Amor and Summer Secrets features 15-year-old Mariana Ruíz, a half Polish/half Puerto Rican teenager who is just coming into a realization of her Latina roots.
Red haired, ivory-skinned Mariana has every intention of spending her summer attending Sweet 16 parties in Philadelphia’s Main Line, until her father enforces other plans. He ships her and brother off to spend the summer with relatives in Puerto Rico who don’t speak English or own an air conditioner. Mariana’s summer is sent into a tailspin until she discovers that embracing her roots may have its advantages—namely a hot local teen who adds to the temperature of her tropical vacation. Only amidst new friends and first loves, Mariana uncovers much more than she bargained for, including a dark family secret that’s been hidden on the island for more than 30 years.
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Until then, welcome, Diana! Let’s get down to the gossip. What’s the most regrettable hairstyle you’ve ever had?
Well, this will date me, but I’m coming out and admitting that I spent several years with a spiral perm. Oh, yes, I had ringlets like a poodle. I think I got my first perm in fourth grade and my last in eighth grade.
And because I’m a very brave person, I’ve included one of the last known photos of me with my perm (note the permed and teased bangs). I believe I’m in eighth grade in this photo; and yes, I’m wearing an Espirit t-shirt. Interesting tidbit—there are two other girls who appear beside me in the original image. Both went on to be my bridesmaids, and I was tempted to include them here, but I thought they might remove me from their Christmas card lists. ;)
You're entirely too cute in this photo. And Espirit! I loved Espirit! Okay, ever had a major hair or salon disaster?
When I was right out of college, I tried to highlight my own hair with a store-bought kit. The dye (which I believe is still being sold to this day) bled throughout my whole head, and turned all my hair to yellow. No, really. It looked like the color “yellow” you get in a Crayola box. And it was permanent, and I was starting my first ever “real” job in a week.
Since I was broke and had little hair coloring experience, I didn’t know how to fix it. I was scared that dying it again with permanent color would kill it. So I bought one of those temporary, 26-wash kits, and dyed my hair back to brown. Then I had to keep up those temporary kits for months until I finally found the cash to go to a professional salon. I haven’t dyed my own hair since.
How long have you been with your current stylist and what are your appointment conversations like—chatty and personal, or quiet and professional?
I have been with Whitney for five years now. My husband also goes to her. She’s awesome—way cooler than me with this edgy, pseudo bad-girl look that really works for her (lots of tattoos and cool hair). We talk a lot. She even came to my book launch party. I told her that if one of my books ever gets adapted into a movie, and that movie gets nominated for an Oscar, she can do my hair for the Academy Awards. Hehe.
Here’s your Hypothetical Questions of the Week:
HQ #1: TV execs are offering you a spot on a new reality show for writers. Do you say yes? If so, how would you be portrayed? (i.e. the boss, whiner, bore, paranoid-wreck, etc.?)
Well, this is reality TV. Everyone knows you can’t be yourself. You need to have a detailed character prepared for you portray the minute the cameras start rolling. And we also know that the drama queens get the most air-time. So I think I would try to start a few verbal arguments on day one—really catch the other writers off guard. And then I’d refuse to the do the dishes or give anyone their telephone messages; I’d hide someone’s flash drive; and I’d cry every time we go out to a bar. With any luck, by the end of the season I’d be offered my own talk show.
HQ #2: You’re a big-time celebrity who just had a baby. If you were competing for the most bizarre celebrity baby name, what would it be?
HQ #3: Paparazzi are stalking you, looking for shots of odd things authors do while writing. What do they catch you doing, hmm?
I listen to the Comcast ‘90s music channel on TV while I write. I have to listen to it at a very low decibel, because I love the songs so much that they often distract me. Seriously. I think I know all the words from “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” to “Pump Up the Jam” to “Hey Jealousy.”
HQ #4: If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?
I’d be an interior designer. I think I wanted to pursue that career path from first grade until high school. Then I realized that most interior designers don’t go to traditional colleges, and I thought my parents would have actual heart attacks if I didn’t get a very practical bachelor’s degree. So I ended up studying journalism. I worked as a reporter for trade magazines in Manhattan for a couple of years after I graduated (I know more about the hotel industry and occupancy rates than I care to admit). Then I moved back to Philly, wrote a novel, and here I am.
I don’t regret not pursuing interior designing. But, ironically, my roommate from college left a job at Morgan Stanley to become an interior designer. So I can live vicariously through her.
The Lightening Round—no more than two words per answer!
Do you . . .
Outline or wing it? Usually, I wing it.
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep your trap shut? Keep my trap shut with only a very vague mention of the concept.
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Completed draft. I’ve never written a proposal, and I suck at outlines.
Love to edit or cringe at the thought? Love it. It’s my favorite part.
Write better at home or in a coffee shop? Lately, I do both.
Read your released book or no, I’ve read it enough? I skim them once released.
And finally, what’s your favorite . . .
Time to write? Afternoon.
Movie? Right now, It’s a Wonderful Life.
Book? The Little Prince
Author? Jane Austen
Song? One, with U2 and Mary J. Blige
Pair of shoes? I’m currently coveting a pair of Cole Haan Nike Air boots that are way out of my price range.
Guiltiest pleasure? General Hospital.
Line from a movie? “This is the business we’ve chosen!” Godfather II (Side note: My husband says that line to me every time I start freaking out about one of my novels.)
Awesome, thanks, Diana! Thanks for stopping by and best of luck with Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals . . .
And January's release of Amigas and School Scandals!
Oh, and Vista Leopard? Yeah, that is bizarre. ;)