Describe your new book/project/work.
The Red Umbrella is a historical novel that follows 14-year-old Lucia from her carefree life in a small town in Cuba to an unknown future in the heart of Nebraska. The novel is based on the very real events that occurred from 1960 to 1962 when the parents of over 14,000 Cuban children made the difficult decision to send their children to the U.S., alone, because they feared the actions of Castro's communist government. This story strikes a personal chord with me because both my parents and my mother-in-law were part of this exodus of children, which later came to be known as Operation Pedro Pan.
What is your favorite family story?
There are really so many great stories in my family, from the inspirational (like the focus of my book) to the sitcom variety. I have often said we are a little bit like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding except everyone is speaking a mix of English and Spanish. Just like the movie, I have a very large extended family (my aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, nieces, and nephews all get together for every major holiday and summer vacations... there are over 50 of us) and with that many people you're bound to have some hilarious moments.
One particularly funny story involved a church softball game in the small Southern town where I grew up. That day, my grandmother (who spoke no English) went with us to the ballpark and during the game started shouting "Linguine! Linguine!" I wondered why she was yelling about pasta and when I asked, she shrugged and said "that's what all the Americans are saying." I listened to the crowd and heard shouts of "Let's win it! Let's win it!" Baseball games and linguine have never been the same since then.