I last interviewed Carrie Lara about her book MARVELOUS MARAVILLOSO: ME AND MY BEAUTIFUL FAMILY and when I heard that THE HEART OF MI FAMILIA was set to be released on November 10, I knew another feature was in order! Have a look:
|Follow a young girl as she works with her abuela and her grandma to create a wonderful birthday present for her brother that celebrates her multicultural family and honors both sides and generations of her family.|
In our last interview you said, “My world is my family.” How has that world evolved since then?
The only constant in life is the fact that change is inevitable. That is true, but for me I would add that my family is still my world, my focus, the center of my life. Life has changed significantly since we last talked, but my family remains constant and is truly my happiness, my strength, my focus, my love and really means everything to me. I’ve recently had a change in my job, which actually allows me to regain my focus on the important things to me, like more time with my children, my husband, and for my writing! We’ve taken this opportunity to spend more time having adventures and learning with each other, and being more flexible. For example, distance learning for my oldest during this period of COVID has its own challenges, but also allows for us to go on a trip and she can still be in her class from wherever we are. We’ve also been able tackle more house projects which has been fun. So, although the world itself has evolved, the pandemic, system changes, job changes, we remain constant which is such a blessing.
I’ll bet! THE HEART OF MI FAMILIA is a follow-up to your book Marvelous Maravilloso. In what ways did this book surprise you as you wrote it?
I think the biggest surprise was the evolution of this story. I initially wrote the first few pages and had the concept outlined when I had written Marvelous, Maravilloso many years ago. I was encouraged by my editor and publishing company to pursue its completion for which I am grateful. However, there was a few additions we had to be sure and include. For one, my daughter really wanted to make sure her little brother was in this one! So of course, we had to include him, and he became a focal point in the storyline, being his birthday fiesta. I also worked closely with my editor in creating more of a story line in the little girl’s telling about her bicultural world. Initially she continued the line of sharing how she lives in two different cultures and that in her life they exist as a blended bicultural identity, and we added in the celebration of the birthday, getting ready for the big party, as a way of describing the cultural pieces which I think turned out to be really beautiful. I love how the illustrations also add to the story as the reader sees Abuela holding the fabric in her house that is seen later at Grandma’s house being sewn together and then given to the little brother as his birthday present. My favorite picture (if I had to pick one) is the last where she and her brother are wrapped in the blanket and looking at each other with so much love.
I love the illustrations too, especially how the family fits within the heart shape on the cover! What kinds of conversations around diversity do you feel are most relevant to have, and what kinds of conversations around diversity do you wish were happening but aren’t yet?
I’d like to flip that question and ask what kinds of conversations around diversity are not relevant to have? I believe that we need to be having conversations about culture and diversity in every aspect of our lives, as diversity is a factor in everything. Fundamentally this has been part of the issue, in that people are having conversations which is good, but almost in like “cylos” if that makes sense. There are courses in college that are focused on cultural studies, and systemic issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. And elementary schools through high school are more and more becoming inclusive in the lessons that are taught. Workplaces will have training on cultural competency here and there. However, without choosing to attend, or to participate in these courses, or have them in your job training, are these conversations happening on a regular basis? Our culture, our diversity is a part of who we are. My ethnicity, my family’s bicultural ethnicity is part of who we are, and it is not to say that talking about diversity is the only conversation to have with us, but it is one of many important ones to understand who we are, how we might respond to different situations based on our experiences as a bicultural family. It is a respect to know and understand our fellow human beings. Understanding our differences, respecting our differences, and celebrating our differences.
Indeed. What has helped you refill the creative well, especially within the chaos of this past year?
Hmmm, this is a hard question. I think it is all too easy to focus on the negative when so much seems to be piling up in such a short time. This year has been particularly challenging. However, sometimes when it is all piling on, it really helps to get more concrete, create physical steps to take in order to sift through the chaos and feel like there is movement so we don’t get stuck. This helps me, and realigning my focus has been key and central to my “survival” of this year. Working within gratitude, and using the experiences of struggle to feed the writing experience. A couple of the projects that I am working on right now have a direct connection to the struggles of the last year. I find it such a cathartic and therapeutic process to express our emotional experiences, and truly enjoy turning my writings into something that could be helpful to others as well.
Buy: Bookshop.org ~ BookPassage ~ Amazon.com ~ Barnes&Noble ~ IndieBound
Buy: Bookshop.org ~ BookPassage ~ Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound
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