November 14, 2017

Caridad Pineiro

Straight out of a telenovela
Interview by
Fans of “Jane the Virgin” were delighted to learn that the titular character’s debut novel would be written by romance author Caridad Pineiro under Jane’s name and released in real life. We talked to Pineiro about translating the postmodern telenovela to 1902 Miami.
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Spoilers for “Jane the Virgin” through season four, episode four.

Over the course of four seasons, fans of the CW’s acclaimed dramedy “Jane the Virgin” have rooted for the titular character to achieve her dream of becoming a romance novelist (spoilers from here on in). After her beloved husband Michael’s death, Jane turned to writing to give them the happy ending they would never have. The result was Snow Falling, a historical romance novel set in 1902 Miami starring fictionalized versions of Jane’s family and friends.

Fans of the show were delighted to learn that they would be able to get their hands on an actual copy of Snow Falling, written by romance author Caridad Pineiro under Jane’s name. We talked to Pineiro about getting in Jane’s head, translating the postmodern telenovela world of “Jane the Virgin” to 1902 and which one Jane’s various love interests she thinks is best for her.

Were you a fan of Jane the Virgin before writing Snow Falling? Did you watch/rewatch a lot of the show before writing the novel?
I was a fan of the show and was so excited to be chosen for the project. I really identified with Jane, since I was a lot like her as a child. I was always working hard to get good grades in school, but I also wanted to be a romance writer. I also loved how the cast and writers had brought the over-the-top nature of the telenovelas I used to watch with my grandmother to American television. To be sure I captured the feel and fun of the show, I binge-watched all three seasons again before I started writing Snow Falling and even rewatched key episodes to make sure I was faithful to them.

Is Janes voice as a novelist different from your own?
I tried to re-create Jane’s voice from the snippets of the novel that were included on the show. As I wrote, I found that my voice was close to Jane’s, but channeling the Latin narrator was a little more difficult. I had to really get in his head and try to come up with the quips and humor that happen on the show. The narrator is one of the most fun parts!

How did you approach translating the show into the turn-of-the-century setting? Was there any part of the show you excised because it wouldnt fit?
The first thing I did was a lot of research into Miami, the “Magic City” in the early 1900s, to get a feel for what was happening there at the time and how that could be melded with the important aspects of “Jane the Virgin.” It was difficult to try and capture the elements of the show that we felt were important, like the magical realism and the narrator. Those parts of the story had to be adapted in a historically accurate way, which presented a challenge. In addition, there was the main premise of the show, namely Jane being artificially inseminated. We had to find a way for that element of the show to be interpreted in a way that would allow us to tell Jane and Michael’s story, while also inserting Rafael into their relationship in a believable way. I hope readers will find that we managed to balance the 1902 setting and “Jane the Virgin”’s story in a way that honors the show’s uniqueness.

Which character or story element was the easiest to translate?
The easiest character to translate was Rogelio [Jane’s father], I think in part because I developed a major crush on him while I watched the show. There is just something about his character that is both honest and childlike, and that somehow makes up for how self-centered he is at times. Not to mention that he is so passionate about the people he cares about and that worked really well with the story in Snow Falling. The Rogelio counterpart in the historical romance (Ronaldo) was a humorous buffer against the darker workings of the suspense and the danger to Josephine and Martin (Jane and Michael in the present) from the sinister crime boss.

What was your favorite thing you discovered about Miami in 1902?
Being Cuban-American, I’ve visited Miami on numerous occasions to spend time with family and friends. Because of that, I had some idea of the history of the city, but working on this novel let me learn even more. While I was aware that Henry Flagler’s railroad expansion to Miami was responsible for the growth of the city, it was interesting to discover that his actions were prompted by a woman, Julia Tuttle. After a series of freezes ruined the citrus crops in other parts of Florida, Tuttle convinced Flagler that crops in the Miami area would not suffer a similar fate. Tuttle also convinced Flagler that Miami could be a great city as well as the gateway to Latin America, which was very forward-thinking. Not to mention that Tuttle barred liquor in the city limits, which provided us with a great backdrop for the suspense in Snow Falling.

In one beautiful section of the book, you worked in one of the shows most meaningful visual elements: the titular snow falling. Were there any other motifs from the show you put in the book?
Thank you so much! I loved working in the falling snow from Jane and Michael’s romantic encounter, as well as the cascade of white flowers that happens when Jane and Rafael share a special moment. There were a few others that I think fans of the show will recognize and hopefully enjoy. For those watching season four, there is the infamous snow globe cover done by the publisher, but I think the snow globe in the book is much more romantic for various reasons.

Jane the Virgin is a very metafictional show that frequently comments on the way stories are told and the tropes of telenovelas and romances in particular. Did you add in any winks and nods to the show or storytelling in Snow Falling? Or did you play it straight?
Since this story is really a treat for fans of the show, we thought it was important to do two things. The first was to provide them an accurate historical romance that would mirror Jane and Michael’s life together, but with a happily ever after. I’m very happy with how that turned out, and I think fans will love both the romance and the suspense connected to the Sin Rostro story line. The second thing we did was to add some of the fun elements from the show as a nod to what fans have liked over the years—things like the magical realism, the narrator and the humor. I hope readers will like the blend of historical reality versus the fantasy elements from the show.

How much of the book had already been planned out by the shows writers? Was it just what's been shown in the show or was there more of Snow Falling than viewers have seen?
Since we were mirroring Jane and Michael’s story, the basics of the plot created by the writers of the show were fabulous bones for us to flesh out a story. But there is a lot of new material in Snow Falling thanks to the historical setting and the changes that involved, as well as putting a unique stamp on the Jane/Michael/Rafael love triangle. Fans of the show will therefore see things that are both familiar and yet very new in the book.

I have to ask—since youre now a preeminent expert in the romance of Jane the Virgin—which of Janes love interests do you think is best for her?
OMG, answering that would almost be like choosing a favorite child (which is why I am glad I only have one fabulous daughter). When I first started watching the show, I could see how cute Jane and Michael were together, but it was tough not to respond to the bad boy/tortured aspects of Rafael. Then there is this season and Adam, who seems to be able to make Jane laugh and live again, which is something we all want for her. Each of the main men have brought new and interesting things to Jane’s story, but if I had to choose . . . no, not going to spill who is my favorite, but I will tell you that it was tough to write Snow Falling and present each of the men fairly but also create a story where you truly believed that she chose the right man with whom to spend the rest of her life.

Hopefully, Jane will have a long and successful publishing career. As her authorial voice and a very successful author yourself, what sort of book do you think she should write next?
I wish for Jane to have a long and successful career as a writer! Writing has been a rewarding career that’s provided me many wonderful opportunities to meet new people and explore new stories. As for what Jane should do next, I think it would be fun to do a story that explores Alba’s loves and journey to the United States, or one featuring Rogelio (my crush) and his early life with Xiomara. Of course, there’s always the possibility of a graphic novel collaboration with Adam. After all, a writer always has to be challenging herself to try new things.

Get the Book

Snow Falling

Snow Falling

By Jane Gloriana Villanueva
Adams Media
ISBN 9781507206621

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