BEHIND THE BOOK-FORGIVING MARIELA CAMACHO by AJ Sidransky
First and foremost, Forgiving Mariela Camacho was inspired by my readers. Upon publication of my debut novel, Forgiving Maximo Rothman, I began speaking to diverse groups about its many themes. Much to my delight, readers enthusiastically asked if there would be more books with the same characters, in particular the detectives, Anatoly Kurchenko and Pete Gonzalvez. “Of course,” I said. What writer doesn’t dream of readers asking for more!
In the early stages of writing Forgiving Maximo Rothman, I workshopped the manuscript in a writers group. A couple of my fellow writers suggested that the characters “had legs.” While I appreciated this thoughtful suggestion, at that time the last thing on my mind was a next book. I was too overwhelmed with finishing the first and getting it published. As readers began clamoring for more, along came the notion for a series. So was born Forgiving Mariela Camacho, and it won’t be the last.
Forgiving Mariela Camacho began on what one might call the cutting room floor. The original manuscript for Forgiving Maximo Rothman was considerably longer than the final version. Two large sections were removed because of the publisher’s insistence that the book was too long. One section dealt with the back-story of Carlos Pabon and through him, the Dominican immigrant experience. This led to the story line for Forgiving Mariela Camacho, though the experience of Dominican immigration is told through Pete Gonzalvez instead of Carlos.
One of the things I came to learn while researching Forgiving Maximo Rothman was that immigrant experiences are essentially all the same – a longing to find a better life, then a longing to return to the place that was left behind. The tragedy is that so many fail to ever find the paradise they sought by leaving their homelands and when they return, never find the paradise they remember. The world they left behind changed. They are forever caught between two dreams, neither of which is what they want it to be.
I also wanted to examine the dynamics of male friendships. Men, unlike women, have a difficult time establishing new friendships after the age of 25 or so. They often lead solitary lives and upon marriage, usually abdicate control of their social lives to their wives. I believe that the friendship that develops between cops is a unique and profound example of what a male friendship could be and chose that relationship as the central relationship of the book. Additionally, Kurchenko and Gonzalvez are both immigrants, which further explores the immigrant experience as a theme in the novel.
Author A.J. Sidransky is a longtime resident of Washington Heights, New York. He travels frequently to the Dominican Republic. He has written several articles and short stories. His debut novel, FORGIVING MAXIMO ROTHMAN, was selected as a finalist for the Outstanding Debut Novel by National Jewish Book Awards. His second novel, STEALING A SUMMER’S AFTERNOON, was selected as a finalist for Best Second Novel by the Indie Book Awards. FORGIVING MARIELA CAMACHO, his third novel, was published in September.