An interview with Luigi A. Juarez, author of Covered Paces

A modern Latina love story

By Teresa Dovalpage
Published on LatinoLA: February 22, 2015

An interview with Luigi A. Juarez, author of Covered Paces

The novel Covered Paces will be published soon by Editorial Trance.

?íNo se la pierdan!

Q: Luigi, tell me a little bit about your background. Where were you born and where do you live now?

A: I was born in the Hialeah area of Miami, Florida. My early life was frequently spent flying from there to Panam?í to visit my extended family. Currently, I live in Boston, MA, where I teach college-level writing and literature.

Q: Bueno, I love Hialeah. But then I am Cuban. And what else do you do besides writing?

A: When I'm not busy writing or teaching then I definitely read for pleasure. But it's mostly old stuff; I'm terrible at keeping up with contemporary writers. Although I do have to give a hat-tip to Jennine Cap?? Crucet. She's the author of How to Leave Hialeah, a collection of stories that so often captures where and how I grew up that we were probably neighbors. Crucet's very funny, insanely talented, and her debut novel comes out later this year. And when I'm not reading for pleasure, then I'm definitely watching an NBA game somewhere.

Q: Que activo el escritor! There is always a spark, esa chispita that builds the literary fire. What motivated you to write Covered Paces?

A: "La chispita," for me, happens every time I manage to write what I observe in an original way. So for Covered Paces, I had the bare-bones template of a girl meets/loses/what-have-you story. What I needed to do then was figure out how to use my own voice to tell it with my own styles and graces. There are certainly novels out there that feature failed Hollywood actresses who move back home to pick up the pieces of their life, but none have a Panamanian-American as a protagonist and intersperse English and Spanish the way mine does and describe the big cities in my book (Los Angeles, Miami, Boston) the way I do.

Q: That is true. Her heritage also makes the protagonist very interesting, una chica multicultural. How did you manage to capture women's voices and psyche so well?

A: Perhaps this is another example we can add to my previous response about telling the story in my own voice. I'm actually thankful that you and others have mentioned this to me; I guess I must've done something right! But as to how I "managed," that's really hard to answer. With Linette, it was less about how she was a woman, and more about how she's a twenty-something individual looking for agency who also shoves love aside but doesn't expect it to come roaring back. When you look at it that way: "she" could've very easily been a "he," as well. But I think for Linette and the other woman characters, what helped was that I imagined extensive background histories for each of them. This helped me see them as three-dimensional characters regardless of gender, and when you do that, you're able to know them as if they were flesh-and-blood.

Q: As a reader, I definitely saw her as a tridimensional character. She could have been a friend of mine! What was the most challenging part of writing this novel?

A: The most challenging part was definitely making sure that each character can be identified by their dialogue. I pored through the manuscript, a million times, trying to make sure that when one character speaks, that they have their own signature way of doing so, with diction, slang, etc.

Q: Pues, you did it! And the most satisfying? (besides sending the last version to the editor, of course).

A: The most satisfying was finding a way to reach my ending. I don't mean, as you say, finishing the end and sending it to my editor. I literally mean, the ending scene to my book, and how I could make Linette's journey believable up until that moment. I knew my ending well ahead of time, but it was satisfying to create a journey that leads there.

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to talk about?

A: There's so many stories from my Panamanian heritage that I just have to tell. Currently, my plans are to work on my next novel, and it will be set entirely in Panam?í (there's actually a chapter near the end of Covered Paces where I briefly take some characters there).

Q: Muchas gracias, Luigi, y mucha good luck with all your projects! To the readers, enjoy Covered Paces! Les va a encantar.

To find out more about the novel visit http://www.editorialtrance.com/

About Teresa Dovalpage:
Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba and now lives in New Mexico. She is the author of eight novels and several short story collections. She writes in English and Spanish.
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