Interview with Paz Ellis
Author of Plantains and the Seven Plagues- A memoir: Half-Dominican, Half-Cuban, and Full Life
Paz Ellis has been writing since childhood. She began her journey as a writer with poetry and short stories. She was born and raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Florida. She lived on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma for twenty years with her husband and their two teenage sons. Paz is also a photographer, a history buff, and an avid reader.
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How would you describe 'Plantains and the Seven Plagues' to a new reader?
- My memoir is a collection of my memories and stories that were told to me by my parents. I write about my parent's first meeting up until my mother's death. It is funny and sad, but full of love and all the craziness that comes with being a part of a biracial, multi-cultural family.
What was the inspiration behind 'Plantains and the Seven Plagues' ?
- Plantains and the Seven Plagues was inspired by the recent passing of my mother, I found myself entrenched in the past looking for answers and resolution to my grief. The result is this memoir that I dedicate to the memory of my loving parents.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- Some of my favorite authors are Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ken Follet, Toni Morrison, and Amy Harmon, just to name a few! I love historical fiction the most, and some of these authors inspire me! My style is uniquely my own, but I like the simplicity of Hemingway. I am not a fan of too much verbiage in descriptions.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in your book?
- My book features the town I grew up in-- West New York, New Jersey, the beaches and places we went fishing with our parents. My dad loved fishing!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Write! If you have an idea write it down. Do not just think, "oh, I want to be a writer..."
A writer writes!
What's your writing process?
- I keep notebooks of all my ideas, however, when a book is blossoming in my brain, I immediately begin writing. I will do research, if necessary for the topic, but mostly I do not stop writing until that first draft is complete. I then read it and usually make a lot of changes, then proofread it about ten more times before I even consider sending it to my editor.
When and why did u start writing or how did your love of books come about?
- I grew up in a household of voracious readers. My father used to write Cuban folk songs and one of my uncles is a poet. Like my older sister, I kept journals from an early age and wrote poems and short stories. When I was about twelve-years-old my mother bought me my first hardcover book. It was a beautiful copy of "Little Women." I looked at it and realized my name would be on a book cover one day. However, my first book was a product of grief. I wrote a memoir several months after my mother passed away and I have not stopped since that day.
What is your Inspiration to write in general?
- I am inspired by people, by love, and by life. All my books thus far have a piece of me or my family history as the inspiration or springboard.
How have readers responded to 'Plantains and the Seven Plagues'?
- Readers are finding the memoir funny, witty, and sad. Many write to me that they relate to a lot of situations I wrote about, particularly if they grew up in a home with immigrant parents. The book has received a very warm welcome!
Where next? What are you working on now?
- I have a book with my editor, "Just Finn." A fictional story about a young many living with Asperger Syndrome. I was inspired by my brother! The second book in the series is half-way done and will launch in the Fall of 2020. Also, I am blogging!
Plantains and the Seven Plagues is the author's first memoir about her life growing up as a child of a Cuban father and Dominican mother in New Jersey. The book deals with the assimilation issues of many first-generation American children and the cultural impacts on their day to day lives. Paz takes us on a journey that includes her parent’s courtship, her mother's traumatic childhood, her father’s deep emotions regarding his birthplace, illnesses, her struggles in school, strong family bonds, and her mother's recent passing. You will laugh and cry as you peek into Paz's childhood, from her naughty toddler years to her rebellious teens and the ups and downs of her relationship with her parents.