March 29, 2013

interview with the author of 'love in translation'

Today, I am pleased to have Sara Palacios, author of Love in Translation (read the review here), stop by Change the Word on her Chick Lit Plus blog tour for an interview. She was also kind enough to share an excerpt from her debut novel. 

Sara is one of the kindest people I've encountered on my literary adventures, and it's exciting to see her writing career take off.

Thanks for joining us, Sara!

Change the Word: How did you come up with the title for this book?
Sara Palacios: Coming up with a title actually took forever. Originally the book was called Summer to Remember, but it just didn’t feel right. I actually spent quite a lot of time brainstorming with my husband and eventually settled on Love in Translation. He was a big fan of Love is Better Fried. Ah, the things that could have been.

Were there any surprises that arose while you were writing this story?
SP: Actually, yes. I didn’t plan on having Steven fall in love with Emily at first. But, when I was writing his character, it somehow happened. I guess that is the way love works, right?

Do you share any traits with the MC in your book?
SP: Only a few.

What kind of research did you do to write this story?
SP: I did a lot of research on the Spanish language. I also spent a lot of time getting into character and listening to Spanish music. It was a lot of fun.

CTW: What other planning and prep work did you do before you wrote? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
SP: I am a little of both. I typically have a rough outline but let the details fall together as they will. I find that it gives my characters more space to grow.

CTW: How do you balance your time working, writing and raising a family?
SP: It is definitely a balancing act, one that I sometimes fail at. My family comes first and working comes second since I need to have a way to pay my bills. So, unfortunately, writing has taken a back seat. I try to squeeze in writing in the evenings after the little one has gone to bed, but that is easier said than done.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
SP: Read as much as you write. There is seriously no better form of research than reading in my opinion.

CTW: If we took a look at your bookshelf, which one would be the most worn out from reading and re-reading?
SP: Probably Lord of the Rings. Is that dorky? Probably. Oh well.

CTW: What's up next for you and your writing career?
SP: I am just starting my next book and am hoping to have it finished by the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed for me please.

CTW: Is there anything else you would like to share?
SP: I have had such a fun time visiting with you and I am so thankful for the wonderful writing/reading community that I have stumbled upon. Thank you so much for your time Laura!

Excerpt of Love in Translation
I spot Andres as we pull up to the park. He has his back turned as he examines the trail map by the entrance.

I get out of the car and then walk over to the other side to secure Sammy’s leash. After he gets out of the car, he looks around and immediately begins smelling things. He sees a bush, pees on it. Sees a tree, pees on it. He sees grass, pees on it. The cycle continues as we make our way over to Andres. He is wearing gray cargo shorts, the same shirt from this morning, and a navy and white bandana tied around his head. He is carrying a backpack as well.

“Hello,” I say, accidently startling him.

He jumps. “Hi!” he says as he turns. “I was just looking at the trails. ¿Tienes una preferencia?”

My Spanish has really improved. I’ve understood most of what he’s said today, even this morning. 

“No preferencia,” I shake my head, secretly hoping that the trail is relatively flat because I haven’t been hiking in quite some time. That aside, I know I am going to enjoy myself. I am here with Andres, and oddly enough, the weather is beautiful today — slightly overcast with a cool breeze. I am thankful that I won’t have to spend the entire day basking in my own sweat – at least, I hope I won’t have to. 

“So, this must be Sammy.” He bends down and offers the back of his hand. Sammy licks Andres’ hand and then rubs his nose against his calf. He takes an instant liking to Andres and I completely understand why.

“Did you bring water?” he asks as he continues to pet Sammy.

Damnit. How did I forget to bring water?

Reading the look on my face, he says, “That’s okay. I have plenty to share. Are you ready?” 

Sammy is now whipping his tail anxiously back and forth. He barks loudly in anticipation.
We make our way toward the trail that is designated for beginner hikers, according to Andres, and into the woods. We take breaks every so often to let Sammy take a sip out of the river, or to appreciate the beautiful scenery. Everything is so green.

After nearly an hour, we find ourselves in a field of wildflowers, where Sammy rolls around on his back, indicating the ultimate canine contentment. We stop briefly to appreciate the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes before Andres leads us through some tall shrubs in the opposite direction of the dirt trail.  He points into the distance. “I want to check out a spot over there,” he says, lifting up a large branch for us to maneuver under. I follow carefully as he leads me along a slippery river bank giving way to a breathtaking waterfall just across the water.   

“It is so beautiful.”

He agrees. “Want to take a break?” he asks as he takes off his backpack.

I mumble in agreement while still staring in awe at the water.  I am thankful that he is the one who suggested the break. I hope I don’t look as out of shape as I feel. This hike has been far from easy.

