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Jessica
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Questions for Marisa de los Santos

Do you have a question for Marisa, not related to Belong to Me? Reply to this message to start the conversation!
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

I posted this on the intro, where you said hello but thought maybe I should in here too.

Marisa, its so wonderful to have you here with us. I know more are coming. I don't want to ask too much right yet, since some are just starting the book. As the discussion threads for the book opens up for us to discuss along the way, I hope you will join us on those threads too. Sometimes we have questions for authors about things up to that point. Or you might just like to see what we are saying about your book lol. :smileywink: Without giving any spoilers to anyone, let me just say now, you write MARVELOUS characters!!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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MarisadelosSantos
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

I'll follow all the threads I find and possibly some that don't exist! I'm new to this and something of a bumpkin when it comes to things like message boards and online communities, but I think I'll be able to figure it all out. If you see me take any glaring missteps, please feel free to point them out!

Thanks!

Marisa
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MarisadelosSantos
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

Also, Vivian, thank you for saying such nice things about the characters. I have to be careful when I talk about them because they feel so separate from me and real to me that when someone says something like, "I found Piper so fascinating!" I'm inclined to say, "I know, isn't she something?" I don't mean to pat myself on the back at all. I feel as though I accept compliments on their behalf rather than on my own, if that makes any sense!

Marisa
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos


MarisadelosSantos wrote:
Also, Vivian, thank you for saying such nice things about the characters. I have to be careful when I talk about them because they feel so separate from me and real to me that when someone says something like, "I found Piper so fascinating!" I'm inclined to say, "I know, isn't she something?" I don't mean to pat myself on the back at all. I feel as though I accept compliments on their behalf rather than on my own, if that makes any sense!

Marisa


LOL, sure it makes sense. You wrote a story with characters so full of life, so real to life! I am sure they do have a life of their own, even to you. I can see, sitting at a cafe with you as "two women dishing the dirt" about this woman or that in town and snickering about this one or saying those wonderfully awful female things like "oh that poor thing, she's so...." lol. There is nothing wrong with you saying, Gosh, I just love..this character or that one, or even, "yeah, what is with her!", even tho you wrote it LOL. I love to think of you giggling or furrowing your brow when you wrote it, at the same places we do as we read it. I got to write more about this under first impressions lol,when I come back later.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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IBIS
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

It's fascinating how Cornelia's love for literature shines through in the story.. for example, when she discusses Robert Frost's DESIGN sonnet with Dev... it's clear that she wishes that she had met more students like Dev who shared her deep love for literature. It may have encouraged her to finish her graduate degree in Literature.

I wondered if in your journey as a writer and literature student... did you feel as Cornelia did? Are her sentiments of disillusionment in graduate literature studies similar to your experiences?

Thank you.
IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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lorr00
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

Hi Marisa!
 
I am a huge fan of yours and although I haven't read Belong To Me yet, I bought it and it's next on my list!  I can't wait!  I LOVED Love Walked In!  What do you have planned for upcoming books?  Anything yet?  Also, what are some of your favorite books, anything current that you're enjoying?  Thanks for your time!
Lindsay :smileyhappy:
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IBIS
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

Thank you so much, Ms de los Santos, for spending time with us; and giving us this amazing opportunity to ask you questions.
 
I am dazzled by your exquisite writing; the rhythm and cadences of your prose is so much like music. I am a professional violinist and l like to read out loud. I think your prose, like poetry, is very musical. I read the words, but I also "listen" to them... They flow, like musical notes, as it were, from the page.
 
Belong to Me has the tempo of music written in a major key... very sunny, bright, upbeat... just reading and listening to your prose puts a big smile on my face.
 
Which is a long, round-about way to ask my question: your poetic bend is crystal clear in your novel. Is there a clear distinction in your creative process between writing poetry, and writing prose?
 
Or is the creative process exactly the same for either?
 
IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



IBIS wrote:
It's fascinating how Cornelia's love for literature shines through in the story.. for example, when she discusses Robert Frost's DESIGN sonnet with Dev... it's clear that she wishes that she had met more students like Dev who shared her deep love for literature. It may have encouraged her to finish her graduate degree in Literature.

I wondered if in your journey as a writer and literature student... did you feel as Cornelia did? Are her sentiments of disillusionment in graduate literature studies similar to your experiences?

Thank you.
IBIS


I was in two graduate programs, an MFA program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD program in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston, and I would say that overall, going to school for so long was a good experience, although I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. It's certainly NOT something you have to do if you want to be a writer. I never set out to become an academic, and in fact never really became a true academic, as academia is not a place in which I feel particularly at home. I wasn't really interested in the degrees as much as I was in picking the brains of the poets who taught there, and they were awfully good brains to pick! Some of my literature courses were frustrating but they got me to read far more widely than I would've on my own, and I think that alone was hugely beneficial to my writing and my view of the world. And I made writer-friends who are still among my closest friends and most trusted readers and critics of my work.

Like Cornelia, I'm not a fan of schools of criticism that dissect books like fetal pigs in biology class or rip them open in an effort to prove that they're full of fluff. The books I love I love like friends; reading is intense and personal for me, as I'm sure it is for most of you!

Marisa
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MarisadelosSantos
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



lorr00 wrote:
Hi Marisa!
I am a huge fan of yours and although I haven't read Belong To Me yet, I bought it and it's next on my list! I can't wait! I LOVED Love Walked In! What do you have planned for upcoming books? Anything yet? Also, what are some of your favorite books, anything current that you're enjoying? Thanks for your time!
Lindsay :smileyhappy:



Hi, Lindsay--

I'm so glad that you loved Love Walked In. Here's hoping you enjoy Belong to Me, as well! Some good books I've read recently (and they're not all brand new) are The Girls by Lori Lansens, a truly beautiful story about two sisters, conjoined twins; The Used World by Haven Kimmel (Most people know her for her wonderful memoirs, but I love love love her novels); and Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, a novel in stories. I'd recommend any of these. Oh, also Joshilyn Jackson's The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and my friend Rebecca Flowers's first book Nice to Come Home To. I'm sure there are more, but that's a start!

Marisa
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



lorr00 wrote:
Hi Marisa!
I am a huge fan of yours and although I haven't read Belong To Me yet, I bought it and it's next on my list! I can't wait! I LOVED Love Walked In! What do you have planned for upcoming books? Anything yet? Also, what are some of your favorite books, anything current that you're enjoying? Thanks for your time!
Lindsay :smileyhappy:



And, yes, I'm working on a third novel. While I'm pretty sure I'll revisit some of the characters in the first two books at some point (I'd love to meet Dev and Clare again when they're older, for instance!), the book I'm writing now has a whole new cast of characters. I'm pretty early in the process, so a lot could change, but in a nutshell: it's about three friends who meet in college, a man and two women; they're friends for years and then, for various reasons, stop being friends. When they're all in their thirties, one of the women and the man end up joining forces to find the other woman, who has abruptly walked out on her life. It's a single narrative, from the perspective of the woman who does NOT walk out on her life. Her name is Pen (Penelope) and she's the mother of a five-year old who is unmarried and lives with her older brother in Philadelphia.

I'm falling in love with the characters, with all their flaws, just as I always do. I hope readers will, too.

