Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Character Interview: Cabana the Monkey from Debra Mares' 'It's This Monkey's Business'

We’re thrilled to have here today Cabana from Debra Máres’ children’s book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.  She’s coming to us all the way from the rainforest jungle.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, Cabana.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I feel like I was portrayed very well as a child of domestic violence and I just want my readers to know that if they ever see something that they know isn't right, they need to tell someone. They can tell a parent, a teacher, or any adult. It is super important that they are safe and that their family at home is safe too.  I also would like to set straight that this book is suited not only for children of domestic violence, but for all kids.  Even if a child hasn’t experienced violence in the home, it’s important for them to build empathy, put themselves in the shoes of other kids seeing violence at home, and to just be aware it happens.  Chances are they may know a child experiencing it, as 3 million children witness domestic violence annually in the United States and over 270 million are exposed to violence in the home throughout the world. 

What do you believe is your strongest trait? 

I think my strongest trait would have to be my outspokenness. I was quiet for so long, but then I realized that staying quiet doesn't help anyone. I decided to stand up for myself and for my mom.

Worst trait? 

I think my worst trait would have to be my how long I waited to say something. I always felt like my opinion didn't matter much, but I was wrong. I should have said something the second I knew something was wrong, I shouldn't have waited.

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

In the story, my main focus is on my family. I think that you need to have a balanced life at home before you can love another in a healthy way.  I did start to become enamored with my new jungle friends that I met during my journey down on the rainforest floor, but my home is high up in the canopy. 

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? 

Midway through the book, I was worried about how my Papa would be portrayed.  I care a lot about him and my Mama, but knew things weren’t right at home.  Domestic violence is a serious issue and there’s a lot of family dynamics behind it, so I hope families can talk about it and move forward, instead of pointing fingers and bringing up the past. 

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

I would not want to trade places with the pink dolphin, because I can’t even imagine swimming around like he does.  I learned the hard way that monkey’s cannot swim!

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away? 

At first, I had a hard time with the ending.  But now, I feel good about it.  It marks a new start for my family and I, so we can move past our past.   

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it? 

I have invited Author Debra Máres to continue following my journey.  I trust her because I know she cares about my story and has a similar one herself.  I’d suggest she keep writing stories about youngsters like me and what our families are going through to move past the past and break the cycle of violence.  It’s a long journey and sometimes hard to understand unless you’ve been through it.  I’d encourage her to also share her own story with youngsters like us, because there’s a lot of kids going through this and it makes it less scary to know we’re not alone.

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

Yes, Author Debra Máres has contacted my Mama about writing another book with me in it.  I’m thrilled and hope to speak with you again soon about our future books.  You can also stay connected with me at www.DebraMaresNovels.com.  Thanks so much for the interview and your interest in my journey.  I hope to swing by again soon!

About the Author 
For Independent Author Debra Mares, violence against women is not only a topic in today's news, it's a topic in her crime novels, cases she handled as a county prosecutor, and now it will be the topic in her first children's book It's This Monkey's Business.  Debra is a veteran county prosecutor in Riverside currently specializing in community prosecution, juvenile delinquency and truancy.  Her office has one of the highest conviction rates in California and is the fifteenth largest in the country. You name it - she's prosecuted it - homicides, gang murders, domestic violence, sex cases, political corruption, major fraud and parole hearings for convicted murderers. She is a two-time recipient of the County Prosecutor of the Year Award and 2012 recipient of the Community Hero Award.

Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in my family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life's mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence. 

Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth.  In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother's death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring "The White Picket Fence" killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood. 

To bring to life "Cabana," Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen

16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League's National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.

Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.
Her latest book is the children’s picture book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.
For More Information
About the Book

 "Cabana," a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It's This Monkey's Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama's scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents' fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.

It's This Monkey's Business is an approximately 756 word children's book targeting ages 4-8, which is set in a rainforest and featuring "Cabana," a young female Spider Monkey, her parents and rainforest animals. The book is approximately 30 pages long and features full spread color illustrations. 

For More Information

  • It’s This Monkey’s Business is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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