Arsenic and Adobo, the debut novel by the International Thriller Writer Debut Author Program writer Mia P Manansala.
Author Interview + Author & Book Info + Pet Corner!
Arsenic and Adobo
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Arsenic and Adobo: The Interview
Tell us about your road to publication with Arsenic & Adobo:
I started writing A&A early 2018 as a way to keep busy while my first book was on submission. My first novel was on sub for about a year and a half with my first agent, and we got to acquisitions several times, but it ultimately went nowhere.
During that time there were several highs and lows, such as me winning the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award as well as the 2018 Hugh Holton Award with the opening chapters of what would become Arsenic and Adobo, but I also had to deal with my father passing away at the end of 2018 and not being able to write for months due to grief.
I finally finished A&A near the end of 2019, but when my first agent read it, she didn’t like it! We amicably split up and I started querying again in January 2020. I got several offers and signed with Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, and she in turn sold my book in two weeks, at auction, to Berkley/Penguin Random House.
For me, it’s been less a road and more a roller coaster ride.
What should readers know about Lila Macapagal?
She’s a big fish in a small pond. She feels constrained by her small town and family expectations, but she is also loyal and caring and has a great capacity for love.
She’s young enough to think she knows everything, but has the potential to learn and grow from all the terrible things I plan on throwing at her.
We share a love of baking. Do you have a go-to recipe? Or is your favorite thing to try something new? What makes a great recipe?
Right now, I’m really into taking simple cookie and blondie recipes and adapting them into potential recipes for my books or newsletter (I include a Filipino-themed recipe every month).
For example, I’ve taken the dough for my ube* crinkles in A&A and have successfully adapted them into ube chocolate chip, ube white chip macadamia, and ube snickerdoodles.
I love recipes with a short ingredient list, versatility, and are rather forgiving since I’m not one for measuring precisely.
*Ube is a purple yam native to the Philippines and used in many desserts. It’s reminiscent of a mild sweet potato with vanilla overtones.
Tell us about your writing process:
I tend to be a morning and early afternoon writer since my brain turns to mush after 5pm.
I’m a fairly slow writer and don’t have the concentration to write for hours on end, so I usually light up a candle and write in concentrated spurts.
The Pomodoro method (25 minutes of productivity, followed by a short break, rinse and repeat) works well for me.
If I’m drafting, I’ll usually do it on my Alphasmart Neo so I’m not tempted to edit or go on social media or a research rabbit hole. For me, revising is where it all comes together, so my goal when drafting is to just get the bones of the story down so I can flesh it out and make it good later.
What can a writer expect if they work with you as a book coach?
Tough love, genuine praise (I don’t really gush, I’m sorry), and constructive feedback.
Rather than tell you what you need to do (it’s YOUR story, after all), I’ll ask questions and make suggestions to guide you toward your vision and the best version of your book.
I’m big on tight plots and deep character development—I want your character’s journey to shape the story, not the other way around. Also, I got into this business because I know how difficult and lonely writing can be, so I’m also there to provide a bit of cheerleading or a kick in the pants if you need one!
What are you working on now?
I’m currently drafting Book 3 in the series and waiting on my Book 2 edit letter. I’ve also got some new projects percolating that I hope to work on soon, but my schedule is already so packed! I envy people who can bang out multiple books a year.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
- Writing is rewriting.
- Perfect is the enemy of done, and in this business done is what you need to be published.
- Publishing is not a meritocracy—a lot of it can be luck and timing, so don’t give up and your time will come. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Author Pet Corner!
The tiny one in front is Gumiho, my rescue that I adopted and brought back with me from South Korea. She thinks she’s the alpha in the house. She’s named after a Korean mythological creature, a shape-shifting fox.
The black (and greying) dog in back is Bayley Banks, the cranky old lady of the house. She’s named after my husband’s two favorite female wrestlers.
And finally, we have Max Power, the sweetest, most anxious cinnamon roll of a dog. He’s the biggest of the lot but is constantly bullied by the other two. His name is based off a random Simpsons joke.
Mia P. Manansala: Author of Arsenic and Adobo
Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women.
She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.
Her debut novel, Arsenic and Adobo, comes out May 4, 2021 with Berkley/Penguin Random House.
A lover of all things geeky, Mia spends her days procrastibaking, playing JRPGs and dating sims, reading cozy mysteries, and cuddling her dogs Gumiho, Max Power, and Bayley Banks (bonus points if you get all the references).
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite on-line retailers. And don’t forget many independent bookstores can order books for you and have them shipped to your home or for curbside pickup.
Amazon Monthly E-Book Deal! $1.99 May 1—31
Foreword INDIES Finalist, Best Mystery 2020
For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.