Friday, May 3, 2013

Today's conversation is with author Marivi Soliven talking about her novel The Mango Bride––"The Mango Bride is a novel about the Filipino diaspora. It portrays the many ways in which immigrants deal with life in their adopted country."

The Mango Bride

Two women, two cultures, and the fight to find a new life in America, despite the secrets of the past…

For in depth reviews visit Marivi’s website

Debbie- Marivi, welcome to my blog
Marivi- Thanks for having me guest on your website

Tell us a little bit about your new novel The Mango Bride.
The Mango Bride is a novel about the Filipino diaspora. It portrays the many ways in which immigrants deal with life in their adopted country. More specifically it follows the divergent lives of Amparo, born to a family of privilege; and Beverly, the orphaned child of a servant.  Each woman finds her way to America for different reasons, Amparo abandons Manila to escape scandal while Beverly leaves seeking to a better life as a mail order bride.

Did you travel to Manila for novel research?
No.  I grew up in Manila, so those chapters set in the Philippines are directly drawn from memory.

This is your debut novel. Where did your desire to write come from and when did it begin?
I wrote the first draft during Nanowrimo 2008 to force myself to get over my fear of the long form.  I’d written short fiction, essays and flash fiction for many years, but didn’t know if I had it in me to write a whole novel.  So I joined Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month. 

You are a telephonic interpreter. For those of us who don’t know could you explain what exactly that is and how does your occupation relate to your novel?
I translate  for people who aren’t able to speak English well enough to seek help in courts, insurance applications, 911 calls, doctor visits and many other situations.  That work led me to realize that everyone deals with his or her life as an  immigrant in different ways and the way they handle their respective challenges says as much about their past as it does about their current situation.

You said that you wrote your first draft of the novel during NaNoWriMo in 2008. What exactly is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is an annual event, a marathon for writers with thousands of participants from all over the world. Participants pledge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month - November. That’s 1,667 words per day or about 3 typed pages single-paced.  You set up an account at and every day you log in how many words you’ve written. The bar graph on your account grows accordingly. When you hit 50,000 words, it turns purple. I love a challenge and this was one way to motivate myself to go through with a novel.

What genre would this novel fall into?
A literary agent told me it was in the upmarket women’s fiction category - more literary than chick lit.  Not that there’s anything wrong with chick lit.

What would be the highest compliment a reader could give you after having read your novel?
 A reader said she cried when one of my characters died.  That told me she had really made a connection with the story, that she was empathizing with this character as though the character was an actual person.  Pretty strong stuff.

Most authors and their families have funny (not at the time) stories about the sacrifices made in the name of the writing “muse”. Tell us your tale of writing woes.
I have a young daughter and I was determined not to drop the ball on any of her many activities while writing this novel. So I learned to write everywhere: in a parked car while waiting for her to get out of ballet class; in a park; by the side of an ice-skating rink; at Ikea.  I wrote an extended car crash scene while my husband drove us up to LA.

By the time I finished writing the novel I had serious carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist.  I still wake up at around 5 a.m. with my hand feeling like a lobster claw.  Oh, and soon after I finished writing the final draft, I broke out in hives. At first I thought it was from cooking with fennel but my yoga teacher suggested it was from stress.  Separation anxiety from having finished the novel.

What are you working on now?
Mostly managing the social media and other logistics related to my book tour.  When all this dies down, I’ll get back to work on the second novel.

I admit I read your blog article about the dreaded author photo shoot preparation (I’m still laughing). Share a little of your story with the readers here.
Thanks.  I went a little crazy trying to figure out what to do about the author’s photo.  None of my earlier books have a photo and that was fine with me because I don’t think I look very good in pictures.  So first I tried to diet, then I tried applying more make-up. When the cat ate the false eyelashes I’d been struggling to put on, I just gave up and went to a professional make-up artist.  The irony is that I didn’t even use the photo that was taken after that make-up session.  The one that ended up in the book was taken by a good friend who knew how to make me feel less self-conscious about getting the photo done. And I didn’t even need the false eyelashes!

Speaking of blogging. Do you find it a stress reliever, a get it off your chest venue or something totally different.
It does relieve stress, but I must say I’m cautious about letting it all hang out in a blog post-- after all, the internet is forever.  If I really want to detox,  I take a yoga class. Which also works great when you have writer’s block.

Marivi, thank you for taking the time to let us get to know you a little. Good luck with the new novel!!
Thanks very much for chatting with me!  If you’d like to know what else is going on with the book tour and The Mango Bride, please visit  Perhaps we can even meet at one of the book parties!

Connect with me on FaceBook**Twitter 

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