Just when you thought you’ve met all of my talented friends, along comes Da-al! Check out her blog and get to know this fascinating, creative artist!
1. Congratulations on winning an Emmy! When and how did you achieve such an honor?
It was for a documentary I co-produced with a friend about homelessness in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles. Winning it was a happy experience, but also disorienting, which caught me off guard. After the ceremony, as I stood in line for the dinner buffet, someone tapped my shoulder and said, “Hey, you’re one of the winners.” Flustered, I made some sort of excuse. The man said, “But you won.” I continued making excuses!
2. Tell me about “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” and its sequel, “Tango & the Sitting Cat.” Why do you call them “anti-novels”? And where might someone purchase your works?
“Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” is what I call a ‘move over Bridget Jones and Mr. Darby’ literary novel. It’s a tear-streaked, smile-inducing year in the life of Laia Catalá. Nearing forty, the perceptive journalist remains as real-life inept at love as at dancing her adored flamenco. After a break-up from the South Asian gay man now her roommate, her dating life nosedives from bad to dangerous. High-spirited and engaging, she dreads being alone forever, yet her married friends are miserable. An assignment to report on an Iranian dating site, however, leads her to do what she fears most — seek a husband.
This is Laia’s notebook of missives to her beloved grandmother, Abuela. Sure Abuela’s in heaven. Sure Laia doesn’t believe in the paranormal. But she’s at her wit’s end. An unusual psychic, a transgender workmate, quirky family and more help Laia find how joy lies in believing in herself.
“Tango & the Sitting Cat,” a stand-alone follow-up novel, encounters Laia at forty, right after having informed her new husband before the ceremony that she’s giving their marriage a year. If she’s not cut out for the ultimate test of identity, culture, and family, she’ll swear off romance forever.
I call them anti-novels for two reasons. First off, conventional ‘coming of age’ novels are about teens, whereas my life feels like a series of ‘coming of ages.’ These books depict ‘coming of ages’ of a mature character.
Second off, when I began writing fiction, an instructor said the most difficult sort of protagonist to depict is a woman who is neither young nor old. I love challenges! I can’t remember the last time I read about a smart, worldly forty-year-old woman who is sometimes naïve about love in the way that real-life people can be. Also, rather than a typical supporting cast of all-good and all-bad characters, these are multidimensional and confusing in the way of real folks.
At its core, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” and “Tango & the Sitting Cat” affirm that happiness is available to all us, complicated and unconventional, at any stage of our lives.
As for purchasing them, both are undergoing final edits while I endeavor to gather a following of readers who’ll be eager to enjoy them when they’re published. A big theme when I research successful publishing is that the newness of a book is a big factor. As a result, a writer is wise first to generate anticipation as well as a way to reach people who like one’s type of writing.
3. What other interests do you have besides writing and blogging?
There are so many things I love! Enjoying family, including my wonderful family of friends who I am truly grateful for. Dancing the tango with my husband, especially at parties with lots of dear ones. If there’s great food, all the better! I’m very fortunate to have a doggie who loves going for walks and a very senior kitty who is the absolute sweetest. Keeping fit is a high priority for me, so I’m glad to have found that hot yoga does the trick for me. Cooking healthy for myself and my family makes me happy. Traveling, the kind that involves lots of walking and taking in beautiful sights fills my heart. Seeing live theater, music, and dancing inspires me. And reading! I am totally addicted to audiobooks, my fave being literary fiction, as I can listen in all the odd moments when I’m not writing and blogging.
4. What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?
A) Read, read, read!
B) Write, write, write!
C) Rewrite! And then rewrite again!
D) Experiment and always seek what brings you the most joy because enthusiasm is as contagious as a belly laugh.
E) With anything worthwhile, the attitudes of persistence and patience, of wanting to learn continually rather than merely seeking validation, take us far.