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Scarsdale Author Publishes First Novel, "Days of Bossa Nova"

InesRodriguesScarsdale resident Ines Rodrigues will celebrate the publication of her first novel, Days of Bossa Nova at the Scarsdale Library on Saturday June 3 from 12-3 pm. Rodrigues, who is a former journalist and radio host, sited the novel in her native city, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

We asked her a few questions about her book and her life and here is what she shared:

How would you describe your book to potential readers?

It's a historical fiction and a Latin American family saga, flavored with coffee and Brazilian music.

The main character, Felipe Navarra, leaves the countryside with his impoverished mother and young siblings in the 1940's to try a new life in the big city of São Paulo. São Paulo, still the largest metropolis in South America, was a magnet for foreign immigrants and people from all over Brazil in the first half of the 19th century.

Felipe ascends from poverty to become a famous radio personality in the age of Bossa Nova and radionovelas. But his success hides a dirty secret, linked to the dictatorship that took over Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

What was the inspiration behind your new book?daysofbossanova

The main inspiration is the city of São Paulo, where I grew up. The story is not based in real life events, but all the music, historical events, food and what I describe in the streets is real. Through Felipe's family I tell the recent story of a city that is diverse, colorful and vanguardist, but that also became infested with crime and problems in the last years.

How did your career as a journalist lead you to becoming a novelist?

Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian writer who won the Nobel Prize in 2010 once said that he had to leave Peru to write about it. I couldn't agree more.

I chose to be a journalist because I couldn't live without writing, even if I had the best time working on radio for a few years back in Brazil. Once I left São Paulo and started to see the city from the outside, the idea for this story began to take shape. At the same time, I also had my two children and stopped working as a reporter, the schedule was too complicated. My time at home as a mom allowed me to pursue my career as a fiction writer, taking courses at Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute and working on this book.

How did you go about getting a publisher for the book?

Oh, my God! That was more difficult than writing three drafts of the story!

I owe a lot to the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, because I found great mentors that gave me orientation of how to write good query letters, how to look for agents, how to pitch my book, etc. I also found an amazing writing group. We are eight writers that work together constantly, we read each other's work and help each other in our careers. One of these writers, Rebecca Marks, published her work with Black Opal Books and she introduced me to the editor. But, before that, I spent two years going to Writers Conferences, writing query letters to agents and editors, going to pitch sessions and learning a lot in the process.

How did you find your way to Scarsdale? What do you miss about Brazil and what do you like about living here?

I moved to the US because my husband is based here. We were living in London when my daughter reached kindergarten age and we had to move back to New York. We wanted a short commute to the city and good schools. I think this might be a common story among Scarsdale residents... I moved here 13 years ago and I love the diversity of the community, I found very good friends here, and I enjoy being so close to New York and all of its cultural life.

I'm not a homesick type of person, I love to travel and learn about different cultures. But I miss my parents, I miss eating papaya every day (papayas here is completely different from the Brazilian ones), and I sometimes miss Brazilian parties that never have a time to end.

Meet Ines and get your own signed copy of her novel, Days of Bossa Nova, at the Scarsdale Library on Saturday June 3 from 12-3 pm.

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