Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: HIS-PANIC: THE EARLY YEARS by Eddie Cisneros

Antonio wanted the normalities of a childhood, but that wasn't the hand he was dealt. . . Instead, he got a heroin addicted AIDS victim as a mother and an abusive drug dealing step-father... Witness the birth of a kingpin in a world littered with money, guns, murder, and an odd assortment of characters that make up Antonio Pintero's life. "I was considered a drug dealer. Any sympathy my heart felt slowly faded with each year I grew older. How far do you think I went?" HIS-Time... HIS-Life... HIS-Story... HIS-Panic


Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 3.5 stars 

Review: This is the harrowing story of Antonio Pintero in 1970’s New York. From the time he was born to a drug-addict mother with AIDS, Antonio hasn’t had an easy life. By the time he was 5-years old, he was out on the street selling drugs for his hot-tempered and abusive stepfather. By 12, he had his own gang.

I did kind of wonder why we switched from Antonio to two detectives half way through the novel. Who were these guys? I thought this was Antonio’s story. Was he eventually going to get arrested by the two cops? Were the two cops going to be corrupted by Antonio? Was a big showdown about to happen in the end? Were the cops in the present or the future? It was confusing and a bit disconcerting.

Poignant and raw, HIS-panic is a heart-wrenching and powerful story that is all too real. It is filled with hardships, drugs, and violence that both innervate and sedate the reader.  It makes sense that all Antonio talks about are drugs and gangs since it was all he knew, but it grows wearisome.


Overall, this is a captivating coming-of-age story that is nearly on the same plateau as the works of Luis Rodriguez. In fact, Cisneros could be his successor.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Q&A with Eddie Cisneros


Employed as a doorman for over twenty one years, Edward Cisneros “Eddie C.” has been quoted as saying, “I am not a doorman who chooses to write, but a writer who happens to be a doorman.” Apart from his novel series, HIS-PANIC, Eddie has two finished screenplays under his belt. A stylized thriller titled BEND about New York City homicide detectives on the trial of a serial killer and its sequel. He also served as contributing writer for a real estate website with bi-weekly posts entitled, “A Doorman Speaks.” Eddie has resided in Queens, New York, for much of his life, and it is where he continues to live with his family. He is currently setting up a website, but he can be found on TWITTER; readers can connect by searching @EddieCauthor


  1. What inspired you to write HIS-PANIC: THE EARLY YEARS?

In general, I've always had a love for writing. Whether it was short stories or even attempting to write screenplays. The passion and creativity have always been there. His-Panic came about as an idea that was constantly brewing in my head. And while the book itself is purely fictional, it is bundled with little things from my childhood memories. Growing up with a group of friends and hanging out. Seeing things going down in the neighborhood. Some people I knew or even know. And suddenly one day, all these ideas and memories just basically came together and pretty much turned into a truly powerful story about this one person's life that's laced with an influence of New York and Hispanic culture. Yet, I believe all kinds of people can relate to the story in itself.


2. What was the development process like?

I did some research. Even though I grew up during the seventies, when it comes to certain dates in time or even talking about certain police procedures and lingo, you kind of want to be spot on in order to give whatever story you're writing that much credibility. Make it that much believable. As for the drugs aspect of the story, again, there is some research involved but at the same time, I go back to those things I saw growing up. People that lived in the area. You kind of never forget that stuff and it makes for great writing.


3. Did you relate to the main character, Antonio, in any way? If so, what?

Not to skirt around the question but I guess, yes and no. Obviously, Antonio is this battered individual. The story opens up and here is this character laying on a bed and he has tears forming in his eyes, and he kind of feels like this is the beginning of the end for him. On that level, I'm definitely not like Antonio. As for the nostalgia of hanging out with a core group of friends, those moments we shared, yes, I can relate. As for the drugs? It is what it is. I wouldn't go out and say I was some big time hustler. But, again, you grow up, you see things, and yes, you do certain things whether on a big scale or a small one. Thankfully for me, I'm doing alright with my full time job, raising a family and living life.


