Tanya Maria Barrientos is one of those authors who is so highly recommended by writers you know, such as Suzanne Strempek Shea and Jennifer Weiner,that you're
willing to try one of their books and are thankful that you did. Tanya's first
novel,Frontera Street,tells the story of two women from the opposite sides of
the tracks who find that they have more in common than they know when they begin
working together at Frontera Street Fabrics. It's a beautiful story of finding
community and friendship despite the social and emotional borders that divide
Family Resemblance,her second novel,was a Ride and Read Transit Book Club pick
and she has also recieved a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts
in 2001 and also the Pew Fellowship in the Arts that same year. Currently,Tanya
is a journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and I was fortunate enough to talk
with her for your reading pleasure:
1)There are characters in both of your novels,Frontera
Street and Family Resemblance,who have a love of
sewing, is this an interest of yours as well?
Funny you should ask. My mother is an amazing seamstress. She made all
clothes when I was growing up and that is why I decided to set much of
Frontera Street in a fabric shop. I was dragged to countless fabric
propped on a bench in front of the pattern books and told to wait for
loved the colors and textures of the fabric, and I liked paging through
those giant pattern books. Problem was, I was a TERRIBLE
portion of FRONTERA STREET about Dee making a pair of coulottes that
pinch was straight out of my girlhood.
Now, in FAMILY RESEMBLANCE the main character needlepoints. That's my
I love it, and had a great time inventing projects for Nita in the
2)Your second novel,Family Resemblance,was a selectionof the Read & Ride Transit Book Club;how did it feel
to be the recommended reading for an entire city?
It was an amazing honor. They always pick a fiction book and a
book and the month they chose my novel, they selected SEABISCUIT as the
non-fiction book. I took my husband to my local B&N and made him take a
picture of the display they had set up with FAMILY RESEMBLANCE and
SEABISCUIT sharing a table..I knew that was never going to happen
3)Have you ever considered writing a nonfiction book?
In the real world, I'm a journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, so I
with non fiction all the time. So far the bug to write a non fiction
has not bitten.
4)Will you write a follow-up to Frontera Street?
No. I think the story has been told.
5)Who do you think is the most promising voice in
Wow, what a tremendously difficult question. I'm a big fan of Gish Jen
the Chinese writer Dai Sijie. I love Suzanne Strempek Shea and Elinor
I love Ian McEwan and Zadie Smith and Ann Patchett ....Face it, this
question in impossible to answer!
6)What were some of your favorite books growing up?
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, of course.
GONE WITH THE WIND, which I think I read eight times.
THE CHOSEN, AND THE PROMISE by Chaim Potok
Anything by Jane Austen and the Brontes...
As a little kid, my faves were:
HARRIET THE SPY and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and a book I
think too many people have heard of called BEAUTIFUL JOE, about a dog.
And ANYTHING by Beverly Cleary..Little Women (natch) and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder
books..I Loved those!!!
7)Do you think the internet has become more of a help
or a hinderance to writers and readers alike?
Probably a help, because now regular readers (as opposed to critics)
the power to make a book a hit more than ever before.
My thanks to Tanya for taking the time to chat with me and I strongly urge folks
looking for a good read to check her out(click the title link to find out more).
There are plenty of good writers with great stories to tell that may not catch
your eye right away but some things are definately worth a second look. Tanya's
novels are worth that and more.
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