Check out what inspired me to write my book, Vivir el Dream.
Behind every good man is a great secret.
Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.
He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.
Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.
Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?
Thank you, Margaret, for you allowing me to interview you today!!! Tell us a little bit about your newest book The Demon Duke.
How did you get the idea for the book?
My son has Tourette Syndrome. A few years ago, he announced he’d never have a girlfriend, much less get married, because “nobody would want him.” It broke my heart – and still does. So I decided to craft a book in which a duke with Tourette’s (though it wasn’t called that in the Regency period) finds the love and acceptance he’s always wanted.
If your book was made into a movie, what actors would be in it?
Oh, this one is easy! Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries fame were the physical inspirations behind Damon Blackbourne and Grace Mattersley. J
Bradley James and Colin Morgan would play James Bradley, Duke of Arthington, and Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin, respectively. Hugh Jackman inspired Deveric Mattersley, and Reese Witherspoon makes a perfect Eliza Mattersley.
I have other family members cast in my mind, and have pinned many of them to Pinterest boards – though of course I hope readers make up their own people in their minds if these names don’t fit for them!
Should people read the other books in the Magic of Love series or is this a stand-alone book?
The Demon Duke is the first in my Put Up Your Dukes Regency series and is a stand-alone, without any of the magical elements that pop up in my Magic of Love series. However, our bookworm heroine Grace is the sister of Deveric Mattersley, the hero from A Matter of Time. So if you’ve read that book, you’ll have fun seeing familiar names and places in this one, but it’s not necessary to have done so to enjoy the story on its own.
You are starting to become pretty popular and winning some awards. What is that like for you?
Surreal! That I have readers who rave about my books still feels totally bizarre. Though I think I have a ways to go before you could truly call me popular. But it’s a dream come true to have people read my work and like it enough to want to read more. I hope I can keep living up to their expectations!
What would be your favorite and least favorite things about living back when The Demon Duke lived?
Favorite? Likely the furnishings. Yeah, I’m a weirdo. The furnishings, that is, if I were rich – more likely I’d be a barmaid or a seamstress or something, and then life would be much less fun. My least favorite thing? Lack of air-conditioning, modern medicine, and showers. Oh, that’s more than one? Well, they’re all important! 😉
What else are you working on right now? Will there be more Magic of Love books coming soon?
I do have at least one more in the Magic of Love series planned, maybe two, but as to when it will appear, I’m not sure, as I’m thrilled to be part of an upcoming series of books based on legendary figures with fellow Regency authors, and so therefore I need to work on that first so I don’t let the crew down! My contribution will be The Legendary Duke, set to debut in June 2018.
I also want to write a short story or novella about the origins of the magical manuscript that first appears in A Man of Character. And then there are several side characters in both my Magic of Love series and my Put Up Your Duke series whom I feel need their own stories told, but whose tales likely won’t contain magical elements or dukes, so, well, new series remain to be born!
Thank you, Margaret! Can’t wait to read it! Get your copy today by clicking on the link below!
Computer science professor Matthew Goodson has no time for love—no time for anything, actually, but his quest for tenure and his obsession with the screen. The last thing he expects is to get side-swiped by this adorably odd British miss. Yet something in her calls to him, pulls at him, in a way unknown—and uncomfortable.
Can the past and the present blend together into a mutual future? Or will old wounds and new complications sabotage any chance at a twenty-first century happily ever after?
Margaret (teehee), I’m so glad to chat with you today about your next book in your Magic of Love series, A Scandalous Matter. Tell us what it’s about!
Thanks so much for having me, Allison! I’m delighted to be here. J
Here’s a short summary of A Scandalous Matter:
Scandal-scarred Amara Mattersley has had enough of men and the woes they cause. She wants only independence – and an education on par with that of her brothers. To find both, she time travels to present-day Virginia, determined to stay free from emotional attachments. Until she finds herself entangled with very attractive, but also very befuddling, computer science professor Matthew Goodson. Can past and present blend into a Happily Ever After future?
So I’ve read the first book in your series, A Man of Character, and I love love loved it! How does this new book compare and differ from your first? And can someone who’s never read the first two start with this one?
A Man of Character features the same setting as A Scandalous Matter—present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. Both books also have intelligent heroines encountering likewise brilliant computer science professors. Go figure. But A Man of Character’s main peeps are both from this century, as opposed to Amara and Matthew’s story, which has the time travel element, and therefore marked cultural differences and experiences, tossed in.