4. What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Trying to balance the story out emotional wise. There are quite a few moments where the book really hits hard. I've gotten so many comments on one particular scene. I don't want to give away too much but it involves little Antonio, his step father and a certain broken glass on the kitchen floor. In between some of these scenes, you want to try and maybe throw in some light stuff or even the action, hence the detectives that come into play at one point in the story. At the end of the day, this is a fictional story/series and there is going to be so much stuff happening. As the series goes on, I'd say the hardest part is keeping all the subplots running smoothly as different characters get introduced. I want to make sure that everything comes full circle and finishes off right.


5. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

While you get caught up in the story, entertainment wise, I kind of do want readers to perhaps dwell for a moment that Antonio's story, his life, is sometimes the true story of a lot of young children that grow up in impoverished surroundings. Its children that grow up knowing the street way of life because they lack positive role models in their life and because of that they become products of the environment. Antonio's character is a very complex one as readers who stick with the series will find out because for a good portion of his life, he feels disconnected, he lacks faith, and this is why he does or acts on things. As he gets older, it is here where Antonio finally realizes he wants to try and make certain situations in his life better. But there's always a price that has to be paid based on a person's actions.


6. What inspired you to be a writer?

I know growing up I had this wild imagination. It was a love for movies, horror ones especially, that my friends and I were dead set on filming a low budget horror movie in our neighborhood. I even worked on a script and everything. Writing to me has always been something that I truly enjoyed. The entire creative process, you know? Being able to make up characters and then putting them into whatever situations you can come up with, but putting it together so well, that you can actually visualize what you're reading. This to me is what writing is all about.


7. What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

Like I said before, the creative process is great. It's an open canvas to let go, let ideas just run wild. What I dread the most from writing, I'd have to say is the editing process. There are a few editing annoyances. One is and no matter what, it will happen, when you re-read your story and suddenly something doesn't sound right. A few sentences might get changed into an entire different scene. You definitely go through phases where you love what you write and then you simply hate it to death. If you're fortunate enough and you've finally found an editor for your book, then yeah, that's another equaling headache. To have something you've written, thought was the best literary piece this side of Shakespeare, and then finally given back to you all chopped up and re-worded. 


8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I absolutely enjoy dark stuff, horror. So I've read my share of Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz and Clive Barker. Oh yeah, and this new up and coming Latino writer, Eddie H. Cisneros. I heard his stuff is hot. I'm sorry. I just had to do that. Lol.


9. If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Antonio?


Wow. That's a tricky one because the series depicts Antonio at different stages of his life. I'd say a full adult, perhaps an Alex Gonzalez or maybe even a Diego Boneta. These are two low key actors who have done some mainstream but mostly series stuff, some movies here and there. I think the look fits. You definitely want to attract a women audience as well so these guys could hold their own. I mean I certainly can't write and act as well. I just can't do it all. Lol.



10. Are you working on anything right now?

I am currently working on the last installment of HIS-Panic. This one is subtitled Absolution. I already have everything in my head, I know exactly what is going to happen I even know some dialogue. The crazy part of that is when a writer actually gets to those last two words, THE END. I know it will feel emotional and bittersweet. I do want to get back into writing screenplays. I've had this wild story in my head for such a long time. A horror movie titled Vicious. Its a road trip movie about two estranged brothers who kind of get to bonding only to pick up the wrong hitchhiker along their trip. That's  when everything pretty much goes down hill from there.



11.  And finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

I believe there are quite a few up and coming authors out there. I would love to get to a point where perhaps I'm even classified in such a list. I think its important for Latino's as a whole to embrace these authors, books in general. In order to break a notion how I once read, that Latino's don't really read. If so, then maybe its time that more Latino characters are introduced in books, characters with strong voices and opinions. I mean, we have stories too. Whether fictional or non fiction, I think it's important for our culture to also make its mark through the literary word.      
         

1.        

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Spotlight: Antonio Rodríguez Hernández


  

 
 

Antonio Rodríguez Hernández was born in Totana, Murcia in 1945 in the midst of the post-civil war era. Working for the Telefónica, he spent most of his life involved in the technical world where literature and poetry were things very far removed from his day to day life.

  Due to a private family happening in 1990, he started to embrace the poetry; writing small snippets, which he kept hidden in a drawer until, in 1995, he made the bold decision to select some of them and form his first book of poems called ‘Jugando a Poetas’.

