Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Andrea Yaryura Clark

Andrea Yaryura Clark grew up in Argentina amid the political turmoil of the 1970s until her family relocated to North America. After graduating from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service — including a year of study at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires —and completing her MBA at York University (Toronto, Canada), she returned to Buenos Aires to reconnect with her roots. By the mid-1990s, many sons and daughters of the "Disappeared"—the youngest victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s —were coming of age and grappling with the fates of their families. She interviewed several of these children, and their experiences, not widely known outside Argentina, inspired her debut novel. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons and a spirited terrier.

Clark's new novel is On a Night of a Thousand Stars.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

On a Night of a Thousand Stars was not the original title. In fact, I had two titles before landing on this one. The first title was Southern Cross. It remained the title until one day, an editor friend pointed out that a reader might think the story takes place in the American south, involving the KKK. My next title was The Ambassador’s Daughter. I liked this one, but a few months later, a search online revealed that another author had snapped it up. After some brainstorming with my agent and editor, we came up with the final title, which, in my view, is the best one. The title may be evocative for those familiar with the musical, Evita, but key scenes take place under the big Argentinian skies.

What's in a name?

I knew almost immediately I would name one of my main characters Paloma, which means dove and is a symbol of peace and love. The novel transpires in Argentina, but it was important to me that the other characters’ names be easily pronounced in English.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would be very surprised! My father was a poet/novelist and he had various writer friends who would often come to our house for readings or workshops, but I had always been drawn to the theater, singing and playing the guitar. That said, when I was a high school senior, I took a screenwriting class as an elective. I remember how much I enjoyed writing dialogue and being thrilled when two of my one-act plays were chosen for the stage.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

It’s a work of historical fiction so I knew what the overall ending would be. I wasn’t sure, however, how one of the two narrative threads would be resolved. This led me to work more on the ending than on the beginning.
Visit Andrea Yaryura Clark's website.

--Marshal Zeringue