Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Caridad Ferrer!

Oh please please forgive me, loyal readers, because I have really let this blog go. I hope to be back soon. I have a good excuse. I've been writing! And not writing for awhile and feeling too frustrated to blog since I had nothing but ugly bad energy to share. But now I'm writing again and the super rough shitty draft might get finished this week and then I'll have a progress report for you all.

But today I have something super special. A Women Who Rock Wednesday interview and giveaway with the lovely Caridad Ferrer!

This isn't just special because WWRW has become a rare thing (another thing I intend to rectify soon), it's because Caridad (or Barb as I know her) is a bit of heroine of mine. She also wrote for MTV Books, two books I treasure dearly ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE and IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ACCENT. And her journey to this new book, WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE, was quite a long and troubled one, but she didn't give up faith on this incredible, unique story and since I've been struggling in a huge way lately myself, that inspires me big time. WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE is one of the books I've been looking forward to the most this year and I think when you hear about it, you will feel the same way. I'll let Caridad tell you all about and if you want an in depth look at her journey with his book, check that post out here. If you are an aspiring or struggling writer, it will remind you why you write!

But without further adieu, let's meet our woman who rocks, Caridad Ferrer!

And this is the skinny on her new book WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE:

A dancer driven to succeed.

A musical prodigy attempting to escape his past.

The summer they share.

And the moment it all goes wrong.

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.

Q: Please tell us what your new book is about and what inspired you to write it.

Caridad: Well, the framework/inspiration for the story is Bizet's famed opera, CARMEN, probably the most popular opera in history. Even people who swear they've never heard a note of opera, have in all likelihood, heard something from CARMEN because its music has permeated pop culture to a huge extent. NPR says anyone who's ridden in an elevator or waited at the doctor's office has probably heard something from CARMEN. And the story the music supports is absolutely fantastic-- a love triangle with passion, betrayal, forbidden attraction... it's pretty much got it all. Another important component of my version is the setting, which is competitive drum and bugle corps, an activity with which I was heavily involved as an adolescent. It's an intense and passionate pursuit-- the sort of thing you have to really love in order to do it, because of the massive amounts of work involved. I'd been looking for an opportunity to set a book in that world and reimagining Carmen within a contemporary setting just seemed to provide the perfect fodder.

Basically, I have a dancer (Soledad) who's approached by a driven musician classmate (Jonathan) to become part of a drum and bugle corps for the summer. They're performing CARMEN and he thinks she's perfect to dance the lead role. He also happens to be harboring a long-time crush on her and sees this as his last opportunity to get to know her before college and adulthood might separate them forever. Soledad falls just as hard for Jonathan and everything is great for a while until Taz, a Spanish soccer player comes into the picture, stirring up all sorts of emotions in Soledad and driving a wedge between her and Jonathan, playing out much in the way the love triangle in CARMEN does, so I have the whole "story within the story" construct going on as well.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

Caridad: As a matter of fact... *g* I published an iMix of just ONE of the many soundtracks I created for STARS. This was one of the "emotional" soundtracks with songs that relate to each of the characters. It's sort of all over the place, stylistically, but everything kind of works together somehow.

As far as five songs-- well, the first mentioned has to be the song from which my title is taken: Ryan Adams' WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE, although my preferred version is The Corrs w/ Bono. The lyrics of that song are just so poignant and on so many different levels fit the love triangle of Jonathan/Soledad/Taz.

Song two would probably be AMOR GITANO by Alejandro Fernández and Beyoncé. Normally, I can't tolerate Beyoncé's voice, but it actually blends really nicely with Alejandro's and something about singing in Spanish seems to temper some of the nasally quality that normally bugs me. The song itself is a track that was recorded as the theme song for a telenovela (Spanish-language soap opera) based on the legend of Zorro, so there was that whole gypsy/rebel/romantic draw to it. It's also very driving and exciting.

Song three is EL TANGO DE ROXANNE from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. In the book, this is the song Soledad dances to for her corps audition and which eventually becomes part of the corps show as a whole. It sets the stage for the huge, emotional climax. Another reason I love it is because I'm a shameless Sting/Police fangirl and this is just such a beautiful example of how a good song can be reinterpreted in a multitude of ways, all of them powerful and gut-wrenching in their own way.

Song four is FRAGILE by Sting (remember that fangirling? Yeah.) Anyhow, this song, because of its slight Latin feel and the lyrics that just rip me to shreds:

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are

Again, just so poignant and so true to this story for me.

