Raquel Marie

When I first heard the premise of OPHELIA AFTER ALL, I had to feature it. This heartwarming contemporary YA follows queer Cuban-Irish American teenager Ophelia Rojas and as she rediscovers herself during her senior year in high school. Libraries should definitely get this book for their shelves!


Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.


According to your bio, you “love practicing beauty and special effects makeup.” What got you interested in this, and what do you love most about it?

I always had an interest in makeup as a form of self-expression, but I got especially involved in—and less terrible at—it during my sophomore year of high school when I enrolled in afterschool makeup classes. Being taught by a trained professional how to create beautiful eye looks, color-correct, apply false lashes, etc. alongside learning how to create liquid latex wounds, alcohol paint bruises, use mouth blood, etc. was such an incredible opportunity at that young age. I love how creative you can get with makeup, because while there are obviously standards and techniques we conventionally abide by, there’s a lot of freedom in disrupting those by decorating your face however you please.

Sounds like a lot of fun! OPHELIA AFTER ALL takes place during Ophelia’s senior year of high school, which usually involves navigating a lot of expectations, both from others, and within yourself. In what ways, if any, did Ophelia’s story surprise you?

I was definitely surprised by how platonic and familial love came to the surface as I continued working on Ophelia’s story. I sought out to write a book about self-discovery and coming to terms with your changing sexuality, but I didn’t anticipate writing about the tendency for us as a society to place romantic love above all else and rely solely on it for self-worth. Celebrating all types of love alongside romance ended up being one of my favorite aspects of the book and a message I needed at Ophelia’s age.

I needed it too! Your next book, YOU DON’T HAVE A SHOT has characters that are arch rivals. Without giving away spoilers, what about this story has been your favorite to write?

I love getting to write a romance between two long-time rivals because there’s a certain intimacy and unique understanding of one another that comes with the hatred they’ve developed over the years. There’s also something really validating about taking two girls who struggle with self-loathing, anxiety, and insecurities and saying “this person who sees all your flaws and faults from the start was still able to find the good in you.”

I love that. What are some of your current projects?

I’m finishing up final edits for YOU DON’T HAVE A SHOT, as well as two upcoming anthologies, OUR SHADOWS HAVE CLAWS (fall 2022) which is an all-Latine YA horror anthology edited by Amparo Ortiz and Yamile Saied Mendez and STUDY BREAK (winter 2023) which is an all-GenZ authored YA contemporary anthology following students at the same fictional college over one school year. And I can’t say much about it yet, but I’m starting to work on what I hope to be my 2024 YA, a contemporary that deals with mental illness, grief, and estranged best friends to lovers.

Buy: Bookshop.org ~ Book Passage ~ Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound ~ Book Depository

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