The SPB Q: Alisa Valdes

{I first discovered the work of Alisa Valdes back in 2003 when her first novel The Dirty Girls Social Club was published (under her then name Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez) to wide acclaim and fanfare, with some critics calling her the “Latina Terry McMillan” because of her funny and raw and smart depictions of female friends doing their tours of duty in the battles of the sexes. I came very close to interviewing her when the book came out, but never got around to it as the book’s release coincided with my first retirement from journalism. I re-discovered her work when I returned to Brown and took a course on Latino fiction and memoir, and fell in love again with Lauren and Usnavys and the rest of the great characters who populated the bestseller and made it a crowd-pleasing, page-turning favorite–and made it a subject of a friend’s dissertation on “chica lit” and American culture. Valdes’s work includes five other novels (including Dirty Girls sequel Dirty Girls on Top and YA novel Haters) and The Three Kings (coming in November). I never got a chance to interview her, but we have become pals on the Internet, and I look forward to her move East in the fall to teach at her alma mater, Boston’s Berklee College of Music. So until I get to experience her wit and style in person, and I get to tell her how much I love her stuff (and how much her work has influenced my novel coming out next fall!) I give you Alisa’s SPB Q…enjoy!}

Name: Alisa Lynn Valdes (formerly Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez)

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Zodiac sign: Pisces

Favorite book: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Favorite author: Charles Dickens and Dean Koontz. I had to include at least two authors, because, really, what writer has only one favorite author? I think Koontz is the best writer working in the English language right now. He is an artist, a social commentator, an entertainer and a superb craftsman, all at once. Dickens was the Koontz of his time. Both writers root their work in a profound search for justice and compassion, and do not shy away from the darker side of human nature. I love them.

Favorite movie: Billy Elliott. This is the ultimate underdog movie, and weaves together social commentary on class, gender, and stereotyping. A brilliant, beautiful film.

Favorite song: Too many to name just one! I have musical ADHD. When I love a song, I listen to it constantly for weeks, then I can’t stand it and never listen to it again. This, incidentally, appears also to be how I approach my love life.

Fictional character you wish you had created: Mrs. Havisham. ’nuff said.

Career High: Seeing my first novel on a shelf in a bookstore for the first time.

Life High: The birth of my son, seeing his tiny hands for the first time, watching him open his eyes. Truly life-changing beauty.

You’re on a desert island and can only have 5 CDs/books/ or DVDs shipped in to you. What are they? Something by Berlioz; something by Jose Marti; something by Dickens; something by Eminem; Every season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Your favorite quote: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

Guilty pleasure: Disney Channel and Jake T. Austin. I am 26 years older than Jake, decades older than most of his fans, but I nonetheless admire him as an actor and human being; an old soul.

{If you wanna check out Alisa’s website/blog, click here.}

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