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Monica Gomez-Hira Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Once Upon a Quinceañera (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Monica Gomez-Hira
Monica Gomez-Hira is a Colombian immigrant’s daughter, the wife of an Indian immigrant, the mom of a half Indian/half Latina daughter, and the quintessential Jersey girl that loves salsa just as much as Springsteen.

Monica got her BA in English at Wellesley College, and spent much of her professional life surrounded by books and a bunch of people that love them. She started out her career working for literary agencies, moved to publicity and editorial at Simon & Schuster and Random House, and was a children’s lead bookseller at Barnes & Noble.

Monica knew that she wanted to eventually write her own book and believes she saw working for literary agencies, booksellers, and publishers as endless research. She wanted to get all of the different perspectives in terms of what it would be like for an agent, what it’s like on the publicity end of things, what it is like for an editor. What’s so interesting about all this is that none of it has helped her emotionally with the process of debuting.

However she really enjoyed working in each of these areas, since she believes it was a chance to elevate other POC voices. She was happy to be able to put her own perspective in wherever she could.

She began writing “Once Upon a Quinceanera” toward the end of 2015. Like a bunch of writers, she’d been writing on and off for years, and had already written some full length manuscripts and a lot of pieces of other things.

However she never had worked on anything consistently and revised until she got to this book. It just felt different in some way. She didn’t want to give up on it. She loved her characters so very much that even when she hit parts of the process where she was totally confused and ready to move on to some other project, she just couldn’t. Their voices spoke to her so loud. So she committed herself to finishing it.

It wasn’t all that difficult writing from another perspective different from her own. She grew up right outside of Union City, New Jersey, which is predominantly Cuban, and then her parents moved to Miami, which is also very Cuban. So she feels like she has been around Cuban people, surrounded by them, and she felt more culturally aligned with them than she did even with Colombian people, since they were the minority by far in each place.

So she was able to draw upon the experiences of people that she had grown up with, friends, people that she went to school with. However she could only draw on the people that she knew and their experiences, so she certainly doesn’t want to make some claim that she is talking to a larger Latin or Cuban-American experience, since everything that happens in the novel is very specific to Ariana and Carmen and their whole entire crazy clan.

She never got to have a quince, but she was fascinated by them. Any kind of party situation has the ability to bring out the worst and best in every family, they are just rife with drama. Monica believes quinceaneras are this odd in-between period for a young woman. She is a girl, she is supposed to be seen as a woman, yet just how willing is the family to see the girl that’s growing into womanhood as a woman?

And the parties starting so much more elaborate over time and that was fascinating to her. It went from a very simple wear the white dress, have a mass with your family, and then have a party. Nowadays there are themes, there’s fireworks, and there are Disney cruises which are only for quinceaneras! And she knew that there was a story to tell there.

Monica’s fascination with quinceaneras started when she went to one for the very first time while she was an English major at Wellesley College. The spectacle of the fifteen year old’s party amazed the then aspiring author. They had a smokescreen, and then wheeled her out, and she was in this giant flower. The flower opened slowly, and she rose out of the flower. Monica never had such a party like this.

As the daughter of Colombian immigrants, this moment in time sparked an idea for a story, one which laid in gestation for years while she worked on the publishing and selling side of books.

She didn’t plan on writing a story about a Latin character. While in college, she admired Sylvia Plath and J.D. Salinger, as well as the writers of the Beat generation. While getting older, it became more important for her to write something that really reflected her, her background, and the people she grew up with. Because while she was younger, it felt as though they weren’t in books because they weren’t interesting enough to write about, which is a contradiction, since everyone in her life was totally fascinating.

“Once Upon a Quinceanera” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2021. Carmen Aguilar only wants to make her happily ever after come true. But apparently “happily ever after” for Carmen involves getting stuck in an unpaid summer internship! All that she’s got to do is perform! In a ball gown! In the summer, in Miami.

That’s fine. But Carmen’s company is hired for her spoiled cousin Ariana’s over the top quinceanera. And of course, her new dance partner where she works is none other than Mauro Reyes, Carmen’s most deeply regrettable ex.

If she’s going to move into the future that she wants, she will need to leave the past behind her. And if she’s able to manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off texts from Mauro, and keeping Ariana from ruining her own quinceanera then Carmen may just get that happily ever after finally.

Monixa writing delights in this, handling the romantic tension between Mauro and Carmen, as well as the strained, aptly layered family dynamics and the Miami setting, with flair and fun. Compelling characters and their relationships dazzle like a quinceanera tiara.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Monica Gomez-Hira

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