Friday, June 20, 2014

Top Five Things You Didn’t Know About Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Chasing the Sun
Natalia Sylvester

Partially inspired by her grandfather’s kidnapping in Peru, Chasing the Sun is Natalia Sylvester’s suspenseful debut about a man whose wife is kidnapped just as their marriage is falling apart. After going out for an errand, Marabela Jimenez doesn’t return home and her husband suspects she has left him—again.

Only, the next day a letter arrives in the mail that reads:

Querido Andres,
I’m being held by three men who say they’ll keep me safe as long as you cooperate. They say that means no cops and no media. They say they’ll call when they’re ready to talk to you. Kiss our children for me and tell them not to worry. Keep me in your thoughts as I will be keeping you in mine.

Despite their crumbling relationship, Andres quickly realizes he must do whatever it takes to get Marabela home. He can’t possibly afford the ransom the kidnappers demand or handle this threat to his family alone so he hires a consultant to help negotiate with the terrorists. He also reaches out to his estranged mother, who has never cared for Marabela and even reconnects with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future. As each day passes without the return of his wife, Andres is forced to come to terms with whether or not what he and Marabela have left is worth saving and how far he’ll go to bring her home.

Set against the backdrop of the political turmoil and terrorist threats of 1992 Peru, Chasing the Sun is a story of how trauma has a way of exposing our most difficult truths and healing past wounds and regrets.

Things You Didn't Know About Chasing the Sun

  1. It was partially inspired by real-life events in my own family. I was three and too young to remember when my grandfather was kidnapped for ransom when we still lived in Lima. But I’ve had questions about what a crime like this does—to the victim, to the family, to relationships— my whole life. I believe fiction is a powerful way to explore truths we don’t otherwise have access to. I wrote Chasing the Sun as a way to answer these unasked questions.
  2. But the characters and plot are entirely fictional. Honestly. I knew from the first draft that I wanted to create some distance between my family and the family in the novel. And I think at some level I wanted the story to be bigger than my family’s story—so many were affected by kidnappings in the 80s and 90s, not just in Peru but in countries all over Latin America, the Caribbean, and beyond.
  3. It was originally set in an unnamed South American country. Because kidnappings are part of a shared narrative, I initially wanted this story to feel like it could take place anywhere. But by having it be about anyone, anywhere, it was turning into a story about no one in particular. Sometimes, to tell a universal story you have to start with just one. I started over and narrowed Chasing the Sun down to a specific time, place, and character. It’s Lima, Peru in 1992, and Andres and Marabela, an unhappy husband and wife, find their marriage tested to the extreme when she’s kidnapped.
  4. My research involved talking to a security consultant who’d helped families negotiate and navigate kidnappings. I get asked this question a lot: Do people like Guillermo, the private mediator in the novel, really exist? They do, and I had the chance to speak with one during the process of writing Chasing the Sun. I emailed him for an interview, but he didn’t agree right away. He asked (very nicely) to see proof that I really was who I claimed to be, and not a part of the cartel or some other criminal organization (he said this jokingly, but I realized there’s truth in his reasons for caution.) So I sent him the email with my deal announcement in Publisher’s Weekly and links to my website, articles, etc. and he agreed to a phone call.
  5. The title is significant to the story in several different ways. The sun plays so many important roles in Peruvian culture—to the Incas, the sun was their god. In more modern times, the Sol (the Spanish word for “sun”) was Peru’s currency until a period of hyperinflation caused the government to create a new currency, the Nuevo Sol (“new sun”). The title itself comes from a line in the novel, but I think it also describes several characters’ quests for what they most desire—and how it always seems to be out of reach.

About the Author

Natalia Sylvester was born in Lima, Peru. She came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Miami.

A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas.

Her articles have appeared in Latina Magazine, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Chasing the Sun, partially inspired by family events, is her first novel.


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished print copy of Chasing the Sun—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:

What is a moment in your life that you consider "life-changing"?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Natalia and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and New Harvest!
Giveaway ends July 4th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, international readers! Check out my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
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Good luck!