Thursday, January 17, 2008

Michele Serros: Scandalosa y Fabulosa!

Michele Serros and Scandalosa

Named by Newsweek as "One of the Top Young Women to Watch for in the New Century" and by Tu Ciudad magazine as one of Los Angeles’ “Hip, Hot and Now” artists, Michele Serros is the author of Chicana Falsa and other stories of death, identity and Oxnard, How to be a Chicana Role Model, Honey Blonde Chica and her newest young adult novel, Scandalosa!
In addition to being an award-winning poet, Serros has been a featured contributor for the Los Angeles Times' children's fiction section and a commentator for National Public Radio (Morning Edition, Weekend All Things Considered, Anthem, Along for the Ride, Latino USA). She has read her poems to stadium crowds of 25,000+ for Lollapalooza, recorded Selected Stories from Chicana Falsa for Mercury Records and was selected by the Poetry Society of America to have her poetry placed on MTA buses throughout Los Angeles County.

While still a student at Santa Monica City College, Michele’s first book of poetry and short stories, Chicana Falsa, was published. When the original publisher of Chicana Falsa went out of business, Michele continued to sell copies from her garage until Riverhead Books reissued Chicana Falsa and as well as a collection of short stories, How to be a Chicana Role Model. The latter instantly placed 5th on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.

In 2002, Michele wrote for the ABC television sitcom, The George Lopez Show. "An opportunity," she says, "that hopefully with my contribution opens the door for a wider representation of Latinos in the mass media."

Serros’ work is required reading in U.S. high schools and universities and garners a diverse fan base ranging from Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers ("Michele is the great Californian writer who makes me proud of my state. When I read her books I cry and laugh.") to author Sandra Cisneros ("Michele Serros is the young, sassy writer whose brilliant weapon is her humor.”) The New York Public Library recommends Honey Blonde Chica as a “Book for the Teen Age 2007.
Originally from Oxnard, California, Michele is currently working on a new novel, An Unmarried Mexican.

1. Scandalosa is a sequel to Honey Blonde Chica, with Evie a little bit further down the road of adolescence. Without giving too much away, what's going on with Evie?

In Scandalosa, Evie is now two months older than she was in HBC. She has also entered a new semester of school. In teenage years, such changes are paramount! She is excited to celebrate her Sweet Sixteen era and envisions her party to be similar to MTV's Sweet Sixteen but with all the traditional trappings (and birthday checks) of a quinceañera. BUT she is facing an obstacle. Will this obstacle interfere with her party... the pachanga of the school year? You'll have to read to find out!

2. You avoid a romantic portrayal of teens, yet Honey Blonde Chica isn't about the gang girl stereotype offered up as the YA Chicano/a experience. Can you also talk about the decision to write YA and it's significance to you, and your choice of

YA books saved me as a preteen. I grew up reading Judy Blume, Beverly Clearie, S. E. Hinton, and Louise Fitzhough. My first attempt at YA is an unpublished manuscript under my bed back home in NYC. It's titled Notes from a Medium Brown Girl. My agent has deemed it "took dark" and suggests that maybe I should focus on other projects but I haven't given up on Notes...just yet. The role of Evie is pretty much myself as a teenager. I dressed like a surfer but never flopped my belly on a board, ever. So the next best thing, of course, was dating a surfer. At 17, it was a dream for me to be the girlfriend of the tri-county (Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria) surf champion -- who was also Mexican (American) like me!

3. You seem to love and have a sense of playfulness concerning our pop icons and pop culture in general...I noticed on your site the gamine pose, where you're covered with chicharrones, as well as having seen a promos for Scandalosa where it looks like you're having fun with charreada and Flor Silvestre. Where does that love and that irreverence come from? How important an element is it for you in how you look at the world and how you approach writing?

Yes! The photo shoot with the chicharrones was for Estylo magazine. The editors had brought up Salma Hayek's Los Angeles magazine cover's version of Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream and other Delights. They suggested we push it a little further and had me wear a dress of pork rinds, rather than whipped cream. It was pretty funny. The photographer's assistant's sole job was to fan flies away and after the shoot, my skin was so greasy. My only regret is that too many people think I'm completely naked under the skins!

4. Who are the writers/artists that move you and how do you think they've influenced you and your work?

Oscar Zeta Acosta made a big impression on my while I was a college student. And Lester Bangs. I have more records and CDs than books and when I was younger I was always trying to write record or show reviews for underground fanzines and rags. One book I loved was I'm with the Band, by Pamela de Barres.

5. Where do you think the challenges lie for you as a creative person?

Discipline! It's challenging to pays bills based on your creativity.
Also, I tend to over think too much. It drives my friends and family crazy.

6. Are there people that act as mentors/sounding boards for you? If so, how does that mesh into how you work?

Oh yeah. I'm afraid that a current boyfriend is always put in the position of being the unexpected sounding board. I pity the man who is dating me in the middle or start of a new manuscript or project. They have to hear me whine about every little sentence that isn't going well. I'm really attracted to men who hold blue collar type jobs -- carpenters, contractors, UPS delivery guys -- men (in my experience) who don't typically read fiction a lot. So it's really good for me to share my work with them, because if they aren't "getting it" it's a sign for me to work a bit harder. Not saying that blue collar men are my entire "demographic" but I definitely don't want to write for other writers or, say, for the editors of The New Yorker. For me, the biggest compliment is from someone who admits that they don't like to read but confess that they actually read one of my books and liked it!

7. Where would you like to see yourself personally and creatively in ten years? In twenty?

I'd like to see Notes from a Medium Brown Girl published. I'm currently working on two manuscripts -- one of them is An Unmarried Mexican. It's about my first year in New York City after being newly separated from my ex-husband.

8. What something not the official bio?

That I was once married to the drummer of the heavy rock
Queens of the Stone Age. It's something being a musician's wife. You're like in a little club with all the other band member's wives who can be really catty and extremely insecure. And you know if your man is getting kicked out of the band soon...because little by little all the wives stop inviting you to shop Melrose. This experience, of course, has inspired yet another manuscript I've been working on -- The Hair Club for Men.



Michele's MySpace page




After a sold out run at Chicago Dramatists, MACHOS is moving to the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, IL, conveniently located near the CTA/Blue Line Austin stop.

Tickets are already on sale, and I hope you will help spread the word!

Here's the scoop:

At 16th Street Theater 4 weeks only! January 25 through – February 17, 2008

Fridays at 7:30 PM Saturdays at 5:00 PM Saturdays at 8:00 PM Sundays at 6:00 PM


Lisa Alvarado


Ann Hagman Cardinal said...

Okay, this woman would be my friend! She sounds fabulous and I'm ordering her books on amazon right now. I mean, loving blue collar guys, wanting to write genre or YA, and not wanting to write for other writers (which is why I avoid literary magazines), she is smart, funny and loves chicharrones! And for a girl like me whose roots are in Bayamon that is very important. Go Michele!

Manuel Paul Lopez said...

Chicana Falsa is a book that I return to at least once a year. For me, Serros' punk rock style has always been a refreshing antidote for the heavy blues. Her writing's an effective admixture of humor and pain that leaves me feeling pretty good by the end of it. I'm certainly looking forward to her latest.

msedano said...


Lisa Alvarado said...

Presente siempre!