Fantastical y Más Fuerte: Speculative Contemporary Takes on Immigration
Starting off wrong. Welcome to the first ever. Next kidlin book festival, i am your moderator, for this panel, i'm bar ordis. I'm the author of blaze roth games which is this book right here. So thank you so much for tuning, in, if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments and remember, to read our anti-harassment. Policy in the chat box. And in terms of commenting, remember to stay respectful, and kind and to keep it with appropriate, language. I am so, freaking, excited. To be with my co-panelists. Today, yay. So i'm going to be introducing, them and they get to talk about their books their latest. Works of art. So let's start with alex, villasante. Alex has a bfa, in painting and an m.a in combined, media. When she's not writing or painting, alexandra, plans conferences. And fundraisers. For non-profits. Fyi, she is part of the steering committee for this very festival, so. Very grateful to herself. Yes, and we're very grateful. She lives with her family in the semi-wilds. Of pennsylvania. Her debut young adult novel the grief keeper. Was in indie's next, indies, introduce, and fall 2019. Junior library, guild, selection. It's on ala's, rainbow book list 2020. And is the winner of the 2020, lambda, literary, award. For lgbtq. Children's, literature, young adult fiction. Hi alex, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. And thank you very much, so much for everything you've done so far for this, festival, this is so great. All right. Time for romina, garber. She is a new york times and international, best-selling, author whose books include lobby sona and the zodiac, series. Born in buenos aires argentina. And raised in miami florida, romina, landed her first writing gig as a team, college she wrote a weekly sunday column for the miami, herald, that was later picked up for national syndication. And she hasn't stopped writing since and we're very grateful for it. She is a graduate of harvard college and a virgo, to the core very good i love that little virgo, not at the end. Thank you so much for being with us romina. Thank, you. So now it is my honor to introduce, paola mendoza. She is an accomplished, film director, activist, and author. A co-founder, of the women's, march, she served as its artistic, director.
And Co-authored, the new york times bestseller. Together, we rise. Behind the scenes at the protest heard around the world. Paola's, film credits include, the award-winning. Entrenos. Free like the birds, and autumn's, eyes. Her latest novel sanctuary. Was co-authored, with abby sure, and hit shelves earlier, this fall thank you so much for joining us paola. Thank you for having me i'm so honored. Thank you. See i told you i was going to do the yays i'm so sorry. And last but certainly not least raquel, vasquez. Is a mexican-american. Poet. Novelist, and painter. She received her mfa in poetry from the university, of alaska, anchorage. In 2017.. She's most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages, of all things. When not writing, raquel, tells stories to her plants, and they tell her stories back. She lives in tennessee, with her beloved, family, and mountains. Thank you so much for being here raquel, we're super excited to have you. Thank, you, i'm excited to be here. Yes and i guess i should introduce, myself as well yes. So as i said my name is ambaro. And i was born in san juan puerto rico and i currently, live on the island's, northeastern. Coast. My short story comic what remains in the dark, appears in the eisner award-winning, anthology, puerto rico strong. And saving chupi, my middle grade graphic novel, comes out in winter of 2022.. I hold an m.a in english and a ba in psychology. My debut novel lace wrath games, hit shelves, this october, from page street kids. So, with that being said. I get to ask, all of my co-panelists, what their books are about. So alex do you want to start. I suppose it's not fair to say i don't remember, no. It's been a very long run up to this festival, so, forgive me in advance, okay, uh, this is my book. There there you go uh the grief keeper. It is about, uh two sisters, from el salvador. Who, flee their country, because of the violence there, that's madison, and gabby. And. They come to the united states they're um detained, by ice. And. While in detention. Madison, the older one is given an unusual. Choice. Either immediate, deportation. Or. She can participate. In a cutting-edge. Clinical trial. That, transfers, grief, from one person. To another. And really i say it's a choice but for marisol, there is no choice she. Feels that the only thing that she can do to protect. Her sister gabby. Is to agree to participate. And that really starts a journey. Of. Recognizing, a lot of things about herself. And, uh and about her family, and about, who she is. Um yeah so that's what the book's about. I did remember, good job. You did. Yes. It is. I mean everyone's books here is like, why am i even here i love everyone here okay. It's your turn tell us about louis sona. In case that's too small. Um. So lovisona. Is about manu, uh who's a teen who grows up in hiding in miami, with her mom, because she's undocumented. But also because she has very otherworldly.
