Author Chat with Romina Garber (Lobizona), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)

Lobizona_Front-cover

 Today we're excited to chat with Romino Garber author of

Lobizona.

Read on for more about Romino and her book, an excerpt, plus a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet Romina Garber!

        

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

 

 

Website *  Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

 

Meet Lobizona!

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who's on the run from her father's Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu's protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past--a mysterious "Z" emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it's not just her U.S. residency that's illegal. . . .it's her entire existence.

 

 

Amazon * B & N Indiebound

 

 

 

 

~ Excerpt ~

 

 

2

I awaken with a jolt.

It takes me a moment to register that I’ve been out for three days. I can tell by the well-rested feeling in my bones—I don’t sleep this well any other time of the month.

The first thing I’m aware of as I sit up  is an urgent need  to use the bathroom. My muscles are heavy from lack of use, and it takes some concentration to keep my steps light so I won’t wake Ma or Perla. I leave the lights off to avoid meeting my gaze in the mirror, and after tossing out my heavy-duty period pad and replacing it with a tampon, I tiptoe back to Ma’s and my room.

I’m always disoriented after lunaritis, so I feel separate from my waking life as I survey my teetering stacks of journals and used books, Ma’s yoga mat and collection of weights, and the posters on the wall of the planets and constellations I hope to visit one day.

 

After a moment, my shoulders slump in disappointment.

This month has officially peaked.

I yank the bleach-stained blue sheets off the mattress and slide out the pillows from their cases, balling up the bedding to wash later. My body feels like a crumpled piece of paper that needs to be stretched, so I plant my feet together in the tiny area between the bed and the door, and I raise my hands and arch my back, lengthening my spine disc by disc. The pull on my tendons releases stored tension, and I exhale in relief.

Something tugs at my consciousness, an unresolved riddle that must have timed out when I surfaced . . . but the harder I focus, the quicker I forget. Swinging my head forward, I reach down to touch my toes and stretch my spine the other way—

My ears pop so hard, I gasp.

I stumble back to the mattress, and I cradle my head in my hands as a rush of noise invades my mind. The buzzing of a fly in the window blinds, the gunning of a car engine on the street below, the groaning of our building’s prehistoric eleva- tor. Each sound is so crisp, it’s like a filter was just peeled back from my hearing.

My pulse picks up as I slide my hands away from my temples to trace the outlines of my ears. I think the top parts feel a little . . . pointier.

I ignore the tingling in my eardrums as I cut through the living room to the kitchen, and I fill a stained green bowl with cold water. Ma’s asleep on the turquoise couch because we don’t share our bed this time of the month. She says I thrash around too much in my drugged dreams.

I carefully shut the apartment door behind me as I step out into the building’s hallway, and I crack open our neighbor’s window to slide the bowl through. A black cat leaps over to lap up the drink.

 

“Hola, Mimitos,” I say, stroking his velvety head. Since we’re both confined to this building, I hear him meowing any time his owner, Fanny, forgets to feed him. I think she’s going senile.

“I’ll take you up with me later, after lunch. And I’ll bring you some turkey,” I add, shutting the window again quickly. I usually let him come with me, but I prefer to spend the morn- ings after lunaritis alone. Even if I’m no longer dreaming, I’m not awake either.

My heart is still beating unusually fast as I clamber up six flights of stairs. But I savor the burn of my sedentary muscles, and when at last I reach the highest point, I swing open the door to the rooftop.

It’s not quite morning yet, and the sky looks like blue- tinged steel. Surrounding me are balconies festooned with colorful clotheslines, broken-down properties with boarded- up windows, fuzzy-leaved palm trees reaching up from the pitted streets . . . and in the distance, the ground and sky blur where the Atlantic swallows the horizon.

El Retiro is a rundown apartment complex with all elderly residents—mostly Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan, Nicara- guan, and Argentine immigrants. There’s just one slow, loud elevator in the building, and since I’m the youngest person here, I never use it in case someone else needs it.

I came up here hoping for a breath of fresh air, but since it’s summertime, there’s no caress of a breeze to greet me. Just the suffocating embrace of Miami’s humidity.

Smothering me.

I close my eyes and take in deep gulps of musty oxygen, trying to push the dread down to where it can’t touch me. The way Perla taught me to do whenever I get anxious.

My metamorphosis started this year. I first felt something

 

was different four full moons ago, when I no longer needed to squint to study the ground from up here. I simply opened my eyes to perfect vision.

The following month, my hair thickened so much that I had to buy bigger clips to pin it back. Next menstrual cycle came the growth spurt that left my jeans three inches too short, and last lunaritis I awoke with such a heightened sense of smell that I could sniff out what Ma and Perla had for dinner all three nights I was out.

It’s bad enough to feel the outside world pressing in on me, but now even my insides are spinning out of my control.

