LOS ANGELES — The new book "To Selena, With Love" reveals intimate details about the late Tejano star's life, but the book's author — her widower, Chris Perez — doesn't consider it a "tell-all" kind of book.
"I thought it should be honest, with dignity. I knew there would be things that would make me feel uncomfortable, but I think I wrote the book with respect," Perez, 42, said in a recent interview.
Perez says the book, released Tuesday, allows him to share his memories of Selena Quintanilla, who was shot and killed on March 31, 1995, two weeks shy of her 24th birthday. The Mexican-American singer was a sensation in the Tejano world with hits such as "Como la flor," ''Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and "El chico del apartamento 512." She was on the verge of crossing over when she was killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club.
"When Selena died, I suppressed the memories, I boxed them away in order to cope. When I decided to write the book, I opened the box and put it all out. It was a beautiful process. It was a good thing to revisit and I can't say I fell in love again because I never stopped loving her," he said.
Perez met Selena when he became the lead guitarist for Selena y Los Dinos. It was a band formed by Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., and also featured her siblings Suzette and A.B. Quintanilla.
Perez confesses that he feels remorse for not protecting his wife. He wonders if things would have been different had he told someone that Selena told him days before her death that Saldivar had shown her a gun. Perez also addresses rumors, including one that Selena was pregnant at the time of her death (she wasn't).
The first part of the book talks about their secret love. Their romance started behind her father's back, as depicted in the 1997 movie starring Jennifer Lopez, "Selena."
Selena's father was opposed to their relationship and accused Perez of being with his daughter only for her money.
Selena's father only accepted Perez after the couple eloped in 1992. Perez describes his father-in-law as an admirable person whom he still loves and respects.
"We had our differences but I love him and respect him like my own father. As a matter of fact, I just went to his studio the other day and I took my kids to see him. We're still a family," he said. Perez says that music was really a "business" for Selena; her real passion was fashion. "I have pads and pads of sketches," he said. "Most of the clothes she wore were her own designs." After Selena's death, the guitarist, who lives in San Antonio, struggled to cope with his loss but eventually moved on. He formed The Chris Perez Band, which won a Grammy in 1999. He also married Venessa Villanueva in 2001 and the couple had two kids, but they divorced a few years later.
"As Selena always told the children she spoke to around the country, 'Nothing is impossible if you work hard.' That includes picking up the pieces of your life," Perez said. ___ AP writer E.J. Tamara is based in Los Angeles. Follow him at https://twitter.com/EJTamara
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