Finally, song five is John Mayer's DREAMING WITH A BROKEN HEART

I actually fought hard against this one, because I was SO not a John Mayer lover. But the entire Continuum CD was an eye-opener and this song was again, just an emotional gut punch, especially for Jonathan's character. To me, this is sort of his song.

Q: Who were some of your inspirations to become a writer or the inspirations that keep you writing? Feel free to include other authors, teachers, parents, or people in other creative fields, whoever is an inspiration to you!

Caridad: I have always been a storyteller and writing kind of evolved naturally from that-- it was something that always came very easily to me. For me, the trick was learning how to harness and refine those gifts, which is an ongoing process. One of the first inspirations I had was a college journalism professor who told me when I was fifteen that I was a crappy journalist, but a really exceptional writer. (He also apparently told my mother that he had a strong feeling and hope I'd one day become a novelist. Sadly, he died of cancer before he could learn that he was right. About a lot.)

Hopefully, I don't sound like a pretentious git, but I find myself constantly learning from my peers and from reading any and everything. The other huge factor and inspiration in my writing is music. It's my anchor and the source of so many of my story ideas and so much of the emotion that I pour into my work.

Q: Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Caridad: Oh, I can definitely listen to music while writing-- as a matter of fact, I'm like Pavlov's dog with music (except without the drool). I'll create multiple soundtracks for a work in progress and use it to get me in the mood of the story or scene or character I'm trying to evoke. Even years later I can play a soundtrack and find myself immediately back in the world of the book.

Q: What is next for you? What are you working on now?

Caridad: Well, I just finished an adult fiction manuscript that was nearly three years in the making-- it's set in the 1960s and was both a lot of fun to write as well as being one of the hardest things I've ever done. Now I'm just waiting to hear back from my agent on what she thinks. In the meantime, I've started a new YA idea-- something new and different for me, genre & style wise. I'm writing in third person POV for the first time in absolute ages and I'm petrified-- I'm also writing with paranormal elements for the first time and did I mention I'm petrified??

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Caridad: Okay, very first album I bought was The Beatles Abbey Road. To this day, remains one of my favorite albums EVER. First concert was Rick Springfield on his Working Class Hero tour after Jesse's Girl had become such a huge hit. He was an AMAZING live performer-- just really fun and dynamic and sounded GOOD. And in a delicious bit of coincidence, he's going to be signing copies of his autobiography at my local indie bookstore three days before I have my one scheduled reading/signing for STARS!

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Caridad: Okay, without a doubt, the most rock star moment I experienced in my career to date was when I won the Romance Writers of America RITA with my first YA, ADIÓS TO MY OLD LIFE. Winning an award like that is amazing enough, but the fact that I won in the Best Contemporary Single Title Romance category elevated it to absolute Rock Star moment. I was only in that category because we hadn't had enough entries to make the YA category that year and I really wanted to stay in competition for Best First Novel. To my shock, I finaled in both categories, and to my even bigger shock, it was in ST that I won, given that I was a young adult novel going up against some amazing adult romances. Hearing the title of my book called out and going up on stage and accepting that gorgeous gold statue still stands as just one of the most surreal moments of my entire life.

Today's Contest:

Yeah, like I said, this is one of my most highly anticipated books of year. After hearing more about it, I'm guessing you want WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE as well and you are in luck! Caridad is offering up a copy!

Please note that due to postage costs, this contest is for US residents/mailing addresses only.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE.
+5 for blogging about WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win. Because I will be drawing the winner next Wednesday and more likely than not, simply emailing them rather than announcing it so please please please leave a way to contact you if you enter.


Katherine said...

I encountered Barbara Caridad Ferrer online during the ABNA competition two years ago and was impressed with her writing and her humanity. I am so glad to hear how well things turned out for her.

jpetroroy said...

I'd love a copy. This book sounds fascinating.

jpetroroy at gmail dot com

lady reader said...

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Check out my IMM goodies at Attack of the Book:


lady reader said...

Hi Stephanie! Great Contest! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Have a great day.



Natalie said...

I've actually never heard of this author, but I'm really intrigued by the concept of her book. I've also never watched Moulin Rouge (girl fail, I know!), but I LOVE El Tango de Roxanne!

Thanks for the giveaway!

+1 Tweeted it here.


Veronica said...

I do love your soundtrack question. Donald Miller always mentions who he was listening and who he was reading when he's writing.

Harmony said...

I absolutely LOVE the cover to this. It's absolutely gorgeous. The story founds fab too. I'd love to read it!

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

i just finished this book and totally LOVED it! wonderful interview :)