  From that moment on he dedicated his life to writing. Antonio was entered into some literary competitions, such as the ‘Gregorio Parra’ and ‘Villa de Aledo’ and he has won several, such as ¨La Cárcel¨ in Totana (Murcia) in 1999 and 2000, also AAC de Alguazas (Murcia) in 2001.

 

So far, Antonio Rodríguez Hernández has published 22 poetry books including:

 

Con nocturnidad y alebosía (2001)

101 Haiku (2001)

al fin y al cabo (2002)

A propósito de lo nuestro (2003)

Poemas para un tiempo final (2004)

 

7 novels including:

 

La alargada sombra del Rey de Bastos (2003)

En el nombre de Roma (2013)

El monje de Gorma (2015)

and Cerro Verde (2010), which has been translated into English and called ‘Silver Bullets’(2015).







SILVER BULLETS

A Novel by Antonio Rodríguez Hernández 

The end of the Civil War did not mean the beginning of peace for most of the Spanish people because it was not part of the victors plans to heal all wounds. 
From 1939 the ill-fated word was ‘Purging’.
Every Spaniard, whether victorious or defeated, was obligated to state that their past did not influence their willingness to live in the 'New Spain’.
The Fascists were the conquerors and the Communists were outcast as ‘bad seeds’ with no opportunities in normal society.
In the region of Axarquía Malagueña a group of Spanish Maquis tried to survive, maintaining their Republican ideals against intense pressures from the Franco regime.
This is a story of two friends forced to fight on opposite sides under the irrationality of their circumstances, knowing that in war, there are no winners!





"Silver Bullets is a historical novel about one of the cruelest periods in the history of Spain: The bloody aftermath of the Civil War (1936-1939).

The history of the author´s father is prodigiously documented, perfectly recounted and accompanied by photographs to further enhance the experience.

A collective tragedy narrated with passion"

Juan Ruiz García  ~  Caja de Semillas

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Q&A with Adex Garza


Adex was born and raised in Plainview, Texas. After attending Texas Tech University for three and a half years, he decided to move to Los Angeles in order to pursue his professional aspirations. He is currently working on "Ripped", the sequel to "Grip", and a television series, "Stush".




1. What inspired you to write Grip? 

GRIP is actually inspired by what inexperienced during my own weight loss journey and growing up in Texas. One thing I do want to make clear, though, is that I didn't write it with ill intentions, quite the contrary actually.

I couldn't be more thankful to the incredible sport of artistic gymnastics, the guy who inspired Gable Cask and the incomparable state of Texas for the memories I cherish and the person they molded me into. 




2. How did Declan’s character develop throughout the story and what did he learn in the end?
When we meet Declan, he's already in rehab and his reticent nature is painfully apparent, however, as the narrative progresses the reader is, hopefully, able to understand why Declan has grown reticent through the flashbacks and therapy sessions. It isn't until the end the reader, again, hopefully, realizes that it's not so much the lesson(s) he learned that are imperative to the story, but his own resilience and how he's able to use it in order to inspire those around him that counts. 




3. What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The entire book was difficult to write, to begin with, but the more I wrote, the more cathartic it became. I was able to breathe better, and even relax, which is something I hadn't done in years up to that point. 

However Chapter 36 was a particularly ghastly segment to write. I would go into detail, but I feel like the chapter itself is pretty self explanatory. 

 

4. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
More than anything, I want to be able to help someone who is going through what I went through, and see that they're not alone. I want to give hope to those who can't see the light at end of the tunnel, because I didn't see it for the longest time; I didn't have anyone for me there, until rehab. I want whomever reads this to know that they shouldn't be afraid to be the best version of themselves due to someone else's bigotry and ignorance. 




5. What inspired you to be a writer?
I think the most ironic aspect of this all is how much I never imagined myself a writer. I swore up and down I would be a designer and, at most, a singer/songwriter with all the Grammys in the world. 


Now, at 24, I see that I have a responsibility to my people, and by that I mean first generation immigrants, I mean the LGBTQIAAP community, and I mean those with eating disorders. I must fight to make a change for us.




6. What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
The best part about being a writer is being able to use your words to entertain someone. Storytelling is something that goes back a couple generations in my family, so it definitely makes me happy. 

