Q. Your novel, They call me Bianca, is tagged as Fantasy fiction and Christian Young Adult. The opening chapter introduces the MC as a mixed race Mexican/white girl, living in a poor neighborhood where status is everything and being “pure bred” is essential. What led you to decide on this particular culture and environment?
A. I grew up in Stockton myself, and a lot of the emotions that Blanca feels I felt growing up also. My own children are of “mixed” ethnicity also, and that whole “living life in the hyphen” and search for identity is something they deal with themselves. I wanted the character to experience life through the eyes of those close to her. That whole, “walking in others shoes to understand them” deal, only for her it becomes literal.
Q. Your MC, her surroundings, and the other characters are very 3 dimensional. How did you achieve this? For instance did you do actual research and/or draw up character Bios?
A. A lot of the characters in the novel are a compilation of a couple of people, yet have their roots in the real “characters” I grew up with. I’m smiling now, because I’m still friends with a lot of these people and now they’re going to read it just to figure out which character they are.
Q. The initiation Bianca undergoes, in order to be accepted, is this based on fact?
A. It varies with each crew/gang; but yes, her specific courting in was something that was not unusual to that scene.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A. I was having a Facebook conversation with one of my friends from high school that brought up a lot of old issues and memories, not all bad, mind you. Consequently, that same evening one of my middle grade students, from a Wednesday night Bible Study I teach, asked me (very serious conversation), what happens if someone dies and they’ve never heard the gospel. We had just gone over Romans chapter one that says all are ‘without excuse.’ It’s a hard concept to grasp. I told him that our God is bigger than that. If we trust that verse to be true, then we have to know that He’s not gonna let anything get in His way. Because He is both just and loving, somehow someway that person will have the opportunity to either reject or accept Him.
Well, like I said, that’s a hard concept for anyone, especially a teenager, to get their head around. What if someone really had never heard or given the time of day to anyone trying to share with them? What if? So I went to sleep with those two conversations in my head and woke up at three in the morning only to find myself madly typing out the rough draft of Blanca’s story.
Q. Have you written anything else in a similar vein?
A. My other book, Come What May, is not Fantasy or YA genre and is written for Christian Women’s Fiction. However, it does explore the theme of “what if?”
Q. What kind of books captures your imagination and who are your favourite authors?
A. As I child, I read Christian fiction by C.S. Lewis and didn’t even realize it was an allegorical Christian tale! I began my relationship with Christ as an adult, and the first Christian Fiction I ever read blew my mind! It was, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti and then his second one, Piercing The Darkness. That man writes with spine tingling clarity, and gives the reader a “fictional” look behind the veil into the demonic. At the time, I swore he was better than Stephen King. Back then, Stephen King was the king of spine tingling for me. Recently I’ve become a huge fan of Ted Dekker and his alternate worlds and realities.
I like books that make me think outside of my own perspective and into the possibilities. My God is so BIG that He is all ABOUT possibilities! Of course, because I am a Bible believing Christian, the Bible is my ultimate authority on reality. And just a few years ago I really started digging in deep into the stories found in there and I started reading them and imagining these characters as the real, flawed people they were. Reading it that way, I got a whole new perspective on the Awesomeness of our God. The fact that He uses the every day, cracked people we are- and loves us- blows my mind in whole different way!
Q. Where do you see your writing career in say ten years hence?
A. It is my hope that God will continue to wake me up in the middle of the night with stories He wants me to write down and tell. I want the minds of our young adult readers to blossom and open to the possibilities! I want to make a difference even if it’s just in a small way. To perhaps write something that offers that light and glimmer of hope we can’t see in the fog of this messy world. One of my favorite quotes by J. Updike kinda sums it up for me, “I want to write books that unblock the traffic jam in everyone’s mind.”
Q. Do you have a website or blog where readers can view your work?
A. My author’s blog and web page can be found at: http://lauraadiaz.weebly.com/index.html
The book page for, They Call Me Blanca, is:
http://lauraadiaz.weebly.com/they-call-me-blanca.html You can download the first chapter and read for FREE.
You can read even more of it FREE on: http://authonomy.com/books/36078/they-call-me-blanca/
Also, Come What May, can be purchased on Amazon or checked out for FREE from the Kindle Lending Library: http://www.amazon.com/collection-short-poetic-musing-ebook/dp/B0059HBQY8/
Q. Did you make a conscience decision to become a writer?
A.I don’t think I consciously decided that I wanted to be a writer. Writing is just something I’ve always done. Ever since I learned to read, I also wrote stories. My first story, written in purple crayon on construction paper, was about a little mouse family that moved into a neighborhood surrounded by some mean cats that didn’t want them there. I was six at the time, and after drawing the pictures to complete the project, I went around the neighborhood and tried to read it to anyone who didn’t run away. I still write to tell stories, but my preferred tools are no longer crayons and construction paper.
Q. Finally, what one piece of advice would you offer aspiring writers?
A. Oh, it’d actually have to be a quote from Robin McKinley, “For anyone who is: just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy, and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.”