November 6, 2008
HT: There are very few Hispanic-themed books coming out of New York. Why is that?
Jeff: You know Juan, I realized that when I began on my personal journey to get Forever My Lady published. That was one of my driving reasons to write this story instead of something else as my first book because I saw a need for it. It broke my heart, still does when I receive hundreds of emails from Hispanic teens that say they've read Forever My Lady over and over again, not only because they love the book but because they don't have any other books they can relate to. It's a damn shame that's what it is. But change is coming there are some amazing people in the book industry both Hispanic and non-Hispanic who are on a personal mission to change things for Hispanics. People such as Selena McLemore & Leila Porteous (Grand Central), Caren Johnson (Caren Johnson Literary), Ivan Sanchez (author), Matt de la Pena (author), Linda Nieves Powell (author), Donna Bagdasarian (Maria Carvainis Agency), Michael Mejias (Writers House), Jenoyne Adams (Bliss Literary), Sulay Hernandez (Touchstone), Raymond Garcia (Celebra), Andie Avila (Berkley) Rene Alegria (Rayo) and so many many others Hispanic Heroes and non-Hispanic Heroes in book publishing.
HT: What challenges did you face in promoting this book to Hispanics?
I think the greatest challenge I faced was my own fears that even though I come from a very diverse family with Puerto Rican cousins, a Filipino stepfather and two Native American grandmother, I myself am not Hispanic so I was concerned the Hispanic community with reject me. The opposite happened, instead they brought me in under their wing and took Forever My Lady places I never dreamed of.
There are still people in the book industry that believe Hispanics do not read so it's important for the community to band together and show them their wrong by going out and purchasing Hispanic-themed books and also books written by Hispanics.
HT: You are very active in assisting Hispanics break into the book publishing industry just as much as Black Americans, why is that?
Having so many relatives and close friends that are Hispanics, I'm very passionate about it. Some people just have a kinship toward other cultures. (Personally, I believe I was Hispanic in a past life but that's another story).
Where some people see doom and gloom, I see a tremendous opportunity for Hispanics who want to break into the book industry. There isn't a more better time in history to be Hispanic in the world of books and entertainment.
HT: Why do you think that Forever My Lady has struck a chord with Hispanics?
I think the same thing that has struck a chord with non-Hispanics and that is that Dio, the main character represents someone to them that is an underdog. He's someone that most people would avoid just by looking at him on the street. He's misunderstood but he's so much more than what people think he is. He's got heart and his love for Jennifer is unparalleled. She is all he's got. So, when he finds out that she's planning to marry someone else it breaks not only his heart but the heart of the readers as well.
HT: Where can my readers purchase a copy?
They can pick up a copy at Amazon.com, www.JeffRivera.com or of course, their local bookstore.
Jeff kindly is giving away a free copy of Forever My Lady to the first Hispanic Trending reader who emails me with their complete contact information and mailing address.