Twilight Times Books published Latina Authors and Their Muses on 24 Setpember 2015. As I write this, Amazon offers the Kindle version of the 354-page book for 99 cents for a limited time.
Leticia Gomez, CEO & Founder of Savvy Literary Services and publisher of Café con Leche Books, wrote the Foreword. Mayra Calvani, an award-winning author, is the editor and interviewer of 40 Latina authors in this anthology.
This is a brilliant collection of interviews, an inspiration for writers, and a comprehensive introduction to Latina writers, here in the United States and abroad. Each interview begins with the author describing her Muse, followed by a quick biographical sketch, literary influences, a summary of publications and social media details. The interviews are candid and thorough discussions about ‘process,’ their trials and triumphs in life and art. In parentheses, I cite birthplaces for each author in order for readers to see the geography of the Spanish-speaking world that this publication offers. Below, I’ve provided a mere sliver of an opened door onto the conversations each of these talented women had with Mayra Calvani. I will post my review on Amazon and Goodreads soon. ¡Vámonos!
Marta Acosta (California): discusses Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë’s influence on her Gothic and YA novels. She opines on the changing YA market; weighs in on her quirky experiences with publishers, and how she wants to write Latina characters against type.
Lisa Alvarado (Chicago): talks about the catalysts to most of her poetry, the value of a mentor, and what she asks from fellow writers.
Julia Amante (Argentina): tells us her Muse has a sweet tooth. Julia considers the importance of dreams, following them and the imperative for discipline at writing.
Margo Candela (Los Angeles): Brenda, her muse, has helped Margo learn patience with writing, editing, and finding an agent.
Kathy Cano-Murillo (Phoenix): a full-time writer and designer of CraftyChica.com discusses the blend of skills needed in her writing.
Mary Castillo: (National City, Calif.): Forever Amber, a gift from her grandmother set this author on her path into indie publishing and writing paranormal novels.
Jennifer Cervantes (San Diego): her ethereal Muse has guided her into the realms of magical realism and YA literature.
Leila Cobo (Cali, Colombia): without a Muse, she has found inspiration in those hazy moments just before sleep. Leila discusses the importance of education and Chopin in her life. Barbara Walters and Oriana Fallaci were iconic figures in her teen years.
Zoraida Córdova (Ecuador): talks about NaNoWriMo, the Little Mermaid (and mermen) and fantasy literature.
Lucha Copi (México): this author met her Muse, Gloria Damasco, in a dream and penned the first Chicana PI in English-language literature.
Sarah Cortez (Texas): her mother hand-sewed her first books before she became a poet-policewoman.
Angie Cruz (New York City): Her Muse has a thing for coffee and cooking. The New York Times compared her Let It Rain Coffee to Gabriel García Márquez’s magical realism. That is a monumental comparison.
Liz DeJesus (Puerto Rico): from journaling to writing horror, her Muse is a nameless Arab man. She talks about how a bullying incident has informed and spurred her horror creations.
Anjanette Delgado (Puerto Rico): some no-nonsense words for critics of ‘chick lit,’ a discussion about Latina stereotypes and writing sex (mom is in the audience).
Carolina De Robertis (England): keen observations about the different definitions of ‘success’ in America and abroad.
Lyn Di Iorio (Brooklyn, NY): mentions the hilarious discovery in dad’s copy of The Godfather; discusses how she write the magical in her stories and how an impartial observation of a cauldron used in Santería inspired a novel.
Teresa Dovalpage (Cuba): in addition to writing in both English and Spanish, she talks about the importance for authors to understand all aspects of marketing and promotion for their books. Networking worked best for her.
Carolina Garcia-Aguilera (Cuba): a former P.I., she created the Lupe Solano series, which guarantees “three bodies per book or your money is refunded.” Living well is the best revenge: an agent had told her that she had no future as a writer. Framed letter and 10 novels (and counting) later…
Iris Gomez (Colombia): as an immigration lawyer, she visits the definition of ‘career success’ in the U.S. and the ‘untold story’ of mental illness in the Latino community.
Reyna Grande (México): from living in poverty in México, with story-time on the radio for entertainment, she emphasizes education and explores the immigration theme in her works.
Rose Castillo Guilbault (México): again, readers will learn about poverty, how this author wrote to give voice to farmworkers in México and how sweet it is to hold your published book in your hands.
Graciela Limón (California): a professor of Latin American Literature, she addresses Latina stereotypes and how her writing novels is a gestational process.
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa (Puerto Rico): twenty years and eight drafts toward a first novel, a model of persistence, Dahlma discusses continuity, the oral transmission of stories in her Afr0-Puerto Rican family.
Diana López (Texas): reading Don Quixote led her to a breakthrough as a writer. She explores the challenges that she encountered as a teacher in ‘reaching’ Latino teens and students. “Teens aren’t dumb — they’re inexperienced.”
Josefina López (México): candid about hurtful comments from friends and men, about the endless editing notes she has received over the years, and the pains of revision, yet she writes (and rewrites) plays, novels and screenplays.
Dora Machado (Michigan): thunderstorms awe her, medieval and mythological themes thread her writing fantasy.
Maria Gabriela Madrid (Venezuela): speaks about family pressures — she comes from a family of accomplished writers and poets — and her bittersweet need for solitude in order to write.
Michele Martinez (Connecticut): a crime-fiction with serious chops (federal prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney here), she makes ‘talking shop’ about mysteries and red herrings fun.
Sandra Ramos O’Briant (California): a frank and moving discussion of racism, superstition and witchcraft in the Latino community and how writing has helped her overcome personal setbacks.
Melinda Palacio (California): a late-bloomer, Melinda talks (and writes) about the anti-immigrant experience, grief over the early loss of her mother, and Latino stereotypes.
Caridad Piñeiro (Cuba): her Three B’s are not Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but the Brontës sisters, Bond, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Berta Platas (Cuba): discusses fearlessness amongst many other topics, including the pros and cons of writing under a pseudonym.
Toni Margarita Plummer (California): an in-depth look at the editing and publishing process from both sides of the desk since she is also a professional editor.
Thema T. Reyna (Texas): the importance of good teachers; supportive spouses; honoring the writing journey; poetry and networking and an extensive discussion about what makes good, effective blogging.
Lupe Ruiz-Flores (Texas): a childhood experience of flying a kite with her dad led to a poem, to a short story and to her first publication, a picture book. A revealing look at writing children’s books.
Esmeralda Santiago (Puerto Rico): personal essays in major newspapers about her single mother’s determination to raise her children was noticed and it started her unexpected literary career. Solitude – it has its joys and a price.
Eleanor Parker Sapia (Puerto Rico): an insightful analysis of the cross-pollination within the arts, between painting and writing. Watch out for the mysterious grandmother’s friend.
Alisa Lynn Valdes (New Mexico): binge writing and how the improvisatory nature of jazz has kept this writer prolific. Writer’s block? No such thing exists for this writer. She just may write on you if you stand still too long.
Diana Rodriguez Wallach (Pennsylvania): her foray into writing began with a bullying incident, but the motivational kick in the pants came from the paranormal: a psychic told her that she was a YA writer.
Gwendolyn Zepeda (Texas): like Marta Acosta, she blogged before it was called blogging. Gwendolyn speaks to the need for creative space, vigilant scrutiny of stereotypes, and for writing characters true to life.
Amazon review here.