Jessica Parra on her new YA novel, The Quince Project

"I wanted to remind myself of the power we all have to rewrite our happy endings."


Following an aspiring party planner after she books a job planning the quinceañera for a teen Disneyland vlogger, Jessica Parra’s new YA novel, The Quince Project, is a joyful exploration of life, love, loss and following your dreams through grief. Filled with humour, drama and Disney reference, The Quince Project, is the perfect read for anyone in the mood for a Happily Ever After. To celebrate its release, we had the chance to chat with Jessica about everything from dream Disney weekends to upcoming projects.

Hi Jessica! It’s great to have you on the site today to talk all about your newest YA novel The Quince Project. For readers who may not yet be familiar with the book, how would you best entice them to pick up a copy?

Remember that J Lo movie The Wedding Planner? Well my newest novel, The Quince Project, is a YA remix of the classic romcom, but with quinceañeras (a Latine version of a sweet sixteen for readers not familiar with them) instead of weddings! The story follows teen event planner extraordinaire, Castillo Torres, as she books the biggest party of her career, only to discover the quince comes with a whole slew of complications… including catching feelings for the chambelán!

Can you tell us a little about how Castillo’s story came about?

Castillo Torres is very much a planner, like myself. She also has a specific vision of what her and her family’s Happily Ever After is supposed to look like. Sadly, tragedy shattered that HEA. Even if many of us haven’t experience specific the loss that Cas did, I think it’s safe to say that when the world’s biggest party crasher came onto the scene in 2020, we all had to grieve plans and experiences. Through Cas’s story, I wanted to explore the unwieldy nature of grief, and what happens when you try to control the uncontrollable. More importantly, I wanted to remind myself of the power we all have to rewrite our happy endings. And that sometimes, unexpected detours lead us exactly where we are meant to be.

Do you have a favourite scene or line in the book you can share?

Ah! This is so hard to pick! For readers unfamiliar with quinceañeras, one of the highlights of the celebration is a dance routine, traditionally a waltz performed by the birthday girl and her “court of honor.” Unfortunately for Castillo, her client, famous Disneyland YouTuber and Star Wars Stan, Paulina Reyes, is anything but a traditional bday girl! My favorite scene involves Cas enlisting her sister and dad to help her find the perfect routine and song for Paulina. Together they pick a Paso Doble instead of a waltz, and set it to The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme song). I love reading the part of them improvising the dance, not only because it is very kinetic, but also because it’s the first time the Torres family has connected since the loss of their matriarch. It still makes me tear up when I read it!


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Disney plays such a fun part in the book so I have to ask, what would your dream weekend at Disneyland look like?

Dream Disneyland weekend would involve rope-dropping (running into the park as soon as it opens) and sprinting over to Galaxy’s Edge to ride Rise of the Resistance—arguably the best ride ever. Then after more of attractions (Space Mountain and Indiana Jones), I’d take a caffeine break and order a Black Caf, which is a Star Wars spin on a cold brew and topped with sweet cream cheese and Cocoa Puffs. It’s so good! I also love interacting with characters, so lots of photos are a must. Then after more rides and treats, I’d end the night with the firework show.

Jumping off that, which Disney princess do you think you’re most similar to?

This is such a great question! I think I’m probably most similar to Princess Jasmine. She’s incredibly strong-willed (nearly bordering on stubbornness) and not afraid to stand up for what she believes. She also likes to venture outside of her comfort zone to discover new things. But most importantly, she’s a cat person!

There have been so many exciting new YA contemporaries released in 2024. Are there any you’ve particularly enjoyed or that you’re especially excited to read?

I just finished Daniel, Deconstructed by James Ramos and LOVED it! I’m really looking forward to Asking For A Friend by Kara H.L. Chen and It Waits In The Forest by Sarah Dass. All the YA contemporaries are going to break my wallet this year!

Finally, are you currently working on anything new and if so, is there anything you can share with us?

I am in the very early stages of brainstorming my next YA novel! Similar to The Quince Project, this one is also inspired by a classic 2000’s romcom—but I’m adding horror elements to it! You’ve been warned… but also… stay tuned!

Thank you so much for having me!

Get your copy of The Quince Project by Jessica Parra here.

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