Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome Caridad Ferrer!

Today Rita-award winning author Caridad Ferrer's long-awaited new novel, When the Stars Go Blue, is being released and we are lucky enough to have her stop by for a little chat.

Here's a description of the book:

Dance is Soledad Reyes’s life. About to graduate from Miami’s Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandall who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has before.

But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad's affections appears: Taz, a member of an all-star Spanish soccer team. One explosive encounter later Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened, but her entire future as a professional dancer.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, Allyson Noel says that Caridad "delivers a dreamy romance with all the necessary ingredients: a feisty heroine, an irresistible hero, and an ending that will make you swoon." If you want to read it for yourself, stop by Amazon or leave a comment here. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Caridad's book! Don't be shy!

Welcome, Caridad! I'm so thrilled to have you here! What's your drink of choice?

Um... Let's see: For morning, coffee, brewed very strong (I love Sumatra, if that tells you anything), during the day, it's Diet Coke w/ Splenda, in the evenings or if it's really cold outside, I switch to tea (Earl Grey, please), and if I'm in the south, sweet tea, because that's the only thing you can have barbeque with.

As far as alcoholic drinks, I love mojitos and Cosmos. What can I say, I'm fairly straightforward that way. :)

Excellent. Let me just muddle the mint and the lime. Ah, there we go. Perhaps you'd like some croquetas to go with it? No? Perhaps some pan fritos? Ah, very good. Now, down to business. Tell us about your show biz background (I know you have one. Don't be shy.). Did it help you in writing When the Stars Go Blue? Or did you have to do a lot of research on the whole drum and bugle corps thing?

Oh heavens, I'm not sure you could legitimately call it a "show-biz background," but I do have a very longstanding background in the arts, to the point where once upon a time I wanted nothing more than to be Barbra Streisand, just without the diva 'tude. I have at various times, played piano, trumpet, French horn, and various percussion instruments. These days I limit myself to singing (mostly in the car, but I can occasionally be persuaded, with the help of a mojito, to karaoke), and I absolutely adore musical theatre, with the pinnacle of my "career" coming when I played Rizzo in GREASE. I actually, when I'm being fairly honest, think I could have been a half-decent actor, if not for the massive audition anxiety that robs me of coherent thought.

As far as drum and bugle corps, that was one of the musical activities that consumed my adolescence-- from ages 15 to 18, I was a member of the Florida Wave Drum & Bugle corps, so yeah, I did live the life I write about in STARS, except I gave those kids a few more amenities (like decent buses) that I never got to experience as a member of a small, perpetually broke corps.

You speak a lot of languages and I'm not just talking about Spanish and English. You clearly speak YA very well. Kirkus Reviews mentions how authentic Soledad's first person narration feels in STARS. Tell us about writing for the teen market. Are there things you do differently than when you're writing for adults?

Why thank you! And yes, the Kirkus review was a nice surprise-- it's always comes as something of a shock when people compliment me on my young adult voice and its authenticity, because I never felt as if I was truly a "young adult." I was a latchkey kid by the age of twelve, with a lot of adult responsibilities in the wake of my parents' divorce and then, as a musician, immersed in that world, which encompasses people across a broad age spectrum, it wasn't as if I did a lot of hanging out with my peers, in terms of age. However, that said, I think that what makes my voice resonate and why people tend to compliment it, is because I write from the perspective of the teenager I was. I think it was Melissa Marr who was recently quoted as saying "write YA for the teenager you were," and without ever consciously realizing it, I think that's exactly what I've been doing all along. I'm not sure I would ever be drawn to writing a high-school set YA, for example, because for me, high school remains a blur. It was just somewhere to pass time until I could get to a rehearsal or practice piano or write in my journal. (Okay, so I DID do some of the journal writing in class, which is another reason high school is such a blur-- the worlds I was creating were far more interesting than the day-to-day minutiae of high school drama.)

I loved the excerpt from STARS on your website. Soledad talks about the "dancer" almost as if she was another person. Can you tell us more about that?

I'm not sure how good a job I can do explaining it, but I'll do my best, because I absolutely love this question and I love the quote that I'm assuming prompted the question.

"Breathing deep, I waited for the strum of the guitar, the dark insistent rhythms of the percussion to sink into my skin and work their magic, transforming me into an enchantress, a siren. With each note, the minutiae of dress rehearsal, of intense boys with pretty eyes, of the petty annoyances of life, of school, of everything.

It all faded into insignificance as once again, the dancer took over."

Yes! That's the one! It gave me shivers!

I think, when you're in the arts, regardless of what medium, you sink into the pursuit so thoroughly, it's almost as if you divorce yourself from your everyday being. You're transformed into someone or something else altogether and it's a being that even those who are closest to you might not recognize. I know, when I played piano competitively, it was as if someone else took over. That part of me that was confident and accomplished at this thing at which I worked so hard, something that very few people were privy to, until I chose to allow them to see. I wasn't the geek with the zits and glasses-- I held command over this instrument and by extension, anyone who was listening. And it always, always came as a surprise to outsiders. It was the same with acting and it's what I've always loved best about writing. That sensation of sinking into the work so deeply that the wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend simply ceases to exist. Nothing else matters. I'm only that part of me that is the writer.

Well, that gave me shivers, too! Thank you so much for stopping by, Caridad. Don't forget, everyone, leave a comment and you'll have a chance to win a copy of WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE!


Karen Whiddon said...

Hey Caridad! I didn't know you wrote YA! Your book sounds awesome.

Jamie - I'm a guy, btw! said...

This sounds like such a mesmerizing piece of work...so happy for you!

Maureen McGowan said...

Caridad! Thanks for stopping by to tell us about your book. It sounds fabulous. I used to be a dancer and totally get the idea of the dancer taking over.

Shannon McKelden said...

I'm so excited for this book, Caridad!! Each of your YA novels gets better and better...so I can't wait to see what you've done with this one! Way to go (again!) and happy release day!

Amy Fellner Dominy said...

This book sounds amazing...though I'm not surprised. Caridad's story is so interesting and it's easy to see that's she incredibly talented!

Cathy Yardley said...

Caridad! I've been so looking forward to this book... I've been hooked on your work since ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE, which is on my keeper shelf!

Karen, you're probably thinking of Caridad Piniero... I read the interview you gave with that Caridad on the eHqn boards, so maybe you just looked quickly and didn't read through. I hate it when that happens!

But now that you've found Caridad Ferrer, trust me, SHE ROCKS. And she's so unique. I can't imagine mistake her for anyone else, LOL!

Off to the bookstore...

Angi Morgan said...

Great reviews, great interview. It was really nice getting to know you better.


Molly O'Keefe said...

Oh my gosh! That cover! That title! Carmen meets drum corp - could this book be any cooler? Thanks for stopping by and congrats!!

Sinead M said...

That is a gorgeous cover. Cannot wait to read it.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Sorry it took me a few days to toddle in here, but between launch craziness and the holiday, I hope you'll forgive me.

I just wanted to thank Eileen and the gang here at Drunk Writer Talk for so graciously hosting me and a huge thank you to all of you for your lovely comments. This book has had quite the journey to publication and I'm really enjoying every sweet moment, believe me!

Thanks again!!

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