Pepper’s Spotlight: An Interview with Martha Rodriguez’s Newest Character

Being an only girl with seven rowdy brothers makes country life rough for sixteen-year-old Pepper. She is sick and tired of the annoying and down-right embarrassing pranks of her brothers. Plus, she resents having to compete with them for the attention and love she craves from her too-strict dad and feeling like a second-rate family member because she’s ‘just a girl’. Enter Stoney, a cute hippy who offers her a ride to a place where she is promised unconditional love and acceptance. But that love may not be unconditional.





What kind of music do you like, Pepper?

As a child of the 60s, I enjoy doing the Pony when I listen to Runaway by Del Shannon. The Monkeys are the best, and I really love Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

What is your favorite meal? 

I sometimes get tired of eating beans and taters, but I’ve learned to like eating out of the garden. Raising vegetables is hard work, but it makes me appreciate having food that I’ve worked for. I probably would like things like shrimp or lobster, and maybe one day I will get to try those. But right now, Mom’s home-grown green beans, cabbage and carrots taste good with fried pork chops and deviled eggs. And I love fresh sliced tomatoes with lots of salt.

Who is your hero?

My hero is my brother, Ezra. He encourages me when I’m down and helps me realize my worth when I doubt myself. He is a selfless person who always gives to others.

If you could have any superpower, Pepper, what would it be?

If I could choose a superpower, I would be able to fly so I could go see the world. I would really like to see all the beautiful things God created. And I would be super strong so I could take up for people who get bullied.

What is your favorite book?

I read a lot, and my favorite author is Charles Dickens. I love David Copperfield. That book made me cry when David’s mother died. I also love The Black Stallion. I like animal books a lot.

Do you have any pets?

One time my brothers brought some baby squirrels home, and we fed them with an eye dropper until they were big enough to eat, then we fed them peanuts. I liked them, but I like cats. Only a cat would probably eat the squirrels. Oh well!

Where is your favorite place to go on a date?

When I go out with Levi, I hope he’ll take me to a nice restaurant so I can eat some fancy food for a change. Like crab legs.

 What’s your favorite movie, Pepper?

I seldom get to go to movies, but I would love to watch The Sound of Music because it sounds fantastic. I’d also like to watch The Birds with Levi so I when I feel scared I could grab his arm and hold his hand. We could eat popcorn and drink Pepsi. I love popcorn. Maybe we could double-date with Nicole and Roy. She likes him, you know.

Tell us about your perfect day.

My perfect day would include a picnic lunch at the beach with Levi. I’d take my sketch pad and new paint set so I could paint things I see, like maybe sea turtles, crabs, coral and birds. That would be great. I’d like to wear a cute swim suit and build sand castles. I’ve never been to the beach, but I’ve read about it and seen pictures. I’d also like to go with my family to see the Grand Canyon. I think that would be fun. My brothers and I could ride donkeys to the bottom to the Colorado River.

Want more? Here’s an excerpt from Pepper by Martha Rodriguez.

“Girl, did you know that your mama cried every day you were gone? Did you know that Cleo had nightmares because he thought you were dead? Do you even care what you did to this family?” His eyes narrowed and he shook his head. “You don’t deserve any time with anyone around here. Your time ended the moment you decided to give that pothead and his cronies your time. I’m done.” He whirled and stomped out the door.  

Pepper gasped and raced out of the kitchen. Maybe she could find solace in her favorite place on the creek.


 A retired teacher, Martha Rodriguez works hard to enjoy retirement by running around with her husband Ruben and his dog Roxy, working in her garden, reading, and writing. She lives in rural Arkansas where she raises a garden and feeds the wildlife that visits her backyard. She hopes to live long enough to write every story that’s in her brain, and that’s a bunch.


Connect with Martha Rodriguez


Purchase Pepper or any of Martha’s other novels


Modified and the sequel, Rectified, Middle Grade

It Pays to be Picky, YA non-fiction, relationship







     Children’s Picture Books:

Life in the Trees: Goodbye, Abuelita

Life in the Leaves: Whip or Rill



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