Published December 16, 2020

Priscilla Oliveras, author of Holiday Home Run, writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Her work has garnered praise from The Washington Post, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Oprah Magazine, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, among others. Learn more at PrisOliveras.com.

Get to know Priscilla in this Q&A and then join us on Thursday, December 17 at 12 PM ET to hear her discuss her work in SHELF LIFE: Heartwarming Holidays: Romance Writing & Publishing.

Festival: What motivated you to become a writer? 

Oliveras: Like most authors, I was a devout romance reader before I decided to try writing my first novel. At the time, I was a full-time student majoring in English, a military spouse and new mom. Due to a surprise military move, I had to take a semester off my studies, so I decided to challenge myself by writing a novel — and yes, it was much more of a challenge than I realized. But I was hooked from the moment I first typed the words “Chapter One.”

Who or what are some of your creative influences?

I’ve always been a fan of book series — following a cast of characters through multiple novels. Years ago, I devoured Jude Deveraux’s books about the Montgomerys. Then, when I discovered Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, I was hooked. As a reader, I fell in love with her characters. As a writer, I admired her ability to create this world filled with unique, relatable people and stories that overlapped and carried through multiple books. 

In recent years, I’ve found creative inspiration and a motivation to move my readers in the way books by the following authors move me: Kristan Higgins, Sonali Dev, Barbara O’Neal, Farrah Rochon, Sarah MacLean, Mia Sosa, and Alexis Daria. And honestly, I could list more. Romancelandia is filled with amazingly talented authors.

What was your favorite part about writing your book?

Oh goodness, Island Affair (April 2020) and the Keys to Love series have allowed me to do something as a writer I’ve always longed to do… take readers home with me to Key West, where I lived throughout my adolescent years. Sharing my island home, bringing it to life and creating a familia with a rich history there… it’s been truly rewarding.

Having Holiday Home Run re-release as a digital standalone has also been a real treat. Writing Julia and Ben’s romance evoked a sense of nostalgia within me. The music and traditions Julia incorporates into the fundraiser, the sense of familia Ben craves and finds with her… they’re all part of my familia’s holiday celebrations past and present. So, writing their romance was like sharing a little part of me and my familia with readers.

Do you have any sources of inspiration that you come back to while writing?

Music is usually a great source of inspiration when I’m writing. The emotions music can evoke through the lyrics, composition, or the combination of both often feel like food for my writer’s soul. Goodness, that sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. 

Listening to parranda tunes while writing Holiday Home Run kept me in a holiday mood. But it also brought back a yearning for familia and traditions — a conflict both Julia and Ben face in the novella, in different ways.

While writing Island Affair, Spanish love songs old and new crooned in my ears via my headphones. Ooh, the bachata music during the scene with Luis and Sara dancing after sunset had me up and out of my chair, doing a little dancing of my own. That’s known to happen if you peek into my writing space.

What impact or takeaway do you hope your work will have for readers? 

Like many other romance writers, I view romance as the genre of hope. Stories that show how healthy relationships enrich our lives, proof that we’re all deserving of our own HEA (happily ever after). With my work, my goal is for readers to finish one of my novels feeling like they’ve made new friends they want to revisit again, so the book stays on their Keeper Shelf. If the reader is Latinx, I hope they enjoy seeing a bit of themselves or their familia on the pages. If they’re not Latinx, I hope they finish feeling an appreciation for the cultural aspects that play a role in my characters’ lives. Overall, I want the reader to finish with a sense of satisfaction and the belief that love can and will prevail.

What is something that you’ve read recently and would recommend to others?

A recent release I highly recommend is How To Fail At Flirting by Denise Williams. I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Denise’s debut and let me say, it’s fantastic. I laughed… okay, at times I actually snorted with laughter… I teared up, I cheered, and I swooned over her delectable romance.

What are you working on next?

As usual, there are projects in various stages on my desk at the moment…

The page proofs for Anchored Hearts, book #2 in my Keys to Love series which releases on April 27, are due at the end of the week. I’m really excited to take readers back to Key West for this second chance romance featuring Anamaría Navarro and her high school sweetheart, Alejandro.

I also just sent back page proofs for a novella, Lights Out, that releases at the end of May as part of the Summer In The City anthology. This novella combines my love of romance novels, musical theater, and baseball along with heartfelt pride for my familia’s beloved Puerto Rico, my mom’s native home.

And, my current work-in-progress is book 1 in a new series featuring a group of foster sisters in an all-female mariachi band. When the sisters enter a band competition in an effort to raise money to help their parents, a decades-old feud between two familias that’s centered around gentrification in their west San Antonio, Texas, community escalates. West Side Love Story is scheduled to release summer of 2022.

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