Interview & Giveaway with Bettina Restrepo (5 Copies!)

I'm very excited to have Bettina Restrepo here today ON THE DAY OF ILLEGAL'S RELEASE (feels extremely privileged) for an interview AND giveaway! You should all go out and buy her book because it was really good as I noted in my review (which you should check out after you read the interview ^.^)


Bettina received her Bachelor of Science in speech communication from the University of Texas at Austin in 1993.

She flunked economics her freshman year and decided a business degree wasn’t a good idea. She spent too many years in the corporate world, and finally got brave enough to become a writer.

She loves getting dressed up at Halloween!

Bettina is a mommy, a wife, a daughter, a little sister, aunt and a friend. She spends her free time cleaning, cooking (not very well) , playing Legos, and keeping the Star Wars toys from being eaten by the dog.


1) What was the inspiration for Illegal?

I worked for a Hispanic Supermarket Chain called Fiesta, actually portrayed in the book. I’m a 2nd generation here in the States, the first in my family born on US soil. I’m have always been interested in the “how I got here” story.

But, during my first draft, a horrible incident happened in South Texas. A truck driver, who had over 80 immigrants illegally packed in his truck, abandoned the trailer in the middle of a field. It was July – and he left those people to cook inside the trailer. It was horrific. 19 people died. The Houston Chronicle (I was living in Houston at the time) did excellent coverage – the pictures were so compelling and heart breaking.

My own personal story starts with my Dad. While visiting Miami in the early 60’s, he didn’t want to go home, so he enlisted with the US Army to earn his citizenship (immigrants can still do that). I imagine they promised him world travel and beautiful tropical places…like Vietnam. He stayed in the Army 26 years. He met my German mother at a swimming pool. That’s how a Colombian marries a German and has American kids.

2) What is your view on immigration reform?

Great question. Our system needs some major work.

First, I would like to see the system streamlined by offering an amnesty program so that people who are already here can reveal themselves and pay a fine that would be equivalent to the taxes they would have paid had they been legally employed. Their employers would also have to contribute to the fine.

Second, I would like to see massive fines for employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants. Many, many corporations (like Fiesta) worked really hard to fairly employ qualified and legal workers.

For instance, the DREAM bill would have extended amnesty to children born in the US to illegal immigrants but had graduated from high school, were attending college and had no criminal record. The bill was never passed – because no one wanted to be the politician allowing ‘illegals’ into the system.

I’m sure there are more angles to consider. People should not immigrate illegally – it’s against the law. But, America can’t beckon with one hand and play halt with the other.

3) Immigration in general is a pretty touchy subject, has there been much backlash (I know your book hadn't been officially published until today, but it's been circulating through reviewers and such)?

Actually, no backlash.

Those who have read the book understand this is one story and one family, not a gilded ‘coming to America’ fairytale.

I’ve had so many teachers say they are going to use the book in their classrooms. ILLEGAL is not just an immigration or Mexican story. It explores family, friendship, gangs, and the impact of those who are ‘unseen’ – and those themes are universal. Actually, I think I could have choosen any nationality and made this story work, I was just most familiar with what I saw.

4) Illegal is a very different book from Moose and Magpie (at least I would assume so having not read Moose and Magpie). Are your plans for writing going forward going to be lots of different genres? Give us a peek if you can!

The only thing Moose and Illegal have in common is their creator.

My next book is called Telenovela – and it’s a comedy. My main character’s name is Mercedes - a foreign exchange student with a bit of a translation problem. I’ve really had a ton of fun writing it.

I would like to do more picture books. I like irreverent humor that makes a child and the parent reading laugh the 1st and the 100th time the read the book.

5) I think it's super awesome that you play with Legos, can I come play with you? What sets do you have, and just tell me about your Legos.

Bettina's very small collection of Spongebob. She loves that crazy cartoon!

I must admit, the Lego sets belong to Hubbie and my son. I have a few sets – like SpongeBob. Over Christmas break, I spent over 100 hours sorting, rearranging and rebuilding (with super glue) a few of our sets while I worked out rewrites in my head. Not all writing is done at the computer.

Just a few of the Lego and Star Wars memorabilia Bettina and her family have.

Now, as to playing. We have play sets, and sets that stay behind glass in our ‘museum’. (also known as the man cave).

