ABOUT The Secret Side of Empty
Q&A with Author Maria Andreu
1. What made you interested in the subject?
My novel’s main character, M.T., is an undocumented teenager. She was brought over as a baby by her parents and has none of the usual papers that make grown-up life possible: no social security number means no job, no college, no driver’s license. I was interested in looking at how a character would deal with the regular pressure of growing up plus those circumstances.
2. What sort of insights do you think you are providing through The Secret Side of Empty? What makes your novel unique?
What I hope that readers will take away from the book is that we have many more things in common than we do differences. I think we all hear a lot about “illegal” immigrants but most of us don’t know a lot about their lives. What’s it like to feel American but to be told you don’t believe in the only country you’ve ever called home? I hope The Secret Side of Empty will make people ask themselves that question in a new and unique way.
3. Did you draw from your own personal experiences? Did you conduct other research?
I did draw on my own experiences. I was an undocumented teen and was put on a path to citizenship through an amnesty right after I graduated high school. I vividly remember the feeling of hopelessness when I looked to the future and saw no options. But, of course, I also learned that there is always hope. I tried to express that through the novel.
4. Is there something you most love about your novel? A particular character? A particular setting?
M.T. has a boyfriend that I think is dreamy. I just love the scene in which they meet. And pretty much every scene they’re both in.
5. Which character was the toughest to flesh out and why?
I had a pretty strong sense of each of the characters so I didn’t find one particularly tough.
6. Your bio mentions that your cats are named after fictional characters with one being named Katniss. Can you share with us the names of any of your other cats? Or names for future feline friends?
My other cat is named Hermione, from Harry Potter. I have a dog named Scarlett, after Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. I didn’t set out to name my pets after literary characters but when you’re a bookworm I guess it just works out that way. I had a dog named Merlin (which was funny because he was the scruffiest little mini schnauzer ever). The one exception to this rule is my gorgeous dog, Sky. She’s a miniature Australian Shepherd and one of the smartest creatures I know. Her name comes from her sky-blue eyes.
7. Can you share with us a little bit on your works currently in progress?
I am working on a second YA novel and a memoir. The YA novel is about a romantic relationship gone wrong and how that plays out in the digital age. The memoir is about, well, you know.
8. Through your novel, is there a sentence or two that can summarize what you want readers to take away from the experience?
I have a quote in there from the Reverend Martin Luther King that says, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” The Secret Side of Empty is not an “issue” book at all but I hope that readers will walk away feeling like M.T. is in an unfair situation. That said, I hope they remember that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Injustices always get corrected, even if it takes a long time.
Maria is giving away two separate prizes on her tour, a $250 Amazon Gift Card AND a Kindle Fire.
For a chance to win the $250 Amazon gift card, OR the Kindle Fire leave a comment on her blog post for that day. Winners will be randomly selected on September 30th.
Maria’s writing has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post and the Star Ledger. Her debut novel, The Secret Side of Empty, is the story of an “illegal” high school senior. It was inspired by Maria’s own experiences as an undocumented teen. Since becoming a citizen, Maria has run her own business and has become a soccer mom. She lives with her 13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son in northern New Jersey.
Maria Andreu’s website- http://mariaeandreu.com/
Maria Andreu on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritersideofM
Maria Andreu on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maria.andreu.books
Thank you very much for answering my questions! I wish you the very best with your book launch and look forward to reading it! Happy reading and until next time! :)