People will read for different reasons, but what does it mean to read well? Author María Amparo Escandòn of the instant New York Times bestselling and International Latino Book Award winning novel L.A. Weather (Flatiron Books, which is newly released in paperback) answers our question on the topic. “Most books have layers,” she tells So Booking Cool. “If you don’t read well, you stay on the top layer. But if you really, really, think of what the book is telling you and you interpret, and you draw insights from the story, then you get into the deeper layers of the book. And sometimes they’re not even intentional from the author.

“The author might not be thinking this when they’re writing. I don’t think about ‘Oh, layer 1, layer 2, layer 3.’ But I know they’re there. And I know where I’m coming from. And, so, when I really connect with a reader is when they read deeper in the layers. And that’s when I say they’re reading well.”

Since 1999, many readers have connected with Escandòn’s stories. Her debut Esperanza’s Box of Saints was an instant bestseller on the L.A. Times, has over 80 foreign editions, and became a multi-award-winning film that she wrote. Her 2005 follow-up Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Co.: A Road Novel with Literary License also reached critical acclaim and was even named book of the year in Spain. As she continued her career of 26 years in advertising (we can do an interview on this alone) at the agencies she started and later sold, more than 15 years would pass before she released L.A. Weather. To say she came back with a bang would be an understatement.

The book, which has recently been optioned for a television series, was named Best Book of the Month by a seemingly endless list of publications and companies including ABC’s Good Morning America and CNN; it was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick and was featured in Oprah’s magazine. ‘Weather‘ centers a Mexican family residing in California and is used as a metaphor for the highs and lows that said family (the Alvarado’s) experiences.

“My characters, they come from Mexico,” the writing mentor says. “Some of them are Mexican American, some of them are first-generation, recent arrivals, others have been around since before California was a part of the U.S. So, I have the whole spectrum of acculturation in terms of characters. And because I have studied demographics and markets in my career in advertising, that has helped me tremendously to understand the different levels of acculturation. Some Latinos don’t speak other language than English, others have a hard time speaking Spanish either because they just arrived or haven’t adapted. So there is a whole spectrum that I find fascinating.”

Check out the full conversation to learn more about Escandòn including the time she initially wrote from the male perspective and how that changed; the books and authors she enjoys reading; her thoughts on authors writing about characters of an ethnicity opposite to their own; book tours; social media; what makes the best publishing experience for an author; whether she celebrated L.A. Weather‘s paperback release; and more! For more information, visit her official website and Instagram.

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