My guest today is author and television producer Anjanette Delgado, whose first novel, The Heartbreak Pill, was recently released by Atria Books. She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.
I hope you'll enjoy the interview!
Anjanette Delgado began her career as a journalist, working for outlets such as NBC, CNN, Univisión and Telemundo, covering presidential coups, elections, Olympics, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, both Iraq wars, which she executive produced, and winning an Emmy in 1994 for her human-interest series “Madres en la lejanía,” about the plight of Latino mothers who leave their own children behind and come to the United States to work as undocumented nannies.
She has written for Urban Latino, TV Más and the International Documentary Association magazine, written and produced lifestyle programs and documentaries for MGM Latin America and in 2002, wrote and developed the sitcom “Great in Bed” for HBO Latin America.
Thanks for being here, Anjanette. Your novel, The Heartbreak Pill, was recently released by Atria Books. How did you come up with the idea for this book? It sounds like a riot.
I worked as a television news producer for almost 10 years. Working for CNN, NBC, Telemundo and Univision… putting together the daily newscasts and special coverages… the results of extreme heartbreak haunted me from the editing room all the way to my bedroom. A good husband commits suicide after a divorce, a dentist runs over her husband 12 times… How could this happen? These had been sane, intelligent, caring people for decades… was heartbreak the cause of such tragedy? That’s when I first became interested, actually obsessed, with heartbreak and its effects.
Who is your target audience?
I’d love to say it’s everyone, but I can’t. It’s women. Modern women. Women wanting to transform their lives… women so full of love, and hope, and dreams, and fears. Women working so hard to do, and be, and feel loved and wanted. My mother, my sister, my daughters, my friends, strangers, other authors, myself… that’s who I write for, and when I get an email from a reader telling me something I wrote made her laugh or cry or think of something uplifting, it just makes my day. It’s when I feel clearly that writing is what I’m supposed to be doing.
You have a full schedule as a multi-media producer. Did you take time away to write the novel? If not, how do you set aside time to write?
I did not. I had two girls to raise. First, when I’m working on a draft… I need at least an entire day a week… so I’d do Saturdays. My house wasn’t very tidy back then.
After the story is shaped and I’m rewriting for detail and feel and humor… I can do a couple of hours every night and work on a couple of pages at a time.
No time off though… who has the luxury?
I hear you're already at work on a second novel. Tell us about it!
It’s called “The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho” and it’s about a woman who is born with the gift of seeing… which she renounces when she’s unable to predict her own mother’s death.
So she goes through life from one bad marriage to the next… because she doesn’t trust her own sight. But when her latest lover ends up dead the morning after he breaks up with her, she’s forced to come to terms with the risk of seeing more than she ever bargained for. In the process, hopefully, she’ll learn what I’m still trying to learn: how to trust my own intuition, my own perspective (sight).
Describe a regular day in your life.
Very boring. I wake, do a half-hour yoga session, drink my coffee, listen to NPR as I answer emails and write my blog. Then I spend 4-6 hours at the computer on client business… sometimes it’s an article, a presentation, other days I have meetings (which I try to schedule for the same day of the week). At 7pm, I make myself some dinner… and then I either write, read or watch some TV until my boyfriend gets home from work. On weekends, I try to do many different things… visit bookstores, antique markets, have lunch with friends, go to beach or a movie, make a special dinner, make a collage, meditate, whatever my spirit asks of me.
What do you find the most frustrating about the publishing process?
The lack of communication between parties… editors and sales people, bookstores and consumers, etc. Take fiction, for instance. It’s not selling well, because we don’t know how to promote it. We only know how to promote non-fiction: 10 steps to do this, or five ways to do that. Well, fiction can be promoted in much the same way. My novel, for example, has a lot of real science about how to deal with heartbreak, but since my first publicist never read the book, she couldn’t pitch it that way. By the time I realized she didn’t know how to sell my book better than me (Nobody ever does. Your book; your pitch) , I had missed many opportunities. It frustrates me that publishers buy books and publish them, and then don’t spend enough money to get the word out about them.
You're also a member of Las Comadres book club. Tell us a bit about this organization.
I joined them about 2 years ago on the advice of my editor, Johanna Castillo. It’s a fantastic organization of professional women, with over 15-thousand members all over the United States. You can find them at Yahoo groups and its absolutely free… just women getting together and sharing what we’ve learned with our comadres.
What's the best writing advice you've ever received?
Keep at it. Good, bad, whatever. Keep writing and reading good books. If you have something to say, it will shape up. You can speak, can’t you? Then you can write. It’s a craft. You have to practice.
Do you have a website where readers may find more about you and your work?
Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Yes. I’d like to tell them that I wrote my book to be a friend to them. Sure, it’s chick lit. But like much good chick lit, it’s there to entertain and keep you company as you go through your days. To talk about things you care about with humor, to let you know that you’re not alone, much less the only woman that ever had to call in sick because she didn’t have the strength to comb her hair after a breakup, or after the kids went to college. Women are changing the world, but the world is also changing so much that we sometimes don’t know when to change with it and when to hang on to the good already within us. That’s what women’s lit is for. And that I love them. Every time someone picks up a book in search of something to fill his or her heart, I can’t help it. I love them.
Causes Mayra Calvani Supports
World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary