Latinx Voices: Interview with Gabriela Martins, author of LIKE A LOVE SONG

Hi and welcome to the first interview of the revamped Chai and Chapters!

I’m so excited to be talking to Gabriela Martins, author of the upcoming YA Romace LIKE A LOVE SONG (out in 2021!) as part of Latinx Heritage Month.

I’ve been so looking forward to LIKE A LOVE SONG ever since the deal announcement came out in Publisher’s Weekly. I mean, hello, Latina pop star and fake dating trope—what’s not to love?

Here’s the deal announcement so you know what I’m talking about.

You can add it on Goodreads here.

Gabriela very kindly and enthusiastically agreed to this interview and it was so much fun (as you will find out when you read on), and honestly, this book should be high on your 2021 radar if it isn’t already.

Ahhh, Gabriela, welcome to Chai and Chapters. I’m thrilled to have you here before you’re swept up by interviews once LIKE A LOVE SONG is out, because I know that it’s going to be phenomenal. Tell us something about LIKE A LOVE SONG that’s not there in the summary.

First of all, thank you so much for reaching out. I’m honored to be featured in Chai And Chapters!

The one bed trope! LOL. Other than that, there’s a whole lot of friendship and family talk. Both Nati and William are family-people in their own way, and it was important for me that they kept their priorities straight. Nati’s relationship with her best friends is also very important throughout the book. Hmmm let me see, what else! All of the main characters, with the exception of Nati, are queer. William’s bisexual, and so is Brenda, and Padma is gay. Hm hm hm hm! There’s a trip! Some random Brazilian history facts! I love trivia so there’s some randomness in there as well.

Gahh, is it possible to love your book anymore? Because I do. What was the origin story for LIKE A LOVE SONG?

The origin is a whole lot of depression. I’m saying this while smiling, because it sounds absurd, but it really is how this story got started. I’d always written very dark books, but when I started this story, I was in a very dark moment of my life, and nothing I started gained traction.

Then I decided to try writing a romcom. I’d always read them, but had never written one before… and it was so, so good for me. I fell in love with the characters immediately. While they handled their fair share of serious problems, the upbeat tone of a romantic comedy gave me the space I needed to start reevaluating my own problems. I looked forward to sitting down and writing this story every day. It was a major source of light and happiness for me, so I hope it is for you too!

This is so important. I don’t think romantic comedies get their due in litverse, but they have also kept me alive during this whole pandemic. What was the best thing about writing LIKE A LOVE SONG?

How much I fell in love with writing romcoms! I loved the rhythm of the beats, the fast-paced dialogue-heavy moments, the awkward and the swoony! I can’t see myself not writing romcoms anymore. 

Already looking forward to the rest! And the hardest thing about writing LIKE A LOVE SONG?

There is a lot of discussion of not feeling welcome/part of your own community in the book. Nati immigrated from Brazil to the United States when she was a young child, and therefore she has very conflicting feelings about her Latinidade. I share a lot of these feelings, but on a different scale. I’m not from the diaspora—I was born and raised in Brazil. But there are tons of aspects of claiming Latinidade, either online or when traveling, that feel odd to me. That aspect was both nerve-wrecking and empowering to write about.

As a South Asian blogger and aspiring writer, I feel this. There’s so much attached to how much of your identity is valid based on how well you perform your identity as per gatekeeping standards. Tell me about your favorite tropes. How many of them do we get to see in LIKE A LOVE SONG?

Fake dating is my absolute fave, and it’s definitely the biggest trope in the book! As I mentioned above, there’s also the one bed trope that I adore! There are a few tropes that I subvert a bit, so I’ll leave those a secret for now. Some of the tropes that I love but aren’t featured in this book: rivals to lovers, childhood best friends to enemies to lovers, reluctant chosen one, and found family.

The one bed trope both mortifies me and thrills me, lmao. Tell us the top 5 books by Latinx authors on your list right now.

Have you all read BLAZEWRATH GAMES by Amparo Ortiz yet? I’m obsessed! I’m super into FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez. I couldn’t not mention Lucas Rocha’s WHERE WE GO FROM HERE, Laura Pohl’s scifi duology THE LAST 8 and THE FIRST 7. To finish my recs, one of my all-time faves: PERLA by Carolina de Robertis. 

Those are some fantastic recommendations. On that note, what are you currently reading?

Alright, so I’m a big language nerd. I’m currently reading SHORT STORIES IN NORWEGIAN by Olly Richards. LOL Before that, I reread SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari, which reinforces that I am, in fact, a big nerd. As soon as I finish the book of short stories, though, I’m starting UNDEAD GIRL GANG by Lily Anderson. Super excited about it!

We are all nerds here, so you’re in the right community, haha. What do you hope readers take away from reading LIKE A LOVE SONG?

You are perfect the way you are. You are accepted. You are loved. We all have your back. ❤

Those are words to live by! What’s a writing advice you swear by?

The writing advice I swear by is that no writing advice is actually good. Here in Brazil there’s a saying: if advice was any good, we’d charge for them! LOL.

There’s a lot of dos and don’ts and I personally feel that they all can be subverted, especially if you’re writing from the Global South, where stories can be told in different beats and still greatly succeed. While I plan my beats carefully, I don’t fully subscribe to the idea that a story has to be told a certain way for it to work.

Also, the way I write may not be the best for you, and the way I write one story is not even similar to the way I write my next. I’ve completed almost twenty manuscripts by now, and they were all written differently. Some very fast, some slowly, some with ideas that spurred overnight, some that had been taking form in my subconscious for a decade. It’s different every time, for everyone.

If I absolutely do need to give advice, my advice is this: be creative with your process. Be open to change.

Being open to change is something we could all use in all walks of life ❤ To top off this interview, if wishes were horses, what’s your biggest writing dream?

I have a ton! Right now, what I would love the most would be to know that my book made a difference in someone’s life, and brought them a little light. :’)

This has been an absolute pleasure and honor, Gabriela!

_______________________________

About Gabriela Martins:

GABRIELA MARTINS is a Brazilian kidlit author and linguist. Her stories feature Brazilian characters finding themselves and love. She was a high school teacher and has also worked as a TED Ed-Club facilitator, where she helped teens develop their own talks in TED format to present. She edited and self-published a pro-bono LGBTQ+ anthology (KEEP FAITH) with all funds going to queer people in need. Gabriela also used to host monthly webinars with themes ranging from Linguistics in Fiction to Self-Care for Writers. She was recently selected as a Pitch Wars mentor for 2020. Her debut, LIKE A LOVE SONG (Underlined/PRH) comes out in summer 2021. Find her on Twitter at @gabhimartins, on Instagram at @gabhi, and visit her website at gabrielawrites.com.

Hope you enjoyed this! See you all soon.

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