Author Francisco X. Stork has published four YA novels. His most recent, The Last Summer of Death Warriors is beautiful and tender. The more I reflected on it the more I was wowed by it.
The author was kind of enough to answer three questions. In case you missed it More Latino Authors Please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos
1. What did you think of author Mayra Lazara Dole's article
I agree with her that if a writer wants to write a book with Latino characters, he or she should make sure that the characters represent their particular Latino culture. There is great diversity within the Latino community. I think that good writing is always specific. At the same time it is important for Latino writers to feel free to place their characters in “universal” settings and have them participate in stories that are not “regional.”
There is a difference between telling a story with Latino characters and telling a story about being Latino. I think we need more of the former. The beauty of our culture will still shine through but it will be made even more relevant by the fact that it is not the primary focus of the story.
2. Congratulations you are one of the chosen few. This year you were one of 16 Latino authors to write a MG/YA book. Why do you think this number still so small?
This is a very difficult question and I don’t know if I have the answer. Part of the answer lies in education and the need to encourage our children and young people to aspire to be writers and support them in the arduous training required to be a good one. Then there is the need for editors and publishers to accept meaningful works by Latino authors which do not fall under the category of “bestsellers.” Ultimately, I think it’s up to each one of us to do what we can to open up paths that will make it easier for other Latino authors to follow.
3. I've always thought about the lack of Latino voices in children's literature but not the void in culture distinction. Why are there so many quinceanera novels? I loved Mayra Lazara Dole's YA novel Down to the Bone. Thankfully the only coming out story featuring a Latina teen is a great one.
What will it take for the book industry to embrace more stories by Latino authors?
I think that we need to have Latino authors who are willing to write about the all aspects of the human condition, about themes that are important to all of us as human beings. We need to want to write literature that endures, that lasts for a long time and that speaks to all. We honor our heritage every time we aim high and try to create works of beauty and truth. All we can do as writers is write with integrity.
As you know, I love this author and everything he has written! I do tend to think of him as a teller of stories with Latino characters, rather than someone who writes about being Latino. I think that's an important contribution now not only because of all the anti-immigrant stuff that is being flung around, but of our growing need for a global ethic and a compassionate understanding of people who are different than ourselves. (And if I can fall in love with people on death row, from his book "The Way of the Jaguar," anything is possible!)
Re Quinceañera, it is so so central to young girls, I can't imagine omitting it in a book involving teen Latinas. I think if you have a Latina YA book, you're going to see it even if it's just in the background, but I don't see that as a negative if the writer and story are good.
Jill - I agree Stork's a beautiful story teller. I love that his "universal" stories feature Latino characters.
In adult fiction its easy to find all types of everday stories with characters of various racial backgrounds
But with YA lit this is not so easy, many universal stories, only feature White characters.
There are probably more YA Latino authors who would love the chance to share their "universal" stories. But will they be given the opportunity?
I like quinceanera novels but again for me it comes down to lack of balance.
I loved Cardid's response to this question. For fear of misquoting, I will just say go back a day and read it.
I agree and don't think it's a good idea to make being Latina/o an issue in a novel but every author is a world of his/her own and our purpose for writing isn't the same. I agree with his view, too. Congrats, Francisco on your achievments and success!
Mayra (Lazara Dole)
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