Lara Reznik is a native New Yorker who studied at the University of New Mexico and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Bagels & Salsa is her third novel.

Writing books since she was six years old, Reznik retired from an executive position in information technology after the success of her first novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, published in 2012. In 2015, Reznik published her second book, The M&M Boys.

Reznik currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two miniature Aussies.

Book Description:

Author Lara Reznik blends suspense, romance, and humor in her latest novel, BAGELS & SALSA (http://www.larareznik.com/bagels-and-salsa). Loosely based on Reznik’s life, the story of Laila and Eduardo highlights the turmoil that surfaces when a Jewish sociologist from New York and a Hispanic doctor from rural New Mexico fall hard and fast for each other. Their blossoming relationship develops against the backdrop of terror the Son of Sam created in New York City during the summer of 1977.

Early reviews of BAGELS & SALSA praise the story’s dynamic plot and colorful characters:

“The author tells a simple love story, but she structures the novel to provide a panoramic view of her characters” (Kirkus Reviews).

“Another lovely read from Lara Reznik! . . . As with all her novels there are also plenty of fun subplot twists and turns. I wanted more.”  (Barbara Gaines, Former Executive Producer of The Late Show with David Letterman).

BAGELS & SALSA opens at a high school assembly hall in a rough part of the Bronx where Laila Levin is giving her first postdoctorate presentation on the US teen pregnancy epidemic. Her fear of public speaking and a chance encounter with the Son of Sam unravel her as several loud bangs crack through the air. Laila falls on the stage and injures her right shoulder. Fortunately, Dr. Eduardo Quintana jumps into action.

What begins as a playful flirtation while Laila recovers in the hospital propels into a more serious relationship with the handsome doctor. Their mutual passion is so intense that it stuns them both. The unlikely pair share strong family values and an interest in teen pregnancy prevention. After a brief courtship, Eduardo persuades Laila to accompany him to his family’s ranch near Española, New Mexico, where he plans to open a family practice. The rural town has one of the highest pregnancy rates in North America: the perfect place for Laila’s research.

Once in New Mexico, Laila is blatantly rejected by Sylvia, Eduardo’s controlling mother. Sylvia wants Eduardo to marry Violet, his high school sweetheart, who has recently returned to New Mexico after a failed flight attendant career and a walk on the dark side of Hollywood. Violet’s mother and Sylvia cook up a plan to send Laila packing and reunite their children. The Quintanas hold a large pig roast and invite a menagerie of tattooed cousins, rodeo stars, and mariachis. And the drop-dead gorgeous Violet makes a grand entrance.

In the midst of the pandemonium that results, a shocking family secret is revealed, and Laila and Eduardo’s love for each other is severely tested. Can their relationship survive the fierce clash of cultures, the murderous intentions of a Son of Sam copycat who has stalked Laila from New York City, and their own uncertainties about the upheavals that their union will cause in their lives?

Reznik’s first goal in writing BAGELS & SALSA is to entertain readers. However, she says, “On a more thematic level, I’d like readers to think about the importance of embracing religious, ethnic, and cultural differences, which have been at the core of so much conflict in the world.”

Interview:

Welcome to Blogger News Net, Lara. Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing romance and suspense?

Lara: Great question. For the most part, all my books transcend genres but have elements of suspense and romance. I write about things that I’m passionate about and don’t worry about how they will be pigeonholed into a genre.

My first published novel, The Girl From Long Guyland has been marketed as women’s fiction and/or psychological suspense. My second novel, The M&M Boys, is a coming-of-age story, sports fiction, and/or historical fiction book. Bagels & Salsa can best be described as a multicultural romantic suspense novel with a strong dose of humor.

The thread that connects all my novels is that they are set in the 60s and 70’s and serve as a ride down memory lane for baby boomers. But they are not limited to people of my generation. A number of my readers are millennials interested in that very colorful time when their parents were growing up. I’ve had a surprising number of Amazon reviewers who have said just that.

Do you find writing your books comes natural to you or is it a struggle sometimes?

Lara: I wrote my first novel at six years old and have been writing journals, poems, short stories, screenplays and novels ever since. After writing six novels, three screenplays, I’d say, yes, writing not only comes naturally to me, but it’s in my blood. But every writer struggles with their writing at times. It takes a lot of discipline and a willingness to accept critique, rewrite, revise, edit, proofread and go through the process numerous times before a book is read for publication. You have to want it very badly to devote thousands of hours to the craft with little chance of a return on your investment (ROI).

Much of it gets tedious especially towards the end when you’re proofing the manuscript for the three-hundredth time and you begin to wonder how anyone would ever want to read it.

Bagels & Salsa is loosely based on your own life. How is this so?

