Writer's Digest

Katalina Gamarra


Ben and Beatriz (Contempora­ry romance, August, Graydon House)

“The son of Trump voters and a first-gen immigrant fall in love against the backdrop of Trump’s America, forcing them to contend with the realities of racism, classism, and misogyny and how much they’re willing to sacrifice in order to be with each other.”

WRITES FROM: Boston, Mass. PREB&B: … Before writing Ben and Beatriz, I was working on a very dark YA novel that was a bit too overwhelmi­ng to both write and sell during the Trump era. So, I turned to writing something a bit lighter but (hopefully) just as impactful. TIME FRAME: In 2019, I got the idea for Ben and Beatriz while watching a production of Much Ado About Nothing (the book’s source material), but I didn’t do much with it as I was still working on my YA novel. Then the pandemic hit, I wasn’t working, so I sat down and churned out the first draft of B&B in six weeks! ENTER THE AGENT: My agent is the unparallel­ed Larissa Melo Pienkowski! I found her using the website MS Wishlist, which I really wish I’d known about earlier in my querying journey. It allows you to search for specific hashtags or genre mentions on the Twitter [accounts] of agents … when I queried Larissa, I was able to cite the specific tweet of hers that made me think we’d be a good fit … BIGGEST SURPRISE: How much the publishing process is as much about taking care of yourself mentally as doing the actual writing. … I learned quickly that starting new projects, or rereading my drafts, left me too depleted to actually revise when I did get the manuscript back. WHAT I DID RIGHT: … on days when I wanted to give up, I made myself send a query.

That way I never got in the habit of letting disappoint­ment cloud my ability to keep going. WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTL­Y: I would have more thoroughly researched how to write a query before I started sending them out. … I think part of why I was able to get an agent so quickly with B&B is because I’d spent six years effectivel­y writing practice queries. So, when it came time to write the one that worked, I was able to produce a really strong one. PLATFORM: I’m trying to expand on social media, but I’m also making sure to keep boundaries in place so that I don’t burn out trying to get more followers. ADVICE FOR WRITERS: Spend as much time reading books you hate as books you love. And figure out exactly why you hate them. And I don’t mean thinking, Oh, the characters aren’t fleshed out and moving on. What about the characters aren’t fleshed out … And how would you fix those problems if you were the author? The way I learned to tell stories was by figuring out what I did and didn’t like as a reader and then practicing it in my writing. NEXT UP: I have two projects on the go at the moment … similar to B&B, they both deal with weighty topics hopefully and honestly. WEBSITE: KatalinaGa­marra.com WD

Moriah Richard is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest. Follow her on Twitter @MoriahRich­ard93.

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