A Talk With Bettina Restrepo
Author of Illegal
1) Where did you get the idea for your new young adult novel, Illegal?
I was working in Houston in the supermarkets described in the book. At the time, I was playing with a picture book idea about a girl who lost a library book and was afraid to tell her teacher. As I drove through the neighborhood (you can now see the photographs of the actual 5th ward neighborhood on my website), I saw a girl in profile. I had a feeling she was lost or was looking for something. She became Nora.
2) Did being the daughter of Colombian and German immigrants affect or influence the story of Illegal in any way?
Yes, because I know how it is to mix up languages and cultures. My family moved quite a bit, and I was always on the lookout for ‘normal’.
8) Can we expect to see anymore young adult books from you in the future?
Honored and humbled. It’s a very intimate experience to whisper your words directly into a reader’s ear. I’ve received beautiful letters from around the world saying how much they related to Nora’s experience as an immigrant. It’s not just a Latino story – it’s a story that crosses cultural boundaries and really looks at the ties we have to our family.
10) Lastly, what advice would you give to any young readers who someday wish to become recognized authors?
Read everything, give yourself time to grow, and put your butt in a chair and write.
I encourage everyone to understand that story is a gift. Do not attach validation that a story can only be important if it is turned into a book to be sold at Barnes & Noble.
I have stories, whispered in the dark to my son, that will never be published. To us, they are worth millions.
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf...
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!