Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Amazing Jennifer Cervantes

Author Jennifer Cervantes is a woman to envy: she has beauty, talent, kindness, and a house ghost named Gus. The trifecta plus a spirit from beyond? How much luckier could a woman get?! 

Well, even luckier - Jen’s first book, Tortilla Sun, will be release by Chronicle Books on May 5th. This is one book my daughter and I are both anxious to read, and I'm sure you  will be too once your read the intriguing summary.

Recently Jen stopped by to answer some questions about her road to publication. 

Welcome, Jen. Can you tell us how you met your agent? I found Laurie through, sent her a e-query and signed with her within a week.

Can you tell us how your book deal happened? After my lightning fast agent deal, I thought the publication process would be the same way. WRONG! I waited over a year to sell TS, but it was so worth the wait, because I got to work with editor-extraordinaire Julie Romeis. Once Julie had the ms, the deal went pretty quickly, although I think I remember biting my nails through the weeks of editorial meetings.

What was the inspiration for your 2010 debut book and how long did it take you to write?  My youngest daughter Jules asked me to write her a short story about her favorite bear (who still sleeps in her bed). So I started writing an adventurous tale. As I wrote, I became addicted. More ideas sprouted and I needed a place to put them all. I began to think about the kinds of books I would love for my daughters to read, ones where they were reflected in the pages. Before I knew it, I started writing Tortilla Sun. The first draft went rather quickly, but oh those revisions were often painful. All in all, it took about eight months to be submission ready.

What's your publication date and where in the process are you now? May 5, 2010. Everything has been finalized and the ms is ready to go to print. So right now I am in the promotional part of it which is fun too :) 

Many readers have said they got hungry reading Tortilla Sun. Was that your intention and did you get hungry while writing about all that food?  It was not my intention to make readers hungry, although I did want them to feel present in the novel, as if they were tasting the earthy tortillas along with Izzy. I’m always hungry, so that might have contributed to those yummy scenes. But really, Mexican food is such a comfort food in my life and so central to the culture that I couldn’t imagine Tortilla Sun without it!

What are you working on now? I am working on a new middle-grade novel, BLESSING NEMA about a girl who believes she is talentless. It’s a story of true friendship, self-discovery, and learning what matters most.

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to get published? Other than read widely? Definitely surround yourself with positive people who will lift your spirits and inspire you to new heights. I can’t say enough about the power of positive relationships and their effect on our lives and dreams.

Where can we find out more about you on the web?

Thanks for the interview, Jen. It was a pleasure to meet you at the SCBWI conference in LA, and it's a delight to share the same release week! Yay for May!

Tortilla Sun is a tender, magical story about 12 year old Izzy Roybal who is sent to spend the summer in her nana’s New Mexico village where she is soon caught up in the foreign world of her own culture, from patron saints and soulful food to the curious and magical blessings Nana gives her tortillas. In Nana’s village she meets Mateo, the adventurous, treasure seeking thirteen year old boy who lives on the other side of the bolted door in Izzy’s bedroom and six year old Maggie who is raising her cat, Frida, as a dog and sees marshmallow ghosts float out windows. When the wind begins to whisper to Izzy, she is soon led on an adventure to learn about her father’s mysterious death, who she really is, and to connect the hidden pieces of her past.


Jennie Englund said...

TORTILLA SUN sounds... delicious!

Anonymous said...

After you and Juliet read it, may I have it next? It looks Wonderful!!!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

That cover is beautiful! I look forward to reading. It does sound like the type of book I would want my daughter to read. Great interview.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Cant wait Jennifer! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I SO want to read this! Thanks for continuing with these interviews, Christy - I LOVE them!

Suzanne Young said...

YAY! May is going to be the best month ever! Great interview!

Hardygirl said...

Ooooo!!! This one looks really good--my girls and I will devour it (get it? devour?).

And, Jennifer is so right about surrounding yourself with positive people. It's so important in this biz.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Christy for the fun interview and thanks to all your readers for their enthusiasm :)

May is going to be a great month!