitar and piano for the same reason.

Q:   What is your writing routine?

A:    My wife is convinced I am actually from a planet with a different day length. I like to write fiction well before dawn when the house is silent and my mind is fresh. But my writing routine varies considerably.

Q:   What authors have influenced you?

A:   I’m a huge fan of Leon Uris, the father of the political thriller. I admire the spare prose of Walter Mosley. And I love the characters drawn by Sue Monk Kidd. Pablo Neruda is the undisputed master of the metaphor. All these writers have influenced my work.

Q:   What books are in your to-be-read pile?

A:   In no particular order… INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH by Luis Alberto Urea, WHAT IS THE WHAT by Dave Eggers, COLLAPSE by Jared Diamond, FEDERICO VILLALBA’S TEXAS by Juan Manuel Casas, EXTRAORDINARY STORIES OF HISPANIC WOMEN by Laura Contreras-Rowe and LEARNING TO DIE IN MIAMI by Carlos Eire.

Q:   You have a marketing background, which you’ve used to promote AMERICA LIBRE to critical acclaim. What marketing tips can you give to new authors?

A:   The biggest thing is this … as a author, you must be willing to promote your work. I know it’s not fun. But in today’s publishing climate, an author with the ability and willingness to help a publisher sell books will have an edge in getting published. The good news is that there are many new venues available. Blogs, social media and special interest publications are all great resources for building a platform. In fact, I am hosting a workshop on marketing for writers at the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego on February 18-21.

Q:   Where can readers buy the “Class H” t-shirts?

A:   Oh, I see the word is out on the t-shirts! I’ve had these in the works for months and I will finally have some available in time for the release of HOUSE DIVIDED. For more info on the t-shirts, I hope Latino Book Club readers will visit my author’s site. ♦

MOVING FOREWORD BULLETIN from Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Join me in a national cable TV discussion of the Latino vote

Is there a national consensus among Hispanic voters? Did the Latino vote allow the Democrats to keep control of the House? These are some of the topics I will discuss with other guests and callers on Dialogo de Costa a Costa, a live national Spanish-language TV talk show hosted by veteran broadcast reporter Malin Falu on HITN. I hope you will tune in and call, email or text your comments or questions. (Even if you don’t speak Spanish, watching me squirm and sweat is fun in any language.

When to watch:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 8PM Eastern Time – Live
(Note: Program is broadcast in Spanish)

Where to watch:

HITN (Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network)
For cable access in your area, visit

How to take part:

Call: 1-800-964-4486
Text messages: 347-455-2589

DO LEAVE A COMMENT.  Let us know if you've read AMERICA LIBRE and got a Class H t-shirt.  (I do!)  Also, what you think about the possibility of a Hispanic Republic of North America?

November 29, 2010


(Part II: Q&A with author Raul Ramos y Sanchez will be posted tomorrow, November 30.  Join us!)

By Raul Ramos y Sanchez
Grand Central Publishing

Like the thirteen English colonies huddled along the coast of North America in 1776, the countries of Latin America will one day reach an epiphany of consciousness and unite into a single nation. This is their inevitable destiny. –Jose Antonio Marcha, JUSTICIA

Hispanics in America have come to accept the way things are, not because they’re fair or just, but because it’s the way things have been for a very long time. –Josefina Herrera

Being Latino was something he’d simply learned to endure with dignity, like a handicap. The revelation shamed him. –Mano Suarez

During WWII, the U.S. government imprisoned many Japanese-Americas in concentration-liked camps, even as many of them fought in the war. The government did it in the name of homeland security. Could it happen again on American soil? Could one group of people prove to be of such great risk that the government would segregate and locked them up….again?

Such is the premise of Raul Ramos y Sanchez award-winning book AMERICA LIBRE. In his America, the U.S. is in a severe recession, it’s first African-American president is voted out after one-term, the Hispanic population is growing by leaps and bounds, while tough anti-immigration laws give rise to Anglo vigilante groups, epidemic muggings on immigrants and militant Hispanic separatist groups. Riots lead to violence to battle to war zones, until the U.S. government passes the Quarantine and Relocation Acts, and Latinos everywhere are corralled into quarantine zones, thereby neutralizing the Hispanic political influence in the U.S. But this doesn’t stop the rebels – La Defensa del Pueblo – from continuing to fight for the people’s rights and the formation of the Hispanic Republic of North America.

