From its shocking opening to its dream-like ending, Désirée Zamorano’s The Amado Women dishes out secrets, lies, and hurts as fast as we can gobble them up.
This is how Hometown Pasadena contributor Petrea Burchard begins her review of Zamorano’s new novel.
Désirée Zamorano is Pushcart prize nominee and an award-winning short story writer. She’s had commentaries published in the L.A. Times, Publishers Weekly, and NPR’s Latino U.S.A. Désirée graciously allowed Hometown Pasadena a moment of her time…
HP: We know you are a resident of Pasadena, but where did you grow up?
DZ: I grew up in Lynwood,CA right next door to Compton, then later in Orange County, or, as I was fond of saying, Brea, Hub of the Universe. I’ve lived out of the state and out of the country and am very happy to have settled in this beautiful part of the world.
HP: From the pieces we’ve read, it’s been mentioned that you write to uncover or bring to the public’s conscientiousness the “invisible” Latina and that you write mysteries because there are hardly any contemporary Hispanic mystery writers. Is this what led you to write or have you been writing since you were very young? How did you begin? Short stories, poetry, nonfiction essays, straight in to novels?
DZ: I didn’t mean to imply there are no Latina/o mystery writers. At Bouchercon (a mystery lovers conference) fifteen years ago I was moved to tears by a panel of brown men and women writing, including Rudolfo Anaya, Lucha Corpi and Martin Ramos. My point is that if we as writers and people move outside of proscribed stereotypes, we become invisible.
I have wanted to write since I was in third grade; as an adult my goal in writing is now to shred the cloak of invisibility that has been thrust upon us.
In my twenties I queried dozens of literary journals with my short stories. Just as I was about to attend a writers conference my very first story was accepted. I went to the conference as if I were a seasoned professional. I was so proud and so excited and yet I never heard again from the magazine that claimed to have accepted my story. Just an example of one of the many bumps of my writing career. After sweating so much pain and postage for minimal remuneration, I figured I could write for higher stakes: novels.
HP: You’ve written two plays with your sister, “Reina” and “Bell Gardens 90201.” (These plays were commissioned by southern California’s Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, received Equity productions, and toured for eight years.) How was that collaborative effort?
DZ: I loved collaborating with my sister. It was something we had played at as children, and our partnership was an extension of that and equally playful. We met, we gossiped, we wrote. For many years our partnership was my most lucrative writing gig. We even sold DreamWorks a story idea for one of their cartoon series!
HP: What is your favorite time of day, and if you don’t have prior commitments, what do you like to do with it?
DZ: Any time of day there are no leaf blowers blowing is my favorite time of day. I love a tranquil cup of coffee, and need it before I can think coherently. If I can write, exercise, meet a friend, and read for pleasure, it is a fantastic day.
HP: Is there a part of the writing process that is the most joyful for you? Writing, editing, holding the final draft in, seeing it between the book cover, author events, self-promotion?
DZ: Besides holding my published-at-last hard copy in my trembling hands, revising is a great place to be. The words are scrambled on the page, but at least they are there. I typically know what emotional impact I want my words to have on the reader, and that is a joyful kind of work, puzzling and fleshing it out fully.
HP: Is there an area of your writing that you realized was a weakness of sorts when you first began publishing and that you have either improved or mastered after all the plays, essays, and novels you’ve written?
DZ: My private investigator series is told in first person. That’s a good device, to play fair with the reader, limiting the reader to only what the PI knows, learns or observes. However, I really have grown to enjoy writing on a larger canvass, incorporating multiple viewpoints and perspectives. It adds to the complexity of the plot and characters.
HP: What is your favorite vice?
DZ: Game of Thrones.
HP: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
DZ: I’ve got a frother and an inexpensive Italian Moka coffee maker. The thought of a homemade cappuccino is truly what gets me out of bed each morning.
HP: If you have a free day in Pasadena, Altadena, or anywhere in San Gabriel Valley, what would be your dream day?
DZ: Oh my, the possibilities…
It is a cool summer day that begins with a cappucino in my backyard while reading the paper. Then a hike up and around the Cobb Estate or Eaton Canyon, followed by a grocery run for passels of goodies from Roma deli, and a dessert from Patticakes. I would send an email/text/phone call out to friends and we would all gather at the Levitt Pavilion to catch up with one another, listen to some terrific live music, and watch the sky change colors.
Désirée will discuss and sign her new book, The Amado Women, at Vroman’s on Wednesday, July 30th at 7 p.m. Location: 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. For complete details, please visit VromansBookstore.com.
Read Petrea’s book review of The Amado Women here.