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The Keeping Of Secrets

Author Interview
Sharon Steeber Author Interview

BUT DO YOU LOVE ME WITH LOCURA? follows a woman struggling with her career and failed relationship who visits Mexico and meets a doctor who is also struggling with life.  What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

There was a coming together of many elements, but my moving to Mexico in 1990 was the main set-up. I wasn’t a journalist as Rosie is, but new and often confusing wonders popped into my life daily. I often saw things that didn’t seem to go together, to fit, but there they were, and they somehow worked. So utter fascination was part of the setup.

People who move to another country often re-invent themselves there or bring to the foreground aspects of themselves that have been in the background. I saw that taking place around me. I am intrigued by how and why this reinventing happens. My characters who change countries do not re-cast themselves exactly, but they do find their identities wobbling all over the place.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

Morals? I didn’t think about morals at all. I was just aiming to tell a story—or in this novel, four stories, given that the story is told through the eyes of four characters: Rosie the journalist; her mother the artist; Dr. Juan Ramón; his father, the orphan who became a self-made man. I did think about my characters’ values, which you could say are closely related to morals.

One thing I explored was the keeping of secrets. Each of these four main characters has a secret at some time in the story. The secrets eventually cause problems, partly because the very act of withholding, of keeping something hidden, implies not having come to terms with an aspect of oneself but also not trusting others. Secrets siphon off energy and can keep a person stuck.

A related value is the willingness to change. Each of the four characters is off balance in old mud, the dried, deep grooves in the road. The characters have to realize that their habitual ways no longer serve them and be willing to risk something different.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

One theme is the enormous pull of family. Along with the pull of familiarity and comfort come duty and responsibility. Certainly Rosie feels a sense of duty toward her mother, all the more so because Rosie is an only child.  If not her, then who? Yet there’s a desire to escape the expectations and pressure that family exerts, sometimes unknowingly, just by its existence. One’s culture does the same thing.  Both Rosie and Juan Ramón struggle with that desire to escape.

Another theme focuses on what happens when someone loses control. No, I should use another word than “loses” because it sounds accidental, like, “oh, whoops. I mislaid my control.”  Instead, what happens when someone voluntarily surrenders control? What happens when someone consciously stops acting as though there is only one right and perfect way to be or do or have an outcome?

We might as well let go of our effort at control because we rarely can assess the full picture anyway. There’s always an underpainting that we probably don’t detect. We see from only a narrow angle. One way this “not knowing” is reflected in the book is through language and its subtext. Any English speaker who has tried to learn a foreign language has probably struggled to learn its subjunctive mode, its “what if” forms that suggest doubts and uncertainty and wishes. The Spanish language uses the subjunctive mode far more than English, adding to Rosie’s feeling early on of always walking on unsteady ground.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book is also set in Mexico, but in a different region than this current novel. Like BUT DO YOU LOVE ME WITH LOCURA? it explores family dynamics. It will also feature betrayal and the sense that things are not as they seem. There will be a murder—or does it just look like a murder?  There is a ghost. Alcohol will be involved. It’s an ongoing project, so I don’t know yet when the book will be finished.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

But Do You Love Me with Locura? is a story of where home ultimately lies. It is also a story of family loyalties, smoldering resentments, compromised ideals, and the question of what love means. Rosie Logan hopes learning Spanish deep in Mexico will be the rocket fuel her stagnant newspaper career needs. Doctor Juan Ramón Villaseñor, cynical director of an impoverished clinic in a small pueblo, reveals more of local realities than Rosie is ready to know. Their ideals draw them to each other’s worlds, but Rosie and Juan Ramón are stymied over and over by confounding codes in those worlds, along with his controlling father and her single mother.

“Each chapter drew me further into the beautiful and lyrical connection between the two main characters and into the hindrances around them.”
—Wanda Maureen Miller, author of Last Trip Home and Madeleine: Last Casquette Bride in New Orleans

“Exciting and suspenseful, with all the beauty and joy, along with the frustration and pain, of crossing cultures . . . exquisitely expressed.”
—Andrea Usher

“Mexicans speak mostly Spanish, but Rosie Logan discovers that within it lies another language composed of deliberate uncertainties that leave her rudderless.”
—Geoff Hargreaves, author of The Collector and the Blind Girl

But Do You Love Me with Locura?

Steeber’s latest book, But Do You Love Me With Locura?, is a powerful and moving tale that immerses the reader in the vibrant culture of 1960s Mexico and California. The book’s introduction is a window into the early childhood of the two main characters and provides a glimpse of central Mexico’s essence. These brief sections offer insight into the determined children’s souls during that era.

The story follows Rosie Logan, who flew to Mexico in 1985 with the aspiration of improving her Spanish to advance her stagnant journalistic career and escape a stifling environment that reminded her of a failed four-year relationship. Steeber masterfully unravels the protagonist’s character, dreams, and fears as she becomes increasingly aware of Mexican culture’s significant differences and poverty. Rosie ponders how she can contribute to her work while highlighting Mexico’s issues. She eventually seeks assistance from Doctor Juan Ramón Villaseñor, whom she met by chance at a small, impoverished clinic in Ixmilco during a Spanish class trip. Rosie’s quest for career advancement and Juan Ramón’s days filled with anger, sadness, and apathy are examples of how cultural and familial circumstances can affect daily life.

As the plot progresses, the reader is drawn into the sights, sounds, and smells of Mexico alongside Rosie. However, the book also confronts the reader, much like the main character, with the poverty prevalent on Mexican streets and in families. As Rosie and Juan Ramón’s lives become more intertwined, they are forced to confront their traditional beliefs and step outside their comfort zones, which were influenced by their families and the vastly different cultures in which they grew up. Steeber’s gift of language allows readers to walk beside Rosie, sometimes offering a comforting hand when needed. The reader becomes convinced that the mix of cultures and differences between the characters will ultimately bring them together.

But Do You Love Me With Locura? is an engaging and emotionally charged novel that explores the complexities of culture, family, and relationships.

Pages: 358 | ASIN : B0C37QBNTR

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