Maritza Martinez Mejia, a bilingual educator, author, and translator born in Colombia, lives in Florida with her husband and their two teenagers. For her active participation to the community, she obtained the Crystal Apple Award 2006. For her literary work, she received The VCB Award 2015, and Latino Book Awards 2016.
Maritza published her memoir Hazel Eyes (2010), Vanilla and Chocolate (2012), Grandma’s Treasure (2014), Poems, Thoughts and More (2015), and Ojos Avellana (2016).
Tell us about your latest book. How did it come about?
Vanilla and Chocolate was published in October 2012 by WRB Publishing. This book was written to help children understand the virtue of tolerance and appreciate each other’s differences. In 2017, my illustrator and I, created new characters and fresh drawing to celebrate its five years of publication.
What is the story behind the creation?
Vanilla and Chocolate is an honor to all teachers who dedicate their lives to education. The story behind the creation is to reflect the hard work teachers endured and the responsibility behind teaching. This is the first book of Lessons for Living Collection. In summary, the tale is about a concerned teacher who helps two friends be together after their parents refused to let them play because of their skin color.
Was your book research intensive? Did you find some fun facts?
The research was not intensive, but the editing process was. The topic required a careful approach and delicate words to make the message clear to children ages 5 – 10 years old or Kindergarten to 4th graders.
Did you find not so fun facts while researching your book?
I didn’t find not so fun facts, but did find not enough children’s books about the topic to research. For this reason, I felt an important topic to address even though, racism, it is not an easy topic to discuss with young children.
Does coincidence play a role in your book? If so, what was strangest coincidence you experienced and did you use it in your book?
I didn’t experience coincidences in writing Vanilla and Chocolate first edition. I had a clear picture of my goal since the moment I wrote the first draft. The second edition was written as student’s request. The more I visited school classrooms to read the story, the more I noticed the need to include more characters in the story that represents them. I listened to my young audience and worked together with my illustrator to please their demand.
What do you like most about writing?
As a mother, educator and author, my motivating passion is to help children and teenagers through inspiring and creative stories. I write monthly reflections and quotes on my blog and social media “LuzDelMes” to inspire people to be good and do well.
What do you like least?
My writing style may be rejected since English is my second language after Spanish, but I love to write in both languages. What I like least is to translate from one language to another. Each tongue has its particular music and rhythm difficult to reflect in both languages.
Are you working on the next book?
Yes, I am working on my next book, it is a rhyming picture book. This is new to me, but I love writing challenges. I wrote Grandma’s Treasure, the second book of Lessons for Living Collection in 2014. Now, it is the time for the third tale: “Grandpa’s Box.” I expected the book to be ready in the summer 2018.
Tell us how long it took you to write your book.
Vanilla and Chocolate took me a year from the first draft to the final, but the story was in my drawer for several years. I wrote the tale to my children who are now in College.
Tell us something fun you like to do.
This is not an easy question to answer. What I used to like the most, and have fun with it, was traveling. Now days, it is getting too complicated and the fun experience is turning into a scary situation. So, I think for me writing and presenting my books in different locations are my fun experience for the moment.
What’s next for you in writing?
My next projects are to complete the six tales of Lessons for Living Collection, and write the continuation of “Poems, Thoughts and More” a second bilingual poetry book (English & Spanish).
Thank you for visiting us today. Let us know when the new book is released.
Be sure and drop by Maritza’s website and say hello and follow her on social medias. You can reach Maritza in all social media as LuzDelMes.