Eyes. Um, and. When her mom is arrested, in an ice raid. Manu, decides, to follow, clues, to figure out who her father was and why they had to leave argentina, on the run from his criminal, family. And why they might still be in danger. And, of course, miami, so, this, this quest, invariably, leads to the everglades. Why not. Uh and there, she discovers, this world. Literally, ripped, from argentine, folklore. Uh and childhood, stories that she thought were just that stories, that end up having a lot more to do with her life. Um, and of course, she doesn't quite fit in here, either, so it turns out that this label, of illegal, that has been placed on her in the human realm. Applies, to her entire existence. In this other world. So true, so sad. Paula, can you tell us about sanctuary. Absolutely. Sanctuary. Takes place, in a futuristic, united states the years, 2032. And. In the year of 2032. Uh, the, president-elect. Is a much worse version. Of a donald trump, much more organized, much more authoritarian. Exactly, it's a scary world, um. The story, is about, a young undocumented. 16 year old girl named valentina. She. It's also important to note that everyone in this world is chipped. So, if you. Have your papers, you're chipped and if you are undocumented. You have a. You have to figure out a way in which to get a fake chip it's the ways, in which the government is able to track, folks so valentina, has a chip. Her mom has a chip also, that um. Is not doesn't work the best, it's they've had moments, where um it hasn't worked. And everywhere you go you get scanned in and out of, whether it's a bus or whether it's a school or whether, it's a government building. There is an uprising, on the border, of california. Tijuana. And that uprising. Causes. The federal government to clamp down even more, on undocumented. Immigrants, and it also causes, california. To secede from the union. And so they put out a call to the rest of, what they call the other 49. Um. That all immigrants are welcome in california. So, valley, her little brother ernie who's eight years old and her mom start off on a journey. They live in vermont. And they have to get from vermont to california, to find sanctuary. Um. And, the story ultimately, is about. Their struggle. To get to california. But also. Um. What valley begins to understand, about the world. And about herself. And about her family, through the journey, to trying to get to california. Thank you so much that was uh yeah everyone, is so great at describing, their books so great. Studying a president i love it, so raquel can you tell us about sia martinez, and the moonlit, beginning, of everything i love saying that title out loud. Thank you, yeah here's, hold on i i got very confused about this there is the novel. And uh. It's about, a young girl named sia whose mother was deported. Three years prior, to the beginning of the book and thought dead because she disappeared, in the sonoran, desert. And, one day, under a million stars, she is hanging out in the desert. And, a. Alien, spacecraft. Crashes, right in front of her, and outside. Out of it comes her mother. Sort of crawls out of the wreckage. And so the book is about sia, trying to figure out. What has happened to her mother. And. Um is this actually, her mother. And. Um yeah that's, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. Thank you so much that was awesome, so now i get to talk about, this. There are some dragons on the cover so yes blaze wrath games is indeed, i don't know if you can see them. That well, yes. So blazers, games is a young adult contemporary, fantasy, about, la nadores, she is a 17 year old puerto rican girl living in florida. She wants to represent her country puerto rico in the blaze wrath world cup, which is basically just an international. World cup competition, but with dragons. And their writers. And. Lana is the only player without a dragon steed, she is what is known as the runner. This is her lifelong, dream, and she's desperate to be on the team because she associates. Representing. Puerto rico with. Being, puerto rican enough. And the problem is that while her dreams are coming true, there is this dragon, turned, into, human, or cursed, into human form. Who is attempting. To get the cup cancelled. Because he believes that dragons should not be used for sport, literally, for sport. So she has to navigate, a global conspiracy, and also try to make her parents or specifically, her father proud. Family friendly, super family friendly. Alright, let's get to our questions. So, our main characters. Face a variety, of challenges. But as members of their respective, latinx, communities, in the diaspora. They constantly, struggle, with belonging.
What Does home mean to your protagonist. And we can start with alex. Yes okay, um. For, marisol. Um. At the point that we meet her. When, um. She and her sister have already crossed, into the united states, um, home for her. Is her sister, gabby. Um. She has made a conscious. Decision, to sort of lock away, all the other aspects, of her identity. And of her homeland. Because she feels, that. She cannot concentrate, on anything, else. Um it almost feels dangerous, to her, to even think about her own needs and her own um, you know what what she is going through any of the trauma that she's been through, um. By crossing, over by taking, care of gabby and even before they got to the united states the trauma of the things that happened to her in el salvador. So, um. Home for her is. A fraught concept. So she pours, all of that, uh longing, and. And, wanting that connection, into her sister her sister is 12.. So it's a lot. A lot for that bond, to, to, uh sustain. Um but they are so close that they do you know it does hold but it's, it's, it's not the it's not the best, it's not the best way, um. But it's all she has. Correct, i agree. Um, romina, what is home for your main character. So, for manu. Um. You know i think the, the, definition. And the concept, of home changes, throughout, the book. And i think it's a little bit like. Nesting, dolls, like where we kind of outgrow, our homes, and then go into the new ones you know, um and so, in the beginning. Manu. Is quarantining. Before it was cool, you know because she's like stuck, in this apartment, essentially, she can never leave and if she does she's got to wear these sunglasses. And get her mom's permission, and it's not worth it and she gets anxious in a crowd anyway so it's like her definition, of home. Is all, you know almost like a prison cell or you know a castle tower if you prefer fairy tales you know but it's this notion of something, that, it's not really quite safe, um, in the in the, tra, it's meant to be safe and yet it's not because it doesn't nurture, who she's supposed to be, and as she begins to discover, the world she comes from. Um, and, and, the many. Sort of. Um pieces, of herself, and how they're kind of strewn all over the world, plural. Uh i think she begins to realize that home, isn't, so much. A place. As it is, belonging. Um, and, you know, so much of the value, of like a particular, plot of land, isn't, really, the land, but rather the seeds that are planted, there, um, and so i think that she's beginning, to learn that it's the people you surround, yourself with ultimately. That that create your home. Beautifully, said. Paola. Um. I would say that, home, for valentina. And for her brother ernie, and for her mom, is. Wherever, there is sanctuary. Wherever, there is safety. Um, as, undocumented. Immigrants, from colombia. They, they flee. Uh, a, colombia, that is um. Still in the ravages, of the civil war, though it ended, there's still so many so much, violence, in the country in this futuristic. Uh colombia, though it's also very much the same right now, so they flee there looking for safety, looking for a new home. Which i think is very much in line with so many immigrants. Um. That have arrived, previously, or are arriving, right now are trying to arrive. And then they find that home for a little bit, um, in, in vermont. And. When the government, starts attacking, them they realize, that their their home needs to be wherever, it is safe and i think that that ultimately. Is how valentina, starts off the story, but then she also realizes, towards the end that um. She can't just have home for herself. But she needs to be able to provide, home for, those that are like her, so that her home her freedom is bound in the freedom of others is the ultimate. Uh, lesson in the book and that we each individually. Can provide, that home that sanctuary, that freedom to one another. Yes. I would like to echo that that is correct. Um. What is home for sia. Well. Sia's, home was disrupted, when her mother was deported. And uh. And it's still, there's still uh it's still fragmented. There because she and her father are experiencing. Their grief, sort of. In different, separate, ways. So i feel as though what grand cena, keeps her at home, is her spirituality. She was raised. Doing. These. Uh pre-columbian. Mexican, rituals, that, are based on what my grandmother. Has done and taught me. And. Uh the folklore, that she tells the reader, and herself, and. Her, friends. Grounds, her, and, her. Her abuela, who is also dead but is, now a meddling, ghost, and visits her and tells her you know you have to keep these traditions, going. That's, that is home to her, uh for i would say. Most if not all of the book is her, spiritual, connection, to the world. And in keeping with the topic, of, connecting, and honoring, traditions, i feel like lana, in blaze rather games. She, loves both of her parents, but her father is puerto rican and her mother is a white american.
And Not just because of the cultural, identity. Um but also because they both her father and herself they both love blaze wrath which is a sport. And i don't know if you personally, love sports, but in latinx. Countries. Sports are a huge deal, like. A huge deal. So i feel like having, it set, within a world that, has dragons, in a sport i think it makes it a little bit more intense. But it's still reflecting. Our reality, in the sense that, it gives us a sense of community or a greater sense of community, so home for her is what feels familiar, and what feels like, is her honoring her father. Because, her parents are divorced, he lives in brazil because he's working with dragons, at a sanctuary, there. And she feels like she's missing out on these great moments, that she'll never get back because her mother hates the sport. And she has to watch it in secret, which. I'm sure a lot of teens can relate to just watching things in secret. Um but specifically, in a latinx, household, you have these. Differences, in terms of how hard or how passionate you are about certain things. So i feel like sports, is something that unites, but for lana, it's also tied to where she comes from. So i feel like that's what home means for her. And now we go on thank you by the way, those were excellent answers and i tried very hard not to tear up so. Next question. Representation. Is often associated, with writing about immigration. Policy. And discrimination. From a realistic. Contemporary. Lens. Why did you choose to incorporate, speculative. Elements. In your story. And we'll start with alex again. I feel picked on no, um, you should. Good good, um, i think that. So i started writing, the grief keeper, um. At the end of 2016.. Remember, that year. Uh we thought that was a super bad year anyway, um. And i i was thinking about a lot of things, my parents are immigrants, they come from woodware. I grew up around, immigrants. From all over, the world. Um and i had been thinking about like the sacrifices, that immigrants. Make and as a writer, one of the things that we do is say what if you know we take an example. Of something that is a real. And then we just take it that step further. So, in my book, uh everything is contemporary. The world is the recognizable, world the places, run the way they do. Uh the only difference. And it's it's slight but it's sort of, uh. Uh. Focuses, a light, on something that is already real too so, the the technology. Is this, this cuff that transfers. Um grief, and ptsd. And anxiety. And depression, and all of those feelings, that, uh, when you when you grow up in an american, society, you kind of are told to either hide, not only in american society but in latinx, culture as well, to hide. To just get over. Uh and to not do anything with or or to get rid of that we're ready, we're waiting for those feelings to be gone but, uh many of us have so much a traumatic, experience, it's not it's not realistic, or healthy, to to want that, but i thought, you know in the society that we're in yeah we would totally, want to pay. To have someone else do, the thing we don't want to do and, that what usually happens in this society, is we pay the immigrants, to do the jobs that we don't want to do.
So, Uh like again in a contemporary, world. In, like a world you recognize. But having this technology. Meant. That um, my story would have to really, focus on like, you know, what, where is the moral, center, of having this technology, and using it someone, would have to still pay the price, if even if it's not your. Child, or your, loved one, um so i really wanted to just use that speculative. Element. To highlight. Kind of what we already do in our society. And and plus it echoes, some of the history. Of the united states government. Um. Performing. Experiments. On. Our own citizens. Minorities, in our own. In our own, country, in other countries. So none of this is, so. Like fantastical. Like i am i'm part of a huge fan of your book and i love dragons, but it's not, that kind of fantasy. It's just. Like, five minutes into the future. And i think that's the frightening. Aspect, of it right like when, you think of books, that, are speculative. Like ours. But they're rooted in real reality, somehow like in, the world that we recognize, and that we know, but to know also or think that things are gonna get, to that point. Is super frightening. But it's super possible. So romina. How or why did you choose to include, those speculative, elements into louis sona. So, um. You know like alex says lovison, has also kind of set like five minutes, into the future, you know like i, some of my policy, stuff i ran past, um a bunch of immigration, lawyers and everything to see and they were like honestly. Some of the stuff felt so realistic. That, they glazed over it you know like where it's like this isn't a policy, yeah you know like, it was that, and i've had readers, say to me that, the beginning, of the book. Felt like dystopian. And they didn't realize that that was just contemporary. That that's what actual, people on in our world today, experience. Day to day. Live with that kind of fear of our own government, and like, until they were put in that position they couldn't know it, and, of course it you know if you haven't. If you don't have, that familiarity. You know it's hard. You know to to understand what that must be like. Um. So, i decided, to base the speculative, elements, on a real law in argentina, called la le de padrina, presidencial. Which states that the president of argentina, becomes godparent, to the seventh consecutive, son or daughter in a family. And when i researched, this whole thing because i was fascinated. Like why. Uh because, i'm sorry the estate, actually, covers their educational, expenses, so this isn't just like an a titular, honor you know this is real, it's like why wasn't i a seventh daughter you know and i found this whole superstition. That says, seven sons will be lobisones. Or werewolves. And seven daughters will be brucas, or witches.
Um, And so, i, created, a story about a, manu a character who doesn't quite fall into either binary, and who kind of defeats. Defies. The binary. So to speak um. And so, i chose to use speculative. Elements. Um. Because. For many for. Like alex said very much for political, reasons because you know when i immigrated, here my parents, met at the end of the guerra susia, in argentina, which was, the dirty war. And you know dissidents, disappeared, overnight, and children were ripped, from their families. And when that started sounding, familiar. On our soil. After everything my parents did to get us here and immigrate here. That was hard, um, and. And i think i needed to. I needed to, draw a line, between. Argentina. Like a kind of a map almost, you know. From argentina, to here. Um, to draw this parallel. To show, how, much, public, sentiment. Ultimately. Manifests. As public, policy. And how important. Our language. Labels, the way we talk about stuff, the empathy, we generate. How important, that is to preventing. These kinds of things from happening, and it is cyclical, and borders, will not keep out ideas, so we have to remain vigilant. And we have to continue to recycle, these stories. To, prevent, these kind of dark moments. Um, you know and i really wanted you to feel. Like the line, you know between, fantasy and reality, was as thin as the page you were turning, like that was really my goal. And you, succeeded. Like, incredibly, so. Paula. I also love you, paula. Um. We. Wrote, this. In, a, very near future in 2032. Um for a few reasons, uh but one. I learned this, idea, this concept, from, afrofuturism. Um, when we look. Towards, speculative. The majority, of speculative. Literature. Um it is mostly white it is mostly male dominated, and so, i wanted to. Make a statement that we. Latinos. And specifically, my character, brown. Women, girls, exist, in a future. We are here we are present no matter what. This moment, in time, is trying to do to our communities, we will, survive, we will exist we will thrive. Um and in the case of valentina, we will be leaders. Uh, quite literally of a revolution, so so to me that was very very important. Um and then also. My work is unapologetically. Political. Um. I, i as a filmmaker, i've been telling the story of undocumented, immigrants for. 12 13 years immigration, is not new to me. During the trump administration. I. Was on the front lines. Doing, how whatever and however, i could to protect, immigrant communities, um whether it was organizing, marches, whether it was civil disobedience. Whether it was creating, art, to try, and and, and inspire. Compassion. And inspiration. And fight. For those communities, that were the most vulnerable. And sanctuary. Is that it is an unapologetically. Political. Call to action for young people. As well as, older generations. To say if this is not the world that you want. Then, in the case this came out before the election, sorry i didn't show the cover so this came out before the election. Um. That if you don't want the world in sanctuary, then you need to go out and vote. Um, and, when we were pitching the book i was very clear with the publishers, i won't, i only want to write this book if it comes out before the election, i want this book as part of the cultural conversation. And we were able to get that done, and so, so. That, future. Those politics. Intersect. In all of my work and and. Always keeping at the center that representation. Matters, to see yourself, in this book this book is about a colombian, young woman. Um i've gotten, reached out by various colombian, girls. Who have said like they didn't i didn't see myself. In books growing up. Latinos. Latinas. Very very difficult to find but colombian. American. Growing, up here in the united states, never never never so so, those those are the reasons, why, um it's speculative. And, uh. I think we need more and it's so exciting, to see all of these books and read all of these books to see the community, expanding, in that way. And i love how you said that, your work is unapologetically. Political. Because. Our identities, are politicized. So it's like how are we going to talk about our truths. Without including, something that is super. Evident, and. The ripple, effect, of all of those consequences. It's not just rests. Generations, that will come long after we're gone so i definitely agree, and you did a phenomenal, job you and abby, did a great. Job. Um. The reason. Why there are speculative, elements the main reason. Is because, when the idea of sia martinez, came to me it came in. An image or a vision. Of a woman crashing, an alien spacecraft, in the desert and i knew she was an undocumented. Immigrant, and it was, me trying to figure out.
This That story. Why. Was she in a spacecraft. Why. Was she looking for a daughter, because that was, a part of the division. And um, i don't think it was coincidental, that this story, also, came to me. Um, in the fall, of 2016.. Similar to alex. And. As i wrote it i just. I. During that time i was also studying for my mfa, in poetry. And one of the things i studied for my thesis, was. The language, we used. To describe. Immigrants. And. And it just, it's so heartbreaking. The. Terms. That are acceptable. That are used frequently. And, are, common. And um. So that definitely, came, into, the book as well. Um, when i wrote, sia. Her, i hope it's not too spoilery. To say that her mother, was, used. In non-consensual. Medical experiments. Um. At the time. Even knowing what the history, of what those in power do to brown bodies, and black bodies. Um. Und and, undocumented. Immigrants. Uh. The. The news, headlines, that came out, as i was writing, that seemed to correspond. So, closely, were so. Uh, unsettling. And, um. So. The truth of it, of the speculative, elements. Are why, the speculative elements need to be there because. Um it just seems as though to me people. Don't, care, about. The truth of it. Um, and on another hand i. A sort of lighter, and i really, really, wanted to see. A, brown. Young brown girl kicking alien, but. I wanted to see her. Have this x-file, style adventure. And, have. Cool super, powers. And. Um just be. Incredibly. Powerful. And. Um. So that that kind of covers this are in a really babbling. Roundabout, way. No you covered it perfectly, and i have to agree. That is. Similar, to my situation, with blaze wrath games because i wanted, to write about dragons, but from my specific, country, because we're used to reading about eastern asian dragons, or european, dragons, we know what those look like more or less. But what does a puerto rican dragon look like what does an argentine, dragon look like what does the cuban, dragon look like you know like these, are, mythologies. That, or mythical, creatures that should not be. Left for a specific. Region of the world. Why, aren't we reading, about, these, fantastical. Creatures. From. Underrepresented. Communities. Like i'm not understanding, why that's not getting published. And i believe it was i'm going to name drop really quickly i believe it was sora. Sorry. Who said. How does it feel to write, the puerto rican fantasy. And i'm like what does that mean, and she was like basically saying. Well this is the first puerto rican, young adult novel. That's. About dragons. And i'm like that is so wrong i don't like hearing that i mean that's great. Yes. But we need more. And we need more of everything, that you've already written, from yourselves. Like i want to see and, hear more about you specifically. Your work but also, the generations. That, come after us. I would love to stick around and read everything that comes after us i don't know about you. And also i don't know if you know this but in puerto rico we have the koki. Which is a very small amphibian. And they. Basically, people say they sing. And it was in my head, that we would have, a dragon, who could also, sing. And that would make it inherently. Ours. In a way. So i feel like the speculative, elements, inform the realistic, elements. But not to the point where it's super unfamiliar. Like, puerto ricans. Whether they're, from the diaspora, or from the mainland, in puerto rico they will be able to recognize. Certain elements, of their culture. In these speculative. Elements, as well. So i believe, we're about two minutes away from student questions, so. We can go ahead and start those if you like. Let me see do we have any student questions. Yes we do, all right so this first one is from sophie, b, in the 12th grade. From new jersey. Hi my name is sophie and my question is how much of your own experiences, is reflected, in your writing. So, who wants to go first, how much of your own experiences, is reflected, in your own writing. I'm happy to go, um. I will say that, as i mentioned earlier i've been telling the stories of immigrants in various capacities. For, 13, 14 years and so while. The story of valentin, and her family, and. The community, that she creates as she's trying to get to california. Is not inspired. By any, one. Person that i met. There are threads, and elements. Of all the people that i've spoken to, in the book. Um, whether it's in the plots, or in the characters, and so. So. It it. It's always an honor to hear people's, stories, and, it was even. More of a privilege, to be able to take those threads, and and, try and weave together, a fabric, of the fabric of the story. Um through, the various threads that i've, had the honor to encounter, and talk to and build relationships. With over the years. Um. And i will say that. From a personal. Perspective. You know there are elements, of. Valley's, story that are mine, i did a lot of work in a very specific, part of colombia, i was making a movie in a place called la toma.
It's A tiny tiny little town that was experienced tremendous, violence, and i pulled like those experiences. From that town into, into. The book so it's it's a conglomeration. Of. Imagine. Real life, inspiration. What i want to be what i want my son to be what i want the world to be all in the in the book. That's so lovely, yes, i no. I'm trying not to cry yeah alex you want to go. Yeah i mean i i'm just echoing what biola, said um with the experiences. And i think we do this as writers, in general at least everyone i know does this, um, that, uh there's so much of us in there and also it's not us, so, in my book um, i'm not an immigrant i was born in weehawken, new jersey. Uh but my parents, were immigrants. And i, saw them struggle, and i saw them struggle with the language, and all of the things that were, that were put upon them when they came. And also. You know other things like you know when i. When i talk to my parents. As a young person. Um about anything, having to do with, the two, big topics of my book either mental health. Or queerness. It was like. That's some american, thing you picked up. That's not that's the, that's over there, because it because in a lot of latinx. Cultures. A lot of latinx cultures it doesn't exist, so i i want it you know again, marisol's, experience is not my experience. Um but, the elements of that and and of like coming to terms with who you are, and the things that you, carry the all of the things that you carry, um and taking, care of your, mental health, and also, owning your. Identity, those are all things that came from me, so i think that you know. When you write, uh fantasy or speculative, fiction, or science fiction. You know. People i think are are somewhat