Our new author spotlight is the lovely and talented Jennifer Cervantes, the author of “Tortilla Sun.”
Here is a brief bio:
Cervantes grew up believing in the magic of story and often asked “what if?” In Tortilla Sun she brings this magic and her love of family and the rich Hispanic culture to her writing. When she isn’t writing, Jennifer teaches Children’s and Young Adult Literature at New Mexico State University. She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband, three active daughters and two feisty dogs.
What was your road to publication?
Long and sometimes quiet. I didn’t set out to write a novel, (I’d never written a word of fiction), but my youngest daughter, Juliana asked me to write her a story one day. I picked up a pen and was hooked! As I got to know the characters one idea lead to the next and I had to see what happened to them, so I wrote until I finished it. After, joining a critique group and editing over and over, I sent out queries to agents and was lucky to sign with Laurie McLean. It took over a year for TS to find a home with the right publisher, so the waiting was sometimes hard.
Can you tell me a bit about your writing process?
Some days, my muse is present and generous and my writing flows. Other days, I stare at the computer screen and wonder where I’m going to go next.
Do you plot or not?
Nope. I just let the characters and story take me where they will. Sometimes it’s hard to trust that process, but so far it has worked. Although, I often times will have an idea of where I want to go.
Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?
I am working on another story right now about a boy named Max who lives in San Miguel de Allende Mexico and comes from a long line of criminals. It’s filled with mysticism, magic, curses, and even a little romance.
Describe your studio or usual work space for us.
I actually write in many different places in my house. But most of the time, I write in a sitting room off my bedroom. I love the light in there and the subtle beauty of the desert outside my windows. Sometimes, I write in my car longhand while I’m waiting for my daughter at soccer practice or piano.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I’d love to be a documentarian and film people’s stories.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
That I’m a naturally shy person.
I’ve heard that your daughter was the inspiration for writing “Tortilla Sun” can you explain?
So many people, places, and experiences served as inspiration. But perhaps the biggest inspiration for getting started was my youngest daughter Jules who asked me to write her a short story about her favorite bear (who still sleeps in her bed). So I started writing this silly story about a selfless bear. As I wrote, I became addicted. More ideas sprouted and I needed a place to put them all. I began to think about the kinds of books I would love for my daughters to read, ones where they were reflected in the pages. Before I knew it, I started writing Tortilla Sun. The first draft went rather quickly, but oh those revisions were often painful.
How do you balance your writing and family life?
I think all women have to deal with this idea of balance. For me, I succeed on most days and fail on others. There is never enough time in the day to do everything I want to do and to do it well. But, I have learned to be kinder to myself on those days that I don’t quite balance all the components of my life as well as I’d like to. Keeping a schedule and lists really helps. Like today, I have three hours I get to write, before I run off to a volleyball game for one of my daughters. Then the evening begins with a dinner to cook, homework to check, and classes to prep for tomorrow. By creating space and time for each of these events, I feel less stressed.
We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?
I guess that depends on whether I’ve had caffeine or not Actually, I do tend to be proactive probably because I love writing so much that it never feels like a chore.
Now, as far as taking out the trash? Hmmm…..
I had the opportunity to meet Jennifer at a book signing here is San Diego and found her to be both lovely and gracious. For more information on Jennifer or her book “Tortilla Sun” check out her website at www.jennifercervantes.com.
Check in later this week for my review of “Tortilla Sun.”
Writing on the Sidewalk