As far as what I least like about being a writer? The system. I've talked to some of my contemporaries and It's extremely discouraging to up and comers to see mediocrity praised and have money thrown at it, while the rest of us work our butts off to provide the world with quality literature. It's almost infuriating to see poorly written fan fiction earn millions while the rest of us have to get by with whatever means necessary. Which is not to speak ill about anyone's hustle, because... Hey, by all means, stack your paper, boo boo, but just know that it's discouraging to those who actually put effort into our work.




7. Who are some of your favorite authors?
As far as classical authors go, I love Hemingway, Steinbeck, Austen, Christie and Orwell.

Contemporary authors include JK Rowling, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Stephen King. 

 

8. Are you working on anything right now?
Apart from working for Joel Flora at Joel Flora Photography, aka the best photographer in the business Winking faceI am working on the first draft to RIPPED, the sequel to GRIP, STUSH which is a television series I wrote, and a couple side projects that are still in very early stages of development. 




9. If your book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the role of Declan? (You can pick any actor, living or dead)

Well, immediately after STUSH, that is the goal. As far as who would play Declan? Well, I wouldn't want anyone else to portray "me" but myself because I am Latino, and there needs to be more Latino actors on screen... That, and I'm selfish when it comes to things of that nature. As far as Gable goes, I would kill for MTV "Awkward"'s Beau Mirchoff. Yes, he's easy on the eyes, but I believe him to have the acting chops to really bring Gable's character to life... Not to mention he looks like an almost carbon copy of Gable. As far as the rest of the cast, I'd love Jennifer Hudson to play Dr. Anderson, even though it's a male part. Kevin Spacey would make for a great Coach Johnson, Shailene Woodley or Selena Gomez would be incredible for Karen and Jax Pinchalk rounding out the main cast as Skylar.




10. And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
Definitely a stronger presence in not only the literary sense, but in all other aspects of the media. I may be one voice, but one voice turns into two and so on and so forth. 

I've chosen to be a part of this industry, not for the fame, like many others, but for the power that comes with success. I want to be an advocate for those like me. I want to make a change. The last words I told my mom before driving off were, "I WILL change the world," so I want for little kids to look at me and say, "I'm going to do it, because he did it." 

I won't stop until I've amassed the Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony because I want first generationals to realize that they don't necessarily have to give up on their dreams because they're big... In fact, it's because those dreams are so big that they can be accomplished, because those who dare to dream big are the ones that achieve what they seek. Not to mention that I do hope to make my parents proud some day. 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Q&A with Oscar Luis Rigiroli



Oscar Luis Rigiroli was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Professionally a chemical engineer, he worked in the industry until 2005. During this period he wrote articles about economics in several Argentine newspapers. He started his career as a writer rather recently, writes in Spanish and translates his own books into English. His areas of interest are narrative and economics. So far he has published seven books in either language, six novels and an essay on economics. His books are available in paperback editions as well as e-books.





1.       What inspired you to write Golden Legend: Lost City in the Andes?

A: The quest for lost civilizations is a romantic inclination of the human soul of all times. In our Latin America we are rich in legends and myths referring to them. El Gran Paititi is one of the most widely diffused myhts. Most of the data about its origin and alleged location are real in the sense that myths can be real .

 

2.       What elements did you explore in this book?

A: In the first place love, since there is a romance intertwined in the story. Then the organization of an archeological expedition with academic goals. In third place the existence of international raiders of cultural assets. Finally, a millenary group of Inca descendents whose utopia is to restore the Tawantisuyu or Inca Empire. All these elements interact in the story.

 

3.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?

A: as always is, the previous collection of data to make solid foundations for the plot.

 

4.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

A: Hopefully to realize that our Latin American History as a rich source of inspiration for telling contemporary  stories with universal interest.  Then of course, amusement.

 

 

5.       What inspired you to be a writer?

Although I am professionally an Engineer, I always had an inclination to tell stories. I love books, both reading and writing them.

 

6.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

A: My deep motivation to write is to express myself, as others paint, work with wood or dance. I am myself when I am writing. What I like least I finding publishers.

 

7.       Who are some of your favorite authors?

A.      As I read many genres, the list is diverse: Jorge Luis Borges, Ernesto Sabato, Umberto Eco, Morris West, Graham Greene, Victor Hugo, Jack London, Mario Vargas Llosa.

