CLG: YA is huge - there are so many books on the market that feature girls having to spend what's to be their best summer away from home in a different place. There are a slew of books about best friends, new friends, and love - how do you make your series UNIQUE? How does it stand out from the pack?
DRW: I didn’t set out to write a “fish out of water” story. My goal for Amor and Summer Secrets was to offer a modern-day look at the reality facing many American teenagers who are torn between two ethnic groups. It doesn’t matter whether your half Polish and half Puerto Rican, or half Filipino and half Russian, people can relate to what Mariana is feeling.
But in terms of uniqueness, the novel also brings to light many secrets that would have stayed hidden in Puerto Rico had Mariana not taken that trip. It opens Mariana’s eyes to a side of her family she didn’t know existed, and I think many teens can relate to being kept in the dark about unpleasant family histories. Trust me, I know. I was the youngest. I practically lived in a bubble.
CLG: Do you think the multiculturalism is an aspect that helps to illustrate the series uniqueness?
DRW: Absolutely. I think it’s becoming rare to find many American kids who are 100% affiliated with just one ethnic group. And I find that many people, including myself, connect more to the culture that they “physically” resemble.
For much of my life, I had a hard time connecting to my Puerto Rican roots because I didn’t fit the stereotype. My picture’s posted here, take a look. Would you look at me and think “Puerto Rican”? But as I grew older, I chose to seek out those connections. I studied Spanish in school, took a semester abroad in Madrid, and visited my family in Utuado.
So I purposely sent Mariana on a journey that it took me much longer to take. After all, Mariana’s a smart cookie, I knew she could handle it.
Check out the rest of Diana Rodriguez Wallach's interview @ ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING!