Part Two of my Interview with Mayra Calvani
Last week we talked to Mayra Calvani about her latest book Latina Authors & Their Muses, a unique, groundbreaking exploration of the writing craft in a volume devoted to Latina writers and the ways in which they approach and practice their craft. Today, she shares with us what she discovered as she wrote her book, not just about other writers, but perhaps most importantly, about herself.
Hi Mayra. Welcome back. Let’s get straight to it. What did you discover about Latina authors when you wrote this book? What surprised you?
I was surprised by how different the journey has been for each author. For some, finding an agent and getting published by one of the big NY houses was fairly quick and painless. For others, it has taken many arduous years.
We all love the romantic notion of a Muse but, at the end, it’s all about determination, persistence, relentless passion, and hard work that makes most authors succeed. I was inspired, and humbly impressed by this remarkable group of women who’ve become, in fact, my Muses.
What kind of muses do these women rely on and which were some of your favorite muses? And by the way, you’re a Latina author yourself: what’s your personal muse?
Reading about the muses is the fun part of the book! They’re all so different! Some are elusive and mysterious like Esmeralda Santiago’s: “Muses surround me but don’t like to be revealed;” others, like Julia Amante’s, are expert blackmailers who demand chocolate cheesecake in exchange for brilliant scenes; others, like Zoraida Córdova’s, reveal themselves as cute lifeguards and mermaids; yet others, like Sarah Cortez’s, are “…seductive, curvaceous…Ever beguiling…shamelessly artful.” Honestly, I love them all and was fascinated by what the authors had to say about them.
About my muse…Ha! I was wondering when someone was going to pop the question. My muse changes from time to time. At times, she’s a nurturing angel who fills me with peace and confidence. Other times, she’s a belittling and cruel ice queen. Mostly, she’s the statue of the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet sitting on my desk and keeping a close eye on me. I like her the most because although she keeps me on a leash, she’s the perfect balance of gentle encouragement and firm discipline.
What are Latina authors writing about? What makes their work different or unique? What is their contribution to the global writing scene?
Latina authors are writing everything from poetry and memoir, to literary to children’s fiction/teen to women’s fiction/chick lit and romance and historical to—on a smaller degree—fantasy, mystery, and horror. They also write short stories, essays, and criticism.
The majority of the authors in this anthology write literary and women’s fiction, with a focus on relationships (love), motherhood, family dynamics, what it means to be a woman, as well as social issues that reflect concerns of our day, such as immigration, ethnic identity, the “American dream,” the oppression of women in patriarchal societies, cultural heritage, racism and prejudice, etc.
Those writing fantasy are creating imaginative and intricate worlds with strong realistic heroines who, like your protagonist in The Curse Giver, are passionate about social justice. In the crime and mystery genres, authors like private detective Carolina Garcia-Aguilera and former federal prosecutor and assistant US attorney Michele Martinez are writing edgy page-turners with kick-ass heroines.
In spite of the recurrent themes, each work is unique because each writer brings into her work her individual history, cultural background, education, job, and experience. Their books reflect the issues, struggles, and aspirations of Latina women in our society. This by itself makes these works an important contribution to the global writing scene.
What did you discover about yourself writing about your fellow Latina authors?
One thing I discovered is that interacting with like-souls is extremely important for me. I don’t know how all the authors in the anthology feel about it, but I can tell you that the sense of sisterhood I experienced while putting this anthology together has been wonderful.
Sounds like a wonderful journey, Mayra. Thank you so much for sharing it with us today. I have a feeling that, once again, your work will become a landmark resource for writers and aspiring writers everywhere. From all of us at MB4, best of luck!
About Mayra Calvani
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. In addition, she’s a regular contributor to Blogcritics.org and Examiner.com. She’s traveled extensively and lived in three continents, but now calls Belgium her home. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.
About Dora Machado
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.
To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit www.doramachado.com