What's Fresh with Diana Rodriguez Wallach's Adios To All The Drama
What happens in Puerto Rico doesn't always stay there.
Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn't easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobby-and they don't exactly go unnoticed.
Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only "boyfriend" and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents' recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who's tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is who will Mariana kiss at midnight?
Strained friendships, stolen kisses, and secret loves create plenty of surprises to unfold before the New Year's bells start ringing.
Hello Diana, it's great to chat with you again! Please tell us about your latest novel Adios To All The Drama.
Diana: Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Publishing, January 2009) is the third and final book in my Amor and Summer Secrets series. In it, Mariana Ruiz discovers that the summer fling she thought she left in Puerto Rico, Alex, will soon be coming for a visit. And as her old flame settles into the guestroom two doors down from her, Mariana finds herself conflicted between him and her lingering feelings for her Locker Buddy Bobby.
Additionally, her best friends are of little help as Madison deals with her IM-only “boyfriend” and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents’ recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who’s tying the knot on New Years Eve with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But as the wedding details unfold, one question remains. Who will Mariana kiss at midnight?
Could you share a bit about the main character of your book and what makes her unique?
Diana: As you learn in the series debut, Amor and Summer Secrets, Mariana feels very disconnected from her cultural heritage. She doesn’t feel anymore Puerto Rican than she does Polish. So traveling to Puerto Rico for the first time is a huge culture shock for her. She doesn’t speak Spanish. She spoiled, she’s very close-minded, and she has no interest embracing her relatives.
But ultimately she learns to open up. And that newfound sense of self comes back with her from the island. So you see a very different Mariana in Amigas and School Scandals and Adios to All The Drama. She’s more worldly, more accepting, and eventually more assertive.
How did the idea for this novel come about?
Diana: Well, Adios to All the Drama is the third book in the series. So it was inspired by the two books that came before. However, the first book in the series, Amor and Summer Secrets, was initially inspired by a conversation with my agent, Jenoyne Adams. She had mentioned seeing a recent increase in interest from editors seeking multi-cultural novels, and she asked the infamous question, “Got any ideas?” I didn’t. But by the end of our conversation, I had pitched the story for what became Amor and Summer Secrets.
Part of the inspiration was derived from my first trip to Puerto Rico after I graduated from college. I met my relatives there for the first time, and I got to see where my dad grew up. I wanted to share some of those experiences with my character while showcasing that the stereotypes about Latinas are just that—stereotypes.
What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?
Diana: My goal for Amor and Summer Secrets series 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 you’re half Polish and half Puerto Rican, or half Filipino and half Russian, people can relate to what Mariana’s feeling about her ethnic identity.
Additionally, I’m hoping to dissuade some of the beliefs that all Latinas look, talk or act a certain way. Unfortunately, we’re all not Selma Hayak (though I’m sure many of us wouldn’t mind her figure). We don’t all speak Spanish. We don’t all listen to salsa music. Latinas are a very diverse group, and I hope my novels help break some of those stereotypes.
Thanks for sharing with us, Diana! Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?
Diana: I read a lot of YA. I just finished reading Skinned by Robin Wasserman, whom I participated with on a panel at the Baltimore Book Festival. Though I’m not usually a sci-fi fan, I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait for the sequel. I’ve also been reading a bunch of best selling authors whose works I hadn’t picked up before, like Emily Giffin, Jodi Picoult, and Dean Koontz.
Diana Rodriguez Wallach’s debut novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, is the first in a young adult series published by Kensington Publishing in September 2008. The sequels to the series, Amigas and School Scandals and Adios to all the Drama, were released in November 2008 and January 2009, respectively.
Born to a Puerto Rican father and a Polish mother, Diana has experienced the cultures her characters inhabit, and many of the multi-cultural themes expressed in her novels are based on her personal background.
Diana holds a journalism degree from Boston University, and has worked as a reporter and as an advocate for inner city public schools. Her first novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, sold to Kensington Publishing on Fat Tuesday 2007 while she was at Mardi Gras wearing beads and a feathered mask. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband Jordan and her cat Lupi, who was rescued from a shelter in Harlem. Diana enjoys traveling, watching bad TV, reading great novels, practicing yoga and cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles. Visit her website, http://www.dianarodriguezwallach.com.