And yes—any of my books can be read independently from the others, though if one wants to avoid potential small spoilers, I suppose starting from the beginning makes the most sense. But no one has to, so dive in where it most interests you!
I heard you’re getting famous and winning some awards! 🙂 How does it feel?
I like the way you exaggerate!
I am extremely privileged to have finaled thrice in the 2016 Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion competition (Best First Book for A Man of Character, and Best Paranormal Romance plus Best Book by a Virginia Author for A Matter of Time).
I didn’t win, but finaling means I was in the Top 5, and that’s pretty darn amazing. Me? Little old ME? Who’d never written a book before?
It’s super exciting, but also feels quite surreal. Most of this new venture has felt surreal at times, actually. It’s a wild ride, often high, occasionally low, but I love it!
As a budding author, I always love to know how you got started with writing and how you got published?
I’d said since I was a teen that I was going to write romances when I grew up, but I went on to follow different dreams. Though the recent discovery of romance plot ideas I’d scribbled down in my 20s shows the interest never fully left.
In the fall of 2011, when my daughter entered kindergarten, I needed to figure out what I wanted/needed to do, since both kids were now in school full-time. I’d been a doctoral student in medieval history at one point, but had spent ten years as an at-home mom. Did I want to enter the work force? Did I have any marketable skills remaining after such a long hiatus? One night over dinner, my husband asked me what I truly wanted most. My immediate answer was, “to write.” His answer? “Go for it.” (See why I married him?)
As for publishing, that was a long and winding road. I originally embarked on the traditional route of seeking an agent and getting published by a company. I queried a zillion people and some small presses. I had nibbles and one big bite from a small press, but by that point, I’d read a lot about self-publishing and met other authors having lots of success with that route (including Katy Regnery, who’s now a USA Today and NYT Bestselling Author, but she took the time then to give me advice!). I decided indie publishing suited my and my family’s needs and temperament best – but it’s definitely not an easy road. Not that any path to publishing is, but being an indie author means I’m in charge of it all—and I’m battling to prove my worth against the still-lingering notion that indie authors aren’t as good as traditionally pubbed authors (as with anything, you’ve got good and bad on both sides of the fence, right?). Lots to learn, lots of mistakes to make, but in my heart I know it was the best choice for me.
Margaret – hanging out with famous author, Eloisa James (left) and with fan, Annie (right)
I am a sucker for romantic comedy movies but have never gotten into reading romances. The reason I loved your first book is I felt like I was reading something that might have starred Meg Ryan (before her weird Joker-looking plastic surgery). What inspired you to start this series?
It’s true that A Man of Character is not fully a traditional romance, mostly because the whole premise–What if a woman discovered the men she was dating were actually fictional characters she’d written long ago?—wasn’t quite typical from the start. Most romance doesn’t feature a heroine who dates more than one guy, or a female friendship that is nearly as dominant as the love story. That’s why I call it a romantic comedy (code word these days for chick lit, as that phrase has fallen out of favor.) Chick lit tends to feature women in their 20s and 30s dealing with life and career and friendships – and yes, often romance, but that isn’t the sole focus of a chick lit book.
I didn’t set OUT to write chick lit, though – it just happened. Once the idea popped into my head, I couldn’t let go of it. The rest, they say, is history.
What’s next? Is this the last book of the series?
You’d think I’d have that all figured out, wouldn’t you? A Scandalous Matter is definitely NOT the last book in my Magic of Love series—I have at least two more planned, perhaps more, since readers (and characters) keep asking for further stories. Hooray!
But my fourth book, The Demon Duke, will launch a new, purely Regency series, Put Up Your Dukes. The Demon Duke features Grace Mattersley (sister to A Matter of Time’s hero Deveric Mattersley) and Damon Blackbourne, Duke of Malford. It will debut in early 2017.
As you might gather from the series’ name, the heroes will be dukes (like A Matter of Time’s James Bradley). Some of the heroines will hail from A Matter of Time’s Mattersley family, and some won’t.
Not only will I have a ducal series, but I’ll also write stories for the other Mattersley siblings in my Matters of Love series. With this many books to write, I better get busy. Or busier, as the case may be.
If you could time travel to any era, where would you go and what crazy things do you think you’d get into?