surprised, with how, human and real and contemporary, they are because. These are just like i said before they're just ways, to in focus, like to just really, drill down on things that, that are happening right now and that are parts of our lives. Completely, agree. So, let's move on to the next student question and romina and raquel can answer that one yes. So this one is, from arlet. G, in 10th grade from new york. What's the best advice. Um, on what to do when you have writer's block, thank you. Oh that's a great question, what do you do or what is your advice. So. What a great question we got huh. I think like. It's a great question i want to know the answer too can you just, yeah i need to know this go ahead. Yeah. Yeah let me hold up let me just pull into my bag a trip oh you know what i think it's the answer's, in here. Um, by the way, i'll get your answer, so. Right. Yeah right that's always the answer um so i have my own, strange, nuanced. Uh, perspective. On writer's block. Like this is how i as a virgo, to the core as my bio stated. I tend to like to organize, and file stuff in my brain, and so i'm like. I have to first identify. If the writer's, block has to do with the book like the actual thing i'm writing, or me, and my emotions. It sounds, simple. It's very hard when you're the one in here trying to figure out is the book not working, or am i not quite working, right now. So, once i've decided, which one it is and ways to figure that out is maybe try writing something else, or you know, writing a little thing or just, changing up whatever you're doing and if you're still finding trouble being creative in any way then the odds are it's probably about you and not the actual particular, project. Uh there's many ways of figuring it out but basically, like if it's, you know i'm gonna stick to if it's the book because if it's you i'm probably not qualified, to speak to this um but if it's the book that's got the issue, you know some tricks i like to use are i mean stepping away is always good, doing something physical, active like doing something completely, different from from the cerebral, thing you're focusing, on you'll find that your brain is still working, on it, uh lists, i i have my journal out in front of me right now i'm always, listing, just list listless, list like, whatever it is if it's a name you're stuck on and start listing names if it's a senior stuck on start listing possible settings possible complications, but, i mean, i would say the cool ideas, start after idea number 15 or 16., so like keep going don't stop, you know and the coolest ones are way better you know way later so, uh the deeper into your imagination, you go they're more nuanced, and bizarre, you know it's kind of like traveling to the depths of the ocean, like everything's kind of half formed and bizarre, and beautiful.
Um, And it's the stuff you don't normally have the luxury, of time to peruse, in your brain so like it is a beautiful, thing and i say this. Because i know how horrible, writer's block is but we have to try to pull. Like the the beauty of brainstorming. And creating, and finally my last thing before i toss this to a racket. Is i, i, something i do in scene, what i'll do is, if it's i'm really struggling in a particular, chapter but i had been moving okay before. I'll start to rewind. You know and i'll start to like retrace, my sets re-go back. Until i find the point where my character, stepped, off track. And started being out of character, or like i made a mistake right, and when i identify. That point, everything, starts to flow again, you know and that's part of the the process. Okay. That is uh, it is a difficult. Question. Um. For me because. I rarely think of it as writer's block i think of it similar, to what romina, was saying in the beginning. That. Uh. There's something, there's a psychological. Issue, usually, i think for me. Whether it's something in my personal, life that's stressing me out or there's something, emotional. In the book that i'm. Fearful. To get to the heart of. And, actually, i can speak right now. I am working on a revision, of a book that is i am absolutely scared to get into the heart of and. The only, way for me to get through to it is just to work. I'm going to tell myself, okay i'm working for 20, minutes, and that's it, and it's a little less scary to do to break it down in those steps now usually i end up working for an hour or two or more. But just telling myself okay 20 minutes, like a little baby, you know. This is we're going to get through 20 minutes and then from there it's a little less scary. And i would say if you're at a loss for ideas. Rominas. Suggestion, to do lists, and brainstorming. And clustering. Which i just recently, started incorporating, into my. Um. Journal work i also journal like crazy. And that's, what that does is it gets past, that judgmental. Uh critic in your brain that's telling you oh this idea is terrible, you have to get past that. And that, exactly what romina said that's when the id good ideas start coming even if your list has to have 100, items. I mean you can take a break from it come back later and you will see what looks really, wondrous. What's really exciting. Um. And. Uh. Also, free writing i would say stream of consciousness, writing, writing without, having any agenda. Um. Julia, cameron suggested, you three. Full pages the stream unconsciousness, writing she says in the morning. I usually don't get to in the morning if i feel like i'm having a struggle. Getting into the work day i'll do the stream of consciousness, journaling. Before. Starting, my work and what that the idea is that you're getting the crap, out, hopefully. Before. You know doing the more. Refined, work we hope, so.