 

8.       Are you working on anything right now?

    A: Yes. I am translating from Spanish into English my novel “Enigma under the Frost” ( my first novel), then I will translate “Ordo Australis”, that is really the second part of “Golden Legend”. And I will start a novel that I will name “Ten Wings- I Ching and crime”.

 

9.   If your book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the role of the main character? (You can pick any actor, living or dead)

A: The main character is a lady, a Mexican archeologist. I would imagine a younger Salma Hayek playing her role ( I even mention Salma  in the book as having the perfect physique du role)

 

11.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

A: as said before Latino literature excels in local themes involving social or political issues, love affairs etc. My intention is to help adding a wider perspective that could attract people of other backgrounds.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Q&A with Lauren Scharhag


Lauren Scharhag is a writer of fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared most recently in The SNReview, Infectus, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

She is the recipient of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award for poetry and a fellowship from Rockhurst University for fiction. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband and three cats.






1.     What inspired you to write West Side Girl and Other Poems?

I didn’t set out to write a book of poems.  I’ve been writing seriously since I was very young, and I’ve always alternated between prose and poetry—I have long periods where I write prose almost exclusively, and periods where I write poetry almost exclusively. 

Back in 2005, I had the urge to write poetry, and I made a conscious decision that I wanted to improve my craft.  So I joined an online poetry community where I was fortunate to find a lot of people who read each other’s work and gave a lot of really great, constructive feedback. 

Working with that community, the poetry cycle lasted a good while.  I didn’t start to slow down until about 2010, and gradually returned to prose.  I think I really found my voice during that time period.  I really cultivated my poetic eye.  West Side Girl is what I consider the best of the poems that came out of that period.

 

2.     What are some of the themes that you explore in this book and why?

Most of the poems are biographical.  In the book description, I say I explore themes of womanhood, my family and what it’s like looking white but being Latina.  My mother is Mexican, from a very poor family.  My father is German, from a very wealthy family.  Neither side approved of the other.  My parents divorced when I was small, so I was mostly raised by my mother and her family.  Everyone lived in the same neighborhood.  My great-grandmother and grandmother lived next door to each other.  My aunt and uncle lived across the street.  For a time, my other two uncles lived in that same neighborhood.  Almost every day was like a family reunion.  So in some ways, I had all the good things that go with the big Latino family—that constant love, that loyalty and support-- not to mention the food!  A lot of the poems are about food because in my grandmother’s house, life revolved around the kitchen.  When you walked through the front door, the question was never, “How are you?” but, “Are you hungry?” 

But there’s also the baggage that goes with being Latina—the biases, the Catholic guilt, the neuroses.  My grandparents used to call me guera and bolilla, and kids in the neighborhood used to say I wasn’t a real Mexican.  I didn’t understand what that meant until I was older.  I didn’t realize I was so white until one day, at a big neighborhood fiesta, I looked around and realized how very pale I was compared to everyone else.  It was a very rich and strange childhood. 

I also write a lot about femininity—one of the reasons I threw myself so wholly into writing during this period was because of health problems.  They were so bad, they hindered me from going to college and even holding a job.  I had to have a full hysterectomy when I was 26.  It was a relief having the physical problems mostly taken care of, but knowing you will never get to experience something so fundamentally female as being pregnant or having a child is very painful and complicated.  Between being ill and being barren, I am keenly aware of my own mortality, so there is a lot of illness and death in my poems.  Writing is the only way I have to confront these things, to make peace with them. 

 

3.     What was the development process like?

The poems were mostly written, in some form or other, before 2012.  A few had been published in literary magazines.  I put the poems in reverse order—the newest ones went up front, the older poems went towards the back.  That felt right to me because the poems are, essentially, memories.  So it makes sense to take the reader on a journey backward.  My husband actually took the cover photo, which is the Hereford Bull overlooking the West Bottoms, which is the area where my family lived—some of them still live there.  Of course, it’s easier now than ever to do a project like this, with self-publishing and e-books.

Now that I’ve done it, though, I wished I’d consulted with some other poets to see how they compiled their work into chapbooks and such.  I think there are some layout things I could’ve done better.  But I’ll know for next time. 

