I’m still a little silent due to the Orlando massacre, which hit too deep for so many of us. Our community was affected, and I can’t put it into words how devastated I feel that so many lights went out all of a sudden.
As tradition goes, we have a new interview here on the blog featuring another Latinx author. This week, I have invited Mia Garcia, author of Even if the Sky Falls to talk a little about her publishing journey.
Please consider buying her book after reading the interview. It’s the best way to support the authors we love! Here’s a little more about it, and then right after, our interview.
All she needs is one night to be anyone she wants.
Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and
pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.
In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.
But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.
1) What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Being able to take all of these crazy ramblings up in my brain and mold them into something. I really love discovering new characters and figuring out what their story is.
2) How has your cultural background influenced your writing? Do you write many Latinx characters?
It’s interesting because I don’t go into a story thinking “Oh, I’m going to make this character Latinx,” and I don’t always realize I’m weaving my own cultural background into a book until someone points it out. Thinking back to all the stories I’ve created and that I am still working on, I would say almost all of them are Latinx characters. Two are set in Puerto Rico, the rest in other locations, but the main characters still remain Latinx. So, I guess the short answer would be yes, and yes!
3) As someone who comes from a diverse background, did you have any experience in publishing that put that in a negative light?
If you are asking whether at any point being Latina was seen as a negative – no, I don’t think so. I worked in publishing for 6 years, and I don’t think the fact I was Latina was ever seen in a negative light at all. However, I do think publishing has a long way to go in working on its diversity problem, both in works being published, and the people being hired.
4) How important do you think diversity is in publishing, especially regarding Latinx representation?
VERY. Diversity in publishing is very important – as is the Latinx representation. The Latinx community is INCREDIBLY diverse. In PR for example our cultural history not only includes Taíno, African, and Spanish cultures but also Italian, Irish, Chinese, Scottish, Lebanese, Portuguese, and German. This is why I’m always confused when people say, “You don’t look Puerto Rican enough, are you sure you’re Puerto Rican?” WHAT EXACTLY DO WE LOOK LIKE? Do I need to prove I am what I am and give you a history lesson? NOPE. I know it’s annoying when you can’t easily identify some of us (WE COULD BE ANYWHERE. ANYWHERE!!!!).
Where was I? Oh yes, diversity within diversity. There is no one story of being Puerto Rican. My story will be incredibly different even from someone who grew up one block from me, or someone who grew up in the States. They are all valid stories of the Puerto Rican life, but aren’t always represented, and we need to work on that.
5) As a young writer, what books influenced you? Did any come from your own background?
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and my family still lives there. I went to high school in PR so Latin American writers were simply part of the school curriculum. We also had an English Lit class, but for the life of me I simply could not connect to ANY of those books (sorry, My Antonia) – which is funny because people used to make fun of me because I spoke English without an accent (and many other reasons, but we’re short on time), so you’d think I’d connect to some books in English, but no. I do remember the first assigned book I really connected with (and freaked me out) was Relato de un Naufrago by Gabriel García Márquez. I also really loved anything with magical realism in it like Un senor muy viejo con una alas enormes (also by Márquez) and La Casa de los Espiritus by Isabel Allende. The only one that actually came from a fellow Puerto Rican was La Casa de la Laguna by Rosario Ferré…actually, now that I think of it, I don’t think that was required reading, though maybe it was. Spoiler: I have a horrible memory. Magical realism just speaks to the culture I grew up in and the way my family saw the world. Although, to this day, I have a hard time explaining to people what magical realism is, even though I know it when I see it (for those wondering, I think Anna-Marie McLemore did a lovely interview on it here).
My grandfather would never contradict me when I thought there was something magical going on, or if there were monsters in his closet. Also, I have always been obsessed with folklore, traditions, and fairytales. I still am, so that’s been a huge influence in my life. To round all that out are comic books (I would sneak into my brothers room to read them all the time, because the dude at the comic book store thought girls shouldn’t be reading X-Men or Punisher so they’d be really rude to me when I went in…AGAIN WE ARE SHORT ON TIME), Disney, 80’s comedies, Jim Henson, and horror movies. And that’s just my childhood, I continue to be influenced by awesome artists like Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, and Guillermo del Toro.
6) Where do you get inspiration for your books?
It usually starts with an image, and that image unfolds like a film. Sometimes there will just be flashes here and there, some dialogue popping up, and before I know it I have a character that simply won’t shut up.
7) Any good advice for Latinx and POC writers out there?
Your voice is important. Your voice is important. *Gets microphone* YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT. Think of yourself years ago, picking up a book, and not seeing yourself on the cover or within the pages. Write your book for that kid. They deserve it. Unless it’s too adult for them…then they’ll have to wait a couple of years.
Hogwarts house? Ravenclaw. Although recently they tried to re-sort me into Gryffindor and that made me super angry. I’m clearly a Ravenclaw.
Favorite food? My mom’s rice. Then pizza.
Favorite movie? Oh, I can’t pick one, don’t make me!
Favorite TV series? Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite soap opera? Oh! Guadalupe was very good, so was La Ursurpadora. I watched both with my mom.
Favorite place in the world? It always feels great to be with family and at home in PR.
Favorite superhero? Storm or Phoenix from X-Men.
M. García was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She moved to New York where she studied creative writing at The New School, worked in publishing, and now lives under a pile of to-be-read books. Her debut novel, Even If the Sky Falls, from Katherine Tegen books (an imprint of Harper Collins) is out now!