Andres fumbles through his backpack, pulls out a checkered blanket and spreads it alongside the river bank. This man thinks of everything.

“Do you think he wants to swim?” he asks, looking at Sammy.

“I don’t know. Maybe?” I am not sure really what to expect from our hiking companion.
He removes Sammy’s leash and throws a stick into the water. Within seconds, Sammy jumps in, retrieves the stick and brings it back to shore, where he drops it at Andres’ feet, tail wagging. Andres throws the stick out once again.

“Well, I guess he likes to swim after all,” I say.

He winks at me playfully. “I thought he might.”   

“You are really good with dogs,” I say observing the way Sammy has taken to Andres, no longer paying me any mind.

“I grew up with a bunch of dogs,” he pauses as Sammy returns again with the stick. This time he throws it out a little further into the water. “My mother used to tell me stories about how they would always follow me everywhere, even into my bed at night to sleep with me. ¿Y tú?”

“We had a few dogs growing up, but I didn’t really ever get to know them very well. This is actually the first time that I have ever taken a dog hiking before.”

“Really?” he asks.

“Yeah. I was pretty intimidated at first but luckily Sammy is a pretty good dog.” I start laughing, “I thought he was going to drag and pull me everywhere, but he hasn’t. I was actually terrified.”

“Well, if you want, I can take care of him for the rest of the hike,” Andres offers. 
I chuckle. I don’t really think that I have very much of a choice now. Sammy is lying next to Andres on the blanket, his head on his lap, taking a break.

Moments later, Andres reaches into his bag and pulls out a sack full of fruit, nuts and granola bars. We enjoy the wonderful assortment that he has packed as we sit in our perfect little spot, hidden away from the rest of the world.

As I fully take in the moment, I realize that I haven’t been this happy in quite some time. It’s odd because I don’t know Andres very well, but it feels good. Being here, enjoying everything with him has been so nice, and things just feel right. Things are simple with him and I really like it. It is a nice change of pace from the way things were between David and me.

Although this is easier, it doesn’t mean that I’m not still incredibly nervous and self-conscious the whole time that I’m around Andres. Everything is intensified: the grass is greener, the trees are taller, the flowers smell sweeter. A simple glance at him is enough to send me into a frenzy. Even though we have been busy most of the day walking and not doing much talking, our eyes have met several times. And each time, I lost myself in his gaze. So, things are pretty intense for me right now as we sit alone by the riverbank with not another person in sight. I wipe my sweaty palms on my pants and am vividly aware of everything he does. It doesn’t help that every time I look over at him, he’s looking at me with those dreamy eyes.

I am such a mess right now and I know that Andres is definitely getting under my skin – there is no denying that anymore. But, apparently, that hasn’t hurt my appetite. Hopefully he doesn’t think I eat like this all the time.

“Do you want some more grapes?” he asks as he reaches into his bag as if on cue.

“No, thank you. I’m stuffed.”

He picks up the remaining food, offers some to Sammy (except the grapes, which he has informed me are poisonous to dogs), and then puts everything into his backpack. He scoots closer to me on the blanket and lies down on his back. He is now looking up through the trees, toward the clouds. “What do you think that one looks like?” he asks, pointing up.
I glance up and but don’t see anything because there is a tree blocking the view.

“You should move closer,” he suggests.

So I do, and now I am so close that I can feel him, even though we are not close enough to touch. I try to act calm and natural, even though my heart is beating wildly. I look up and see that he is looking at a cloud that closely resembles a pumpkin — or at least, that is what it looks like to me.

He laughs loudly, “A pumpkin?”

“Yeah. What do you think it looks like?”

He turns to face me. “A sheep, not a pumpkin,” he says playfully.

I look up and see another large cloud that has come into view, and now it is my turn.

“What do you think about that one?” I ask, pointing.

He looks at it closely, examining it in detail. “I think it looks like a bird.”

“A bird?” I ask.

He turns to look at me, a smirk on his face, “Yes. What do you think it looks like? A squash?” he asks playfully.

I can’t help it, I start laughing so hard I get the hiccups. I try to catch my breath, but it takes me a couple of seconds. “I actually think it looks like a butterfly.”

“A butterfly?” He pauses to think for a second, “What is a butterfly?”

“A butterfly is … una marisposa.”

He props himself up on his left arm, turns his head toward me and looks me straight in the eye. “¡Ah, una mariposa!” he says, “but I think it looks more like a bird.”