At the heart of this fight are five pivotal characters:

*  Mano Suarez–desperate to protect his family and “rock-hard loyal” to his country, but he is drawn to the radicals when the foundations of his world crack

*Rosa Suarez–a wife and a mother powerless to save her children or her marriage

*Josefina Herrera–a revolutionary eager to keep the momentum for justicia growing even if it means paying the local gangs to riot could keep the media’s attention on her cause

*Ramon Garcia–another revolutionary whose words moved thousands to pick up arms

*Nesto–a mero, a gang leader and gun runner, more interested in money than in any Hispanic cause and willing to play both sides

Passionate. Vivid. Terrifying.  AMERICA LIBRE is an engrossing and emotional tale about Hispanics in search of justice and a country of their own. The characters are well rounded, and the story is fast-paced and action-packed.  Readers will be captivated from the first page to the last.  But, what will frighten them most will be the idea that this could happen.  AMERICA LIBRE has won several awards including, Best Novel from the International Latino Book Awards; First Place in the Book Into Movies Awards; and, Finalist in the Violet Crown Fiction Awards.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Raul Ramos y Sanchez is a founding partner of BRC Marketing, established in 1992. He had developed a documentary for public television entitled, “Two Americas: The Legacy of Our Hemisphere.” Ramos y Sanchez is also the host of, an online forum for the U.S. immigration community. To learn more about the author and his works, visit

TOMORROW (NOV 30): Q&A with author….Raul Ramos y Sanchez

DO LEAVE A COMMENT. Tell us if you’ve read the book and what you thought of it. Did you agree with Mano and Jo’s fight? And, do you believe in a Hispanic Republic of North America?

AND, do visit the author's website and vote for YOUR favorite Hollywood star to play Manolo Suarez in the possible AMERICA LIBRE movie.   Who can see you see in the title role?  Benicio del Toro? Jimmy Smits? Wilmer Valderrama?  Do tell.

November 25, 2010


As you celebrate Thanksgiving with your loved ones, think also about how to celebrate Reading.

I love to read. I love to discuss books with friends. I love to be adventurous. Luckily my New York City bookclub allows me to be all those things.

For example, I am a member of the Comadres, Compadres & Friends Bookclub in New York City. Our book for November was Daisy Martinez’ cookbook, DAISY: MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT.

Now you may wonder how a bookclub can discuss a cookbook and if it makes for good reading. I’m here to tell you that we did and it does. Not only did we discuss the cookbook, but we went one step further and asked all the members of the book club to bring a dish that they cooked using one of Daisy’s recipes.

We had a feast! There was rice with corn; chicken with garlic; empanadas with corn; empanadas with carne; watercress / pear/ pomegranate salad; Peruvian salad (with garbanzos and colored peppers); and of course, pumpkin flan.  The picture on the left is one of the actual plates of food at our meeting.  We stuffed ourselves as we discussed cooking techniques, our favorite holiday recipes, comfort foods and how to cook for diabetics.

(ASIDE: The American Diabetes Association has a whole program and several cookbooks for Latinos with diabetes so you can eat the food you know and love, and still eat healthy. Check them out here.)

It was fun and delicious!

This was not the first time the NYC Comadres Bookclub got creative and adventurous! Earlier this year, we read DANCING WITH BUTTERFLIES by Reyna Grande. It was all about a dance troupe of folkloric dancers. To celebrate the book, some of the club members went to see the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Arianna Hernandez. And later, while discussing Kathy Cano-Murillo’s book WAKING UP IN THE LAND OF GLITTER, we made our own bookmarks with – you guessed it -- lots of glitter.

I recommend going outside the bookstore or the living room with your bookclub every once in a while, especially if you have a book that just screams “adventure.” For example, if the SHOPAHOLIC books are on your reading list, why not hold the discussions at a café in your favorite clothing store or mall. If you are reading Caridad Pineiro’s Dark Series with vampires, how about adding a tour of the local cemetery or a visit to a Botanica and talk to the local voodoo priestess.

Think outside the box. Have fun. And, above all Read Latino.♥

DO LEAVE A COMMENT. Let us know what fun things your bookclub has done to celebrate reading.


November 23, 2010


Author: Rafael Landron
Illustrator: Maria Antonia Ordoñez
Translated by: José Rafael Landrón
Campanita Books, an imprint of Editorial Campana
Language: English and Spanish
Official Release Date: November 19th, 2010


New York, Nov. 4, 2010 - Campanita Books announces the release of its latest bilingual children's book, BEBA AND LITTLE SISTER ISLAND. Featuring Beba the manatee and her many friends. A fable inspired by the true story of how the people of Puerto Rico saved "Sister Island" Vieques from environmental destruction.

This wonderful story, penned by talented new writer Rafael Landrón and gorgeously illustrated by award winning artist María Antonia Ordóñez, is a timeless tale of courage, solidarity, love and justice set in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.

