I am happy to be a stop on the blog tour of Alexandra Roman today! She is a Puerto Rican-born writer whose novel is El Valle de la Inspiracion. It´s about a girl who goes. with an Egyptogolist friend, searching for The Valley of Inspiration. Her goal is to recover her own inspiration, which became lost to her after her father´s death. The novel is a history, mystery and fantasy, exploring the mythological world of ancient Egypt. It was published by Lulu and can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
As a writer, Alexandra enjoys penning fiction, fantasy and poems. Alexandra´s blog is http://alexandraroman.wordpress.com/
I was excited to meet Alexandra (electronically) because she is from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, where my youngest brother was born! We lived in Puerto Rico several summers when I was a kid, as my father coached in the island´s basketball league, Baloncesto Superior. There is a story I wrote about that time, and about my brother´s birth, in a tropical hospital staffed with nuns, over on Alexandra´s blog today. It´s called Basketball and Banana Leaves. Check it out!
Here are some questions I asked Alexandra:
S. I don´t know if bilingual people understand what a gift it is to be truly bilingual. My kids, for example, take it for granted. Are you completely comfortable writing in English and Spanish? Which do you prefer?
A. Yes, in my household we speak both languages. My daughter prefers English and she sounds more American than Puerto Rican. When I´m writing a story, it all depends on how it comes to me. Stories talk to a writer and when you are bilingual, it speaks to you in the way it wants to be told. I translate them so they can be enjoyed by those that don´t understand both languages. I don´t have a preference, but for this novel I did. It needed to be written first in Spanish. I´m working with a translator now so it can be told in English too.
S. The Carribean Islands possess a whole culture that fascinates me: part island, with influences from the Europeans and Africans who stopped by in ships. Do you feel connected to the American literary scene?
A. Yeah, it´s part of the cirriculum in English classes, not so much the classics, but we do get to read Edgar Allen Poe, whom I like, and Emily Dickenson. I have read many others in high school and college, but most of the fiction I read, I´ve found on my own. We are connected to the American literary scene in many ways. Right now there is a big demand for everything Twilight, from that American author, Stephenie Meyer. Many of the movies Puerto Ricans enjoy are based on American novels, and most tend to go to the bookstore and buy those novels. Whether we like it or not, the American influence is there, and will be when we go to the bookstores.
S. I myself am trying to connect to the American literary mainstream from Mexico, and am having my memoir turned down by agent after agent. The reason I hear most often is that the only memoirs that are selling right now are those by nationally prominent people. Can you talk about your experiences trying to publish in the US?
A. It´s difficult because America is a big country and the publishing houses have hundreds of manuscripts delivered to them daily. With this economy trying to pull itself out of a depression, the publishing houses will go with the authors who will make them money. I tried with short stories first and it was very difficult even to place work in magazines. Most of them don´t want new or emerging authors in their magazines, and agents are reacting the same way. It has happened to me lots of times. The key is to never give up, and to keep believing in your work. You will find somebody who will back it up.
S. How has your beautiful island of Puerto Rico influenced your writing? Who do you see as your audience? What are you writing next?
A. Nature is my true inspiration. Sometimes, on weekends, I go for drives with my family to the island shores or to the mountains. It is just what I need to recharge the creative batteries. Puerto Rico has lots of magnificent places to visit and admire. From these breathtaking spots, I draw the strength I need to create.
I know my target audience is Young Adult. It is who I go for. They are not easy to target! The Young Adult reader is very picky in his choices and you have to grab his attention with your writing. Mostly, they enjoy fiction, as I do. So far so good! I have worked with a youth group for over fifteen years now. I share my work with them and they give good feedback. Believe me, when they don´t like something, they let you know! That´s why I say they´re picky.
My mind is set on three things right now. One is a continuation of El Valle de la Inspiracion. But that is a long-term plan. For now, I´m thinking of writing a novel based on the women in my life. At the same time, I´m working on a story I´ve been struggling with for three years. It´s fiction. For now it is called, Los Maestros de AldGar. I´m trying to use the taino language. It´s complicated. It´s a work in progress. It´s on hold right now while I promote El Valle de la Inspiracion.