Talking about your book, Chasing the Jaguar, whats it about?
Its a young adult novel. I wanted to write a novel that would be kind of like a Nancy Drew series. Its about a girl whos a teenage sleuth. Nancy Drew books are so dated, they were even when I was a girl. They came out in the 30s.
Theyre like: Theres a mysterious clock on the wall. Theres a mysterious staircase. And you know, kids nowadays are sophisticated, theyre not going think thats a mystery. They have the internet, for goodness sakes!
So, I wanted her to be Mexican-American. I wanted her to be a girl who has one foot in North American social culture with her friends and another in Latin culture at home. And I also wanted her to represent the children of immigrants.
If felt this way growing up, so did my brother. If youre part of an immigrant family, you dont have a lot of room to screw up. Theres a lot riding on you. Youre going to get an education. Youre going to get a good job, and you have a responsibility, as a member of this family, to move forward.
I think a lot of children of immigrants feel that. You dont have all this time to say, I hate my parents or I have to repeat the 11th grade. You cant do that when your parents are immigrants. Because their attitude is: we came all the way and youre going to do it!
Why did you pick a youth novel to write?
I think because I really relate to that. Its a poignant time in all of our lives, and when we think of ourselves in terms of dating and all that, were still who we were when we were about 14. I think thats a time when your life is coming at you so fast and furious and there are so many you have hormones and youre just starting to think about the rest of your life, and youre not a child but youre not an adult and its a really sort of loaded time and I can relate to that. I can still remember that. And its something I like writing about.
In your music, you sing and write in both Spanish and English, but mostly in Spanish. Is there a reason for that?
I like writing music in Spanish better. I think its more musical. The language is more poetic. It lends itself to music better than English does. English tends to have a staccato sound, and Spanish is so fluid and so soft when you hear it. Except when you hear Spaniards speak. (imitates the accent)