Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Q&A with Angela Dominguez

Angela Dominguez is the author of Stella Díaz Never Gives Up, a new middle grade novel for kids. It's a sequel to Stella Díaz Has Something To Say. She was born in Mexico City, grew up in Texas, and lives on the East Coast.

Q: This is your second book about Stella. Do you think she's changed at all from one book to the next? 

A: I do! In the second book, Stella is more confident and able to speak up for herself. That said, she’s still struggles somewhat with shyness and making new friends.

I modeled Stella after myself and my experiences growing up. Like me, she’s still very much an introvert. But what I love about Stella is her fears and anxiety don’t hold her back.  

Q: Did you know when you wrote the first Stella book that you'd be writing another one? 

A: I secretly hoped that there would be a second Stella, but I wasn’t contracted to do one right away. I also was intimidated to write a second middle grade novel. 

Stella Díaz Has Something to Say was my debut novel and it took me three years to complete! The idea of doing a second one in a shorter timeline was scary.

However, I knew that I wanted to continue her story and I’m grateful that Macmillan wanted more. The praise the first book received gave me the confidence to write it. 

Q: The book focuses on environmental themes. Did you need to do any research to write it, and if so, did you learn anything especially surprising? 

A: Let me first start off by saying that in no way do I claim to be an expert. My goal is to pique curiosity in kids about science. I also remember that when I was a kid, I loved learning unusual trivia. I know there are many kids who can relate to that.

With all of the Stella books, I like to incorporate fun facts about the oceans and marine animals. I usually start with research before I jump into plot development. In the first book especially, the marine animals often were metaphors for how Stella was feeling. 

When I began the second book, I approached it the same way. While I was researching, what stuck out to me the most was seeing all the environmental concerns about the oceans.

Like Stella, when I read the National Geographic article “Planet or Plastic,” I was upset. It’s a difficult article to read and the visuals are intense. However, it’s an important read and illustrates the point that we all need to make changes if we want to protect our oceans. 

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story? 

A: I have a few hopes. First of all, I hope that kids will be inspired to be activists for things that they are passionate about whether it’s the oceans or something else. We’re seeing a wave of young people like Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s inspiring to see and gives me hope for the next generation.

My second hope is to broaden kids’ perspective about Mexican culture. In the past, it was easy to lump all Latino culture together. The reality is within Latino culture there are many different experiences. With Stella, I’m sharing my own experience and hope that kids either relate and/or learn from it.

Finally, I hope that kids will learn that introverts can be leaders, too. Introverts sometimes are labeled as weak because they might not have the loudest or most talkative voice in the room. However, this is not the case. Introverts just have different strengths and I think it’s important to change the perception of what a leader is, especially now. 

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: I’m happy to say I’m working on a third Stella right now. It’s called Stella Díaz Dreams Big. I’m nearly done and I’m working on the illustrations.

I also finished a picture book called I Love You, Baby Burrito that will be coming out next year. In addition, I’m starting a new picture book soon that I’m super excited about. It’s top secret, but I can’t wait to share more information on that soon.

Finally, I’ll be working on the fourth Stella this fall. I’m thrilled about all the projects!  

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: There is a terrific website about the Stella Díaz Series from my publisher where you can sign Stella’s pledge and find more resources about the oceans. Please visit:

If you want to see more information about what I’m up to, you can check out my website:

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Angela Dominguez.

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