Beba, a young manatee, is summoned by her friends to travel and discover the origin of the thunderous noise they keep hearing coming from a nearby beach. She swims to the site, and discovers gigantic ships destroying their little island! What can a manatee and a group of animals do to stop the destruction? Plenty! As you will see when you read BEBA AND LITTLE SISTER ISLAND.

The adventure of Beba was inspired by the true story of the people of Puerto Rico who through coordinated efforts and non-violent actions, forced the Unites States Navy to leave the island of Vieques after 60 years of bombings, target practice, and military maneuvers.

In BEBA AND LITTLE SISTER ISLAND, the animals play the role of the real-life heroes whose courageous acts tipped the scale and literally saved the island. Most of Vieques (affectionately called la Isla Nena – translated in the book as Little Sister Island) had been turned into a radioactive, polluted, devastated landscape. With the departure of the Armed Forces the island is on its way to recovery, but it will be decades before the damage is reversed. "The story never makes direct reference to where the big ships come from, or what they are doing there", explains author Rafael Landrón. "I wanted the message to be universal".

Editor Mario Picayo worked with illustrator María Antonia Ordóñez to ensure that the visual depiction of the environment was accurate. Ordóñez's meticulous research, and attention to detail paid off as her stunning watercolors enrich the story. "We decided to give the book that extra dimension. Readers can learn about the flora and fauna of Vieques, and by extension of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Every bird, every fish, and every plant in the book can be found in nature", Picayo explained. One exception to that accuracy according to Landrón, is found on page 28. " You can spot a chupacabras! It's a little visual joke they played on me, and on all readers. The chupacabras was first reported in Puerto Rico, therefore its presence is a wink, acknowledging the Puerto Rican roots of my story."

*About the Author:*
Rafael Landron is an emerging poet, performer, and writer. His works include THE BRUISED MANGO, a collection of poems, and RAFI'S ANTIWAR EXPRESSIONS, a Nuyorican response to the Iraq war. BEBA AND LITTLE SISTER ISLAND is his first children’s book. Rafael is an adult educator at Boricua College, where he finds inspiration and believes that creativity and imagination will end militarism and bring peace.

*About the Illustrator:*
María Antonia Ordóñez is a Cuban Puerto Rican artist who lives in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. She studied art at the University of Puerto Rico, The Art Student's League, The School of Fine Arts of Puerto Rico and Casa Candina. Ordóñez has been showing her work nationally and internationally since 1980. She has illustrated many children's books, among them THE RED COMB, by Fernando Picó and LA CUCARACHITA MARTINA, versions of Rosario Ferré and of Carmen Rivera Izcoa.###

DO LEAVE A COMMENT.  Let us know if you have read this book.  Let us know if you remember the whole Vieques controversy and if you have been back to Puerto Rico lately.   Happy Reading.


November 15, 2010


By Julia Alvarez
Yearling Book, 2009

“It should be easier being a Mexican than being an alien from outer space.” –Tyler

America is a whole hemisphere, north and south. We are all-American! Raices mexicanas y flores norteamericanas… a bouquet with Mexican roots and North American flowers.” –Mari

"It’s not wrong in the eyes of God. Sometimes, a country has these laws that have nothing to do with what’s right or what’s best for most of the people involved.” –Tyler’s Dad

Julia Alvarez is best known for her adult books HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENT and IN THE TIME OF BUTTERFLIES, but there is another Julia that I am just discovering… the one that writes children books. She wrote RETURN TO SENDER as a way of helping both the children of Vermont and those of the Mexican migrant workers arriving to work the farms cope with their new situation. The name comes from the dragnet operation carried out by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2006. They named their operation Return to Sender, and the idea was to raid workplaces, seize undocumented workers and send them back to their home countries. And that is the world in which Tyler and Mari live.

RETURN TO SENDER is written for 8-10 year olds, but it is a wonderful, poignant, emotional book that will satisfy and engage all ages. It is the story of Tyler, who is scared that his family will have to leave the only home they’ve ever known when his father gets hurt and can’t continue to work their Vermont farm. It’s the story of Mari, whose family hides in fear of being separated or worse yet, being sent back to Mexico and poverty. These two families come together to save the farm and build a home.

But there are adjustments on all sides, as both families live in fear of discovery by the authorities, as Tyler adjusts to his patriot dad breaking the law, as Mari struggles to help raise her sisters since her mother has gone missing after a trip with a coyote, as the whole town struggles with the question of undocumented workers and struggling farms.

