About a year ago, I read a complimentary copy of "Operation Famila," which was given to me by a fellow author named Donna Del Oro. This was her first published novel, and, at the time, she, like me, was in the beginning stages of her writing career (the time when one is trying to break through the book industry and speak out - even now, two years later, it still seems that way.)
Well, not Del Oro has written a new book, "Hasta La Vista, Baby." It is a romantic-comedy starring Sonya Reyes, who has just been dumped by her husband of over 20 years at a family BBQ. The whole story reads like a personal journal as Sonya goes through anger, self-deprecation, sadness, humiliation, and then, finally, acceptance of her break up.
Even though I could not relate to the pitfalls of marriage (having never been married in my life), I could still relate to Sonya as a woman, a friend, and an artist.
Some questions sprung to mind when I reached the end. And, here to answer them, is Donna Del Oro, herself.
1. In fiction, finding the right name for your characters is important. It gives the reader an insight to the characters's personalities and where they will go in the story. How did you come up with the following names: Sonya, Earl, Scott, and Evita?
A: From people I know. Eva was my grandmother's name and I've used it in a couple of novels. Sonya, of course, means "dreamer" in Spanish and for this character, it's very appropriate.
2. "Hasta La Vista, Baby" is a famous movie quote by the Swartzanegger man, himself. How did you finally decide on that title?
A: I loved it for this particular story because a few of my divorced girlfriends used this expression when they divorced their husbands. It's like saying, "It's been interesting but now I'm outa here!" As in, so glad to rid my life of you, brother!
3. I understand that you are a married woman, correct? Happily, I'm guessing. Well, I'm curious, as you were writing "Hasta La Vista, Baby," how did you cultivate Sonya Barton's anger/resentment/denial throughout the whole story?
A: I've been married 42 years but as in all long marriages, not all of those years have been happy ones. A lot of my girlfriends are divorced, including my sister (2x). I listen to their anger, disappointment, resentment, denial and some of it mirrors my own over the years. I've always maintained that the only difference between a single woman and a married one is that a married woman is more willing to put up with s#*t from a man than a single one. Believe me, if it has tires or testicles, it's going to cause you trouble!
4. Was Sonya's childhood regarding the abandonment of her father a reflection of someone else's? Possibly your own?
A: No, but her father's abandonment certainly set the emotional stage for Sonya's unhappy marriage. Like she says at one point, At least he didn't leave. She's willing to settle for far less because she's never really had a father in her life.
5. Scott and Sonya seemed so right for each other. They seemed to "fit." But as I was reading this book, I couldn't be sure if I wanted them to be together or not. At times, they seemed better off as good friends. What were your personal thoughts on this?
A: There were times I vacillated on whether I wanted them together romantically or not. In a more serious book, I would not have had them end up together. But because this is a romantic comedy, it's a natural ending.
6. And, finally, I hear you may start a sequel to "Operation Family." Could you please tell us a little more about it?
A: I'll be starting this sequel soon. It's now percolating mentally. The tentative title is OPERATION KILLER WATCH and it's partly based on a real life incident that has happened in our Northern California neighborhood--an alleged murderer being released on our street after three hung juries have failed to convict him. He's free to roam our area and the neighbors are feeling VERY uncomfortable. In fact, the local gun shop is doing a brisk business! We're also forming a Neighborhood Watch to cope with this growing fear. So in my book, Dina's pal, Lisa Luna, a part-time PI is asked by fearful people in her neighborhood to do something about this guy. She's tough, still has the .38 revolver that Dina gave her, and she has a cop boyfriend. Still, what can she do? Legally, her hands are tied...and she too is inwardly scared. But knowing Lisa Luna, she thinks setting up this guy and sending his butt back to jail is going to be a piece of cake! Because this is a romantic comedy--yes, it is!--Lisa's going to get into a lot of hot water trying to make this happen!
Thank you, Donna, and good luck!