Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome YA Author Sandra Lopez for a Live Chat (May 3rd)

Welcome to our special guest, Sandra Lopez! She's the author of two novels, Esperanza: A Latina Story and now Beyond the Gardens. Leave your comments and questions for Sandra.

Sandra C. López was born and raised in Hawaiian Gardens, California. She learned to read at the young age of two and strived to achieve the best grades in school. Her free time was spent reading, writing, and drawing. Sandra managed to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and enter college. Her first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, was published in March 2008 while she was still in college. Now, this young writer is a full graduate of Cal State University Fullerton with a BFA in Animation and Illustration, and she is anticipating a promising career as a writer and an artist. Beyond the Gardens is the follow-up sequel to Esperanza.

Erin O'Riordan: Sandra, when did you write your first book? How did you get it published? How long did it take?

Sandra Lopez: I wrote my first book right after high school. I couldn't even imagine getting it published, but I thought, "what the hey? why not see if you spark an interest?" So I queried like 20 or 30 publishers. Most of them came back rejected, some didn't come back at all; then I got a call from the editor at Floricanto Press, who wanted to see the whole manuscript. I emailed it to him, and then three months later, I was offered a contract. It took about 2 1/2 years to go from manuscript to completed paperback. I became a published author before I graduated college.

EO: Which do you find leads you to your best writing: your triumphs or your tragedies? Do you write from joy or pain?

SL: I say a little of both. My writing style, I've been told, has been described as "real and raw." My gift is to create true-to-life characters made of flesh and bone that grab you and take you on a wild ride throughout their story. I write what I know and feel.

EO: Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

SL: A mixture of writers, really. Ever since I was a kid, I've always thought writers were so cool....I still think that. To this day, I become star-struck whenever I meet a new writer. I enjoy the works of my fellow Latino writers like Sandra Cisneros, Luis Rodriguez, and Gary Soto along with some newer faces in the industry like Sarah Rafael Garcia, author of Las Ninas: A Collection of Childhood Memories and founder of Barrio Writers. But I also enjoy reading other stories like mysteries and horror--anything that sparks an interest in me. I'd like to say that I'm not a prejudice reader. I read anything by anyone (Black, Asian, alien, whatever). If you have a good story made of characters that you can touch, then sign me up! And if it makes me laugh, all the better.

EO: Do you read for pleasure? If so, what kind of books do you like to read? (Or, if you had time to read for pleasure, what would you read?)

SL: I'm going to keep on reading 'til my eyes fall out (and they probably will at this rate). Like I said, I read anything that sparks an interest (usually from the plot in the back cover.) If I raise my eye brows and hum, then I buy it.

EO: What has been the most significant book you've read (or had to read to you, if you were a child at the time) in your life?

SL: There hasn't been one significant book. I'd say that I've learned a little frome every book I've read (the ones I thought were good, anyways.) What I've learned most of all is that there are no right or wrong answers in writing. The art of writing is like art in general. There are many different styles in art like, Realism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Art, etc. There are many, many styles. And each masterpiece has a personal touch from the individual artist. Writing is just like that. A good work of fiction will not only have a well-developed plot and likable characters, but it will also have the writer's voice and personality. We need to be able to see the artist's heart and soul in the work; then it will be a masterpiece.

EO: What project are you currently working on?

SL: At the present moment, I am working on the outline of a third YA book, which will be a collection of short stories. Each story will be a personal experience I had growing up in the small barrio of Hawaiin Gardens.

Synopsis of Beyond the Gardens:

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceañera.

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic, who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is. What’s a girl to do? Strength and determination help pave the way for the future.

As she approaches her graduation, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she leave Los Angeles and leave behind her family, her home, and everything she’s known? Ever since she was born in the California barrio of Hawaiian Gardens, she’s always had to look over the fence, wondering what she’s been missing. Now she’s taking a flying leap over to see what’s beyond the little barrio. What’s beyond her family, her friends, and her past? What’s beyond the little nothing town, where dreams don’t exist? What’s beyond The Gardens? Is it life, love, a future? The story of Esperanza is finally concluded in this wildly entertaining and heart-warming sequel.

“Sandra Lopez’s sequel to Esperanza—Beyond the Gardens—
reacquaints the reader with a compelling character,
Esperanza, her barrio past and her college present, as
she struggles to get an education and find her identity. A
heartwarming story that young, female teens will enjoy!”
—Donna Del Oro – Author of Operation Familia and
Hasta La Vista, Baby

“Readers can’t help but cheer Esperanza on as she
finds out what life is like Beyond the Gardens. Funny, smart,
and heartfelt—all that you want in an inspiring story.”
—Margo Candela – Author of Underneath it All and
More Than This

“It’s not easy to figure out who you want to be, especially
if you’re a chica from the barrio. With a crazy family
and un amigo, who has suddenly decided he wants her,
brainy college student, Esperanza, finds herself having to
make some tough decisions. In this humorous and sweet
novel, Lopez brings us lovable characters we want to root
for from page one. Don’t miss it!”
—Lara Rios – Author of Becoming Latina in 10 Easy

You can buy Beyond the Gardens at:

Dulce Bread & Book Shop (
Brewing your sabor for sweet bread and books of color.
Tel. 512.633.4327
Email. dulce (at)

Beyond the Gardens
By Sandra C. Lopez
Price: $19.50
ISBN-13: 9781432746988
Published: Outskirts Press

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Beyond the Gardens. The winner will be chosen from the people who leave the most comments on the blogs of Sandra's virtual book tour. The tour stops you may have missed are:

Monday April 26 Bonnie S. Mata
Tuesday April 27 Mayra Calvani
Wednesday April 28 Christina Rodriguez
Thursday April 29 Lori Calabrese
Friday April 30 Mary Jo

The upcoming tour dates are:

Tuesday May 4 Joylene Nowell Butler
Wednesday May 5 Terri Lee-Johnson
Thursday May 6 Romina Tybitt
Friday May 7 Leslie Toledo

So, what do you want to know about Sandra's books?


Zulmara said...

Love that you are working on short each stop, I try to see if I can pick up new your talent and energy!!!

Rush said...

What do you think of the trend towards e-books. Will it replace publishing houses eventually?