Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Habanera by Teresa Dovalpage

Welcome to author Teresa Dovalpage


Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana in 1966 and presently lives in Taos, New Mexico, where she teaches at UNM-Taos. She has a Ph.D. in Latin American literature and is the author of five novels, three in Spanish and two in English, and a collection of short stories in Spanish. Her novels in Spanish are Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006, a runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain), El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel, Ediciones Iduna, 2010, that won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain in 2009) and Posesas de La Habana (Haunted ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004). Her English-language novels are A Girl like Che Guevara (Soho Press, 2004) and Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban Family (Floricanto Press, 2010).
As a playwright she has authored La hija de La Llorona (The Wailing Woman’s Daughter) and Hasta que el mortgage nos separe (Until the mortgage do us part). Her articles, reviews and short stories have appeared in Rosebud, Latino Today, Afro-Hispanic Review, Baquiana, La Peregrina, Letras Femeninas, El Nuevo Herald and other publications. She currently works as a freelancer for The Taos News.
Her website is Her blog in Spanish, that complements her narrative workshop, is and her blog in English, where some of her articles are posted, is  Her Facebook page

Night owl, or early bird?
Night owl, definitely…It is easier to write when the house is silent and husband, cats and dogs have gone to bed.

One food you would never eat?
After I became a vegetarian, a steak. The strange thing is that before, I couldn’t go to sleep without eating a steak or a piece of ham, unhealthy as it sounds. I blamed it on my Cuban upbringing, when there weren’t too many steaks available… Then one night, after attending a Skype presentation given by Ram Dass, I just stopped eating meat. It was weird because he didn’t say a word about vegetarianism or anything of that sort. It just happened.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
To peek behind the Sugar Cane Curtain of contemporary Cuba.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 
I am currently working with Patricia Padilla, a Taos-based eighth generation curandera, on a book about Curanderismo. Its title is 101 Questions to a Curandera and it will be published in English and in Spanish. I am also finishing a collection of short stories in English, with settings that range from New Mexico to Havana.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Winning the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Malaga, Spain, in 2009 with my short novel El Difunto Fidel (The Late Fidel). I had written a play called Hasta que el mortgage nos separe (Until Mortgage Do Us Part) that was staged in Chicago by Aguijon Theater. When I heard about the contest, I didn‘t have anything else ready so I transformed the play into a short novel and sent it. It was such a great surprise to know that it had won!

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? 
Little Women. It was one of the first books I was able to read in English (with the help of a dictionary, of course). I was around eleven years old and it made learning a new language absolutely enjoyable.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Yes, I have songs for almost all my books. For Habanera, the song is an old bolero entitled Longina—the main character is named after that song. It can be heard in the trailer.
My novel Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian Man in Havana) has the structure of a Spanish zarzuela, Los gavilanes, and there are references to it all through the book.
El Difunto Fidel (The Late Fidel) has the background of the Mexican song El rey…
If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?
Probably Athena, with owl and everything.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I am really happy living in Taos, a small, mystical, artistic and enchanted town in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Yes, in many of them. Longina, the protagonist of Habanera is a spoiled only child, just like I was. Elsa, a character in Posesas de La Habana, has a lot of autobiographical background.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
Marrying a man forty years my senior. But it worked out well. He was my first husband, a wonderful man, and brought me to the United States.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Always have a plan B, my grandma used to say. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but just in case I got a Ph D in Spanish literature and I have kept teaching as a part time job for many years.

Favorite Food?
Now, rice, eggs, and avocado. That used to be my regular dinner when I lived in Havana during the “special period” —the economic crisis that started in 1991—and I wasn’t happy with it then. And just a few days ago I found myself thinking, Coño, I have come to La Yuma, as we called the United States in Cuba, to eat the kind of food I turned my nose up during the 90’s in Cuba.

If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
Jasmine tea!

What do you do in your free time? 
I work out because I have to compensate for the many hours I spend in front of the computer.  I take walks with my husband and spoil my cats and dogs.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

From Havana to Taos…at least up to now.

Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban family
To watch a book trailer, click here
Book blurb:

Habanera is a wonderfully lively and entertaining journey, alternately humorous and wistful. By the end, you will feel as if you have traveled to one of the most exotic islands on earth, during its most surrealistic historical moment. Dovalpage is a master of quirky, loveable characters, and emotionally resonant narrative. Habanera bursts with the energetic curiosity and hopefulness of youth.

Giveaway Details:
2 winners will each receive a copy of Habanera
Open Internationally
Ends 8/25/11

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