I have to pick just ONE? Because I want to see ancient Greece and ancient Rome, Charlemagne’s era, Germany in the Ottonian and Salian periods, medieval England, renaissance Italy, Regency England, the American West, America in the 1950s (okay, that’s just for the shot to meet Elvis, mostly)…
And I think I’d rather stay on the sidelines and observe, like Scrooge. Don’t want to risk that whole butterfly effect, you know? Though I’m dying to know who built Stonehenge and why, what WAS it like in Egypt thousands of years ago, what would it sound like to hear kids in Caesar’s time speaking fluent Latin, what was it like to be alive during the middle ages, etc, etc…
If your novel was a movie, who’d play the main peeps?
Whew, an easier question! In my mind, A Scandalous Matter’s Amara Mattersley and Matthew Goodson are physically modeled after Jennifer Lawrence and Matthew Goode. (A Matter of Time’s Eliza James and Deveric Mattersley are a plumper Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman to me, not that you asked – and I have Pinterest boards showing those inspirations, as well as those for the characters in A Man of Character (http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke).
If your life was made into a German telenovela (soap opera), what would it be called?
Can I just call it Eichhörchen (squirrel)? Because that’s such a fun word to say. But probably, Die Frau, die zuviel spricht (The Woman Who Talks Too Much). Which might also be my native American name.
Please tell me a humorously cool story about yourself that somehow relates to your book (like fitting in somewhere you don’t belong etc).
Humorously cool story? About ME? Well, I’ve never time travelled (sadly), but I DID just get back from a trip with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to New York City—and this Iowa girl now living in relatively rural Virginia definitely felt like a fish out of water. So many people, so much noise, so many gigantic buildings. How does anybody live there, with the high prices and mass chaos? Not quite the same as skipping centuries, but I could easily see myself gawking about as much as a Regency transplant might. Luckily, Central Park provided me the same refuge UVA’s Lawn provides for Amara in A Scandalous Matter.
Finally, I know you love 80s music. Please change the chorus/lyrics from a popular 80s song and make it about your book! 🙂
I do love 80s music, but man, this is a lot of pressure!
Let’s go with Prince, to honor his late greatness, and because When Doves Cry gets a shout-out in A Scandalous Matter:
When Time Flies… (apologies to Prince)
Click, if you will, the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss.
The brim of your bonnet covers me.
Can you, Amara,
Can you picture this?
Dream, if you can, a stone circle–
An ocean of violets in bloom.
Manuscripts bring love stories
That tell the heat,
The heat between me and you…
Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.
But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever.
Ariel: The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.
Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.
Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.
Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.
Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…
Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—but who can survive the fires of Dragons?
Well, hello, author friend, Tamara Shoemaker, how lovely to interview you again. 🙂 I’m excited to hear all about your newest book, Embrace the Flame. What is the Heart of a Dragon series about and what can readers expect from this second book?
My Heart of a Dragon trilogy dips into the traditional fantasy realm with a medieval-esque setting and fantasy creatures galore (including but not limited to dragons, griffons, sirens, phoenixes, direwolves, ogres, centaurs, and pixies). It follows the footsteps of four main characters, three of whom find themselves oppressed beneath the rule of the fourth, the King of West Ashwynd, a man named Sebastian. Throughout the trilogy, passions collide as Kinna, Ayden, and Cedric fight to bring justice and equality for the mistreated and downtrodden under Sebastian’s rule. Building to an roiling climax, nations clash in epic warfare until the skies light with Dragonfire and justice finds its end. But will those who seek what is right find it without perishing in the attempt?
You’ll have to read the trilogy to find out. 😉
Embrace the Fire readers can expect an uptick in action from the first book, Kindle the Flame. There will be tastes of two countries embroiled in war, more fantasy creatures introduced, a good in-depth look at dragon psychology and reproductive habits, and an increase in romantic tension for two certain members of the cast. Overall, I think it’s one of the best books I’ve written; I can’t wait to hear how readers enjoy it!
Will readers need to have read the first book or can they just embrace this new one, hehe?
Haha! How very punny of you. 😉 Granted, Embrace the Fire will make much more sense if you’ve read the first book and are familiar with the world and the characters introduced in Kindle the Flame. That said, each of my books follows an intrinsic plot-line, meaning there is a plot that rises, peaks, and falls in every portion of the trilogy while at the same time maintaining the overarching plot. Readers will be able to follow and enjoy the single-book plot-line, although they may get a little confused about terms like psuche (a person’s soul-connection with a creature) or taibe (magic) or the various kinds of Dragons (Mirage, Ember, Poison-Quill, Nine-Tail), etc. They would still be able to pick up the storyline fairly quickly, though.
