Author of the new book Topaz and Sapphires: A Story of Friendship, Heartache and Finding Love Again, Lucinda Lopez currently lives in Los Lunas but her love of writing began years ago growing up in Luis Lopez.
When do you find time to write a novel?
I've been writing my whole life. I have notebooks full of poems, short stories, I just never did anything with them. My husband told me, 'you know what, you have so much to say and you add every single detail. You need to write a book.' He is very to the point, and I like to drag on and elaborate and tell the details and all of that stuff. I'm a story-teller.
When did you start writing the novel?
It was a year and a half ago.
Did you have notes beforehand or did you start with new ideas?
One day I just sat down at the computer and started writing. About two years ago I started writing one in a notebook. But I got busy. You know, and didn't get it finished. I'm at a different point in my life now, so I don't even think I can get back to that frame of mind to finish that book. There was a lot of other stuff going on and I couldn't go back to it. So I was determined to sit down, get this book written. Get it done, because I didn't want to stop and then not be able to go back to it later.
Have you always had a love of writing?
I wrote short stories in high school, submitted them to the little newspaper in high school. I was bullied a lot in school, so I was trying to create a world for myself. For what I thought I was more accepted and where I wasn't bullied. Even though I wasn't actually the characters I still wanted to kind of put myself in stories. I want to put myself in there because I want to know what it feels like.
Some way to express yourself?
It did give me a release, but it also scared the hell out of me when I would go back and read them. So I stopped that.
Before I knew it had met my husband and I stopped writing those dark poems.
Now it's more true to the facts kind of things that happen in real people's lives. I mean there might be a little bit that's pulled from my own life but not entirely.
The novel is about two women?
Yes. they're two best friends. Emma and Lily. They go on vacation to Cancun. I don't want to give out too much but something happened on vacation to one of the girls. Actually something happened to both the girls. One's good. One's bad. Topaz and sapphires play a huge role in the book.
Tell us about the characters.
Emma, in the beginning, is real rigid and such a tightwad and doesn't want to spend any money. Lily's the free-spirited blonde, likes to do crazy things. One of the girls comes home to deal with her situation. One stays behind to deal with her situation.
What is the basic story?
The story starts out in Cancun, then Emma leaves to go to New York. There's a fallout, not between the friends but between her and her husband. And then she goes back to Cancun. Basically, they both have to navigate their way through two separate situations. They are very good friends, they have been friends since college. And somehow they kind of swap their identities. They kind of become one another. It's just like the tagline: It's all about friendship, heartache and finding love again.
What have you been doing besides your writing?
Just raising my son Dylan. He's eight. He's got autism, so I've spent the last two years homeschooling him. That's pretty much what I've been doing with my time.
That can keep a parent pretty busy.
There are so many challenges. We just recently found out that he has ADHD that came along with the autism. It took time for him to show the ADHD signs. He's very sociable and a big talker. His tongue never gets tired. He will talk your ear off on different subjects for hours.
What about finding the best education for him?
I just homeschool him because I felt like they weren't following his IEP at his last school. they got a new principal and they did not allow the kids to work at their own pace. It was way overwhelming for him. Way too much work. He did not even want to go to the computer.
So this year we hired a private tutor.
You're living in Los Lunas now?
Yes, I've been living there for a year, but I grew up in Luis Lopez with two brothers and a sister.
So Luis Lopez is your home?
Born and raised here. I graduated from high school in 2000. I was in the Socorro High School class of 2000."
I know that your mom, Louisa, is involved with the Downwinders cause. Is being active and involved something you value?
I'm one of those people that always have plans. And sometimes those plans play out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they're just pipe dreams. But my dad (Richard Lopez Sr.), he was a dreamer. We just lost him in May.
He was always on the go, it seemed.
My dad always had ideas. And sometimes my mom didn't let him put those ideas to work.
There were just too many!
How about your home life?
My husband is Stephen Lopez, no relation. We just happen to both be Lopez's. Even though they say we might be very, very, very distant cousins. But I don't think so.
How did you meet?
Believe it or not, we met online. We were both bored at the time. That was 17 years ago.
Where can we read Topaz and Sapphires?
What about a print version?
I should get the printed book by September 17. We want to do rolling parties and book signings at the Plaza Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 1st through the 3rd. We will be following the COVID precautions, and planning a book reading, signings and gifts and door prizes. People can contact me for invitations and tickets. We're waiting to hear back from Dr. Bhasker for the full plan.
What's in store for future projects?
I'm actually writing a prequel now about Emma and Lily's college years. And there'll be a second prequel that picks up after their college years up to the time they go to Cancun.