Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Lola

Misa Ramirez is the author of the Lola Cruz mystery series: Living the Vida Lola (January ’09) and Hasta la Vista, Lola! (2010) from St. Martin’s Minotaur Books. A former middle and high school teacher, and current CEO and CFO for La Familia Ramirez, this blonde-haired, green-eyed, proud to be Latina-by-Marriage girl loves following Lola on her many adventures. Whether it’s contemplating belly button piercings or visiting nudist resorts, she’s always up for the challenge. Misa has a Middle Grade series, is hard at work on a new women’s fiction novel, is published in Woman’s World Magazine and Romance Writers Report, and has a children’s book published.

JAN: Welcome to Jungle Red, Misa and please tell us about your protagonist.
MISA: Dolores Cruz (Lola for short) loves shoes, chicken mole, kung fu (she’s a black belt) and her close-knit family. When her brother’s hunky old high school friend Jack Callaghan moves back to town, Lola falls hard. Now, after a year and a half as an underling at Camacho and Associates, a local private investigation firm, her oh-so-sexy and mysterious boss, Manny Camacho, assigns Lola her first big case: solving the mysterious disappearance of Emily Diggs. Can Lola juggle two men, her loving but demanding family, her PI exams, solve her all-important first case, and shop for fabulous shoes?

Lola’s single, a good Catholic girl (usually), but willing to do a lot to live her dream of being a detective. She works for muy misterioso Manny Camacho, has always loved old high school crush Jack Callaghan, and has a modern day rogue for a brother. The long and the short of it is that Lola can definitely hold her own in any situation, even when her mother’s berating her for having a career instead of marriage and children, when her mafioso grandfather has her doing ‘family’ work, and when her grandmother thinks she’s a ghost.

JAN: Are you and Lola anything alike?

MISA: There’s one thing that I’m asked (and sometimes not asked verbally, but with raised eyebrows) as a writer of a Latina mystery series. Bet you can’t guess what the question is. I’ll give you a hint. I’m not Latina.

JAN: Why do you write a Latina character, and how did you manage to make her authentic?”

MISA: The short answer is: “I’m a writer so it all comes so easily! Why not a Latina?”
That’s a complete lie (the part about it coming easy, not the part about me being a writer). Writing is hard work, and it’s true that you have to write about what you know. So here’s the long answer. As I’ve already stated, I’m not Latina. I’m a white girl from California now living in Texas. But I married a smokin’ Latino man (almost 20 years married now) and I’ve learned so much about his culture through the years of our relationship so I do know (in my own way) this culture, and as a result, I know Lola. I know her from the outside looking in. I know her though my children’s eyes. I know her through my husband and his family. My husband’s parents lived with us for several years, his sister is one of my best friends and is the sister I never had, and I love so many elements of the Mexican culture because of all of this.

So I write this series and write Lola because there is so much beauty in the Mexican culture and it truly speaks to me.

When we had children, it became even more important that we find ways to bring that culture into our American lives, to show our kids the culture that is part of their history, and for them to embrace that part of themselves. When the character of Lola Cruz came to me, it felt right because in so many ways I felt that this family that I’d created in my mind represented so many things I wanted to emphasize about the Mexican culture for my kids. The family, the faith, the language, the food... But I also wanted to show how these elements can be balanced within an American life.

Lola balances (or struggles to balance) life with the cultural and familial expectations placed on her and her own passions and desires which stem from her life as an American. As a person removed from the culture, I think I was particularly careful and conscious not to slip into stereotypes
JAN: What’s next for Lola?
MISA: Lola’s next adventure (Hasta la Vista, Lola!) has her investigating her own death–and the death of a mysterious ex girlfriend of romantic interest, Jack Callaghan, a newspaper columnist with a past and some baggage that prevents him and Lola from moving forward

Hasta la Vista, Lola! comes out February 2, 2010. Here’s the teaser:

What’s a girl to do when she finds out she’s been killed? Pinch herself to make sure she’s not a ghost, for starters. When Dolores Cruz comes home to her parents’ house to find every relative she has mourning her death, all hell breaks loose. With the help of on-again/off-again love Jack Callaghan, and juggling a new case thrown at her by muy misterioso boss Manny Camacho, it’s up to fledgling detective Lola to find out who’s behind the identity theft and suddenly wants her dead.

Click here to read an excerpt from the second installment in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series.


Meet the characters! Read Lola and her crew’s On-Line Dating profiles.


