Character Interview with Layla Navarro Almada from Jeanine Kitchel's, Wheels Up: A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival

Our guest character today is Layla Navarro Almada from Jeanine Kitchel's thriller, Wheels Up: A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival. Enjoy the interview!

What is your name?  

Layla Navarro Almada.

What do you look like?  

Full dark hair, below shoulders; 5 ft, 5 inches; 127 pounds; long arms and legs; heart-shaped face; olive-cafe au lait complexion; charcoal colored eyes; tiny waist, athletic figure and good physique; I work out.

Where are you today and what are you doing? 

In Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Hanging out with Clay Lasalle, my Canadian partner.

Describe the outside of your home. 

Two story, rose-colored Spanish style with lap tile roof and Mediterranean style arched windows offset by white borders, carved mahogany front double doors laden in ornamental iron work, red hibiscus shrubs interspersed in between Royal palms on the horseshoe drive that leads up to the front entrance.

You come face to face with your worst enemy. How do you react?  

Heightened sense of danger inside but calm outward demeanor. Prepared for anything and ready to pounce, attack if necessary.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?  

Night owl.

A police officer stops you for a minor violation. What violation is that and how do you react?  

I’m cartel hierarchy and would not be stopped by la policia. They know who I am, they’re on my payroll.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?  

Tiger Jacquard Givenchy black jacket with matching black slacks.

Do you have any phobias? What are they and how intense are they? How have they impacted your life?  

I do not trust men; but I must work with them. It’s made me wary, but in my line of work, not a bad thing. I have little faith in human nature, and even less when men are concerned. I’ve learned to work it after years of practice.

Open your wallet, purse, or briefcase. What do you find? 

Plenty of pesos, Hermes wallet with identification, keys, cell phone, lipstick and comb.

You move into a new home. What's the first thing you buy for it?  

Leather sofa.

How do you feel about mortality?  

I know I’m mortal but the jury’s still out on if it ends there.

What scares you?  

Not being in control.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?  

Take off my make-up, apply night cream, undress and fall into bed.

Who is your best friend?  

My brother, Martin.

Who is your worst enemy? 

El Zoyo, my uncle’s partner in the Culiacan Cartel.

Are you faith-oriented?  

No, but I like shaman and San Malverde, the patron saint of narcos.

Are you married or in a relationship?  

I was in a relationship for 11 years with my bodyguard. He died recently in a plane crash.

Do you have children?  


Where is your favorite hangout?  

My home.

You just woke up to find that war has been declared. What’s the first thing you would do?

Go to our most remote safe house, in the mountains of Sinaloa. Hunker down.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  

A narca who ruled the cartels and dressed like a princess.

If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would that be?  

Being more confident.

About the Author

Jeanine Kitchel, a former journalist, escaped her hectic nine-to-five life in San Francisco, bought land, and built a house in a fishing village on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Shortly after settling in she opened a bookstore. By this time she had become a serious Mayaphile and her love of the Maya culture led her and her husband to nearby pyramid sites throughout southern Mexico and farther away to sites in Central America. In the bookstore she entertained a steady stream of customers with their own Maya tales to tell—from archeologists and explorers to tour guides and local experts. At the request of  a publisher friend, she began writing travel articles about her adopted homeland for websites and newspapers. Her travel memoir, Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya, and Maya 2012 Revealed: Demystifying the Prophecy, are available on Amazon. She has since branched into writing fiction and her debut novel, Wheels Up—A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival, launched May 2018.



About the Book:

Author: Jeanine Kitchel
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 294
Genre: Thriller

Layla always wanted to run the family business. But is she willing to kill for it?
When her notorious drug lord uncle is recaptured, Layla Navarro catapults to the top of Mexico’s most powerful cartel. Groomed as his successor, Layla knows where the bodies are buried. But not all the enemies. She strikes her first deal to prove her mettle by accepting an offer to move two tons of cocaine from Colombia to Cancun by jet. Things go sideways during a stopover in Guatemala whe Layla unexpectedly uncovers a human trafficking ring. Plagued by self-doubt, she must fight off gangsters, outsmart corrupt officials, and navigate the minefield of Mexican machismo. Even worse, she realizes she’s become a target for every rival cartel seeking to undermine her new standing. From her lush base in the tropics, she’s determined to retain her dominant position in Mexico’s criminal world. If she can stay alive.




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