During these struggles, Tyler and Mari become friends. It is they who discover that friendship has no borders. Because when the authorities do finally raid the farm and capture Mari’s parents and uncle, it is Tyler and Mari who join forces to bravely face the law to tell their story and hopefully change some hearts so people, especially lawmakers, realize that people are NOT excess baggage.

RETURN TO SENDER was selected as one of two winners of the 2010 Americas Award for Children and Young Adult's Literature, sponsored by the national Consortium for Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP). It also won the 2010 Pura Belpré Author Award presented by the American Library Association, and is on Oprah’s 2010 Kids Reading List.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julia Alvarez writes adult and children’s fiction. She lives in Vermont with her husband and is a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Julia and her husband Bill started a sustainable farm-literacy center called Alta Gracia in the Dominican Republic. To find out how to order their coffee, Café Alta Gracia, and maybe visit their farm, check out their website To find out more about Julia and her writing life, she suggests reading her book of essays, SOMETHING TO DECLARE.


1) Why is Tyler mad at his parents even when they find workers to help save the farm?
2) Why doesn’t Tyler want to be Mari’s friend?
3) How do the three Marias help Tyler’s grandmother deal with her husband’s passing?
4) Why doesn’t the farm have a name?
5) Why is Tio Felipe a hero to his family even though he ran away from them?
6) What is the importance of the song “La Golondrina” to Mari?
7) Why does Mari write letters and secret-diary entries?
8) How are Mari’s classmates influenced by what happens to her and her family?
9) How does the farm finally get a name?

COMMENT:   Please do leave me a comment and let me know your favorite Julia Alvarez book.  And if you get a chance to read RETURN TO SENDER, do let me know what touched you most about Mari and Tyler's story.   Happy Reading.  Read Latino.

November 8, 2010


Delicious Latin Recipes for Effortless Entertaining
By Daisy Martinez
Atria Paperback
November 2010

Daisy’s authentic recipes are easy to make, easy to eat, and sure to please.   –Rachel Ray

Whether you’re cooking for six or for six hundred, the secret to a successful party is organization, organization, organization!  –Daisy Martinez

Daisy’s new cookbook is a welcomed addition for the holidays.

She has organized her cookbook by themes. For example, Cozy Festive Fall Dinner, Thanksgiving Buffet, Open House Decorating Party, Christmas Eve Dinner, Elegant New Year’s Dinner and New Year’s Day “Linner” (that’s the meal between lunch and dinner).

Each themed-date comes complete with a menu, step-by-step user-friendly recipes, definitions of Latino foods and products, possible variations of the recipe, substitute ingredients where possible and preparation schedules. Plus, throughout the book, Daisy lets you know what can be made ahead of time so you can cross that item off your list of things to do and enjoy more of your party time.

So with some time, freezer bags and plastic containers anyone is ready to get cooking…even Me!

I am not a cook so I started with the Baby Spinach Salad with Melon, Almonds and Serrano Ham. I couldn’t make the little balls so I improvised and diced the melon into tiny pieces instead. My oven didn’t work so neither the bread nor the almonds were toasted but overall it was delicious. The sliders were easier to make, but I have to admit I’ve never added pork or achiote to my burger, and I’ve always had my French fries on the side. Next up, her turkey version of the cubano, the shrimp diablo and of course, the coquito pancakes. Can’t wait.

Another great thing about DAISY’S HOLIDAY COOKING is that her recipes can be mixed and matched – customized if you will – to fit any of Your holiday entertaining needs. For example, the Yuca Mofongo goes on the Thanksgiving Buffet, however, you can turn the leftovers into fritters and serve them at the New Year’s Day Linner or for breakfast any morning. And the Arroz Mamposteado is good any day of the week.

You can follow the menus and the recipes word-for-word, or be adventurous and explore. Either way will work. So let us know which menus/recipes you try and which ones you liked best.

Buen provecho!♥


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  As a surprise birthday gift, Daisy's husband sent her to cooking school - a dream that she had always wanted to pursue. In 1998, she matriculated at the French Culinary Institute, where she won first prize for her final project, The Passionate Palate.  Daisy is the author of two cookbooks and the star of Viva Daisy!, which debuted on the Food Network in January 2009. She launched her career with the PBS series Daisy Cooks! And a cookbook based on the show. She has appeared on the Today show and The Early Show.  To learn more about Daisy, and cooking, visit her at

November 1, 2010


By Caridad Ferrer
Thomas Dunne Books
Release date: November 23

I've never been in love.  Aymadredediosomigod.  I couldn't believe I'd said it. But what else could it be? This odd, terrifying feeling of falling down Alice's rabbit hole into this unknown world.  That made me want to laugh and cry and want to throw up and wrap myself in everything Jonathan represented all at the same time.  
                                                                --Soledad Reyes

Does anyone remember that Brooke Shields movie, “Endless Love?” What about Donny Osmond’s “Puppy Love?” They were both about the wonder of first love – the joy of that sweet first, the heated passion, the intensity of emotion.

