This’ll be the first in a series of q&a posts about The Queen of Water. These are questions I didn’t get a chance to answer on the live chat I did last week as part of Primary Source’s Global Reads online book club. (Thank you SO much to everyone who participated, and sorry I didn’t get to everyone’s questions during the session!)
First, here’s a comment from a high school student, Karen...
“I loved your book!!!! I am originally from Peru and I connected so much with the story because my grandmother story was like Maria's (actually my grandmother's name is Maria too!!!) she was from a remote part in Peru and she arrived to the capital, Lima when she was 12 to work as a maid for a family.... I imagine my grandmother perhaps going for a situation similar to Maria... it was very emotional to me.....!!!!! I wonder if the book is gonna be published in Spanish so I can give it to my grandmother to read... again I LOVED YOUR BOOK!!!!”
Thank you, Karen! I’m really honored that our book helped you connect with your grandmother. It's very moving to hear how much the book means to you. I *wish* it were available in Spanish, but our agent wasn’t able to sell Spanish translation rights. Maria Virginia and I are trying to make it happen through other avenues, though. Please give your abuelita an abrazo from us...
Kevan -- Any thoughts about a movie?
We wish! Our agent didn’t sell any movie options, unfortunately. I think it would make an inspiring movie, though, and would make her story available to a much bigger audience.
From Linda: Laura, what is your next book?
My book The Jade Notebook (set in coastal Oaxaca, Mexico) just came out this year. It’s third in an international travel-adventure-mystery-romance trilogy. (The Indigo Notebook, set in Ecuador, is the first in the series. The Ruby Notebook, set in France, is the second.)
From Linda: Do you provide any royalties to Maria for her story?
Maria Virginia and I decided to split our advance and all royalties down the middle, 50%-50%. Our agent directly deposits Maria's money in her account. Individually, I also donate a percentage of my royalties (at least 5% per year) to non-profits that support indigenous rights in Latin America.
In the book, many Spanish words are used. How did/do you decide which ones to translate rather than have in English?
All my books contain some words in phrases in languages other than English (Spanish, French, Mixteco, Quichua). I make the decisions pretty intuitively— honestly, it just comes out that way when I write. I think the foreign language terms I incorporate are usually words or phrases that don’t have a great English equivalent, or terms that have special cultural /social significance attached.
Anonymous: Did Maria Virginia ever meet the actor who played MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson)?
I have tried really, really, REALLY hard to get in touch with Richard Dean Anderson! I’ve done detective work online, and had some leads, but I've been met with dead-ends every time. The agency that I *think* represents him hasn’t returned any of my phone calls. Argh! Maria and I have a signed copy of the book that we want to give him… and we think he’d like it if we could just get it into his hands!
When you listen to her stories and or those of similar background and history, do you ever feel guilty about our often over-privileged lives and how do you face/deal with that?
I do feel that compared to most people in the world, my life is very privileged (as far as having education, necessities and luxuries, safety, social freedoms, etc.) I’m very aware of this fact, every day. (Living for two years in an impoverished region of Oaxaca, Mexico, really brought this home for me.) I believe that since I had the random luck of being born into this life, it’s my responsibility to do what I can to help people in tougher circumstances become empowered to change their lives. Writing is one way I do this. (I’d say that if you feel guilty about our over-privileged lives, turn that guilt into fuel for taking action to promote global social justice!)
Okay, my freshly baked apple tart awaits me now... Thanks for reading! I'll be posting another batch of questions and answers soon, so stay tuned!
***Also, on a different note, if anyone's interested in a personalized, signed copy of any of my books (for yourself or for a gift), you can order it from Old Firehouse Books, my wonderful local indie bookstore. Here's their website-- in the comments section of the order form, you can write who you'd like me to personalize the book for. Or, you can just email or call Old Firehouse and tell them you'd like me to personalize your book. I live close to this book shop, and can easily swing by to sign books... just make sure that you order the book at least a couple weeks in advance if you want it to arrive in time for the holidays. ***