Friday, August 26, 2016

Everything You Wanted to Know about Reyna Grande's New Book

Melinda Palacio


Reyna Grande's Los Angeles Book launch benefits HOLA




In two weeks, Reyna Grande will launch the publication of the young adult version of her memoir, The DistanceBetween Us. This book is already gaining critical acclaim, a starred review from Booklist, as well as acclaim by the Junior Library Guild. Join this event in Los Angeles on September 10, 2016 at noon. All the proceeds from this event will benefit HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles) and fund programs for underserved youth. Space at the Heart of Los Angeles' Gallery & Art Studio is limited, RSVP to Anna Martin, amartin@heartofla.org. Also, if you can't make this limited-seating book launch, Reyna has over 25 events scheduled for this Fall. Check out her website, for an event near you. Reyna took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about this new book for La Bloga.



La Bloga:
How does the adult edition to your memoir differ?


Reyna Grande:
The young adult version is 35,000 words shorter than the original.  I took out content that is not appropriate for middle grade readers,  like my crazy uncle who used to masturbate before me and my sisters or the chapter where I lose my virginity.  However,  even though I was adapting the book for young readers I didn't want to sugar coat the story or dumb it down.  I think young readers are very smart and perceptive and they don't need to be protected from the realities that exist in the world. The issues that I write in the book are issues that affect them too,  some more than others of course. Also even though I write about the immigrant experience,  I also write about something that is universal,  something young readers can relate to -- the longing for a home,  a family,  a place to belong.



La Bloga:
Are you happy with the changes?

RG:
I'm happy with the changes I made to the book.  I had never had to worry about a word count until now,  and it was great to be forced to look at my manuscript line by line and make each word count.  This version is tighter than the other one.  Because I did such a good job paring the chapters down,  I was able to add new scenes that are not in the original.



La Bloga:
You are working on a sequel to your memoir. Will there eventually be two versions as well?


RG:
The new memoir I'm working on will not be for young readers,  at least I don't think it will be.  I'm exploring issues that I experienced as an adult,  like jobs and bills, my crazy love life, the challenges of motherhood,  the pursuit of my writing dream--in short, my struggles with being a grown up. Hopefully youth will be interested but my target audience is college age and up.



La Bloga:
The sequel covers more recent events in your life. What are some of the challenges writing about more recent events of your life or is it easier? Is non-fiction easier for you to write?


RG:
The sequel is easier to write because I remember more of what happened to me as an adult.  When I wrote the Distance Between Us I relied on the memories of my older brother and sister and my parents,  other relatives.  This time I can get through a first draft with my own memories.  On my second draft I will interview my relatives just to add details I might have forgotten.  I'm also excited to say that the first draft of my new memoir is in much better shape than the Distance Between Us was!  Now I know how to write memoir.  That said,  I do worry that this book can't compare in terms of the intensity and emotional level of the Distance Between Us. This is a more quiet book. The subject matter and the themes are different as well. The Distance Between Us has really resonated with so many people,  young and old.  The new memoir might be more limited in terms of appeal. When I told my mother-in-law about this new book her first question to me was,  "Do you have enough to say in this book?"  That was the wrong thing to ask me because now I live in fear that the answer is no!  However,  isn't that the fear for every book a writer writes?  I'm just going to keep on writing and hopefully the book will be what it needs to be.



La Bloga:
What future books do you have in mind or are you working on?


RG:

For the past few years I've been working on a novel that is set during the Mexican- American war.  That novel has really kicked my butt because it's a 'first' book for me--first historical fiction,  first book written from a male perspective,  first book about a culture not my own (Irish!).  I'm two hundred pages into it and by the looks of it, the book will be closer to 450 pages. I'm horrible with research so the writing has been slow because as much as I want to write,  I can't write anything unless I do the research first.  This is going to be a long term project but I will certainly get it done.  It means so much to me! The Mexican- American war has been practically erased from American textbooks and consciousness.  I want to bring it back.

1 comment:

Sonia Hagen said...

Do you have any upcoming events in Riverside County? I would love to take my daughter's along