I lie there, staring up at him. He is smiling softly; kindly. I could get used to that smile. There is a moment of silence between us where all I hear is my own breathing.
“So, do you notice anything different about me?” he asks, still gazing down at me.
Something different? I wonder what he could be referring to. I think about it and try my hardest to come up with something — something that shows him that I have been paying attention. But after examining everything from his bandana, to his haircut, to his shoes,
I have nothing.

I offer a guess. “Uhmmm, you got a new hair cut?”

He shakes his head.

“You got a new bandana?” I ask sheepishly.

He laughs. “Actually, the bandana is new, but not really what I was referring to.”

“Am I getting close?”

He laughs, “not really.”

This is getting embarrassing. “I give up Andres. I just can’t think of anything different.”

“Really?” he asks. He sounds surprised. “What about my English?”

My cheeks turn a bright shade of pink. “My goodness. You’re right.” How embarrassing. How could I have missed something so important, something so crucial? I hadn’t realized that he had been speaking to me in English for most of the day now. I guess I was too nervous to even notice, or maybe too focused on other things. I would think that if I showed up speaking Spanish the whole time that he definitely would have noticed. I feel so stupid for not catching it.

“How did you learn English so fast?” I ask, trying to recover quickly and thinking back to the first time we met where we hardly said a word to one another.  I thought of his party when he spent most of the night talking to Deana and feeding me bites of food. And then there was the kiss – no talking necessary then. The scent of his skin. The touch of his gentle lips. Thinking of the kiss makes me tingly all over. I shiver. 

“Are you cold?” he asks me.

“No, no,” I say embarrassed. I can’t believe he saw that. “So how did you do it?” I ask, trying to change the subject.

He looks at me tenderly and then winks. “I guess you could say that I had a secret motivation.”

“Like what?” I ask curiously, wondering if his motivation was anything like my motivation to learn Spanish. He moves close enough for me to feel his breath. There is something in his eyes. “You,” he whispers as he leans in and kisses me — slowly, softly at first.
Then, I feel his tongue trace my lips before slipping inside, feeling its way around mine. Oh. My. Goodness. The kissing grows hungry with each second. We kiss for a long time until we hear a branch break nearby and see another couple making their way to the river, probably to do the same thing we were just doing. Alas, all good things must come to an end.

I quickly straighten my clothing and smooth my hair out. I also take a moment to cool down.

Is it hot out here? Or is it just me?

He really is as sexy as he looks; each second with him leaves me wanting more and more. Andres sits up and we share a secret and a smile.

The walk back is quiet, but I am too busy replaying the kiss over and over in my head to notice. It doesn’t matter that it’s almost dark and I can’t really see where I’m going, or the fact that my legs are cramping, mosquitoes are biting or that I have to pee.
Unfortunately for me, I am oblivious to them all. 

When we get back to the park entrance, Andres helps Sammy into my back seat. “My brother is having a party tomorrow. I would like for you to join me, if you are free. And if you would like to.”

“Really?” I ask, a little surprised by his invitation.

“Claro que sí,” he says smiling. “We are going to have to work on your Spanish.”
I blush. “We will.”

“I had a great time with you,” he says as he leans in and gives me a kiss on the lips.
“Me, too,” I say, grinning from ear to ear. “Thank you for a wonderful day.”

About the Author

Sara Palacios is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a major in Advertising and a minor in English Literature. It was during her time in college that she really fell in love with the written word and ventured into writing her own stories. In addition to writing, Sara spends a majority of her time reading the works of other authors.  She reads most genres  – but thoroughly enjoys chick-lit, women’s and historical fiction.

When she isn’t busy reading or writing, Sara enjoys spending time with family and friends. She is happily married, the owner of two precious doggies and a new mom to a handsome baby boy. Sara is also an avid animal-lover, runner, yoga enthusiast, wannabe vegan, USA soccer fan, foodie and fashion blog-lover and Christian. 

Connect with Sara
Twitter: Sara Palacios
Facebook: Sara Palacios

Buy the Book
Amazon: Print or eBook
Barnes and Noble: eBook
Kobo: eBook

Enter to Win
Everyone who leaves a comment on the main tour page (here) will be entered to win the Love in Translation prize package!

Prize package includes:
Six-pack eau de parfum from Victoria's Secret, $10 gift card to Target and the following items from Bath and Body Works: Carried Away shower gel, 3 oz. Sparkling Blackberry Woods lotion, small stress relief candle and small White barn candle.

Anyone who purchases their copy of Love In Translation before April 1 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries. Please note this is open to US residents only.

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  1. Thank you so much for such a lovely interview and for hosting me two days on your wonderful website. You know, I must admit that this scene is probably my favorite in the whole novel.

    Thanks again!