Q & A with Connecticut Authors: Cindy Rodriguez
September 15, 2022 • Features & News, Q & A

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Q&A

COVID is still with us, although easing off a little, thank goodness. Did you have a favorite comfort genre to turn to when things were looking bleak? Something that lifted you away and to a different place for a while?

During COVID, I read a lot of middle grade books written by Latinx authors. I did this, partly, because I was a public middle school teacher up until recently, so I was always on the look-out for new middle grade books that I could introduce to my students. I also love MG books because the main characters are at that age when they have one foot in childhood and one foot moving into their teens. They are experiencing growing pains and all of the confusion and wonder involved in trying to figure out themselves and the world.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from my family, my own experiences, my (former) students, and the news. My family will definitely recognize themselves or certain moments in my books. My former students provided me with endless material :.) All I had to do was listen. They let me know what was important to them. As a former journalist, I am also always watching or reading the news during the day. I look for big issues, but also smaller, heartwarming stories that could be a kernel for future stories.

Who made reading important to you?

I was the youngest of three, so I remember watching shows like Sesame Street and Electric Company, two of the only shows we were allowed to watch back then. I definitely learned letters and words from those shows. My parents always encouraged me to read, and we often filled the back seat with books when we went to the library. They were my first teachers. They were the ones who made it clear to me that reading could open my imagination and teach me about the world. Of course, when I started school, teachers also emphasized the importance of reading.

If you had the power to invite any writer or artist, dead or alive, for dinner who would you like to have there and why? 

This one is easy: Emily Dickinson. I am a noted Emily fan/nerd. I fell in love with her life story and her work while taking a graduate course at Central Connecticut State University. My first novel, When Reason Breaks, is heavily influenced by Dickinson’s life and work. She was a prolific genius who had radical beliefs, and her poems are beautiful and complex. She would be a fascinating dinner guest—if she was in the mood to talk!

What was your favorite subject in school? Why?

My favorite subject was English—surprise, surprise—because I am a proud, lifelong word nerd. Interestingly, though, I also loved, and was really good at, algebra. Solving the problems was so satisfying, a puzzle that needed a solution, and I loved going through the steps to figure it out. My math skills have since deteriorated, but I’ll always have a soft spot for X and Y.

What books did you enjoy as a child? 

I read anything and everything when I was younger. I didn’t have a favorite book or author. The first book, though, that I fell in love with and read again and again was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I connected to Ponyboy, a book-lover who was on the quieter side, like me. When the movie came out, I was in middle school. My friends and I saw it dozens of times!

 

 


Bio

Cindy L. Rodriguez is a veteran public school teacher and author of books for young readers. Her latest titles are The Doomed Search for the Lost City of Z, a short nonfiction graphic novel for middle grades, and Three Pockets Full: A story of love, family, and tradition, her debut picture book. Before becoming a teacher in 2000, she was an award-winning journalist for The Hartford Courant and The Boston Globe. She is also a founder of Latinxs in Kid Lit, which has been celebrating children’s literature by/for/about Latinxs since 2013. She is a middle school reading specialist in Connecticut, where she lives with her family.

 

 

 

Synopsis

Beto won’t wear a guayabera to the wedding. Nope! Nunca! Not going to happen! Beto tries his best to rid himself of the traditional Mexican wedding shirt his Mami gave him. He even gets help from his dog Lupe, but the shirt ends up back on his bed each time with notes from Mami, who becomes increasingly frustrated with Beto. Mami insists that Beto attend the wedding, and wear the shirt, because—after all—it’s her wedding! Beto has to accept the fact that Mami is getting remarried and that she wants him to wear the shirt, which is part of his heritage.

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