Saturday, June 17, 2023

Q&A with Maria E. Andreu


Photo by Andreanna Papatheodorou



Maria E. Andreu is the author of the new young adult novel Julieta and the Romeos, an updated Romeo and Juliet. Her other books include the YA novel Love in English


Q: What inspired you to write this new take on Romeo and Juliet?


A: I’ve always been a big Shakespeare fan, but I can’t say I loved how that one ended. I was very liberal with the inspiration, of course. Julieta and the Romeos is more about exploring the role of love in our lives than it is a faithful retelling. But, in that way, it shares DNA with Shakespeare’s story.


Q: The writer Katharine McGee said of the book, “A fun, heartfelt reimagining of the story we all know so well (but maybe not as well as we think!), Julieta and the Romeos juggles not one, not two, but three swoon-worthy romances, with a thoroughly modern Julieta who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants.” What do you think of that description?


A: I loved it! I was so delighted when my editor sent it to me… I had no idea that Katharine was reading to blurb! I love her books so much, so it was really flattering to read her kind words.

Q: What did you see as the right balance between your own characters and the original Romeo and Juliet characters?


A: It’s daunting to even suggest a connection between the two. Earlier versions of Julieta and the Romeos tried harder to stick to the rival families/star-crossed love elements of the original. But, over time, I started asking myself: “What if the central conflict of this story isn’t that family is conspiring to thwart love? What if the conflict was more internal?”


There’s the external conflict that my Julieta doesn’t know who her “Romeo” is, but there’s also the question of how she’s going to let herself open to love and to who she is in relation to it. So I moved in that direction with the draft that finally made it to print.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope that people are delighted by it and have a fun time reading it. I imagine everyone will take something different from it… at least I hope so! There are elements of the immigrant experience, the role of family in our lives, the challenge of going after an “impractical” dream, like writing, and, of course, all the thoughts on love. So I hope different things in the book will speak to different readers.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a fun YA with some sewing, fashion shows, and a little bit of fabulism. It’s a lot of fun so far. And it taps into my pride in the women in my family, who are all great seamstresses and who have known the power of crafting beautiful art for people to wear. Stay tuned for news on that one!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I got overenthusiastic and got a little too much swag for my book launch. So, if people contact me on my website, I have bookmarks and stickers I’d love to send them.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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