Welcome to another #BeyondTheBio here at PickMyYA! Our weekly interview series features YA authors chatting with teen readers, and we’re so excited to have you join us today!
Our guest author this week is a #BeyondTheBio alum. Loyal readers may remember Marie from 2017, when she joined us to talk about her new book The Radius Of Us. Marie’s here today to talk about her debut Dream Things True, which was recently re-released in response to the timeliness of its character and story. Marie’s a college professor and immigration advocate who’s been featured on NPR, BBC America, and NBC. She owns a bearded dragon.
Today’s teen interviewer is Iyccis. Iyccis is an out-and-proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, and she loves to play the ukulele. Her all-time favorite book is Becky Albertalli’s Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Be sure to stick around to the end of the interview to find out how you can host a #BeyondTheBio interview with your favorite author. We’re also giving away a personalized copy of Dream Things True to one lucky reader! Could it be you? We're rooting for you.
Alright, let’s do this thing!
Iyccis: Hello, Mrs. Marquardt. I’ve really enjoyed Dream Things True and am excited to ask you some questions about it. Dream Things True was your first young adult novel. Where did you get the inspiration to start writing it?
Marie: I have been working with undocumented immigrants from many years as an academic researcher, advocate, and service provider. Because I’ve written non-fiction books about undocumented immigration, I often get asked to talk with groups of non-immigrants about these issues. I know a lot of facts and figures, and these help people think about immigration in new ways, but I find that what really matters is relationships – knowing and loving a person who faces complicated issues is what makes a person care.
I decided to write Dream Things True because I wanted to give readers a chance to step into a story inspired by undocumented immigrant friends that I’ve come to know and love. Each of their stories is unique, and each one matters. I hope all of my novels will remind readers that undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers are so much more than a number or a “problem”. When we turn real, complex, people into a number, we strip them of their humanity. I think this paves the way for terrible consequences, not only for undocumented immigrants, but for the neighborhoods, churches, schools, and communities where they live, play, work, and worship.
I wrote Dream Things True in alternating points of view because I want for readers to imagine themselves into the experience of being an undocumented teenager, and I also want for them to imagine what it would be like to love an undocumented teenager, and to want the best for her. I firmly believe that when we see thorny issues through the eyes of love, it changes everything.
Iyccis: Both Evan and Alma are in high school. So am I! What was high school like for you, Mrs. Marquardt?
Marie: I shared a few things in common with Alma in high school! I was very hard-working and ambitious, and I tended to stress-out about my future. I sometimes look back at that time and wish someone had convinced me to relax and hang out more with my friends – basically to live more in the present and worry less about what’s next.
Iyccis: Alma and Evan were having a lot of problems basically confessing their feelings to each other. What advice would you give to teens that are struggling to tell their crushes how they truly feel?
Marie: This is a tough one. It’s hard to be vulnerable with other people. But in my experience, the most amazing things have happened when I let myself be honest and authentic with the people I care about (including my crushes). One of those crushes was my husband. We started dating when I was a teenager, and we’re about to celebrate 25 years of marriage! Our relationship started with honesty and vulnerability, and that’s been a wonderful foundation for us. I tried to explore that with Evan and Alma – when they opened up to share their struggles and their secrets with each other, their relationship got so much better.
Iyccis: How did you come up with the names Alma and Evan?
Marie: I always have loved the name “Alma”, since it means “soul” in Spanish. I had a dear friend named Alma many years ago. She was an immigrant from Mexico, and when her husband was deported, she and her daughter had to move back. We lost touch (this was before social media made it easy to stay in contact!). I named the character to honor her influence on my life. I still hope someday to see her again and share this story with her!
I don’t remember exactly where Evan came from. I think my son had a preschool friend with that name, and it just popped into my head when I was first drafting the story. I thought it sounded good with Alma.
Iyccis: I know you have four children yourself. What are some books that they like to read?
Marie: I do have four kids, and three of them are teenagers now! My oldest daughter has been one of the first readers for all of my books – she is brutally honest with me, which can be tough, but it definitely makes my books better. Some of the books my kids have read and loved recently were What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, Mosquitoland by David Arnold, and It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura. Over the holidays, one of them re-read the entire Harry Potter series for the zillionth time.
That’s it for today’s interview with Marie. If you're a book-loving teen like Iyccis, click here to learn how to become a guest host for an upcoming #BeyondTheBio interview. It's an easy and fun chance to interview any YA author you choose, and it’s only open to teens!
Plus, we’ve got a giveaway this week! We’re teaming up with Marie to give one lucky winner a personalized copy of Dream Things True. It's open to readers of any age, just so long as they live in the United States. You can enter the giveaway by clicking on the image below. Good luck!