At last year’s Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) conference, I was delighted to see a familiar face at one of the signing tables. It was Carrie Lara, someone from my hometown of St. Helena. Her book is MARVELOUS MARAVILLOSO, a glimpse into ethnicity and culture in families:

Marvelous Maravilloso is a story from the point of view of a young interracial child about what color means within the dynamics of race, ethnicity, and culture.

When did you know for certain that you wanted to write books for children? 

Actually, I didn’t know for sure until it happened. That’s why I feel so blessed with this whole journey. I have always loved writing, expressing myself through written word, and I love reading! I wrote this book originally in about 2014 as part of my own processing, working through a situation in which my family had unfortunately experienced hurtful comments. In my process, I thought about the world through my 3-year-old daughter’s eyes and what that would be like for her, it was a very cathartic piece. When I finished, I initially searched for books from the bicultural child’s perspective to  have in our shelf to read as a family and couldn’t find anything that captured what I was looking for, especially the Latino  and White cultural mix. I thought I would try and self publish my book to have, but life happened and being too busy meant the book didn’t happen. Then, in 2016 when there was increasing racial controversy, many family members encouraged me to revisit it. I sent it into Magination Press and they picked it up! And now we are working on my second book. I am loving being a children’s author and working the creative juices this way.  I feel so truly blessed!

What a meaningful journey! MARVELOUS MARAVILLOSO looks at diversity through the lens of a child. What do you hope readers will take away from this book when they’re finished? 

I hope that readers are able to see the celebration of diversity that the book entails, capturing the piece of child and cultural development at the very beginning of that life journey. I hope that the book fosters and supports positive conversations with children around culture and diversity. Although the book says ages 4 to 8, it really can be and should be used with a greater audience, younger and older children as well. The conversations change and adapt based on where children are at in their own development, which is what makes it so rich. In the back of the book is a section for parents and caregivers, and teachers, to help give language and guidance around the topic. I also have a thorough lesson plan written by Patty Dineen, a retired 40 years educator, that has three parts to help bringing it in the classroom that I can make available to those who would like it. I’m thinking about posting it on my social media pages.

Sounds like a great resource! In what ways do you balance your career as clinical psychologist with your writing, and in what ways do you refill your creativity?

My writing is my creative outlet. Working as a clinical Psychologist and behavioral health manager is filling in many ways, and it has been my career path. However, my world is my family. Being mommy to my two beautiful children has brought me so much joy. It is hard work balancing career and family life, but they are my priority. And they are my inspiration. When there are rougher days at work, focusing on them and their adventures fills my bucket, and writing about those adventures, the big and little emotions experienced, puts life into perspective and purpose for me. I have also enjoyed working with Magination Press, which is an imprint of the American Psychological Association, and has a mental health focus with its literature, helping children understand emotions, for example. Each book has support for parents, teachers and caregivers in the back, with education about the topic of the book, which is really cool.

Indeed! What are some of your current projects?

Currently I have a new manuscript that is with my editor and I am waiting her notes. It remains in the same theme of celebrating diversity and culture, with a bit deeper dive, but I don’t want to give away too much yet.  I’m really excited and anxious to get the notes!

Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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