If your book was made into a movie, who’d play the main characters?
Oooh, I love questions like these! 🙂 And how handy that I made a storyboard for myself complete with the movie characters I picture in these roles. Hence:
Kinna: Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger of Hogwarts)
Ayden: Jensen Ackles (aka Dean Winchester of Supernatural)
Julian: Ben Barnes (aka Prince Caspian of Narnia)
Lincoln: Chase Crawford (aka Billy LeFever of Blood and Oil)
Ashleen: Priyanka Chopra (aka Alex Parrish of Quantico)
Lianna: Amanda Seyfried (aka Karen Smith of Mean Girls)
Nicholas Erlane: Liam Neeson (aka Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List)
Sebastian Andrachen: Christian Bale (aka Alfred Borden of The Prestige)
Cedric: Zac Effron (aka Jason of That Awkward Moment)
When did your crazy obsession with dragons begin?
It’s a fairly recent thing. I’ve always enjoyed reading about them, of course, but in the same way I enjoy reading about the action that a predator brings to a scene (most of the dragons I met before my trilogy were Tolkien-esque). When I started thinking about this trilogy and figuring out my plots and storyline, my Dragons started taking on sympathetic traits. I view the ones in my books much as I would a pet dog. I just want to hug them, scaly though they are. They’re adorable.
If you were a dragon, what kind of dragon would you be and why?
Hahaha! Who says I’m not? 😉 I would totally have to be a Mirage Dragon, as they are, by far, seriously superior to their brethren among the Embers, Poison-Quills, and Nine-Tails. All four kinds have some really cool abilities and traits, but the Mirages are just kick-tushie wonderful. Why would I be a Dragon? I think you’re asking the wrong question. Why would I not be a Dragon? I mean, really. How cool would it be to soar through the skies all day with an almost impenetrable defensive coating that no one would dare attack? 🙂
I know I’ve asked this question before but I find myself continuously surprised at your ability to churn out writerly (and let’s not lie, personal) awesomeness time after time. How do you find the time to be such a prolific writer?
I don’t. I mean, I am a prolific writer, but you’re asking me where I find the time, and I have no idea. I have three young kids and a husband who occasionally enjoy eating and/or a clean house, and I have no idea where my writing time comes from. I sit down during any snippets of freedom I get to write, and sometimes the words come and sometimes they don’t, but I always, always keep plugging away at it. I sometimes feel that if I stop, I’ll never start again, and I can’t imagine that happening, so I never stop.
This is good and bad. On one hand, many books of mine find their way through the publishing process, but on the other, my life seems to have hit a permanent fast-forward button, and I can’t seem to find the normal play option anymore. 🙂
Also, as a budding novelist myself, I’d love to hear about how you cracked into the market and how you built up your fan base.
I’d love to say that I hit the jackpot with millions of readers suddenly lining up at the bookstores for the first copies of my new releases, but that’s certainly not true. In reality, it’s a gritty, slow, tiring, frustrating process. It’s talking to one person and finding later that day that they’ve “liked” your Facebook page. It’s contacting an old friend and telling them what you’re doing, and finding a month later that they’ve read your book and left a review. It’s day after day after day of seemingly fruitless tweets and posts and interviews and contacts, and maybe never hearing anything back.
In the end, it’s the peace of knowing that you’re doing what you love most to do, which is creating a work of art that is truly worthwhile to yourself. If others happen to enjoy it, that’s icing on the cake. 🙂
Last but not least, please craft a haiku about dragons. 7/5/7 in case you’re rusty…:-)
Roaring smoke and flame,
Betwixt jaws of all the same…
Roasting marshmallows. 😉
Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the first two books of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as Mark of Four and Shadows of Uprising, the first two books in the Guardian of the Vale trilogy. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction.
Follow her on social media:
- Tell me a little about who you are and what you write.
- How did you get into writing?
It’s always hard to know how to answer this. I’ve doodled stories from little on up, but didn’t actually finish a novel until 2006. It took me six years to find a publisher, but I loved the creation of novels so much, I haven’t stopped making books since.
- If you were on a deserted island, what three books would you bring with you and why?
