About the Book: L.A. Weather

Oscar, the weather-obsessed patriarch of the Alvarado family, desperately wants a little rain. L.A. is parched, dry as a bone, and he’s harboring a costly secret that distracts him from everything else. His wife, Keila, desperate for a life with a little more intimacy and a little less Weather Channel, feels she has no choice but to end their marriage. Their daughters are left questioning everything they know. Each will have to take a critical look at her own relationships and make some tough decisions along the way.

María Amparo Escandón María Amparo Escandón

About the Author: María Amparo Escandón

María Amparo Escandón is a New York Times bestselling bilingual author. She graduated from Universidad Nuevo Mundo in Mexico City and immigrated to the United States at age 23. She is the author of three novels: Esperanza’s Box of Saints, González & Daughter Trucking Co., and L.A. Weather. Her newest novel is a Reese’s Book Club pick and is featured in Oprah Quarterly Magazine. Amparo Escandón joined the A Novel Idea program in 2006. She was named as a Writer to Watch by Newsweek magazine and by the Los Angeles Times.

L.A. Weather - Discussion Questions

An Interview with María Amparo Escandón

It took me about a year to realize I was born to be a storyteller. It went like this: I was seven years old when I came to my mother with a small bruise on my arm. I told her the babysitter had pinched me. My mother fired her on the spot and she left in tears. Now, the thing is, I loved my babysitter, so I came clean: it was really a bruise caused by the immunization I’d just gotten in school. Alarmed by the terrible consequence of my lie, my grandmother pulled me aside and explained that stories and lies are the same thing. The only difference is the intention. If you trick people into believing your story, it’s a lie and it hurts. If you tell everyone that your story is made up, then it’s fun and entertaining. With that new knowledge, she sent me off to school with a notebook to jot down all my “lies.” By the end of the school year I had filled it with stories that I shared with my classmates, but unfortunately I hadn’t learned anything. So I flunked second grade. But this wasn’t so bad since I had a whole new batch of readers when school started again. The following Christmas I asked Santa Claus for a typewriter, and since then I haven’t stopped telling stories.

The theft of the embryos. A writer must be willing to set her morals aside and ask her characters to commit crimes that the writer would never dream of committing. This was a very difficult caper to write because Olivia and Patricia are not the kind of people who would steal something (it’s a whole other matter in the case of klepto Claudia!). So the motivation for stealing the embryos had to be huge, life changing. I knew they’d have to face the implications, but I didn’t want the story to turn into a courtroom drama, so I decided to leave them with the dark cloud of potential personal and legal consequences looming over their heads. Another question I asked myself is, how do I ask these characters to commit this crime, and still remain likeable? How do you develop a character that the reader will side with, even if her actions are questionable, illegal? I’ve always been reluctant to develop villains. I much rather create characters that have flaws and contradictions, that make mistakes and bad choices, and leave the villains to Marvel Comics.

After completing the manuscript, I realized I did have an agenda when writing L.A. Weather. Actually, three: first, I want to make a point that climate change is not something that’s going to happen in 2050. It is here, now. And it’s already affecting our lives in a number of ways that we may not even associate with it. Oscar’s big secret and the reason why he’s about to destroy his marriage and thus his family’s harmony, is directly related to climate change. How can he confess to his wife, Keila, just when things have gone so wrong? Second: the Latinx community in the U.S. is a lot more diverse than the general population perceives. We have Mexican Jews, we have first-generation immigrants, we have Mexicans whose families have been in California before it was invaded by the Americans in 1848. And the main point I want to emphasize here is that young Latinas in the U.S. have become an entrepreneurial force, outnumbering any other demographic group in excelling in college, starting businesses, and developing careers that contribute to our economy. The perceived trope that Latinas stay home to raise their kids needs to be debunked. Yes, they do raise their kids, run their households, and have professional careers, like anyone else. Our overall wealth (the Latinx population in the U.S.) has a comparable GDP to that of France. If Latinos here were a country, we would be the seventh most powerful country on Earth. And this includes not only the rich Latinos, but everyone, including nannies and gardeners and farm workers. I wanted to illustrate all this by creating a universe of Latinx characters from all walks of life: the Alvarados, a well-off Mexican family with three entrepreneurial daughters, and the cast that revolves around their lives. My third and final point has to do with Los Angeles. My goal in selecting L.A. as the backdrop for this story is a tribute of sorts. Yes, the city is crisscrossed by freeways with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and yes, our city is dry as a bone (or flooded, as we just experienced during this past winter), and yes, it seems that our favorite pastime is to pay taxes, but in return we get one of the most diverse and exhilarating cities in our nation with cuisines from 180 countries where we get to play and co-habit with people of every other culture, religion, and nationality. I wrote L.A. Weather while living in New York. This allowed me to see my city from a distance, from a different angle. But I didn’t use a telescope. I used a kaleidoscope because that’s the best way to look at Los Angeles.

Your question got me thinking. If I had been born in a family that dismissed my knack for telling stories instead of celebrating it, or if my wise grandmother who taught me the difference between lies and stories had punished me instead of handing me a notebook to write in, or if Santa Claus had brought me a doll with googly eyes instead of my fabulous Olivetti Lettera 32 Ultra-Portable typewriter, or if I hadn’t found an enthusiastic reading community among my elementary school classmates, I’d probably still be a storyteller, but maybe I wouldn’t be a novelist, maybe I’d be a grifter, a con artist, a swindler. I’d probably be in jail for fraud, or maybe I’d be a congresswoman in the House of Representatives. So, nature gave me the gift of storytelling, but nurture was crucial in channelling this talent in the right direction. And I’m grateful.


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