As part of The Secret Side of Empty blog tour with World Wind Virtual Book Tours, I have author Maria Andreu on the blog with a guest post in the form of Questions and Answers. But first let's find out more about Maria and keep reading for a chance to win $250 Amazon gift card.
Maria Andreu is an author and immigration rights activist. She lives in beautiful Bergen County, New Jersey with her two wonderful middle schoolers. At the age of 12, she wrote in her diary, "Most of all, I want to be a writer." Growing up undocumented and poor, she never imagined that dream might come true one day. Her work has been published in Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Star Ledger and her first novel, The Secret Side of Empty, will be published by Running Press in Spring, 2014.
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1. What is your name , and tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Maria Andreu and I’m the author of The Secret Side of Empty. My book is the story of a high school senior who is undocumented (or “illegal” as the news likes to call it). I wrote it because I was undocumented as a teenager and I wanted to tell the story of what that experience is like.
2. Why did you become a writer?
When I was 12 years old, I wrote in my diary, “Most of all, I want to be a writer.” I tried different things over the years – short stories, essays. Finally this was the one story that came to me, fully formed.
3. Tell us about your book…how did you pick the name for your book?
For the longest time the working title of my book was just Illegal. I was completely convinced that would be the title. Then my publisher informed me that another book by that same name had been published fairly recently. I was heartbroken. But one day The Secret Side of Empty just popped into my head. It has special significance if you read the book. And I just loved this idea that we all have this secret side, this part of ourselves we don’t want to reveal. I fell in love with it immediately.
4. How long did it take you to publish it?
I first wrote it a as a memoir and collected about 70 rejections from agencies all over. Then I rewrote it as young adult fiction and it instantly became the book it was supposed to be – freer… just better in every way. I opened up the acknowledgements pages of the biggest YA books at the time to see who represented them. I kept coming across the name Writers House. So I figured I’d pitch them and then work my way down when they rejected me. But they took me on as a client. The woman who picked my book out of the slush pile is the person who discovered Twilight the same way. Their, “yes, we’ll represent you,” email is still in a frame in my living room.
5. What genres of books do you like to read?
Of course I’m reading a lot of YA these days. It’s so exhilarating to see just how good the genre has gotten. I love Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green. I also like non-fiction books about current events, political stuff. I’m currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird for a reading group I’m in. Believe it or not, for the first time! How did I get this far in life without reading it?
6. To you what is the most important thing about being a writer?
It’s jus the most fun I ever get to have. I normally make up stories in my head all day, every day. Imagine getting paid for the thing you do most naturally! Amazing.
8. If you could recommend one book or series which would it be and why?
I am currently on a John Green kick. You just can’t beat him for authenticity and good writing. I love dystopian fiction too. Give me a good end of the world scenario and I’m there. My favorite is probably an oldie but goodie, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov.
9. How can we stalk follow you?
Read more of my work at http://mariaeandreu.com
Like my Facebook page to enter to win a $250 gift card! https://www.facebook.com/maria.andreu.books
**Read about the book and scroll below for details on how to enter to WIN a $250 Amazon gift card just by liking the author’s Facebook page!**
BOOK BLURB for “Secret Side of Empty”
You've heard the news stories. Now hear the real story.
M.T. is starting her senior year with a lot going for her. She gets great grades, has a best friend she met in kindergarten and a boyfriend who is sweet and into her. But life – at least as she knows it – is about to end.
M.T. is what the news calls “illegal” – she came to the U.S. with her parents as a baby and never got the right papers that allowed her to stay. She lives in fear of her family getting deported, in even more fear that she’ll have to go to the home country she doesn’t even remember, of people finding out her ugly secret and of the increasingly volatile situation at home. When senior year is over, the protected world she’s found in her small parochial school will disappear. Without a social security number, she won’t be able to go to college, get a job or, maybe worst of all, get a driver’s license.
But she’ll worry about all that later. First, she’s got a senior year to take on.
A Note from the Author, Maria Andreu:
The fulfillment of great dreams feels best when shared, which is why I'm inviting people to Like my Facebook page and come along with me on the fabulous and improbable journey of publishing my first novel. As my thanks, when you like the page by July 31st, you'll be able to enter to win a fan-only sweeps for a $250 Amazon gift card!
Be the first to get updates on the cover, new tour stops, and fan-only content (plus enter a sweeps for a $250 Amazon gift card) by liking the author's Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/maria.andreu.books
The book is already getting industry buzz and news coverage, so Like the FB page to get updates on that as well.