But, our next acquisition will be the Lego Death Star for little’ man’s birthday.

Just a few of the mini figures. Sometimes they form and army and march through the house looking to impale toes at midnight.

Sniffly Kitty: Thank you, Bettina, so much for taking the time to answer my questions! (My boyfriend says that he really wants to be your friend and play with your Legos heh~~) I hope Illegal does really well!


Summary from Goodreads

A promise.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .

Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.

Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience.


Now, the part you've all been waiting for I'm sure.

The PRIZE: 1 of 5 FINISHED copies of Illegal by Bettina Restrepo

How to Enter:
- Just leave a comment with your answer to this question: Would you break the law to find your family across a foreign border?
- That's it, no need to follow (although that is always appreciated) and no extra entries.

Contest is open INTERNATIONALLY (yay!)
Winners must be over 13

The winners of the contest will be announced on Bettina's Facebook and Twitter on April 1, 2011. I will post the information here as well. You will have to get in touch with Bettina to contact your prize so make sure to check back!

Check out prices for Illegal at Amazon

72 comments: Jump to Comment Form

I would do anything it takes to help my family, especially if one of my family members was missing.


Yeah, I agree with the previous commenter - I would do anything to help my family, beacuse family means a lot to me, and I think I can say that it does mean a lot to every living being. I love my closest relatives, as well as my other relatives, who can count on me anytime with almost everything.
So yes, I would definately do anything that's needed :)

Thanks for the giveaway,


I would do anything for my husband and family. Love them. Any law!

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

This comment has been removed by the author.



That's a tough question, since I haven't been in that situation, or any situation remotely like it. But, family is everything to me, so I probably would say "yes." Thanks for the giveaway!

annettesspot (at) gmail (dot) com


i'd do anything for my family. no questions asked.


For my immediate family, yes.


Great contest, and you'd better believe I'd break a law for my family.

stephanie AT stephaniemloree DOT com


Yeah of course I would.

Stephanie- thegirlonfire
thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com


Yes, I would break the law.

Really great interview! :) Thank you for the giveaway.



I would cross the border for my family, especially if they were in trouble and needed me.


Definitely. I think it's worth the risk.


I would do whatever it took to be with my family because they are the most important thing to me.


For my family? Hell ya! I love my family and it would suck being a lone fifteen year old.
Thanks for the giveaway!
adannabanana at hotmail dot com


Great interview miss Sniffly Kitty, I think the pics add a nice touch.

"Just leave a comment with your answer to this question: Would you break the law to find your family across a foreign border?"

Yes, I think I would. It's my family <3



I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't think twice about breaking the law and crossing a foreign border for anyone in my family.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll win a copy of this book it sounds like a very compelling read (Book buying bans stink, especially with such great titles coming out).

Thanks for the great giveaway.

GFC follower

hauntingorchid (at) aol (dot) com


Hey everybody! Thanks for answering the questions. I'm always amazed at the words and emotions that flow.

Sniffly - thanks for putting together such a great post (you make me look much cooler than I actually am).

Hugs! Send your friends over to enter the contest.

ps - today was the official on sale date... and amazon only has 2 copies left!


I honestly don't know as I have not been in a situation like this and don't ever plan to be. Also, without having children yet, I think my answer might change when I do.


Well, probably yes.
This is the simplest giveaway I've entered in.


@Bettina YAY!!!! I'm so glad Illegal is doing so well ^.^ Anyone who loves Legos and plays with them, is cool in my book ^.^

@Samita thanks!


I would definitely break the law to find my family. There is no question about that once so ever. I cannot wait to read this book!. Thank you so much


Yes! I would do anything for my family..


Yeah! more responses!

Kero, yes the idea is to make it easy to enter.

Okay, now I must go fight the vacuum cleaner that ate the legos.... the glamerous life of a debut author!


@Bettina Nooooo, not the legos!


Great interview - immigration is such a difficult subject as well. I think I would break the law for my family - but I don't know how useful I would be at findng anyone!

And Bettina - be careful not to step on any lego - very painful! ;-)



I would hope I wouldn't have to but family comes above all other things so I would if needed.



Short answer? Yes. Without a second thought.



I definitely would. (Family>sillylaw...shhh)


Without a doubt!

