Episode 34

Foodie Fiction at a Cookie Company with Author Delise Torres

Delise Torres grew up in Puerto Rico, watching telenovelas and re-enacting scenes with her Barbies. Once she outgrew her dolls, she turned to daydreaming, and it wasn’t until her late thirties when she finally put her own stories to paper, and her passion for writing was born.

She has a PhD in Food Science and former work experience as a quality assurance manager in the food industry. When not writing, you can find her trying to time-manage her life, singing, reading, and streaming shows and movies. She lives in Germany with her daughter and German husband. Her debut foodie women’s fiction, One Tough Cookie, comes out on July 18.

Find bonus content and join Delise’s mailing list on her website at https://delisetorres.com/ and follow her on Instagram @torresdelise

or

Support your local bookstore & this podcast by getting your copy of One Tough Cookie at https://bookshop.org/a/

Transcript

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Shawna Rodrigues 0:00

Welcome to Author Express. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Shawna Rodrigues one of your hosts, and the founder of Authentic Connections Podcast Network, which makes this podcast possible. This podcast is where you discover the voice behind the pages of your next favorite book. And I'm excited about the author we have for you today.

Shawna Rodrigues 0:20

Delise Torres grew up in Puerto Rico, watching telenovelas and re-enacting scenes with her Barbies. Once she outgrew her dolls, she turned to daydreaming, and it wasn’t until her late thirties when she finally put her own stories to paper, and her passion for writing was born. Her debut novel, One Tough Cookie, is foodie women's fiction set at a cookie company, and incorporates her Ph.D. in Food Science and former work experience as a Quality Assurance Manager in the food industry. It has been called original, witty, entertaining, and a snappy debut filled with complex characters. It sounds like a great book, and I can't wait to hear more about it as we chat with you today. Welcome, Delise. Thank you for being here.

Delise Torres 0:18

Hi, Shawna. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

Shawna Rodrigues 0:23

Yes, let's start with something easy. Tell us a little bit about where you are from.

Delise Torres 1:12

So, I'm from Puerto Rico, as you mentioned. And what's interesting about it is that we have the Hispanic heritage from Spain. So, we have that in common with other Latin American countries. But because we are a US territory, we have also the influence from the U.S. So, we are American citizens. So, we can travel to the U.S. We have a U.S. passport, there is no Puerto Rican passport. And our government is the same system as U.S. with a governor, Senate, House of Representatives and other parties, because we actually can control our laws in a way but the federal laws are all the same. FDA, FBI, USDA, that sort of thing. And our official languages are English and Spanish, though most people speak Spanish. And so, we have these from both worlds. We speak very Spanglish. So, we have our own vocabulary. And we also have remnants of Spain. So, for example, some addresses have to do with kilometres, which is a metric unit. So, businesses are street x kilometre, point, 5.5. So, the streets are marked with kilometers. So, it has this from both worlds.

Shawna Rodrigues 2:33

The mix of all of those pieces. Yes. I've always thought that would be complex to have the U.S. government and that interplay, because at times it feels good luck. So, there's lack of representation and a lot of ways of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. government system. And yet, you know, the territory piece, it's a little complex.

Delise Torres 2:53

t was happening then, I think:

Shawna Rodrigues 4:15

A Commonwealth. Commonwealth not at territory. See that. So, that's so interesting. And it's fascinating. And I know, she has a little bit about it. So, this is actually really interesting to learn so much more. Thank you. That's very interesting. So, getting to know you a little better around your writing, what is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?

Delise Torres 4:35

I actually have many or at least two. And it's mostly from my critique partner, author Lyn Liao Butler. I think her fourth book is coming. And, we actually,

Shawna Rodrigues 4:48

yeah, I read two of hers. Yeah.

Delise Torres 4:50

So, we met when she was writing her first novel or finishing it. And I was writing another novel and we were both kind of getting ready to query. And then she got the agent and book deal. And I had to start over, I had to leave that novel that I had behind and start over with this book that is coming. And so, yeah, I was like, this is the last chance because I already tried with the other book to get an agent. And now, I learned from that, and now I'm trying again. And if this doesn't work, then that's it. Because I don't know what else I could write. And she said, yeah, that happened to me. Like, she had the same situation where she wrote another book, which became the second book she published, Red Thread of Fate, and she also couldn't make it work. And so, she's like, don't give up, there's a lot of luck involved, just keep going, you can do it. But she also told me or more me that you need to stand out to be able to get an agent and a book deal, that it's really hard to compete in the business right now. And so, it's like, believe it work, work. Don't give up. But also know that it's hard, and you need to stand out. So, yeah, those were kind of the most important. And she helped me with this book. And so, I'm really grateful to her. And she's a role model for me. And to know that she's done so much. So, it's amazing.

Shawna Rodrigues 6:22

Yeah, and it's exciting, because you have done a lot. Yeah, I remember when her first book came out and how quickly the other ones that followed. It's kind of exciting.

Delise Torres 6:30

Yeah, it's been amazing. Yeah. That's amazing how fast and I'm just here with my first.