Marisa
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



IBIS wrote:
Thank you so much, Ms de los Santos, for spending time with us; and giving us this amazing opportunity to ask you questions.
I am dazzled by your exquisite writing; the rhythm and cadences of your prose is so much like music. I am a professional violinist and l like to read out loud. I think your prose, like poetry, is very musical. I read the words, but I also "listen" to them... They flow, like musical notes, as it were, from the page.
Belong to Me has the tempo of music written in a major key... very sunny, bright, upbeat... just reading and listening to your prose puts a big smile on my face.
Which is a long, round-about way to ask my question: your poetic bend is crystal clear in your novel. Is there a clear distinction in your creative process between writing poetry, and writing prose?
Or is the creative process exactly the same for either?
IBIS



I think yours is one of the loveliest compliments I've ever received, and it means a great deal to me, since one of the big reasons I'm a writer is that I'm in love with the rhythm, the sound, the TEXTURE of words and always have been. As a kid, I used to make lists of words and names that I just loved to say out loud or feel in my mouth (I know that sounds weird!). I have favorite consonants (hard c, l). So the music of language is something I pay attention to when I write, whether I'm writing novels or poems.

I think my method of writing fiction is similar to the way I wrote (I say wrote because since I started Love Walked In, I haven't written any poetry) poetry in that I work on each sentence until it feels right to me before moving on to the next. I don't know how to bang out a draft to learn the story or put in placeholders and write ahead or write the end before the beginning, skills I envy in other novelists. But I've come to accept my method as the one that works for me; every time I've tried to do it any other way, it's a disaster!

Marisa
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

Marisa, I know I will have more questions for you as the month progresses and as everyone's reading does but I am interested in one thing, cause it actually was a bit of a put off at first and even now, I don't think it does the story justice and that is the cover. How was it decided on. I have to tell you, when I look at it, I don't see the story that is unfolding or, I know we have talked about "home" but this picture doesn't do it for me either. What it really reminded me of, was rainboots lined up at school like we used to do. I thought, well maybe its the rainboots of a family of four and this is their story. Was this the only cover discussed? We have talked about covers in other clubs in here and I find myself really paying attention to them now, which ones may draw me in, to look beyond the cover and read a bit about them, or which ones are likely to make me pass them by. I do love that your name is as big as it is tho and stands out, it should. That makes it stick in my mind and remember it better when I like the story. You may have little input into this part of things, but I am curious what you can tell me about it. Thanks. :smileyhappy:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



vivico1 wrote:
Marisa, I know I will have more questions for you as the month progresses and as everyone's reading does but I am interested in one thing, cause it actually was a bit of a put off at first and even now, I don't think it does the story justice and that is the cover. How was it decided on. I have to tell you, when I look at it, I don't see the story that is unfolding or, I know we have talked about "home" but this picture doesn't do it for me either. What it really reminded me of, was rainboots lined up at school like we used to do. I thought, well maybe its the rainboots of a family of four and this is their story. Was this the only cover discussed? We have talked about covers in other clubs in here and I find myself really paying attention to them now, which ones may draw me in, to look beyond the cover and read a bit about them, or which ones are likely to make me pass them by. I do love that your name is as big as it is tho and stands out, it should. That makes it stick in my mind and remember it better when I like the story. You may have little input into this part of things, but I am curious what you can tell me about it. Thanks. :smileyhappy:


When my editor called and told me that they were working on a cover with an image of rain boots, I wasn't sure I'd like it. There are no rain boots in the book, and my fear was that it would look like the L.L. Bean catalog. But when I saw the cover, I loved it as much for the deep, saturated colors as for the image itself. What interests me about it is that the boots are lined up like the perfect family of four: father, mother, brother, sister. But while this is the family that all of the characters in the believe they want, something standard and familiar, they all end up in situations far more complicated. Overall, the response to the cover has been positive, but I do see how it doesn't literally reflect the plot of the book. I agree that when you're browsing in a bookstore, covers are important (and trust me, publishers are very aware of this!), and I've bought books because I just couldn't keep my hands off them, they were so intriguing to look at. I find also, though, that if someone I trust recommends a book to me, the cover just doesn't matter!

