Alert
Close

Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location

Highlights

Open

Bob Dylan Talks!
Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together

Horoscope

Aries - Horóscopo de AARP

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between March 21 & April 19

CONTESTS & SWEEPS

AARP Superstar Contest

Help pick AARP’s best singers for a chance to win $5,000.

See Official Rules

Win an ARRP Real Pad Tablet - Tribute to an Ancestor Contest

2015 LIFE@50+ MIAMI

Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free

Most Popular

Viewed

From Dirty Girls to Enlightened Ladies

Chica lit writer Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez challenges genre expectations with her novel The Three Kings.

En español | Chica lit. Before 2003, the genre — shorthand for women’s fiction featuring middle-class Latinas — didn’t exist. Then came Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez with her bestseller, The Dirty Girls Social Club, and Time magazine dubbed her “godmother of chica lit.” Valdes-Rodriguez was ambivalent about that title then, and now, five years later, as her seventh novel, The Three Kings: A Christmas Dating Story, arrives on holiday shelves, she finds the designation remains limiting. “These are marketing terms,” she says. “I don’t think this label fits exactly the type of writing that I do, and it never really has.”

But the book’s cover and plot meet chica lit’s expectations. Protagonist Christy de la Cruz, an interior decorator in Santa Fe, seems to have it all — until her handsome husband walks out. Cousin Maggie to the rescue: She arranges dates with three men who, like the wise men, come bearing gifts.

Beneath the book’s beribboned cover, however, is a story that often unravels genre expectations when Christy confronts questions of class and racial identity and learns that the meaning of giving extends far beyond the material gifts of the holiday season.

"The biggest driving force in my life has been justice." —Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

AARP VIVA was the first to interview Valdes-Rodriguez about her latest novel, on a radio station in Los Angeles.

Q. You attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and played the saxophone. How did you end up becoming a writer?

A. I interviewed Shakira once when I was a reporter and asked her how she became a musician, and she said, “I didn’t. I was born condemned to music.” To some extent, writing is the same for me. I feel like I’ve been a writer as long as I’ve been alive, even before I knew how to write. Alice Walker once said that writers have a certain curlicue in their brain that other people don’t have. I knew at an early age that writing was fun and easy for me. My teachers and parents thought it was something I should be doing but because it was easy for me, I ended up doing something else. I went into music and had mediocre musical talent, nothing like what I think I naturally have for writing, but I worked hard at it.

Q. Was there a specific moment that shifted your attention from music to writing?


A. The moment that changed things for me was when I wrote an essay about the experience I had at [Berklee], which in the late 1980s was still very backward regarding gender equality. I wrote about some of the difficulties my friends and I had faced at the school and, to my great surprise, The Boston Globe ran it. That one article changed policies at the school. For the first time in my life I had some degree of power to do good in the world, and it was through writing; that was the moment that I switched and I started to apply to graduate schools to study journalism.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

AARP Bookstore

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Cirque Du Soleil

Members save 15-30% on tickets to live Cirque du Soleil shows with their AARP membership card.

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular menu price orders at Papa John's.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.