Lara: I’m asked this a lot. Look, I’m a Jewish girl from Long Island who married a Hispanic man from rural New Mexico. Like most authors, I write about what I know.  I take it as a compliment that I was able to successfully create a fictive world with a plot and cast of characters that appear to be real people.

But I still haven’t answered the question. How much of the story is autobiographical?  Read on.

Like many literary authors, I often start with an event or circumstance from my life that I believe is unique and then say, “what if.” In the case of Bagels & Salsa, I asked the question, “What if a Son of Sam copycat had stalked me across the country?” And, “What if my future mother-in-law had cooked up a plan to send me packing and reunite her son with his high school sweetheart?” While neither of these things happened, they certainly made for a more fun read than the details of my real life.

Bottom line the characters are based on real people that have been fictionalized to make them more fun and interesting, and the plot is based on a lot of these “what ifs.”

Can you tell us a little about Laila Levin?

Laila Levin is a young Jewish New Yorker with a PhD in sociology, an eccentric, controlling mother and a love of animals and children. Laila has just received a grant to research and find solutions to the epidemic problem of teen pregnancies in the United States. She’s relationship shy after a marriage that not only failed, but set a world record for short nuptials.

Can you tell us a little about the other main characters in your book?

Lara: Eduardo Quintana – a dashing Hispanic doctor from a close-knit ranching family in New Mexico completing a residency in Manhattan with plans to open a family practice in his home town of Española where teen pregnancy is rampant.  Savvy from his years studying in New York, he still has old-fashioned country values and a cowboy sense of humor.

Violet Sanchez – Eduardo’s beautiful high school girlfriend who broke his heart after high school when she left Española to pursue a career as a flight attendant. She has recently returned to Española after a walk on the dark side of Hollywood ready to win back his heart.

Dave Burke – a deeply troubled postal worker and former student of Laila’s who is considering becoming a Son of Sam copycat but changes his mind when he sees his adored professor entering a Chevy Bel-Air on 44th Street. After Laila moves out west, he terrorizes her sister before stalking Laila from New York City to New Mexico.

Rachel – Laila’s older sister and best friend who married at a very young age. She has two young children and a troubled marriage.

Sylvia & Ramone Quintana – Eduardo’s parents. They live in rural New Mexico on land that has been in the Quintana family for three-hundred years.

Sylvia – an old-fashioned Hispanic housewife who meddles in the lives of her four children. She is biased against Laila from the get-go and prefers Eduardo to marry Violet, her best friend’s daughter.

Ramone – a rancher and family man with a history of heart issues. He befriends and defends Laila, which infuriates his wife.

Eve & Sol Levin – Laila’s parents from Long Island. They are nouveau rich after Sol retires and makes a killing in the stock market.

Eve – an eccentric, overbearing Jewish mother who loves spending their new fortune after being poor most of her life. She wants Laila to marry a nice Jewish doctor and move to one of the five towns of Long Island like her sister Rachel did.

Sol – a retired New York City fireman who rides a Harley after years of putting out fires in the Bronx. He is more supportive of his daughters than Eve, and just wants them to be happy.

Note: Watch out as sparks fly when the two controlling mamas have it out in the dirt.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. What’s one of the pivotal points in your book?

Lara: Another thought provoking question, Dorothy. I’ve been told by readers that the pivotal point of Bagels & Salsa is when Laila first arrives at the ranch in New Mexico. First Eduardo’s mother blatantly rejects her, and then Eduardo takes her to spend the night in an old trailer that is filled with trash left by a distant cousin who’d been squatting there while Eduardo was in medical school. Eduardo explains that they will only live there temporarily and shares architectural plans that he had drawn up to convert an old chicken coop into a large adobe house. Since the trailer is unlivable, and Laila refuses to go back to his parents’ house, Eduardo grabs a mattress and places it on the roof of the chicken coop. He and Laila spend the night under a full moon and a star-studded sky.

“Stick with me, baby,” Eduardo says after the most passionate lovemaking ever.

“Here I am on top of a chicken coop in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico. We’ll see how I feel if it rains,” Laila replies.

Unlike his wife, Eduardo’s father Ramone likes Laila and supports her relationship with Eduardo.

Mi familia has been in the ranching business for three hundred years,” he says. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you need new bloodlines to keep a healthy herd.”

What would you like to say to your readers and fans?

Lara: My latest novel is called Bagels & Salsa. If you like novels with a strong dose of suspense, romance and humor and are interested in gaining a multicultural experience, you’ll probably enjoy the book.

Thanks so much for your interest and support of my books. They can be found at:

Website    www.larareznik.com

Amazon    http://amzn.to/2FDAVsm.

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/LARAREZNIK23/

 

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