Marisa
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos


MarisadelosSantos wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
Marisa, I know I will have more questions for you as the month progresses and as everyone's reading does but I am interested in one thing, cause it actually was a bit of a put off at first and even now, I don't think it does the story justice and that is the cover. How was it decided on. I have to tell you, when I look at it, I don't see the story that is unfolding or, I know we have talked about "home" but this picture doesn't do it for me either. What it really reminded me of, was rainboots lined up at school like we used to do. I thought, well maybe its the rainboots of a family of four and this is their story. Was this the only cover discussed? We have talked about covers in other clubs in here and I find myself really paying attention to them now, which ones may draw me in, to look beyond the cover and read a bit about them, or which ones are likely to make me pass them by. I do love that your name is as big as it is tho and stands out, it should. That makes it stick in my mind and remember it better when I like the story. You may have little input into this part of things, but I am curious what you can tell me about it. Thanks. :smileyhappy:


When my editor called and told me that they were working on a cover with an image of rain boots, I wasn't sure I'd like it. There are no rain boots in the book, and my fear was that it would look like the L.L. Bean catalog. But when I saw the cover, I loved it as much for the deep, saturated colors as for the image itself. What interests me about it is that the boots are lined up like the perfect family of four: father, mother, brother, sister. But while this is the family that all of the characters in the believe they want, something standard and familiar, they all end up in situations far more complicated. Overall, the response to the cover has been positive, but I do see how it doesn't literally reflect the plot of the book. I agree that when you're browsing in a bookstore, covers are important (and trust me, publishers are very aware of this!), and I've bought books because I just couldn't keep my hands off them, they were so intriguing to look at. I find also, though, that if someone I trust recommends a book to me, the cover just doesn't matter!

Marisa


LOL, I love the L.L. Bean catalog idea hehe. When I refer people to your book, and I will, I will tell them the name and your name and say, just look for the L.L. Bean catalog looking book :smileywink:. Too funny. You are right about when someone recommends a book, the cover doesn't matter. Until this past year, I was not much of a fiction reader, but some new friends got me into it and I am glad. I have read several different kinds this past year and some were great reads and some, not so good, but I do like at least checking them out. This cover I would probably walk right by in the bookstore but reading about it in here and reading the jacket and a bit of the first chapter, certainly changed that. I think first, I was drawn to the title when I saw it listed. I didn't know what it would be about but it intrigued me. Then when I saw the cover, I thought, well maybe its about a child wanting to belong and because of some personal things, I wasnt up for that, but I did read what it was about, as I said, to see and I am very glad I did. This is a great book, one of my favorites in awhile. This is a great mother's day gift book for ANYONE looking for something lol. You have an incredible sense of humor about things we do think or run into and a wonderful way of just saying it right out. I know there will be a glitch in someone's life in here yet and I am loving them all so much, there is that feeling of oh no, I hope it stays as good when what ever it is happens. I love good writers who shoot us with words of endorphins, stories that excite us, move us or give us such a good feeling for the time we are in the book and away from the world. Even if they are amazing books that just wear your heart out like The Road. I read that this past year and wept over it, what a book! So my interests are varied. Good books are my addiction. And yeah if i sound all fanclubbish here, its just that I am really enjoying this cause I will tell you if I don't lol, trust me, there are some in here already who will tell you that.

By the way, someone in here mentioned the names in the story and how much they liked them. Excuse me if they asked this already, but how do you chose the names of your characters? Names in books fascinate me. Sometimes they are a good reflection of the characters personality, sometimes I wonder if its a name of a friend of the author, or something like that. One author even told us, for the right donation to a favorite charity of his, anyone could become one of his characters. I thought that was an interesting way to do it and fun for the person who sees their name in his book but not something the average reader is going to be affording lol. I think names are important in general. I like my full name, and much better than what my mother told me it almost was. So where do your names come from and do they come before the character is developed or after you get a feel for them? Thanks again.

p.s. ok this is too funny, as I am writing this, to the right of my screen is an ad for L.L. Bean ROFL.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Wrighty
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



vivico1 wrote:

