Monday, September 19, 2022

Q&A with Ernesto Cisneros



Ernesto Cisneros is the author of the new middle grade novel Falling Short. He also has written the middle grade novel Efrén Divided. He is a teacher in Santa Ana, California.


Q: What inspired you to write Falling Short?


A: Falling Short is a book close to my heart because it addresses the I’m-not-good-enough syndrome many of us tend to feel growing up.


I grew up struggling to find my niche in the world. Because of this, I lacked confidence and stopped trying at pretty much everything. I felt that failing wasn’t really failing as long as I was not really trying. It took me a really long time to learn that the only failure in life comes from not trying.


Writing this book is my way of addressing those feelings and letting people know that they are normal and that many of us have them. Hopefully, it inspires readers to try new things.


Q: How did you create your characters Isaac and Marco, and how would you describe the dynamic between them?


A: It was really important for me to showcase just how kind the two boys are. They are genuinely good people and the perfect role models for children (and adults) everywhere.


As a teacher, I’ve been around so many amazing young people. Sadly, our culture does a poor job of highlighting what an important quality kindness is. If it were up to me, we would celebrate kindness as much as we do in academics and sports.

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “The dual point-of-view story repudiates toxic masculinity and encourages collaboration and generosity. The quick-moving plot also spotlights the various ways preteens and their parents fall short of their goals only to end up stronger because of their resilience and grit.” What do you think of that description?


A: I’m extremely grateful for this review. One of my goals was to portray the parents as realistically as possible and to illustrate how parents sometimes struggle in life just as much as children do.


I feel it is important for children to realize that we all struggle at times and that asking for help is never something to be embarrassed about. My hope is that seeing characters fighting to overcome everyday obstacles helps motivate children to do the same.


Q: Why did you choose basketball as a key theme in the book?


A: I have played basketball for well over 30 years. Even though it took most of that time to get to a respectable playing level, I have always enjoyed the game. I must admit, writing about my old glory days brought back so many good memories I wanted to share.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am experimenting with a new genre—magical realism, which I have very little experience with. With that said, there is something fulfilling about working on something new and unfamiliar. I really hope that this next book connects with readers as much as my first two books.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Ernesto Cisneros.

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