Being Latina is not all beauty, fun, and intelligence. It can also be magical.
YA author Jamie Martinez Woods speaks to us about the magic of being Latina.
Q: Can you please tell us a little bit about the kinds of books you write?
A: I have eight published books (WOW!) Five of my books focus on earth spirituality, goddess traditions and living in harmony with the heartbeat of the land and all life. These books explore folk wisdom through herbs, cooking, ancient magic, symbols and lore. My other three book explore the Latino culture through the etymology of names, influential wordsmiths and teen fiction.
Q: Please describe the Latina heroine(s) in your book.
A: In my young adult novel, Rogelia's House of Magic, I like to tease and say that I split myself into four so that I could present four perspectives of the Latina lifestyle. There are three teen characters: Xochitl, a recent Mexican immigrant, is smart, determined and the hermit or loner. Colombian American Fern is the creative, impulsive, confident wild child. Marina is the Mexican American princess (8th generation Californio) who is quite sensitive/empathic though she lacks true self confidence or self esteem. Rogelia is their teacher: patient, wise, headstrong, tough and very caring.
Q: Who is your intended audience, if any?
A: My audience changes for each book. But the theme that runs through all my books, whether its the Hispanic Baby Name Book or The Teen Spell Book, is that everyone on this planet has a special gift, which could range from being a good listener to playing the guitar to being a social worker. Our job is to find it, polish it and let it shine in the world. We are not to judge it or allow others to dim our light, but instead revel in our talents and share them with all we contact.
Q: How do you feel your books influence Latinas?
A: My books, particularly the A-Z Latino Writers & Journalists book tells the biographical stories of 150 writers, editors and journalists who have changed the world because they spoke up and shared their tales. The stories represent the diversity of Latino Americans and the tenacity to not only survive but thrive despite dictatorships, suppression, prejudice and more. The Wicca Cookbook, inspired by Like Water for Chocolate, demonstrates that inspiration can come from anywhere and it doesn't have to be limited to any one form of expression and can even break misconceptions using an old tried and true method: cooking with love. The Faerie's Guide to Green Magick From the Garden, my latest book, reminds us to get back to the garden and talk to the plants like abuelita did.
Q: What does being Latina mean to you?
A: Being Latina means I live my life with my heart on my shoulder and I'm proud of the fact that I can be vulnerable enough to show what matters most to me and strong enough to back it up and see my dreams through to manifestation. Latina means family. I love my family, even when they drive me crazy, because I know they always have my back and vice verse. Mostly being Latina means I live, move and love ferociously with a thirst to experience as much as I can, until my last breath.
Q: We see from your website that your books incorporate magical elements. How does that affect today's Latina?
A: There is a strong folk wisdom in the Latina culture that we often ignore or disregard as base or not sophisticated. Sometimes we call it magical realism, sometimes its referred to as curandernismo. But regardless, Latinas have a deep connection to the earth and the supernatural. The physical and the metaphysical - through our use of symbolism, oral traditions and stories, and passion this magic comes alive and reminds us all of the power we have to create a world of our choosing. Or at the very least, find the blessing, humor or lesson (dicho) in almost any situation. We are resilient, but the magic helps us feel connected.
For more information about Jamie and her books, go to www.jamiewood.com