- Give us an idea of what Mark of Four is about.
Seventeen-year-old Alayne Worth wields four elements in a world where all other Elementals wield only one, and every force on CommonEarth, both good and bad, wants to use her talents with fire, air, earth, and water. How will she survive the struggle for the power she possesses?
- What books are similar to Mark of Four?
A test-reader just got done reading Mark of Four yesterday and gave me his opinion. “It’s Harry Potter meets Avatar,” he said. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan and a loyal follower of Avatar, I’ll take that as high praise.
- If your book gets made into a movie, who would play the main characters?
- Alayne – a slightly younger Adrianne Palicki (Bobby, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
- (Diving into the cartoon world) Marysa – Rapunzel from Tangled (with shorter, dark hair)
- Jayme – Flynn Ryder, also from Tangled
- Kyle (Departing from the cartoon world again) – Luke Mitchell (Lincoln, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
- Daymon – Theo James (Four, Divergent)
- Manders – Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man, The Avengers)
- Malachi – Woody Harrelson (Haymitch, Hunger Games)
- What are some of the other books you have written?
I have four mysteries out: my Shadows in the Nursery series, and another mystery, Soul Survivor. This past summer, I released the first book of my Heart of a Dragon trilogy, Kindle the Flame, and its sequel will follow in March of 2016. Mark of Four is the first book of my Guardian of the Vale trilogy.
- How do you juggle being a stay-at-home mom and an amazing author?
Sheer insanity. Lots of coffee. And an understanding and supportive husband.
- Name your favorite animal and why…(this was a sneaky, three-point question…) 🙂
Gorillas fascinate me. When I visit the zoo, they are the one animal that I would sit and watch for hours, if I could. Of course, I’ve never cuddled with a gorilla, so if I ever had the chance, it’s possible I would choose the more normal cat or dog answer.
- Could you give me three words that say what you like about a gorilla?
- Gorilla: Three words or three phrases? I’m having trouble coming up with anything besides big, hairy, or funny for the words. Phrases could be: a.) He plays peek-a-boo with my kids and saves me a whole lot of energy, b.) he picks his nose just like my son, and c.) he uses his toes like fingers. Wish I could do that. 🙂
- Okay, so using your phrases about your fav animals (big, hairy, funny, plays peek-a-boo, picks his nose, uses toes like fingers) – tell me how those characteristics relate to you.
- Hahaha!! Hmm, I’m not very big or hairy, but I do have an occasional funny moment. I play peek-a-boo with my kids, but not as well as said gorilla. In shocking news, I have picked my nose before, but have trouble using my toes like fingers–they just don’t have that piano flexibility that I’ve developed with my hands. 🙂
- Who inspires you?
I am amazed every week by the work of the Flashdogs, writers from around the world who come together online to offer pieces of absolutely stunning work on various flash fiction sites. When I hit writer’s block, I go search for their work, and generally reading over their stories shatters the wall, and the stories begin flowing again.
Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy.
Follow her on social media:
Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Interview with Norys
“Giros” by Norys (fabric art)
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Norys, and I’m the oldest of three siblings. I’m also a student of medicine and agricultural engineering. I’ve lived here for almost eight years and am still trying to adapt to the culture and the system in general.
2. What made you decide to do this interview?
I believe it is important so people know who we, the immigrants, are and that we have a voice and story to tell.
3. Where are you from and why did you decide to come to America?
I’m Salvadoran and I didn’t make the decision, my parents did. They thought that here I would have a better future.
4. What was life like for you where you grew up?
Beautiful! Even though there were limitations, we were free. There was not enough food or money. We had meat only on special occasions. I had a lot of friends and every moment with them was like creating a movie. Those are happy memories. What I want to say is that we lived; we lived. It was happier. It didn’t matter if there was no money or if there was no food, it was the spirit of happiness that kept us alive.
5. What is life like for people in your country now? Do you still have family and friends there?
Yes, most of my friends are in El Salvador, my paternal grandparents and my grandmother on my mom’s side and my aunt. It’s still the same, only with the different that it is not the same El Salvador where I grew up; there is more fear, more violence, and more insecurity. It’s still beautiful with its scenery, its culture, and its people, but it’s not the same.
6. What did you have to do to get here (i.e. paperwork, money, etc)?
I crossed the border like most do. It was an unknown and dangerous journey. It took me three weeks to arrive at my destination. You didn’t know if each day that ended would bring another tomorrow. It is like a horror movie. You don’t know what is coming next. It is unknown, horrible. If they asked me to do it again, I wouldn’t do it.