  1. Thanks for sharing some really interesting information and answers. The teaser sounds really interesting.

  2. First, thanks to the feisty Junge Red Writers for having me on the blog today. You ladies rock!

    Thanks for stopping by, Cassandra. I love Lola Cruz, her entire family, and the series! Hasta la Vista, Lola! is a lot of fun. Lola investigating her own death and trying to find out the deal about Jack's ex (she's not dead, though!!) keeps her busy.

  3. I love the logline for the next book - what's a girl to do when she finds out she's been killed. - LOL

    I can hardly wait to read the next book.

    And I actually have a similar situation to you - though I'm not blonde haired and green eyed (but I do have children who are blond and blue eyed- which is a whole other story-lol) People often fall flat on the face when I open my mouth and flawless spanish spews forth.

    I have my Colombian grandmother to thank for that- while the rest of the household spoke to each other in English - she refused to - so it was either learn spanish or not talk to my grandmother- : )

    Are there any more lola books in the works after Hasta la Vista?

  4. Hey, Misa, welcome to Jungle Red!

    How do you balance your wriitng and all your other responsibilites? Are you in the "I write every day" group? Do you do a lot of promotion? Do you ever get to the end of your to-do list?

  5. Hola Misa (I really wanted to write Hola Lola, can I do that?)
    Welcome to JR!
    You seem to have one foot planted in the mystery world and one in the for-want-of-a better-word chicklit world.
    Does that cause any problems for you? Does it represent any additional opportunities? How do you make sure that the people who will love your book find you? it available in Spanish?

  6. Misa, too fun! I had to laugh at Lola finding out she's dead. What a totally fun premise. And nice addition of her on and off again flame. I'm proud of you, and I wish you continued success!
    Happy Holidays!

    Diana Cosby
    Romance Edged With Danger

  7. Misa, it's great to hear about Lola! Keep having fun with her!

    Always great to hear about you.


  8. Hola Misa,

    So nice to hear about Lola and her next adventure. Thanks for sharing your insights and insights on writing multicultural characters.

  9. I'm with Chris. Love the logline!! I also loved the first installment of Lola and can't wait for the second!

    Tracy Ward

  10. Chris, the next book in the series is Bare Naked Lola. Lola's investigation takes her to a nudist resort. BIG fun! No details on when that will come out, but I will definitely keep people posted. I have a newsletter, so anyone who wants Lola updates, drop me a line at and I'll add you!

    I wish I spoke better Spanish. That's a great story, and you definitely made the right choice to learn the language so you could communicate with your grandmother!

  11. Hi Hank! I NEVER get to the end of my to do list, there's ALWAYS laundry and chores, and I'm forever in the car commuting with kids one place or another (with 5 kids ages 7-17, there are a lot of places to go!).

    I write daily while they are at school. Then when they come home, I work in the house, hang with them, cook, help with homework, knit, etc. I'm not a sit still person after school's out--unless I steal time to read before bed!

  12. Hola Lola! Love it, Rosemary! Exposure is definitely key, and difficult. It's people like you ladies who welcome other authors to their sites that definitely helps. My books are finding their audience slowly because of their hard cover printing (waiting for Living the Vida Lola to release in paper). Slow and steady like the turtle. =)

    My books are lighter mystery with humor, a lot like yours, actually. The audience is out there and growing. Everyone loves Lola!

  13. Angi and Diana, thanks for stopping by and for your support! Lola thanks you, too.

  14. Caridad, I appreciate your visit here. I write this character for my children and to understand the culture that is part of them. I love that the Latina writing community is so open and welcoming.

  15. This is great--the story, your inspriation, the titles, the storylines, EVERYTHING. So glad to hear about your success-but I guess something changed with Sara?!

  16. Hi Misa,
    Great interview! I'm going to add your books to my Christmsa wish list.

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

  17. Thanks V! Happy Thanksgiving all, and again, a big, big thanks to the Jungle Red Writers for having me today!

  18. I loved Living La Vida Lola ... Can't wait for #2 in the series!

    And how nice to get the background behind this wonderful character. :)

  19. I love Lola already! She's definitely going on my Christmas list. Thanks for some great answers, Misa!

  20. Sounds great. I haven't gotten to these yet, but I sure will. Lola sounds like a wonderfully fun heroine.

  21. Tracy and Clover, thanks for stopping by! Lola is fun..and smart, sexy, and sassy. =) Hope you enjoy reading about her. =)