Harmony Book Reviews

Interview: Lynda Sandoval

Posted on: March 8, 2008

I’m so happy to announce that I have an interview with Lynda Sandoval, who was one of the amazing authors that wrote Breaking Up is Hard To Do which comes out soon!

So your latest work for young adults was a short story in Breaking Up 
is Hard To Do with three other authors. How was this different than 
writing a regular book
?

Well, it’s much shorter, so I wrote it quicker!  My first novella (AKA
 
short story) was in an adult anthology called NAMES I CALL MY SISTER, 
which came out from Avon A+ last year.  Initially I feared the 
novella, because I tend to write long.  But I read and studied many of
 
them to better understand the format, and once I got to the writing 
part, I found I really enjoyed it.  I’d feared I wouldn’t be able to 
get a full, rich story into relatively few pages, but it all comes 
down to your scope.  I knew I needed to focus a smaller window, I 
guess you’d say, into Mia’s world.

Aside from that, two of the other authors and I are friends.  Terri’s 
been my best, best friend for years and Nik and I have been very close
 
for several, too.  I’m just starting to get to know Ellen, but she’s 
so sweet and immensely talented.  We all wanted to do a book 
together…and there may be more to come!  Stay tuned.

The story you wrote is about Mia, who is a gay teen. Her girlfriend is
 struggling to decide whether she’s gay or straight, which causes some 
problems and ends up making Mia’s life really bad for a while.  How 
did you come up with the idea for this? Did you or a friend experience
 anything similar as a teen?

Not as a teen, no.  When I was a teen, I mostly dated guys because 
that’s what I was socialized to think was right, although I 
experimented with girls on the side (because dating guys wasn’t right 
*for me*.  But in my 20s…let me just say, the phenomenon of falling 
in love with a straight girl and getting your heart broken is almost a
 
rite of passage for a lesbian.  LOL!  Unfortunately.  A lot of teens 
and twenty-somethings experiment these days without considering the 
consequences.  For a straight girl, it’s just a foray into the 
unknown.  She’s probably never going to get her heart involved, 
because she doesn’t identify as lesbian.  It’s almost like a “friends 
with benefits” thing for a lot of straight girls.  But, for a gay 
girl, that line between friendship and romance is blurred.  A lesbian 
doesn’t look at it as a “FwB” relationship, even if the other girl 
identifies straight.  I mean, in society, we almost always think we’re
 
straight until we don’t anymore, because that’s how “the majority” 
rolls.  It’s the truth.  So while the straight girl’s just having fun,
 
the lesbian gets her heart involved, and that’s a Red Danger Zone.  
Being in the gay community, it’s really something I wanted to explore 
in fiction.  Falling in love with someone who will never really be 
able to love you the way you love them.  It’s crushing.

At school, Mia and some others start an acceptance club of sorts. I 
think that’s a great idea, and something every school needs. Did you 
ever have anything like that at your school?

I wish.  🙂  When I was in school, a club like this would never have 
been approved.  Now there are Gay/Straight alliances in so many 
schools, and I think they’re important and an incredibly positive step
 
in the right direction for the world.  It allows people to see that 
we’re all more alike than different.  Whether you love the opposite 
sex or the same sex, the important thing is that you *love*.  I 
volunteer at a LGBTQ drop in youth center in Denver, one of the few of
 
its kind in the country.  I’m constantly in awe of these kids for 
their bravery and strength.  In fact, the novella in BREAKING UP is 
dedicated to them.

What are you working on now? Do you have any plans to write more short
 
stories for teens?

I’m working on a full length novel for Houghton Mifflin about a 
straight girl from a very gay-friendly family (she has close gay 
relatives and considers herself part of the gay community) who finds 
out her best friend is gay, which–surprisingly–shakes her sense of 
place in the world.  It’s an exploration of friendship and the way it 
changes over time.  Also, I can’t say much yet, but we’re in 
preliminary talks about doing a few more anthologies similar to 
BREAKING UP.  I’ll let you know when we get the greenlight.  We’re 
really excited about them.

What advice would you give to teens who are writing and trying to get 
published?