As Perla’s breathing exercises relax my thoughts, I begin  to feel the stirrings of my dreamworld calling me back. I slide onto the rooftop’s ledge and lie back along the warm cement, my body as stagnant as the stale air. A dragon-shaped cloud comes apart like cotton, and I let my gaze drift with Miami’s hypnotic sky, trying to call up the dream’s details before they fade . . .

What Ma and Perla don’t know about the Septis is they don’t simply sedate me for sixty hours—they transport me.

Every lunaritis, I visit the same nameless land of magic and mist and monsters. There’s the golden grass that ticks off time by turning silver as the day ages; the black-leafed trees that can cry up storms, their dewdrop tears rolling down their bark to form rivers; the colorful waterfalls that warn onlookers of oncoming danger; the hope-sucking Sombras that dwell in darkness and attach like parasitic shadows . . .

And the Citadel.

It’s a place I instinctively know I’m not allowed to go, yet I’m always trying to get to. Whenever I think I’m going to make it inside, I wake up with a start.

Picturing the black stone wall, I see the thorny ivy that

 

twines across its surface like a nest of guardian snakes, slith- ering and bunching up wherever it senses a threat.

The sharper the image, the sleepier I feel, like I’m slowly sliding back into my dream, until I reach my hand out tenta- tively. If I could just move faster than the ivy, I could finally grip the opal doorknob before the thorns—

Howling breaks my reverie.

I blink, and the dream disappears as I spring to sitting and scour the battered buildings. For a moment, I’m sure I heard a wolf.

My spine locks at the sight of a far more dangerous threat: A cop car is careening in the distance, its lights flashing and siren wailing. Even though the black-and-white is still too far away to see me, I leap down from the ledge and take cover behind it, the old mantra running through my mind.

Don’t come here, don’t come here, don’t come here.

A familiar claustrophobia claws at my skin, an affliction forged of rage and shame and powerlessness that’s been my companion as long as I’ve been in this country. Ma tells me I should let her worry about this stuff and only concern myself with studying, so when our papers come through, I can take my GED and one day make it to NASA—but it’s impossible not to worry when I’m constantly having to hide.

My muscles don’t uncoil until the siren’s howling fades and the police are gone, but the morning’s spell of stillness has broken. A door slams, and I instinctively turn toward the pink building across the street that’s tattooed with territorial graf- fiti. Where the alternate version of me lives.

I call her Other Manu.

The first thing I ever noticed about her was her Argentine fútbol jersey: #10 Lionel Messi. Then I saw her face and real- ized we look a lot alike. I was reading Borges at the time, and

 

it ocurred to me that she and I could be the same person in overlapping parallel universes.

But it’s an older man and not Other Manu who lopes down the street. She wouldn’t be up this early on a Sunday anyway. I arch my back again, and thankfully this time, the only pop I hear is in my joints.

The sun’s golden glare is strong enough that I almost wish I had my sunglasses. But this rooftop is sacred to me because it’s the only place where Ma doesn’t make me wear them, since no one else comes up here.

I’m reaching for the stairwell door when I hear it.

Faint footsteps are growing louder, like someone’s racing up. My heart shoots into my throat, and I leap around the corner right as the door swings open.

The person who steps out is too light on their feet to be someone who lives here. No El Retiro resident could make it up the stairs that fast. I flatten myself against the wall.

“Creo que encontré algo, pero por ahora no quiero decir nada.”

Whenever Ma is upset with me, I have a habit of translat- ing her words into English without processing them. I asked Perla about it to see if it’s a common bilingual thing, and she said it’s probably my way of keeping Ma’s anger at a distance; if I can deconstruct her words into language—something de- tached that can be studied and dissected—I can strip them of their charge.

As my anxiety kicks in, my mind goes into automatic trans- lation mode: I think I found something, but I don’t want to say anything yet.

The woman or girl (it’s hard to tell her age) has a deep, throaty voice that’s sultry and soulful, yet her singsongy accent is unquestionably Argentine. Or Uruguayan. They sound similar.

 

My cheek is pressed to the wall as I make myself as flat as possible, in case she crosses my line of vision.

“Si tengo razón, me harán la capitana más joven en la his- toria de los Cazadores.”

If I’m right, they’ll make me the youngest captain in the history of the . . . Cazadores? That means hunters.

In my eight years living here, I’ve never seen another per- son on this rooftop. Curious, I edge closer, but I don’t dare peek around the corner. I want to see this stranger’s face, but not badly enough to let her see mine.

“¿El encuentro es ahora? Che, Nacho, ¿vos no me podrías cubrir?”

Is the meeting right now? Couldn’t you cover for me, Nacho?

The che and vos sound like Argentinespeak. What if it’s Other Manu?

The exciting possibility brings me a half step closer, and now my nose is inches from rounding the corner. Maybe I can sneak a peek without her noticing.

“Okay,” I hear her say, and her voice sounds like she’s just a few paces away.

I suck in a quick inhale, and before I can overthink it, I pop my head out—

And see the door swinging shut.