Shawna Rodrigues 6:34

Oh, you never know, though. It may take a couple of years. Yeah, it happened fast. Was like a click, right? So, what did you do to really stand out though? What do you feel like, helped you with getting them up?

Delise Torres 6:46

So, for me, it was a setting. What I thought was unique about my book, my book is set at a fictional cookie company that I designed, and most fully fiction books are set in bakeries, or a cafe, or restaurant, or they love to cook. And so, I've never seen a book that is set at an industrial type setting.

Shawna Rodrigues 7:14

Yeah,

Delise Torres 7:14

so, I wanted to bring that in. There's a lot of confusion with what a bakery is, versus a food manufacturing plant. And I hope I addressed that in my book. And what a food scientist is that we're not like a chef, we study the process of making food and at an industrial level. And so, yeah, and I think most of the food that we consume is processed in some way. And people always say, oh, processed foods are bad. But there are many products that are healthy, like, yogurt, or cheese, pasta, all those products are processed. And they are food scientists that work to make them and to make them safe for consumption.

Shawna Rodrigues 8:01

So, you're able to really take your experience and really integrate it into your novel in a unique way to really make it stand out then?

Delise Torres 8:09

Yeah, well, I mean, I hope so. I use cookies, because I thought that fits kind of women's fiction, so, more cutesy and each cookie has a personality, and I made the recipe so the recipes are in the book, so anybody can make them. That was to me what I thought, but my protagonist is a bit on like bull. So, let's compare it in the book description to a Latina fleabag. Because yeah, she is like that mean, rude. And so, I also have her as a character is a bit different, because usually women's fiction, romance characters are very likable and relatable. And cutting nice. Yeah, she's hard to like, but I hope I got through deep enough because that was something Lyn said, I need to understand where she's coming from. And so, I had to dig deep a lot to really go into her mind and why she acts the way she does. So, I hope that goes through.

Shawna Rodrigues 9:08

It definitely have what adds and goes to it. That's so exciting. So, with your process, what is one thing that you wish you knew sooner around the process of getting a novel published?

Delise Torres 9:20

Well, of course, I didn't know it would take so long.

Shawna Rodrigues 9:23

Yeah, it takes forever. Yeah.

Delise Torres 9:25

Yeah, I started writing in:

Shawna Rodrigues:

Yeah, it's a lot of effort. I think people don't recognize, like, how many iterations and like you said, you think, Oh, I got the agent. No, the agent wants to make changes. Oh, I finally got it out but the publisher wants changes. And so, with this iterative process to finally get the book out, do you feel like, you're really excited about how far it came to be the final product? Or is that kind of strange how far it had to go to get to be the final product?

Delise Torres:

No, I'm actually, I mean, I'm amazed that you think, oh, there's nothing else I can do to it. And then an idea comes from my agent, she had really great suggestions. And it's like, a spark lit up. Or sometimes she just interpreted something that was never my intention. And I just thought about it, and then I got it. And that just gave me even more ideas. And I could change a lot of it. And in the end, I think it's much better than the original version, what I compiled at the end. And so, I'm grateful for everybody who asked for the changes, because I still think and there are changes I did not make. So, of course, some things stay the same that I didn't want to change. But the changes I was asked to do sparked some ideas. Sometimes I change things that were not asked, because I was just inspired to make a change, as well. Just the feedback is the most important thing because it can spark an idea that can just take it to a different level.

Shawna Rodrigues:

You know, that's exciting. I love that. So, what is the best place for folks to find you online to be able to connect with you?

:

So, the best place is my website, delisetorres.com. And I'm mostly on Instagram, @torresdelise.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Nice. And what is the release date on your book?

Delise Torres:

July 18.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Very exciting. And what book or story inspires you the most?

Delise Torres:

I think, I love stories that work with alternate timelines, like, The Midnight Library, or there's a book called, Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey that works with that also. And In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. I just love that sort of time. And what if kind of questioning and what would have happened if I had made a different choice? Or what would happen if I make a different choice? I just love that. And I hope I have an idea for a book that is similar. So, I hope to write a book like that someday.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Very cool. Yes. And Maggie Guile she was on our podcast and the things we law has a timeline like that. So, if you ever get around checking that book out, it's that good women's fiction novel that does the timeline like that, too. So, wonderful to meet you and hear more about your book. And I'm excited for your debut to be released, right? This is coming out. So, I'll be very excited for folks to get to experience that. Thank you.

Delise Torres:

Thank you so much, Shawna. It was really fun.

Shawna Rodrigues:

Thanks for joining us. I hope you take a second to give us a review or a couple of stars on your favorite podcasting platform. And we'll be here again next Wednesday. Follow us on Instagram @AuthorExpresspodcast to see who's coming up next. Don't forget, keep it express but keep it interesting.

About the Podcast

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About your host

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Shawna Rodrigues

Shawna Rodrigues, Founder and Director of Impact at Authentic Connections Podcast Network, Host of Authentic & Amplified, The Grit Show (https://podcast.thegritshow.com) and Author Express (https://bit.ly/AuthorExpressPod). Shawna is a Podcast Mentor, Internationally Best-Selling Author (www.shawnarodrigues.com) and consultant.
Find her on Instagram @ShawnaPodcasts.