Publishing is a difficult and frustrating business–not that I’d 
choose anything else–but the key for the writer is the writing.  You 
must love the process, because that’s all you can control, and it’s 
the whole point anyway!  Learn everything you can about markets and 
writing, but above and beyond everything else, read a ton, write a ton
 
and a half.  Consistently.  I’ve had a barrage of ups and downs in my 
career, but the one constant has been the joy of sitting down to 
create.  No business annoyances can take that magic from you.

What’s one thing that readers don’t know about you?

Hmmmm.  Let’s see.  My first long-term girlfriend was active duty 
military, and we lived overseas together for four of our six years, 
part of it during the Gulf War.  Ours was a “don’t ask, don’t tell” 
relationship, because it had to be, and that took a horrible toll.  If
 
you’re forced to tell people you’re just friends (or cousins, like we 
did) for years and years, it starts to feel true.  Lying sucks.  I 
think anyone who is brave enough to serve his or her country should be
 
respected for whomever he or she loves.  Period.  The “don’t ask, 
don’t tell” policy is degrading and needs to be changed.

I also think everyone should come out as they’re ready.  It’s so 
freeing, and if certain people don’t like you because of it, they 
weren’t worth your time in the first place.  This includes family.  
Sorry, but it’s true.  I’m lucky, and my family is, and has always 
been, wonderful.  Not so for my partner.  But this is why, in the gay 
community, we call each other “family.”  You’ll never be alone.  It’s 
more important to live your truth.

What are you favorite books now? What were your favorite books as a
teen?

I have sooooo many favorite books.  Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Carolyn
 
Mackler, Julie Anne Peters, Ellen Wittlinger, Brent Hartinger, and 
Alex Sanchez?  I’ll read anything they write.  As for adult authors, 
Joy Fielding, Kristin Hannah, Ann Roth, Lawrence Block, Janet 
Evanovich
, Jennifer Chiaverrini, and Sophie Kinsella are my favorites.
 
  As a teen I loved VC Andrews, Judy Blume, Nancy Garden (especially 
the classic–Annie on my Mind), Rita Mae Brown (and her classic, 
Rubyfruit Jungle) and a lot of adult fiction.  My favorite book of all
 
time is A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, by Betty Smith.  It was written 
decades before I was born, but it’s timeless.

Anything you’d like to add?

I think it’s so important for straight teens to read books outside 
their experience.  Well, it’s important for all of us to read widely. 

So I hope kids pick up LGBTQ fiction by Julie Anne Peters, Ellen 
Wittlinger, Brent Hartinger, Alex Sanchez, James St. James, Maureen 
Johnson, David Levithan, Nancy Garden, and so many others.  Me!  I 
almost forgot me.  LOL!  Readings opens up worlds, minds, and hearts.

I welcome people to come visit my website: www.LyndaSandoval.com, or 
www.myspace.com/LyndaSandoval, or to be my friend on GoodReads.com
and I’m available for school visits, too.  All the info is on my 
webpage.

Thanks so much!

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3 Responses to "Interview: Lynda Sandoval"

hola reviewer, i don’t know your name. you wrote about wanting to read my just released Latina lesbian novel, Down to the Bone, that Jocelyn reviewed on Teen Book Review. i really enjoyed reading Lynda Sandoval’s interview. i didn’t know she existed. she obviously has no clue about me, either, and we are both YA authors! !que locura! not many YA lesbian authors out there except for Julie Anne Peters. i’m excited to read Sandoval’s book and her forthcoming novel. Saludos, Lynda–in case you get to read this. i’m excited that more lesbian fiction is appearing on the scene. i adore Alex Sanchez and Brent Hartinger (they blurbed my novel) and look forward to reading more LGBTQ fiction. i’m not sure if sandoval is latina. i’ve never read another YA latina fiction set in the U.S. except my own book (i was born in Cuba and raised in Miami). if you know of any, please let know. thanks! excellent review! ciao!

Thanks for inviting me to interview. The reading world needs more teens like you. 🙂

Hey, Mayra–
I can’t seem to post a message on your blog site. Drop me a line if you get this. I am Latina, btw. 😉
Lynda
Lynda@LyndaSandoval.com

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