3 for 3: An Author Interview with Julissa Arce, Kate Spencer, and Josh Weiss

To celebrate their recent releases, we asked three authors three questions about their audiobooks, which you can purchase from your local bookstore with Libro.fm. Plus, stay tuned till the very end to learn which independent bookstores they love.

First up, here’s who we’re speaking with:

Here’s what they had to say about You Sound Like a White Girl, In a New York Minute, and Beat the Devils:


What inspired you to write your book and how did it take shape for you?

Julissa Arce: When I was growing up in Texas in the 1990s, I often asked my parents “where were we?” I asked this question after learning various historical facts about Texas and the United States. Mexicans weren’t in the stories I was learning in school, but in my home, neighborhood, and in San Antonio we were all around. It wasn’t just in my classroom that my community was invisible, it was also at the movie theater, on the TV set, and in bookstores. This made it very difficult to feel a sense of belonging in my new adopted country.

Since I could not see my culture anywhere, I felt a pressure to assimilate to the “mainstream” culture. I was taught that sounding like a white girl might help me belong; it didn’t. Maybe a good education, and a good job would do the trick; it didn’t. You Sound Like a White Girl started as a collection of personal essays where I’d share these experiences, but it became clear to me that in order for those personal stories to have the impact I wanted, I had to provide historical context. So the book evolved into a manifesto and polemic. Through writing You Sound Like a White Girl I discovered that we have a history so deep that our roots in America are undeniable. That belonging comes not from assimilation but from celebrating and reclaiming our history, culture, and identity.

Kate Spencer: In a New York Minute was inspired by my lifelong love of romantic comedies, and my interest in the trend of people’s intimate and private moments being captured by strangers and turned into viral content online, which inspired the book’s meet-cute. And as a former New Yorker, I got to channel my passion for the city into this book as well!

Josh Weiss: Growing up, my father would often tell my siblings and I about our grandfather’s survival during the Holocaust. These chilling anecdotes of life in the Nazi-run concentration camps of World War II stuck with me and over the years, I began to form a character in my head. I never really knew my grandfather all that well, but as a writer, had this overwhelming desire to tell his story in some way.

That yearning stewed below the surface for awhile until my sophomore year of college when I watched the original Manchurian Candidate for the very first time. Absolutely captivated by John Frankenheimer’s masterpiece of a conspiracy thriller, my imagination began to dwell on the idea of a labyrinthine murder-mystery set against the backdrop of Cold War-era paranoia. All I needed was a hardboiled protagonist to take on the case…and then the lightbulb went off! I would use my grandfather (or at least the version of him I’d concocted since childhood) as the basis for a Jewish homicide detective for the LAPD living in a dystopian version of the United States presided over by Joseph McCarthy. After that, I was off to the races with Beat the Devils.


In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?

Julissa Arce: It took me at least twenty tries to get the pronunciation of Dostoyevsky—and maybe I still didn’t get it right.

Kate Spencer: In a New York Minute is a dual point of view story, so there are two narrators.

Josh Weiss: That its narrator, the very talented Fred Berman, has played Timon the meerkat in the Broadway production of The Lion King.


What are some of your favorite audiobooks?

Julissa Arce’s picks:

I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants! It sound like I was listening to standup. There are so many others, I live in LA so there is always traffic to get through one more chapter. Some of them are; Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo, Where I Came From by Aarón Sanchez, and The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio.

Kate Spencer’s picks:

I love audiobooks! A few recent favorites that I’ve listened to are People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, The Wreckage of My Presence by Casey Wilson, and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.

Josh Weiss’ picks:

I’ve continually listened to the Harry Potter series on audiobook (as read by the great Jim Dale…sorry, Stephen Fry) for about a decade now. It’s been a longstanding bedtime ritual and once I finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I go right back to the start with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The cycle goes on in perpetuity! Diving into the wizarding world can lull me gently to sleep or soothe my anxieties while traveling. Go on, ask me any Potter-related trivia. I dare you…


BONUS: What’s your favorite independent bookstore, or what have independent bookstores & booksellers meant to you?

Julissa Acre: Independent booksellers have been incredibly supportive of my work. They’ve opened their doors widely to make sure readers know about my books. But before I became a writer, I was already a fan. There is a sense of community that goes beyond the books that bring us together. All the love to indie stores.

Kate Spencer: Los Angeles is full of amazing indie bookstores, a few favorites include The Ripped Bodice, Chevalier’s, Vroman’s, and The Last Bookstore.

Josh Weiss’ photo credit: David Dahan

Kate Spencer’s photo credit: Mandee Johnson

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