In Their Perfect Melody (Zebra Shout, Dec.), a romance between a cop and a social worker highlights hopes and challenges in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community.
Why did you choose familial relationships as a theme for the Matched to Perfection series?
My family and close friends play a big role in my life. Most of the characters I write are Latinx, and in my culture, the Latinx culture, that’s the way I’ve experienced it—our family plays a big role, sometimes whether you want them to or not. It comes naturally to me to write about family issues, family themes. Obviously, there are a lot of emotional issues that can come up, based on how my family is important to me as an individual, and also in my culture how important family, and extended family, is.
In this book, social worker Lilí and police officer Diego have different ideas about how to accomplish the same goals. What influenced this choice of conflict?
There’s not always a right way to do something. There’s your way. I guess with Lilí and Diego, they both needed to learn that. Diego, everything is black and white and there’s a wrong and there’s a right, and as a cop, there’s a lot of times where he needs to have that perspective. I have a close friend who worked as a victim’s advocate, and just in hearing about her job, the caring and the commitment—I knew that was the type of person Lilí was. They challenge each other, and through the course of the book, they both learn a little bit about each other and about themselves. They wind up seeing how they can complement each other, and how they can help each other. It goes back to wanting to create believable characters and put them into believable situations.
What’s the one question you wish someone would ask about your work?
What role models do I have for writing romance? My parents. Papi, the series heroines’ late father, reminds me a lot of my dad, and that’s probably why it was so hard for me to write the sad scenes about him. But my parents’ relationship is not a perfect relationship. It’s a healthy relationship. Even though I write characters that could be completely different from my parents, at the core of that happily ever after, at the end of every book, is the happily ever after I’ve seen for most of my life in the relationship that my parents have modeled for my siblings and for me. What I love about writing romance novels is the opportunity to show any reader that picks up my book what a healthy relationship can look like. You will experience a lot of conflict, but with the right person and the right people around you, you can keep on keeping on in healthy, productive, loving ways.