I scramble over and tug it open, desperate to spot even a hint of her hair, any clue at all to confirm it was Other Manu— but she’s already gone.

All that remains is a wisp of red smoke that vanishes with the swiftness of a morning cloud.

 

 

 

 

~ Author Chat ~

 

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I wrote Lobizona because it’s the book I needed growing up: a fantasy about witches and werewolves who celebrate my traditions, speak my languages, and make me swoon.

Lobizona is an exploration of the immigrant identity that braids together contemporary issues and Argentinian folklore. Manu is living in hiding in Miami because of her undocumented status and her otherworldly eyes—but when her mom is arrested by ICE, Manu is left unprotected. Alone, she follows a series of clues that lead her to the Everglades, where she discovers a world ripped from her childhood stories . . . A world where it’s not her residency that’s illegal, but her existence.

 

 

Who is your favorite character in the book?


My favorite character is Manu because she’s grown up isolated from kids her age, so all her cues and reference points come from her favorite stories—most of which kept me company growing up, too. So I feel like in addition to English, Spanish, and Splanglish, Manu and I share another language, a bookish one, and it’s probably where we feel most fluent.

 

 

Which came first, the title or the novel?

Definitely the novel! We went back and forth on the title. When I was on submission, the project was called Lunaris, and when it was acquired, we switched to Wolves of No World. We later decided WONW should be the series name, and we settled on Lobizona as the title of book one. Funny enough, Lobizona was the working title of my very first draft—so I guess that’s why they say go with your gut!

 

 

What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?


I’m most proud of the scene in which Manu discovers her true power. It’s a major moment because she’s never had any idea of her own identity, having grown up unseen and untested, defined by a dehumanizing label—illegal. So when Manu feels her inner strength building, until power courses through her veins, and she literally rips out of her skin, it’s a homecoming to a new existence. And she is forever transformed.

 

 

Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?


I’ve learned not to give up on myself. It took me almost a decade to get published. I wrote five completed novels before landing my first book contract, and every single one of those novels was rejected. So to all aspiring authors reading this, don’t let the rejections break you—defy all the no’s by holding on for your YES.

 

 

What do you like most about the cover of the book?


EVERYTHING! The first time I saw the cover, the word that came to mind was iconic. It dazzles me every time I see it. The brilliant Kerri Resnick designed it and drew the title font by hand. Kerri also had the inspired idea to reach out to the remarkable Daria Hlazatova to create the stunning art of Manu that is the cover’s centrepiece.

 

Any advice for aspiring authors?

  1. When I started writing my first novel, I didn’t tell anyone about it until it grew so big that I could no longer contain it. That’s how I knew I was ready to share it with someone. My advice when sharing your work for the first time is to find a reader who is more constructive than critical. Sharing your early words with the wrong person can backfire & shut you down for a bit—trust me, I’ve been there.

  2. I love how every time I’m on a panel with other authors, we discover we build our novels in completely different ways! For my part, I always begin my books with Setting because of something Alan Watts once said: we're not born into this world, we're born from it. The land, culture, social structures, etc, all exist before we do, and they inform our identity. My advice is to experiment with various processes until you find the one that best suits you.

    3. Being a writer can make for a solitary life, and something that can be amazingly therapeutic is being part of a supportive group of people who can commiserate with you properly. The best thing I did for myself and my writing was start a critique group with other aspiring authors. We are still best friends to this day, and we’ve been able to cheer each other on as we go through this wild publishing adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

Lobizona

By: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: August 4th, 2020

 

  

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

One winner will receive a copy of Lobizona (Romina Garber) ~ (US Only)

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

  

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Comments 7

Already Registered? Login Here
Sam Haurie on Monday, 24 August 2020 11:31

Thanks for the chance!

0
Thanks for the chance!
Blesseth Jackson on Monday, 24 August 2020 13:55

The cover of this book is so stunning!

0
The cover of this book is so stunning!
Gabby Roberts on Tuesday, 25 August 2020 18:05

The cover is gorgeous! I enjoy anything related to folklore, so I'm almost positive I'll love this!

0
The cover is gorgeous! I enjoy anything related to folklore, so I'm almost positive I'll love this!
Kristin Jones on Monday, 31 August 2020 17:22

I love this cover! And I have heard so many good things about this book already. I've been wanting to read it for a while now. It sounds amazing!

0
I love this cover! And I have heard so many good things about this book already. I've been wanting to read it for a while now. It sounds amazing!
Danielle Hammelef on Tuesday, 01 September 2020 14:43

The cover is stunning. This book sounds like a page-turner.

0
The cover is stunning. This book sounds like a page-turner.
Lin Ryals on Wednesday, 02 September 2020 10:55

This cover stops me every time I see it.

0
This cover stops me every time I see it.
Penny Olson on Thursday, 03 September 2020 23:57

The cover is lush and the story is both relevant and magical.

0
The cover is lush and the story is both relevant and magical.

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