That's That. Yeah and also i want to know that like list. The list. Technique, is like super, virgo, of you romina, so you're doing well by your sign. By your astro sign. So. The next student question. Oh, this one does not have a video but victoria, k in the fifth grade from california. Asks. Do you base your novels on legends from the past, or do you make up your own legends. For me i do both. I mean dragons, have existed, for, a long time. And, i, make up my own legend in the sense that i recreate. Or i reinterpret. What a dragon is supposed to do, we all know they fly they breathe fire and they're really tough. But, what if they can also. Do something else, and i made it very, important, or very clear in my story. To have, each dragon, from each country do something different, and something that. Risk or corresponds, i should say to that specific. Nation. So that. But by the way did you know that the, scottish. National, animal, is the unicorn. I always say that i don't know why i always say that, but i didn't know that and i'm like oh. Great so this dragon is going to have a horn. Perfect. So it's like, stuff like that i try to honor, each culture, but also. Not be appropriate, if it's very important, not appropriate, other people's culture especially, ours now, um, but yes, that's. My answer does anyone else have anything to add. I can add to this one sia martinez, is full, of, myths, legends, and folklore. A lot is made up. A lot i just. Got inspired, by my own. Previous, work writing prose poems. With the cosmological. Uh. Sort of flair. And a lot of it is based on what my grandmother, told me my mother told me such as. So it's a mix of both and you can do that you can put something that's truthful, to your life or, to your culture. And stuff that you made up, you can do. That. It is part of our job description, to make things up anyway. So the next student question and i believe this is the final one. This one is from ashley, a in the seventh grade from massachusetts. Where do you get your inspiration, for the books you rate. I feel like we all, get, inspiration. In ways that can be, obvious, or can be, unexpected. Does anyone have any unexpected. Answers. Um. Yeah my. I got my inspiration. Uh i i mentioned before, and with your parents and understanding, like pushing the what if what if, but i also, and. I cannot stress this enough i'm terrible at math, and like mediocre. On, science. But. I actually love science, and i love real science and i i love reading like you know science journalism, or about behavioral. Sciences, and all that kind of stuff like i'm, i'm essentially, a nerd that's bad at math. Anyway, um that's what writer is right. So. I read this article. In a in a science magazine. About a clinical, trial a real clinical trial for a. Device, that was sort of like a fitbit kind of thing like a wearable. Um and it's sort of like a mix between a fitbit and if you've ever seen those uh bands for uh motion sickness. Like their acupressure, band, then they were testing this out to see if it would help alleviate. Some of the um. Some of the the ptsd. Syndromes. Of soldiers, coming back from, a tour of duty, and uh you know that's that was the entire article was just like this is being tried, no no idea if it's gonna work i still don't i haven't heard anything about it but i started thinking, okay that's, cool. Um, but you know what if you couldn't, just alleviate, them what if you could eradicate, them what if you could like excise, them, and then i thought this is where my like bad science comes in i thought well energy cannot be created or destroyed, it would have to go somewhere. And i thought well who who would get, you know with all those, horrible feelings of depression, where would that go and in this society. It would go to immigrants. And that's really what started, the whole idea, in my head it was based on a kernel of truth, and just kind of continuing, on like well what if well what if or what if. I love that, yeah and i absolutely, agree. So, we have one question, from the live audience that, we should read, aloud, yes, and, only one of us, only one chosen person, can answer this um do you envision. Hope, that your books be taught in a classroom or do you imagine most of your readers to read your work, for. Pleasure. I mean, personally, i can, just. Reiterate, that you are all brilliant. And i need. Your. Books. Not just in, classrooms. In the states. But like translated. Around the world, and like. Implemented. In curriculum. So that you can also. Touch readers that don't necessarily, have english as their first language, right. So. I feel like you will do it. It's it's one of those things, what you just said about. Representation, such a great last note so yes like that it's like, fine all of these books like i wish i'd had them as teens when i immigrated, here like it's, that's what it is so yes it's important for the classroom, it's definitely important, but it's also important.
For. Pleasure, you know i wrote a magic, school, you know and. I hope that people would remember that the magic school story. Was like a diverse, magical. Book you know school story exactly, you know, so yeah like. If it's informative. Then yes great, but if it's. Relatable. Then you can have fun with it but also. You might see yourself in lenses, that you hadn't thought about before. Right. So i personally learned a lot about myself reading your books i don't know if you've ever you know had that happen to you but, i definitely, started asking myself would i have done this. Would i have freaked out and passed out if i had been presented with this opportunity, or this situation. So that's definitely, something that we should think about as writers we can entertain, and also. Help shape what reality, looks like. So i just want to thank everyone. For spending your, morning afternoon, evening whenever you're watching this thank you so much for being with us. Yes you're welcome, and thank you alex, she's part of the steering committee for the festival so we owe her, a nice little round of applause. For making all of this happen, thank you everyone for tuning in and please stay tuned the festival does continue. So please make sure to watch as much programming, as possible. And we wish you an excellent. Rest of your day, thank. You. You.