As a part of our YA Contemporary Thursday series, we're thrilled to have an interview with Maria E. Andreu!
She's the author of The Secret Side of Empty, an amazing YA contemporary that we're also reviewing here.
Maria E. Andreu
Author of The Secret Side of Empty
Q: Since it’s the age of twitter and hashtags, could you tell about The Secret Side of Empty in 140 characters?
HS senior MT has a secret. She's "illegal" in the US, the only country she's ever called home. How to build a future when it looks blank?
Q: You’re writing a book about a fairly serious subject, which impacts members of society of all ages.
So could you talk a little about why you chose readers see the immigration debate through the eyes of a teenager, verses a younger or an older character?
M.T. didn’t make the choice to be undocumented. She was brought over as a baby. But she’s living with the fall-out of it.
Q: I know you’ve previously mentioned that you don’t think of The Secret Side of Empty as a political story.
However, YA books have still undoubtedly been a powerful force in influencing society and popular culture. So how do you think books like The Secret Side of Empty can potentially impact the debate on amnesty and immigration reform? Or even just an individual reader’s mind on the immigration debate?
One of the reasons I wanted to write THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY is that I didn’t see a perspective like it reflected in the national conversation. You hear a lot about “the illegals” (even that word is just awful) but you don’t often hear what they’re feeling or what the experience is like. I think any time you can’t empathize with a person or understand what they’re going through, that opens the door for hatred and misunderstanding. I think people have found it very easy to marginalize the undocumented because they just don’t understand their struggle. If the only thing you hear about on the news is “the illegals,” then, yeah, it’s easy to say things like, “deport them all,” or “they don’t want to learn English like previous generations of Americans.” But when you put a human face on the issue then maybe we can start having more compassionate conversations. That’s my hope, anyway.
Q: Each reader’s interpretation of a book is different. But what’s one thought or one lesson that you hope readers will take away from The Secret Side of Empty?
Q: I know that M.T.’s life is influenced by your own experiences. But is there another character from the book that you especially relate to? And if so, who is it and why?
Q: Let’s talk about your writing process! What’s one expectation that you had about publishing before being published, which has changed, since being published?
Q: How does your family feel about your newfound success as a writer?
Q: What’s your writing process like – are you a morning writer (which I imagine might be hard, with the day job!) – evening writer, or a “I will scribble whenever I can,” sort of writer?
I guess you could say I’m a “I will scribble whenever I can” sort of writer. I also tend to be more of a sprinter than a marathoner, with big bursts of binge writing and then weeks of nothing. Probably not the best technique for a novelist, but it works for me.
Q: What’s next for you? Are you working on any projects right now?
Q: What’s has your debut year been like so far, and what are you looking forward to next?
As for what I’m looking forward to next, I hope I keep getting invitations to come speak to students and groups about my story and how we can all make the world a more compassionate place. I love being out there hearing people’s stories. And more writing, of course!
Now, please check out our review here!