LOL, I love the L.L. Bean catalog idea hehe. When I refer people to your book, and I will, I will tell them the name and your name and say, just look for the L.L. Bean catalog looking book :smileywink:. Too funny. You are right about when someone recommends a book, the cover doesn't matter. Until this past year, I was not much of a fiction reader, but some new friends got me into it and I am glad. I have read several different kinds this past year and some were great reads and some, not so good, but I do like at least checking them out. This cover I would probably walk right by in the bookstore but reading about it in here and reading the jacket and a bit of the first chapter, certainly changed that. I think first, I was drawn to the title when I saw it listed. I didn't know what it would be about but it intrigued me. Then when I saw the cover, I thought, well maybe its about a child wanting to belong and because of some personal things, I wasnt up for that, but I did read what it was about, as I said, to see and I am very glad I did...


p.s. ok this is too funny, as I am writing this, to the right of my screen is an ad for L.L. Bean ROFL.


The LL Bean reference is pretty funny. :smileyvery-happy:  Now that's all I think about when I see the cover. I haven't started the book yet so I don't know how I'd feel about the cover in reference to the story but it does get my attention. I would notice it in a store because I am drawn to the bright colors. The little boots remind of when my kids wore the same thing and are pretty cute.  I really like it on it's own. I'll have to see how I feel about it once I get into the story but it would definitely get my attention.
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SandyS
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

I loved this cover.  The colors and impression of a happy family drew me in - yes it does fit this book as this is what everyone wants.
 
SandyS
 


MarisadelosSantos wrote:

 

 Overall, the response to the cover has been positive, but I do see how it doesn't literally reflect the plot of the book. I agree that when you're browsing in a bookstore, covers are important (and trust me, publishers are very aware of this!), and I've bought books because I just couldn't keep my hands off them, they were so intriguing to look at. I find also, though, that if someone I trust recommends a book to me, the cover just doesn't matter!

Marisa


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SandyS
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos

Ms. de los Santos:
 
I am thoroughly enjoying your book.  Your characters are real and believable and your writing style is very comfortable - like a glove.
 
Do you fully develop your characters and their personal history before you start the book?  By this I mean do you know what the adults were like as children?  Do you write a bio of each character?
It seems to me to give characters as much depth as you have must mean you know what experiences have led them to their choices as adults.
 
SandyS
 
 
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



SandyS wrote:
Ms. de los Santos:
I am thoroughly enjoying your book. Your characters are real and believable and your writing style is very comfortable - like a glove.
Do you fully develop your characters and their personal history before you start the book? By this I mean do you know what the adults were like as children? Do you write a bio of each character?
It seems to me to give characters as much depth as you have must mean you know what experiences have led them to their choices as adults.
SandyS



The major characters live inside my head for a long time before I write about them, and I end up knowing so much about them that never appears in the book: their likes and dislikes, vacations they've taken, favorite foods, what they wore for Halloween as children. Even though, when I begin to write, I believe I know them extremely well, they continue to develop and surprise me all the time. Even while I'm writing, I think of them as very real and very separate from me and my life. I might come downstairs and say to my husband, "You should hear what Piper said today!" It's one of the great joys of writing, at least for me, being in the company of the characters.
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Re: Questions for Marisa de los Santos



MarisadelosSantos wrote:

Like Cornelia, I'm not a fan of schools of criticism that dissect books like fetal pigs in biology class or rip them open in an effort to prove that they're full of fluff. The books I love I love like friends; reading is intense and personal for me, as I'm sure it is for most of you!

That passage was one of my favorites!  It is on page 155 and I quote it here:
 
It turned out that the point was to dissect a book like a fetal pig in biology class or to break its back with a single sentence or to bust it open like a milkweed pod and say, "See? All along it was only fluff," and then scatter it into oblivion with one tiny breath.

I think some people overanalyze books, especially classics, and read more into them than was ever intended at the expense of the enjoyment of the overall story.  For me, the purpose of a book is to entertain and enlighten me, not to give me an exercise in critical thinking. 

 


 
Laura

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