Q: First tell us something about yourself?
I was born on the island of Cuba in the town of Havana. My mother and dad had pharmacies there and I was just a baby drinking milk and enjoying the Cuba breeze when we had to leave because there was a revolution. My dad, who is American took us to Brooklyn, New York and then to Queens where I grew up, went to school and LOVED to sing, act, dance and write. I studied science and chemistry in college and then went to pharmacy school like my mom… but my heart was in the theater, writing books, and being in the world of arts. When I got married I moved to California and began to write songs and plays and finally realized I wanted to also write children’s books. I LOVE working with talented artists who bring my stories to colorful life and more than anything… I love inspiring kids to love reading and to be creative.
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
The idea for the picture book Too Many Visitors for One Little House came to me the summer we moved to a new house in Los Angeles. Everyone from the back east wanted to visit us that summer…. And THEY ALL DID! We had 22 people sleeping over in our little house for ONE WHOLE MONTH. The house got soooo crowded, the kitchen clinked and clanked all day long, the kids shouted and sang all day, we all played musical instruments until we all dropped into bed at night… AND not only did we have many people… that summer we a stray street dog wandered looking for a happy family and found its way to our house! It heard the happy sounds and smelled the scent of cooking and let itself into our front porch. I knew this had to be a movie or a book and when I finally started on my writer’s path of becoming a children’s author, I thought of this title: Too Many Visitors for One Little House — and it was my DEBUT book. So I can say… this is where it all started in terms of my writing journey.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
My first story was Too Many Visitors for One Little House which I published under the publishing company Booksicals. Booksicals as the name reveals are books and musicals all rolled up into one. At Booksicals we take picture books and their stories and characters and turn them into plays and musicals for kids. Each Booksicals book like Too Many Visitors for One Little House is ALSO a musical video, a musical ebook and a PLAY for kids to perform!
My second book Wobegon and Mildred— also was inspired by a true story … One very busy and stressful day I got THREE parking tickets at one time! I was so mad at the parking ticket person — after all — didn’t they see I was having a bad day???? But then I remembered… they are only doing their job…. They are people just like me with families to support… So I put myself in their shoes and decided to write a book called Wobegon and Mildred— about two parking ticket monsters that NOBODY LIKES because they give tickets and make people angry… In the end… they too find friendship by being true to who they are.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
Reading a picture book is like going to the theater. I love the theater… the excitement of the stage, the set, the props, the costumes… how a story comes alive on a stage… A picture book is the same for me… You start with a story and then the illustrator adds costumes, color, set, props and VOILA—- You have a PICTURE BOOK! When I write I keep in mind the questions: how would this story look, smell, taste, feel, sound? I also think in song as I am a song writer… and so when I write a book, I imagine what the characters might sing on each page if they were to be on a stage…. My books are therefore stories that ALSO translate very well into little plays and come alive as musicals — you can hear the musicals in the ebook version or see them as musical videos, and BEST OF ALL — kids can perform them as plays!
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader? is there any specific reason?
Why do I LOVE writing for kids?
Kids are the most fun of all human beings. I love being with kids, playing with kids, reading with kids and doing art with kids. Kids are AUTHENTIC, FUNNY, SMART, CREATIVE. Kids LOVE to explore and are amazed by the things they see and learn. Being with kids and writing for kids helps me to keep the kid inside me alive. Writing for kids helps me experience the world with wonder.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
Some of my stories come from funny family moments – like Too Many Visitors for One Little House – about the first summer ALL the cousins, aunts and uncles came to visit us in los angels! Or Mr. Snoozle’s Exquisite Eggs—about the Passover at our home when the dog ate all the hard boiled eggs for the seder! Or Wobegon and Mildred-— which I wrote after that stressful hard day when the ticket police gave me PARKING THREE TICKETS in a ROW! After I cried, got angry and then laughed… I decided to turn it into a book and make something positive out of the experience… Some books come to my mind because of a title—or a concept—The book The Alphabet Thief came about because I LOVE WORDS ( of course I do… I am a writer!) and I wanted to give homage to the power of language… so I made each word a character that talks, walks, thinks and has frailties… just like we humans do… It’s my tribute to the power of words. And Selah the Peach came to me because I heard my baby granddaughter babbling in her crib every night and repeating sounds and words she heard during the day… She looked like a little peach to me and I thought… How does a baby know to become a baby? Is a baby’s soul a baby human from the get go? Or does the soul of a baby journey and learn before it becomes human? So these questions in my mind ended up as the book Selah the Peach…about a peach that becomes a baby at birth… Master Davey and the Magic Tea House— came about because I love tea and I wanted to write a beautiful story about the journey from a seed to a tea without getting into the science.. just by exploring the magic of the forest, the smell, taste, texture and color of tea, and the magic of legend. Hence I discovered the legend of the blue tiger and made a tea story out of it.
Q: Do you want to give any message for your readers?
I believe that creativity and imagination is the key to a joyful life. Reading opens the door to imagination and inspires creativity. As a child you hold the secret of joy because of your exuberance and love of exploration and expression is so alive. All adults should keep in touch with the child inside and all children should nurture their childhood. Let childhood linger on in you forever!