Actress Eva Longoria Inspires Character in New Latino Mystery Series for Teens

“Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria inspires a character in a hot new mystery series for teens published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Hollywood, CA, April 23, 2006 --( When young adult author Ronald Cree began writing "Desert Blood 10pm/9c" in 2001, he had no idea the back story of one of his characters would one day become a reality. “I modeled the character of Aurora after Eva Longoria,” he admits. “She’s a friend, and I was working on her website at the time, looking at her face everyday. She was perfect for the part I was trying to write.”

Perfect, indeed. "Desert Blood 10pm/9c" is the first title in a new mystery series by Simon Pulse, the teen division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. “It’s about highly-successful Latinos in the entertainment industry,” Cree explains. “No actress symbolizes that in today’s Hollywood more than Eva. She is changing the way the world views Latinos.”

Cree is attempting to do the same thing. "Desert Blood 10pm/9c" avoids the cookie-cutter style of storytelling and instead focuses on the strong family ties common in Latino culture. The tantalizing premise involves a young, wildly popular Hispanic television star who puts his career and reputation on the line by adopting a teenaged boy. “Adoption by Hollywood’s biggest stars is nothing new,” Cree is quick to point out. “Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise—they’re all doing it. I wanted to take the idea a step further and explore what would happen if one of those megastars took in a gangly teenager instead of a cute baby. What would such a father / son dynamic look like to the media and the world?”

Cree writes what he knows. In 1993, he adopted a Mexican teenager himself. “My son Gabriel really opened my eyes to what it means to be a young, single parent,” he says. “Balancing friendship and discipline is difficult, but it can be done. You just have to know where the line is.”

To create a believable cast of characters for "Desert Blood 10pm/9c", Cree drew on his real-life relationships with several successful Latino actors, including Eva Longoria and her then-boyfriend, actor Nicholas Gonzalez ( "The O.C.", "Law & Order: SVU", "Anacondas" ). “Nick was working on 'Resurrection Blvd' at the time, and Eva was on 'The Young and the Restless'. Seeing them together all the time, I was struck by what a great couple they made. It was only natural that they would become major characters in my story.” Borrowing Gonzalez’s first name and profession, Cree created the character of Nicholas Hernandez and crafted a page-turning thriller / mystery that has young adults—and their parents—unable to put the book down. One 12-year-old reader in Arizona proclaims, “Ronald Cree is a better writer, in my opinion, than J.K. Rowling. While I love the Harry Potter movies, I can't get into the writing in the books. I couldn’t stop reading this one.”

The critics agree. VOYA ( Voice of Youth Advocates ) gave "Desert Blood 10pm/9c" a high rating, describing the book as “a welcoming world into which one can easily get sucked, brilliantly blending the thriller-mystery with current elements of popular culture that are all the rage, like an all-access glance deep inside the personal life of a TV megastar.”

Cree remains coy about the fate of his megastar character based on Eva. “It is a murder mystery,” he points out. “Some characters don’t make it to the end. But I will say this—Aurora is nowhere to be seen in the sequel.”

"Desert Blood 10pm/9c" is in stores now.
ISBN: 1-4169-1156-1

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Ronald Cree