For my first-ever interview, I asked Priscilla Oliveras, a fellow RWA® 2015 Golden Heart® finalist. I chose Priscilla because she's kind of a hero of mine, for reasons I hope will become apparent as you read the interview. Priscilla's first book, His Perfect Partner, was released in October 2017.
Question 1: You were a Golden Heart® finalist four times. What made you keep entering when your first final didn’t result in publication?
Probably my love for the genre and my desire to share the stories and characters I kept imagining. This is a tough business. Rejection, unfortunately, is a large part of it. Being an active member of RWA has blessed me with a great network of fellow romance authors--friends and mentors--whose successes and misses both inspire and fuel me. My family is a great source of support, too. They've encouraged me through all the ups and down, never giving up on me. So there's no way I was giving up on myself, either.
Whether is was fate or faith or whatever you wanna call it, each of my GH finals seemed to come at a time when I needed the boost. When the reminder that maybe I wasn't just knocking my head against the wall, and maybe my goal of publishing had potential, soothed my psyche. Each final was the shot in the arm I needed at that specific moment. And the instant GH family that forms when you final is an incredible gift.
Did I wish I had published sooner and no longer been eligible to enter the GH? Sure. But I'll take the good that comes my way and focus on that to keep fueling my desire to do better.
Question 2: Although in recent years RWA has begun to focus on diverse voices, the industry in general hasn’t been hospitable. What are your thoughts/feelings on that?
Unfortunately, this isn't a new issue. I mean, authors like Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson and others have been calling for diverse voices to be heard and diverse characters to be the heroines and heroes on the page and book covers for decades. Thankfully that list of authors championing diversity is growing as more of us speak out. As a member in good standing, I'm proud that RWA is part of that cry of inclusivity for all. As a Latina author who writes about Latinx characters and families, it's important to me that all facets of all cultures and identities be represented in the books that are published and that more doors are opened for diverse authors penning the stories they want to tell.
At the heart of it all, I'm a romance writer who loves writing stories about people romance readers can fall in love with and family situations readers can identify with on some level. The fact that my characters are shaped by their cultural heritage provides an added layer, a texture rich in tradition that, if I've done my job correctly, enhances the story world for my readers.
Question 3: I know, from your postings on social media, that you have a warm and loving relationship with your dad. (You've made me cry more than once.) The father in His Perfect Partner is very ill. How did it feel to create a character that must be, in many ways, similar to your dad, and then subject him to life-threatening health issues?
Oh gosh, I still get teary-eyed when I think or talk about Papi, the Fernández sisters' father. Reynaldo (Rey) was a joy to write. I actually wrote several scenes in his point of view, but they were cut during one of my revision rounds. Don't despair, I still have those scenes and am considering releasing them between books 2 and 3 (Her Perfect Affair and Their Perfect Melody), or at some point down the road as the Fernández family continues growing.
You're right in that I have a really close relationship with my dad, as well as with my mom. Really, with pretty much all my family members. It's why I'm drawn to writing family-themed stories. Because good or bad (let's be real here), my family has shaped me, and I've shaped them. I wouldn't be the person I am today without their love and support, and the occasional spat. The stereotypical close-knit Latino family wouldn't be stereotypical if there weren't facets of it that were true.
With that in mind, how did it feel to subject the sisters and Papi to his life-threatening health issue? Extremely difficult. Hopefully, that's a good thing, and I did Papi and the girls justice by creating believability on the page for the reader. That's really the pressure I feel when I'm writing. I love my characters, so I strive to write their stories in a way that will make readers fall in love with them, too.
As for Papi, he will always hold a special place in my heart. Just like my Papi does in real life.
Photographer/ fotógrafo: Michael A. Eaddy
PRISCILLA OLIVERAS is a Kensington Publishing author & four-time Golden Heart® finalist who
writes contemporary romance with a Latino flavor. Proud of her Puerto Rican-Mexican heritage, she
strives to bring authenticity to her novels by sharing her Latino culture with readers. Since earning an
MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, she serves as adjunct English faculty at her local college and also teaches an on-line course titled “Romance Writing” for ed2go. Priscilla is a sports fan, a beach lover, a half-marathon runner and a consummate traveler who often practices the art of napping in her backyard hammock. To follow along on her fun-filled and hectic life, visit her on the web at www.prisoliveras.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/prisoliveras or on Twitter via @prisoliveras.
PRISCILLA OLIVERAS es una escritora de Kensington Publishing y cuatro veces finalista del premio Golden Heart® la cual escribe romance contemporaneo con sabor Latino. Muy orgullosa de su herencia Puertorriqueña-Mejicana, se esfureza para llevar autenticidad a sus novelas compartiendo su cultura Latino con sus lectores. Desde completer su MFA en Escribiendo Ficción Popular de la Universidad Seton Hill, ella sirve como profesora adjunta de la facultad de Inglés y también enseña un curso on-line titulado “Escribiendo Romance” através de ed2go. Priscilla es una fanática del deporte, amante de la playa, corredora de medio-maratones y una viajera consumada la cual a menudo practica el arte de tomar siestas en la hamaca en su patio. Para seguirla en su divertida y agitada vida, visítela en el web www.prisoliveras.com, en Facebook www.facebook.com/prisoliveras o en Twitter através de @prisoliveras.