Great interview, btw! :)
thefeministtexican @ gmail


I most certainly would. I love my family!

teddyr66 at yahoo dot com


Of course!

aikychien at yahoo dot com


Yes, I would!
Thanks for the giveaway!


Family is family, regardless of what they've done. So yes, I would do anything for my family :)

Thanks so much for this wonderful giveaway!

-Carina L. Tai


I would for sure!



Hmm, I don't know for my family as we are not always that close...but for my fiance definitely!


My family has done a lot, so of course. Just my immediate though

aah-susann @


I would at least try to do it and not to be caught.


I would definitely do anything for my family, they are my family and they comes first in my priority.

Nice Interview ;) Thanks for the chance of winning this!



For my husband and kids i'd do anything....


I would do absolutely anything for my family. They're everything.

Brilliant interview, and I love your legos! And the Man-Cave!

And thanks for the chance to win this!

Meg @ The Book Addicted Girl


No i would not. they may be family but if i broke the law, then id jsut be taken away from them. its better to not know then go through losing somone you just found.



I would, definitely.
Nice interview and thanks for the giveaway!


Yes. I would do whatever it takes to help my family! Great question. Sounds like a pretty good book. Can't wait to read it!


Would I break the law to find my family? Absolutely, they are worth a little discomfort behind bars. LOL No seriously I wouldn't think twice.
BookNoise at gmail dot com


If it was someone I truely cared about family or not, I wouldn't think twice to helping them!

unforgetable_dreamer_always (at)


I love my family but I will not do such thing.
It will make more problem.
I am sure there are still thousand legal way to save them at gmail dot com


My answer is yes - but I can't think of many things that I wouldn't do for my family, and nothing I wouldn't do for my children. Thanks for hosting! Please enter me.!


of course I will do anything for my family. they're my life so I will do anything for them;))

maryanngacayan at yahoo dot com


My answer is yes. I mean, it's family, right? You have to help and be around when they need it!

aliasgirl at libero dot it


Definetly! I would do anything for my family.



Yes yes yes! I would never feel right if I left my family.


I wouldn't break the law and risk going to jail and not being able to do anything to find them.

I'd hire a P.I. to find them.



I agree with a lot of comments here!
I would do anything it takes to help my family!



Family means a lot to me so yes, I would like to think I would!



Yes, I would absolutely break the law to find my family across a foreign border. I love my family and if they were in trouble, i would do my best to find and help them.

Thank you for this giveaway!!


I would do anything to protect my family or find them even break the law. Please enter me in contest.


Absolutely. I would do anything for my family. IF me getting into trouble for them to have a better life, it is worth it for me.


I would hesitate at first, but then I'd definitely do it. Of course I would. But you know, I'll have to think about it for a second. :P

cc932005 at hotmail dot com

Thank you for the contest! I thought I already commented, but apparently not. :/


I would definitely cross foreign borders to find my parents. It could be years before I ever see them again and if 'country officials' are trying to stop me from ilegally crossing borders I would have to sneak into somebody's car, or hide in the seats of a car like some people have actually done :O, I would (along with a friend for help etc.) I hope my parents would look for me to, so chances are we'll meet halfway haha :)

Thank you for the contest


I think that I would be willing but I might not if I know for sure that they are ok.



This comment closes out our entries here at sniffly kitty's blog. Thank you for all the awesome participation and answers! Winners will be announced on 4-1 on my FB and twitter pages. Good luck!


for my family I would do anything... I´d kill for them, really.


Sorry, my mail adress is:
My mistake ./


I'd do just about whatever it takes to assure my family's well-being.


Well, I would probably do anything to get my family including crossing borders but then my mother would probabaly tell me off and say 'That's irresponsible!, never do anything illegal' :P


I would do anything, yes, even an illegal act to get to my family.
jhbalvin at gmail dot com


I would if someone took a family member across a border against their will or mine (for instance, if their dad took my children). Otherwise, I'm a big scaredy-cat, so I probably wouldn't. :)



Yes, I would do anything for my family even if I have to break the law.



Yes, I would definitely break the law. Anything for my family =D


Yes! I would definitely do anything for my family.


I'm gonna be honest and say it depends which family members we're talking about. There are maybe 3 all together that I would actually risk that for.

Thanks so much for the contest!



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