 

4.     What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Learning to be brave enough to tackle the hard subjects—to look at the situations honestly, and to be as objective as possible.  The poetry group really helped with that.  There were some poems that I wrote and was too scared to post because they were so personal, so revealing.  But when I shared them, people would comment on how it related to their experiences, which was very rewarding. 

 

5.     What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I think one of the most important things all literature can do is convey an experience—something the reader either profoundly connects with because they’ve been through something similar, or introduces them to something very new that makes them see the world in a new way.  I hope to accomplish that with all my work.

 

6.     What inspired you to be a writer?

I wouldn’t say was inspired to be a writer, it’s just something I’ve always been.  For me, it’s more like a vocation, a calling.  My whole life, I’ve loved reading.  From a young age, I kept journals.  I wrote stories and poems.  When I was thirteen, I started writing for the Kansas City Star’s teen section.  That same year, I wrote my first novel (which was very awful and will never see the light of day).  I completed my second novel by the time I was seventeen (only marginally less awful).  I studied literature in high school and college.  In 2005, I wrote a script for a small independent production company here in town.  But I don’t feel like I really hit my stride till just a few years ago, where I can actually look back on some of the stuff I’ve done and feel something other than embarrassment. 

 

7.     What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

The worst part is everything to do with trying to sell what you wrote.  Submitting to publishers and magazines, marketing, reading negative reviews—that part’s all very stressful. 

The best thing about writing is the writing—escaping reality, playing with words, getting to live vicariously through characters and imagined situations.  Wherever I go, I’m not alone because I have a legion of characters in my head keeping me company. 

 

8.     Who are some of your favorite authors?

Too many to name.  Some of my favorite poets are T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, Ai, Louise Gluck and Margaret Atwood.  My favorite authors are Vladimir Nabokov, Richard Adams, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Barbara Kingsolver, George R.R. Martin, Thomas Hardy and W. Somerset Maughm. 

 

9.     Are you working on anything right now?

Oh, yes.  I co-author a series of scifi/fantasy novels with my best friend, Coyote Kishpaugh.  The series is called The Order of the Four Sons.  We’ve written the first four books, and just signed with a UK publisher called Kensington Gore.  Books I and II are going to be re-released this year.  Next year, Books III and IV are going to be re-released.  Coyote and I are working on the final two books, V and VI.  It’s about two ancient organizations, the Order of the Four Sons of Horus and Starry Wisdom, who have been battling for centuries for possession of a powerful artifact known as the Staff of Solomon.  Whoever has possession of the staff can rip open the very fabric of existence. 

Independently, I am working on a vampire trilogy based on my short story, “Our Miss Engel.”  I’ve also signed with Kensington Gore on that.

Otherwise, the year is young.  I’ve written some poems and short stories.  I never know where my imagination will take me.

 

 

10.  And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

I think the US has become very cognizant in the past decade or so that ethnic literature has been ignored in favor of the traditional Western canon—not just Latino, but other world literature.  I was finally able to finish up my degree a few years ago and it was something that my professors talked a lot about.  They made sure to include in their curriculums books by Latino authors, as well as African, Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern authors.  I think that’s an important, positive step, not just for writers but for readers too.  Technology keeps making the world smaller, and we should be more aware of other artistic and cultural identities.  Books are a window into other people and places. 

For Latinos specifically, I think it’s a very good time to be a Latino in the US.  Our voice is being heard and recognized like never before.  Other ethnic groups are interested in learning about our traditions.  I’m old enough to remember when being Mexican and speaking Spanish was very exotic.  When my parents got divorced, my mother remarried to my stepfather, who is white.  We moved into his house in what, at the time, was a rural, white community north of Kansas City.  In that small town, we couldn’t find things like corn husks, peppers or cumin.  We had to go back to the city whenever we wanted those things.  When my grandparents came to see me in a school play, all the white kids stared at them because they were so small and dark, because they spoke Spanish.  When I said in class that my favorite food was tamales, no one knew what that was.  Now, Mexican food is hardly considered ethnic, in the way that Italian food is no longer considered ethnic.    

In the long run, I’m curious to see how deeply assimilated we will ultimately become in the US.  A hundred years ago, Italians and other ethnic groups were considered foreign and exotic but have become mostly integrated into the culture.  I wonder if that’s what will happen with us, or if we will maintain a separate niche.
For more info, visit http://laurenscharhag.blogspot.com/.