Featured Interview With Eleanor Parker Sapia
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
Hello! I’m a Puerto Rican-born writer and artist, who loves introducing readers to the island of my birth. My debut, award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, is set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, and was published by Scarlet River Press. The book garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a 2015 Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club.
I am a well-traveled Army brat, a mother of two adult children, and a former Army/NATO wife. I have lived in five European countries, as well as two tours in Puerto Rico. I currently live in Berkeley County, West Virginia, and my children are out in the world doing amazing things. I am a former counselor; Spanish language refugee case worker and Family Support Worker; a massage therapist; and a Reiki Master, and an exhibiting artist and photographer. In addition to my passion for writing books, I paint and am never without my camera and passport. I write full time.
I currently live in a 1900 Federal-style home in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where I’m working on my second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico. I live with a Chihuahua named Sophie and a Maine Coon cat named Pierre. My adult children are out in the world doing amazing things.
A Decent Woman: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
and, at her writing blog, The Writing Life.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
My fascination and love of books began with oral storytelling by my grandmother, mother, and aunts, who could tell stories like nobody’s business. My love of story continued with Nancy Drew books and the Jane Austin classics. I never stopped reading. I love fiction and non-fiction which I read as research for my books. I am known to be a hoarder of old books, especially about Puerto Rico, and any books by my favorite authors. A nightmare scenario for me would be if my house were burning–I wouldn’t know which books to save along with family albums and family heirlooms! And, of course, my pets.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
My current favorite authors are Isabel Allende, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jack Remick, Henry Thoreau, and Cormac McCarthy. I love historical fiction, literary fiction, Latin American fiction, memoir, and novels with diverse characters.
I am inspired by the authors mentioned above, who are master writers and great storytellers. My children inspire me to continue writing and telling stories as I did when they were little. I still have a good story or two when we visit, and I believe they would find it odd if I didn’t entertain them a new story. I am very inspired by the women who came before us, and telling stories for those who can no longer tell their stories.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My debut novel, A Decent Woman, published in 2015 by Scarlet River Press, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English, at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards. The book, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a story of the unlikely friendship between a poor, illiterate, Afro-Caribbean midwife named Ana Belen and a young, Puerto Rican widow with two small children named Serafina San Patricio, who marries into a prominent Ponce family. Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of women, who battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.
My work in progress is another historical novel called The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920, on an islet off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the story of an unlikely trio with secrets–a Puerto Rican novice nun struggling with her vows; an elderly Spanish priest who distrusts Americans; and an American pharmacist on a reconnaisance mission for the United States–all working together at a leprosarium on a barren island called Isla de Cabras, Goat Island. They will each learn important lessons about community, compassion, secrets, and ill-fated love, and most importantly, how to survive the desolate island without contracting the dreaded disease before each can find their way home. The Lament of Forgotten Souls will be published in 2018 with Scarlet River Press.
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