Today, I’m particularly excited to introduce Mixed-Up Files readers to Christina Diaz Gonzalez. I’ve known Christina for many years and have followed her amazing career. In April, Christina was the recipient of the prestigious Edgar® Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America, for her novel Concealed. She is the author of several other award-winning books, including The Red Umbrella, A Thunderous Whisper, Moving Target, and others. Upcoming novels include: Invisible (a graphic novel available in August 2022) and The Bluest Sky (a historical fiction novel available in September 2022). Her books have received numerous honors including the Florida Book Award, the Nebraska Book Award, and the International Latino Book Award. Her work has also been designated as an American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection, and as an International Reading Association’s Teachers’ Choice book. Christina currently lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband, sons, and a dog that can open doors.
(Mouse over the titles of books for purchase or preorder.)
Dorian: First, huge congratulations on all the accolades you’ve gotten for Concealed. Can you tell us a little about the book and what inspired the story?
Christina: Thank you … I’m so thrilled about the response Concealed has received. Concealed is the story of a girl (currently named Katrina) who believes she and her parents are in the Witness Protection Program … having to change their names and move every time their cover could be revealed. But when her parents disappear, Katrina discovers that living a life of lies has been the biggest lie of them all. She discovers that the only way to save her parents is to find out the truth about who she is and why they have been on the run … even if it means destroying everything she has ever believed about herself and her family.
As for what inspired the story … a news story sparked my imagination, but I can’t say much more without giving away a huge spoiler (although I do address it in an author’s note at the back of the book).
Dorian: That’s really intriguing. What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Christina: There were various levels of research like delving into scientific journals, plotting out travel times between cities, and researching where dairy farms in Georgia might be located. I try to add a level authenticity to even my more outrageous twists and plot scenarios.
Dorian: Concealed has a lot of twists and turns. Did you know what they would be when you first sat down to write the book, or did they come to you as you wrote?
Christina: I knew what some of the BIG twists would be, but many of the smaller ones revealed themselves as I wrote the story. I am much more of a “pantser” (write by the seat of my pants) instead of a plotter who outlines the whole book before writing the first draft.
Books by Christina
Dorian: What do you enjoy most about writing for the middle-grade audience?
Christina: I love writing (and reading) middle-grade books because it seems to be a time in a person’s life where the impossible can still be possible. There is no one path to follow because it’s a time of discovering who you are and who you want to be.
Dorian: What are three of your best tips for our readers who are writers or would like to become writers?
- Write the story you would want to read.
- Write from your heart.
- Just write (you can always make it better when you revise).
Dorian: What do you have in the works that our readers can look forward to?
Christina: I have a graphic novel, Invisible (a Breakfast Club-inspired story set in middle school that is illustrated by Gabriela Epstein), coming out this August and a historical fiction novel, The Bluest Sky (set during Cuba’s 1980 Mariel boat lift where over 125,000 Cubans came to the US) that comes out in September. Needless to say, I am excited for the Fall!
Thanks, Christina, for taking the time out to share with MUF readers!