7. What hardships did you face coming to America?
I think that the hardest thing of the journey was everything together, starting from leaving my land. Upon leaving my house, I said, Norys, don’t look back and keep going. So, that was the hardest part, leaving my land, my people. Once I began the journey I was confronted with other difficulties like traveling with strangers. You didn’t really know what type of people were traveling with you, if they were good or if they were bad. There were moments in which I had to console people who wanted to commit suicide and be there and tell them that this was going to pass, that we weren’t going to stay there forever, that it was going to pass. Trying to save my own life and save the lives of others was difficult but it gave me the strength to go on.
(here is a video of the following end of the question, it is in Spanish but you can follow along…the answer starts around 0:15)
One person cut his veins because he didn’t want to leave his grandchildren. And he lost a lot of blood so the guide asked if anyone knew how to put in an IV. And, well, no one is prepared for something like that. In a journey like that it would be really lucky for a doctor or nurse to come, but this time there wasn’t anybody. Seeing the need, and being a student of medicine, I said that I would do it, it was something I had to do. So I said I could do it, I could try. And that person was lying on a dirt floor, and he was white, like paper, and I did the procedure and I don’t know how I did it but I did it, and he lived. He lived and I don’t know what happened with him later but then another woman got like this, like an anxiety, and she got really bad, because the experience, itself, is traumatic. No one is prepared for what comes on the journey. Once on the journey you don’t know how the mind will react. So this person, she said that she didn’t want to live anymore, that she didn’t want to live anymore, but she had two twin daughters that she left behind in El Salvador, and she had told me about them when we met for the first time and had told me that she left behind her family. So I told her, “You have to live. You have to get to this country so you can work and bring your daughters so you can be together, and you can’t think negative. Who will take care of your daughters if you die or if you do something crazy? Who will see after them? So I had my fears, and I had my fears because it was an unknown journey and everyone will tell it differently depending on how they lived it but this is how I lived it. And so I had to put my fears to the side so I could try to be a help to these people and I didn’t mind, I didn’t mind. I lost my fear ad I said, these people need me more, and well, I did that, and I believe that’s what gave me the strength to get through that journey, that uncertain journey, and arrive at the destination. Like the fear of those people helped me to overcome my own fears and therefore be able to help them. You never know when…we all have our fears because it’s a natural thing, right? But seeing that many others were more afraid, then yours becomes insignificant and you can say, “oh, that is nothing, but this is serious. They really need help.” And that’s when you do something, when you give.
8. Once you came to America, what was life like?
My life in the United States. (sigh) It was difficult to adapt, I think it’s like that for everyone. With something new, if you’re afraid, it’s natural. The fear of the unknown. But to me, time passes that you start to adapt and you begin to not be yourself because you have to follow patterns. Like the ones that are already here, they say, “Hey, they do things this way.” Then you follow that same pattern. But after a while you get involved in the system, you change opinions, and you begin adapting your own ways. Another hard thing was learning the language. Going to school when you’re 21 and being around kids that are 14, 15, 16. That was a challenge, but once I arrived here my father told me, “If you going to be in this country, without knowing the language, you’re nothing.” And he was right. I went to school for four years and I graduated with my high school diploma for the second time, and I accomplished it. And now I say, knowing the language has saved my life. It has opened doors for me and I have met a lot of people, I have been to places, that if it weren’t for knowing the language, I don’t know, it never would have happened. Going back to high school and pretending that you’re a certain age when you aren’t is hard. Pretending was hard. For me. But, I had to do it; I had to do it. I’m an introverted person so I got through this time unscathed because I didn’t talk, I only learned and analyzed and observed and I didn’t have the need to say, “Oh, I’m 21 or 22.”
And coming here and being a single mother. To come carrying a baby in your womb and go to school, be a single mother, adapt to the system, a new culture, it was the complete package. It was hard. It was hard but here I am.
9. What helped you get to where you are today?
The worst that can happen to someone is dying. While you’re alive, there are many possibilities, and I believe being 29 years old is a blessing, because in my country, life is no longer worth anything. Then waking up the next day and seeing the light is like, thank you, right? For another day. And to know that everything passes, sadness passes. There will always be a new day. Like I said before, while you’re alive, there are many possibilities. The opportunities are there, it’s only having the desire to look for them. To dream. I am a dreamer and I dream big. I always say, everything happens for a reason. We are here and I am here with a purpose. I am here for a reason. I don’t have everything I want but I have everything I need. You understand? So I think that is what’s most important. Not looking back but rather continuing and continuing and knowing that one day you’re going to be there, where you have always dreamed.
10. How do different generations in your family experience America (i.e. immigrant-born vs. American-born generations)?
The new generations don’t have a sense of culture. When I say that, I feel that they don’t have culture, it is a double culture. Finally, it’s like saying, “Am I American or am I Salvadoran?” What is there in the middle? Then it’s what is there in the middle, it’s what has been lost. The old generations or the older generations, like my parents, my aunts and uncles, cousins, they have that history, they have that folklore still in them, but here they have forgotten to pass it on to these new generations. So it gets lost. They have become Americanized, forgetting about their roots, of that rich folklore that we have as Salvadorans. I’m talking about the rest of my family. Personally, I try to continue cultivating that, that spirit, that culture. I try to cook with those same aromas and pass on that culture to my daughters. And it is difficult when you are married to a person who shares a different culture. Balancing both cultures is hard.
I am trying to continue speaking Spanish, continue cooking those traditional dishes, and continue saving those traditions. In my family I feel it has been lost, because they say, “We are in America, we will live like Americans.” Okay. There’s nothing bad in that but I feel it is important that our children, as Latinos, as the Hispanic-Americans we are, it is important that they know their roots, where they come from. For me it is important, because I want them to have the same feeling, the same love for their roots. It doesn’t matter how nice or ugly El Salvador is. It doesn’t matter how violent it is. That folklore and that human charm will always prevail. It will always be there and just because a group of people are doing bad, doesn’t mean that our children shouldn’t know where their mother and father come from, you know? They have to have that, because it doesn’t matter where they are, if they’re here or in China, they have to know what their roots are.
11. Have you preserved any traditions, foods, languages, or customs from your native country?
Yes. I am writing a book of traditional recipes. I love the kitchen. It is a form of transmitting life and bringing memories. I like cooking and sharing how I do it. Sharing the recipe and say, for example, on holy week, it’s a custom in El Salvador to make fish tortas, and I love them. I remember how my paternal grandmother made them, and I have it etched in my mind and I remember that she would be there in the kitchen and she would said, “Don’t stick your hands in the dough. Don’t touch.” So then I’d only observe but I observed with detail and that how I make them now; it is how I cook. So that’s what I’m doing, preserving, I could say, the recipe as much as the memory, of how I learned to make it and pass it on. Then when I am cooking, I am telling the story, and she was like angry. She didn’t like me to be in the kitchen, but unconsciously I was learning, unconsciously she was teaching. So that is how I learned.
12. How does your cultural heritage affect your views on immigration?
It’s complex. Just the word immigration is like, “ouch.” The system is unjust. Just the fact of crossing borders and adapting ourselves to a culture that’s no our own, is a big change. Aside from that, dealing with a immigration system that doesn’t help, but rather destroys, emotionally and culturally, I think there’s a lot to say and even then it’s not enough.
We aren’t here to be pitied, but it would be good to be accepted for who we are and what we can contribute to the development of the country, bring a little of our culture and share. Originally, this country was built by immigrants. So it doesn’t have a specific culture, if you could say that. There is a diversity of cultures. Why can’t we join each other and celebrate life and celebrate diversity? All of us would be happier and everything would be easier. While we create barriers that you’re white and you’re black, red, yellow, there will always be conflict and nobody will ever be happy. What can’t we all love each other just like we are?
13. What else would you like to share with everyone about yourself, your family, or about immigration in general?
About me?…um…I believe my message would be like this: while you’re alive, there are many possibilities, and it doesn’t mater where we find ourselves. If we are in this place, it’s because we have to be here for a purpose, and independent of what we believe, we have to get out, search, and fight for our dreams. And even though the system or society where we live is unjust, it’s not a reason to say, “I can’t.” Society does not have to accept us. There is a strong reason why we are here “now.” It doesn’t matter where we are. Like I said, the system doesn’t work for us, we don’t have to adjust, but we have to critique and we have to fight. We have to make them know that we have a voice and that we have a story to tell.
Norys, thank you so much for being willing to share so openly about your story.