[Interview] Caridad Pineiro

Lawyer and award-winning author, Caridad Pineiro Scordato was born in Havana, Cuba before moving and settling in the New York Metropolitan area in the 1960s. She attended Villanova University on a Presidential Scholarship and graduated Magna cum laude. She subsequently earned her Juris Doctor from St. John's University and became the first female and Latino partner of Abelman, Frayne & Schwab, an Intellectual Property firm in Midtown Manhattan.

Caridad Pineiro made her debut as an author in 1999 with the publication of Now and Always by Kensington's Latina romance imprint, Encanto. Her fifteenth novel, Blood Calls, was released in May 2007 by Silhouette Nocturne.

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I have two concerns as a writer. The first is to entertain my readers by writing a really good book. The second is to make them think about something they might not have considered before.

For example, in Devotion Calls, there is a subplot about a terminally ill mother. The heroine has exhausted all the established medical practices that were available before turning to a Santero (he’s actually a psychic healer, but the heroine doesn’t know that at first). I wanted people to consider that there might be alternative ways of treating illness, but also understand how a daughter might feel when confronted with her mother’s illness.

My personal experiences have definitely influenced my writing. The subplot in Devotion Calls came about as a result of my own issues dealing with my mom’s death from cancer. In earlier books I’ve dealt with issues such as discrimination and women dealing with careers that are in predominantly male fields. All of these come from my life experiences.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I had always had stories running through my head as a child, but in the fifth grade a teacher assigned a writing project. Everyone in the class had to write a book for inclusion in a class lending library. I went home and started writing and by the end of the year, had 120 typed pages. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.

Most of my work is in the romance genre, although the romantic element varies from book to book. For example, with my Chicas books, the romantic element is generally secondary to the relationships of the four friends who are the main characters of the books. I say "generally" because in the next book, South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man, the romantic element is a more prominent part of the story [because] this Chicas book is about a mother and daughter who must reconcile their feelings about the men in their lives in order to find true happiness.

I have a very broad target audience because I am a multi-genre writer. My paranormal works draw in both male and female readers and the age range is anywhere from 14 to 80. The romantic suspense and Chicas books tend to pull in more female readers, but again, the age range is large. I think the moral of the story is that a good book appeals to readers of all kinds and ages.

What motivated you to start writing romance novels?

There’s an old adage that you should write what you know. I knew romances because I discovered that what I liked to read was mostly romances. In fact, that first book back in the fifth grade was a romance.

All of my books feature empowered heroines and I think that is a direct result of the kinds of books I like to read and the television that I watch (I am a media junkie). Embracing this empowered heroine has allowed me to write books that appeal to all kinds of readers and also, show that women can be in positions of power.

What are the biggest challenges that you face? And, how do you deal with them?

My biggest challenge is finding enough time to write and also, trying to always push the envelope to offer readers a fresh new story.

The first is difficult since I have a full time job. I juggle motherhood, being a lawyer as well as a writer. That takes efficient time management and not much goofing around (although I have been taking a break to recharge the past two weeks). As for the second, I try to envision stories that are different and characters that are larger than life rather. I start by not making the characters perfect and by having them deal with those imperfections during the course of the story.

For example, in Blood Calls, the hero was once a selfish and unfaithful man. That resulted in his being imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition and eventually losing his life. When he is given a second chance by becoming a vampire, he vows to be a better man. When the time comes for him to prove he is a better man, he is conflicted between taking what he wants -- the heroine -- and his vow to not be selfish. That leads to a lot of pain of both a physical and mental kind. Readers have embraced the hero, understanding all that he does because he is punishing himself for what he wants but should not have.

Do you write everyday?

I write every day on the train ride to and from work. I also spend about three or four hours on each weekend day. If I have a deadline, I may also write at night after dinner, but I try to avoid this as I need time with my family and time to unwind. During a typical week, I’ll spend approximately 15 to 20 hours writing.

How many books have you published so far?

Blood Calls (May 2007) is my fifteenth book and the sixth book in The Calling series from Silhouette Nocturne. The Calling originally started in Silhouette Intimate Moments in March 2004 with Darkness Calls. The other novels in the series are: Danger Calls (June 2005); Temptation Calls (October 2005); Death Calls (December 2006) and Devotion Calls (January 2007). The series continues with Holiday with a Vampire in December 2007 and three other books in 2008/9.

My romantic suspense titles are More Than a Mission (August 2006, Silhouette Intimate Moments) and Secret Agent Reunion (August 2007, Silhouette Romantic Suspense). [And] finally, my latest Chicas books are: Friday Night Chicas (September 2005, St. Martin’s Griffin ); Sex and the South Beach Chicas (Downtown Press, September 2006) and South Beach Chicas Catch Their Man (September 2007, Downtown Press).

How long did it take you to write Blood Calls?

Blood Calls is out as one of the May ’07 Nocturne books. I wrote the proposal for this book in about three weeks, but then was asked to finish the rest of the book in under a month. It was tough and I had to write every day in every free moment I had, but it was worthwhile as I loved how the story developed.

The hardest part was the research into art fraud and how it occurs and then developing a believable story as to how Ramona became involved in such a fraud. I enjoyed the passion between Ramona and Diego. Their desire for one another had been simmering there for some time, but this book lets it all come out and sometimes in unexpected ways.

What sets the Blood Calls apart from the other things you've written?

Although all of my vamp books are dark and sensual, there’s something about the hero in this book that reaches a new level. I think the reason for it is Diego’s tortured past and how he is running away from all that he wants. That leads him to be less than heroic sometimes and you are always wondering whether he will embrace the goodness within himself and his love for Ramona in order to be the better man he vowed to become.

It is similar [to the other books] in that all the action is occurring in the Manhattan vampire underworld that is a part of The Calling mythology and which allows the reader to revisit with familiar characters, if they’ve read the other books in the series. If they haven’t read the other books, [they shouldn't worry] -- each story stands alone.

What will your next book be about?

My next book is a romantic suspense -- Secret Agent Reunion. The story is about two spies who are reunited after three years apart. They must work together to find out who is trying to destroy the investigative agency for whom they now work. There’s a lot of angst between the two agents due to the history between them. They have to battle all those old wounds in order to not only accomplish their mission, but possibly rekindle the relationship they once shared.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

I think my most significant achievement as a writer is to keep on writing books that are good enough to get published. I recently sold my 25th book and I think that speaks to my abilities to not only write an entertaining story, but to get the word out there about the books.

I strongly believe that with as many books as are published today, you need to promote yourself to readers and booksellers. The promotion part has been wonderful as I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many nice and interesting people while doing so. That’s the rewarding part of writing -- meeting and talking with the readers.

I’ve [also] discovered that publishing is not for the faint of heart and that you need to keep on writing and growing as a writer in order to keep on selling books.

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

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