Author Interview With Lilliam Rivera Featuring Never Look Back {Latinx Heritage Month Series 2020}

For the second post in my Latinx Heritage Month Series today’s guest is Lilliam Rivera, award-winning author of YA novels such as The Education Of Margot Sanchez and Dealing In Dreams! Her latest novel Never Look Back released just last week and this modern-day retelling follows 2 Afro-Latinx teens navigating love, identity, and much more! 🌿🌺

Here’s Lilliam to introduce what Never Look Back and what its all about:

“Never Look Back is a modern retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in New York with Pheus, a wannabe bachata singer who meets and falls in love with Eury, a Puerto Rican displaced from her home by Hurricane Maria and followed by an angry spirit. It is a story about generational trauma, faith, and love.”

Next, I asked Lilliam what inspired her novel and she shared that at its root, this a novel about hope:

“My novel is inspired by Hurricane Maria and how it affected my family living on the island. I needed to find a way to write about the rage I felt during that time while I watched our government do nothing to help those on the island. Never Look Back was my way of searching for hope.”

I also recommend reading Lilliam’s phenomenal essay from Elle titled “One Year After Hurricane Maria, We Are Still Picking Up The Pieces.”

All 3 of Lilliam’s novels have been set in the Bronx, so she delved into what unites these stories:

“My first novel The Education of Margot Sanchez is a contemporary coming of age story. Dealing In Dreams is a dystopian tale set in a world where girl gangs rules the streets. And finally, Never Look Back is my retelling. What unites them is that they are all love letters to the place I was born and raised.”

Never Look Back is told through dual POV, so I then asked Lilliam what inspired this and whose she enjoyed writing the most:

“I wrote them in alternating POV because I wanted to challenge myself. I had a lot of fun writing Pheus. It was the first time writing from the POV of a boy. Eury was harder to write because she was shy and dealing with many difficult emotions.”

Lilliam’s contemporary novel delves into magical realism and is also a retelling! So I then asked her if there was any particular element of these genres she enjoyed writing the most (mini spoiler):

“I didn’t really think about the different craft elements I was introducing. I only thought about the story and what the characters wanted to say. Although I don’t have a favorite, it was a lot of fun to explore the underworld.”

Alongside that, I asked Lilliam what she was most excited for readers to discover about her new novel:

“I just want them to follow the journey Pheus and Eury take and to root for them. I love these characters and I hope readers love them too.”

To conclude our interview, I had to ask Lilliam if there are any Latine/Latinx YA books she recommends:

“These novels are coming out this year and should be on everyone’s radar:

Mark Oshiro’s Each Of Us A Desert

Yamile Saied Méndez’s Furia

Amparo Ortiz’s Blazewrath Games

Zoraida Córdova’s Wayward Witch

Thank you to Lilliam for joining me on the blog today and hope you’ll all join me for next week’s 3rd post in my Latinx Heritage Month Series!

You can order Never Look Back from Rivera’s local independent bookstore Skylight Books or from today’s featured Latinx-owned indie called The Lit Bar located in the Bronx! 💖📚

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