Teens and hormones are a combustible combination and that is what Caridad Ferrer has given us in WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE; Her daring third Young Adult novel about a dancer and a musician, who discover love amid the competitive atmosphere of the drum and bugle corps.

Soledad Reyes lives and breathes dancing. A high school senior, her plan is to teach while auditioning for professional dance companies. Enter BMOC Jonathan Crandall with a proposition—He wants her to play the sultry gypsy Carmen from the opera for his drum and bugle company. It’s an opportunity too good to pass up, and the chance for the new sweethearts to spend the summer together.  Everything is almost perfect, except for the lack of privacy on the road, Jonathan’s cantankerous father and a sexy soccer player with his eye on Soledad. Suddenly it all goes wrong as love turns to betrayal, and Soledad’s life and dancing career are changed forever.

This book is Fabulous. A must read. And the climax will knock you off your seat. Read it and tell me if it doesn’t. The book doesn’t come out until November 23, so mark your calendars to grab a copy then.

I asked Caridad about where got the idea of using the opera Carmen in her story and why the drum and bugle corps. Check out her answers below. You will be amazed at the breath of talent in this author. She must be a prima!

Why Carmen the opera? What does that opera say to you?

Honestly, because an editor suggested the idea to me. But being already familiar with the story, it was the sort of idea that made me go, "Oye, now why didn't I think of that in the first place?" Because seriously-- it's the kind of story that has EVERYTHING. It's got drama and intrigue and romance and betrayal and devotion. It's the kind of story that really sinks in and speaks to that dark, intense place in my soul. That I try to recreate with words I hope touch the reader. And musically, it's one of the most magnificent scores ever written-- and the passion inherent in the music is just the perfect inspiration for writing a story.

When did you conceive the idea of using the drum corps? And didn't you say you were in one? Tell us a little about that and your "role" in the corps.

Drum corps was a huge part of my life as an adolescent. It's an intense, all-consuming love affair, when you're involved in the activity. I was in the Florida Wave Drum & Bugle Corps, based out of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale for three years. We were a small, perpetually broke corps who went out and played our butts off, every single night. For one year, I was in the horn line, playing soprano bugle, then for two years, I was part of the percussion line in what's known as the "pit crew," the musicians on the sideline who play the keyboard percussion instruments as well as all of the incidental percussion. (One year, we even played steel drums!) As far as using corps for STARS, I'd known for a long time that I wanted to write a story set against the backdrop of the activity-- once presented with the idea of recreating the Carmen story for a contemporary audience, it seemed like a perfect fit for a few different reasons. One, it's a popular score for band/corps interpretation and has been performed time and again. And I knew that I didn't want to simply rewrite the story in a contemporary setting-- I wanted to put my own spin on it and allow it to stand on its own and using the drum corps as a background allowed me that freedom. Literally, I was able to employ the literary device of the "play within a play." Once I made those decisions, it all seemed to fall into place pretty easily.

Why the YA market? What is it about this age group that attracts your writing?

I'm sort of an accidental YA author, honestly. My agent at the time had been shopping an adult manuscript of mine when she heard an editor wanted a Latina-themed YA and asked if I wanted to give it a go. I did, and the rest, as they say, is history. That book became ADIÓS TO MY OLD LIFE, my first published novel, which went on to become a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, as well as winning the Romance Writers of America's RITA for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance, which was a HUGE honor, since that was an award for adult novels and I never expected that my YA even stood a chance. Which goes to show, a lot of adults are reading and loving YA and it's a great time to be writing it. And I'm so fortunate that my voice seems well-suited for the types of YA that I write, which are skewed a little older, in terms of character ages, and aren't necessarily focused around school-settings, but more about the big transitions in life, when you're hovering on that cusp just between adolescence and adulthood. You're making a lot of changes, some good, some bad, and life is as much about what's going on in your head as it is about what's going on around you. Given that I'm drawn to more introspective, character-driven pieces, I find it a fantastic age to explore.

Caridad Ferrer’s first novel, ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE, won a RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance, as well as being named to ALA’s 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults List. Her third novel, WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE, will be released in late November. Caridad lives with her family near Seattle, Washington. Visit her at

COMMENT:   Do let us know what you think of WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE and ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE. Also, let us know of other Young Adult novels that have touched you.  Happy Reading!