Thursday, October 14, 2010

Latino Authors - Jennifer Cervantes

Author Jennifer Cervantes middle grade novel debut Tortilla Sun was wonderful and visually beautiful. I look forward to reading more books by Cervantes in the future.

Jennifer Cervantes was kind enough to answer three questions. If you missed it More Latino Authors Please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos

1. What did you think of author Mayra Lazara Dole's article?

Mayra's article is as much a celebration of the distinct and unique Hispanic cultures as it is a call to the publishing industry. It clearly touched many readers and her passion is evident. Brava!

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?

That is the million dollar question. Many factors influence these decisions whether they be financial and market-driven or whether the decisions are based on in-house needs, editorial tastes, etc. Unfortunately, the publishing industry can be a mystery even to authors. It is truly unfortunate that we do not see more voices representing the myriad of Hispanic cultures, and frankly all cultures. What is even more interesting is that in my travels, teachers, librarians, parents, booksellers all seem so hungry for this type of fiction. I have had the wonderful opportunity this year, to present at several conferences with Christina Diaz-Gonzalez (author of The Red Umbrella ) and Guadalupe Garcia Mccall (author of Under The Mesquite)

It has been an eye-opening and fascinating experience as we have discussed the cultural nuances with people in different cities. Each of us had such different experiences within our own cultures and yet there were also so many similarities to be celebrated too. To borrow Maya Angelou's words: "We are more alike...than we are unalike."

3. I've always thought about the lack of Latino voices in children's literature but not the void in culture distinctions. 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 each publisher is unique and has different needs for their lists. But the bottom line is that these books have to sell. With over 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S., today, I think it's critical that we see more multicultural fiction that is aligned with and representational of the U.S. popuation. Moreover, we need to see not only authentic culturally specific books, but we also need to see culturally generic books where the protagonist is a person of color facing many of the same dilemmas any other teen or kid would face regardless of race.

I just want to say that growing up a bi-racial child had its own unique set of issues and often times, kids can feel like they don't belong to either culture. In today's society, we see more and more chilldren who come from multiple backgrounds, and each deserves to be validated and celebrated.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer. Congratulations on Tortilla Sun (gorgeous title). I can't wait to read it and spread the word! More than anything, I'm thrilled you wrote a book Hispanic kids (and adults) will relate to. I look forward to reading all your writing. Good luck! Hope it flies off the shelves.
Mayra (Lazara Dole)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this series. It gives much to think about and it's a nice way to end Latino Heritage Month!