Like her main character, Gina Santiago, Janel is a Nuyorican who attended
a Manhattan high school of the arts as an art major.
Unlike Gina, she isn’t very good at guitar and doesn’t have a rock band to call her own.
Truth be told, she never dreamed of becoming a guitarist. Instead, from the time she
was a tween she dreamed of becoming a published author of a book series.
And since you're reading this, you can see that her dream has come true!
Her first hint of an idea for the Arts-Angels series began way back when she received
a pendant of St. Michael the Archangel for her sixteenth birthday.
She lives with her twin sister, Jennifer (who got a pendant of St. Joan of Arc that
same birthday but hasn’t written any books about it), in New York City.
For more information, read the interview below.
You may also read her blog at: http://janelrodriguezferrer.wordpress.com
or visit her Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/JanelRodriguezFerrer.
You may also e-mail the author at: janelrodriguezferrer (at) theartsangels (dot) com.
Q & A WITH JANEL RODRIGUEZ FERRER
Where do you get your ideas?
I first had the idea for the Arts-Angels back when I was a student at a high school for the arts. I was inspired by my surroundings and the idea of teens being involved in the arts in such a meaningful way. I finished my very first version of the book when I was just nineteen years old. When I became a nanny some years later, I was exposed to the world of the Upper East Side and private schools. A lot more of my ideas came from that experience as well, and of course from my imagination.
I was also very much inspired by the Trixie Belden mystery series, which I loved in my tween years. I loved the idea of a bunch of teens hanging out together and doing good the way Trixie Belden and her Bob-Whites did while solving mysteries. I had wanted to create my own series along those lines since I was a tween, and I think the Arts-Angels series succeeds along those lines.
What made you decide to become a writer?
I remember announcing that I wanted to be a writer when I was about nine years old. I loved reading, but I was also kind of jealous of the writers and how they could create these other worlds. I wanted to be able to do that, too, and transport readers of my own.
In elementary school, I was always really excited when we had creative writing assignments. I remember my poems and stories being well received when the teacher read them aloud. I still enjoy the memory of a story I wrote in the fourth grade about an obnoxious balloon that had my fellow students laughing.
What do you liked to do besides writing THE ARTS-ANGELS books?
I read. I watch TV. I listen to music. I paint. I take guitar lessons. I hang out with friends and family. I tutor kids.
Did you attend a school like you describe in DRAWN TO YOU?
Yes and no. “Yes” because I grew up in Manhattan and attended a high school for music and the arts, and was an art major like Gina. “No” because the school in my book is in a different neighborhood, and was once an old mansion (my high school was a brand new, modern building, many stories high). And while both schools require auditions to get in, unlike my old high school, NYAAT is private, with a hefty tuition to pay (unless you’re there on scholarship).
Do you know how to play guitar like your main character, Gina Santiago?
Um, no. I’m learning, though. Gina is like, a virtuoso. A “guitar hero” type. In comparison I’m…well let’s just say while she can play Chopin, I can play “Chopsticks."
Is there anything you can’t you live without?
Without the arts or spirituality, I could not live. I would be beyond bored, I would truly be dead. I need music and art and prayer in my life. And coffee. And chocolate.
Any advice you'd like to give your readers?
Find out how amazing you are and don’t let anyone tell you that you are not! Everyone has gifts. For some people it's being a great actor or musician or artist. For others it might be gifts in the sciences or math or athletics. Then there are the gifts that don't get as much attention as others. Some people are excellent at getting people to relax or to laugh. Some people are very comforting and sympathetic. Others are great listeners. Have fun discovering what your gifts are (and everyone has more than one gift) and then use them to help others. It feels great!