I’m still thinking about inspiration. When I was a teen, as much as I read I don’t think I found inspiration in books. I know I wanted to be as successful as… as thin as… as smart as… Who?? Maybe it was Ali McGraw who wore that hat, married her true love and told us “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Or maybe it was Angela Davis with her perfect afro, intellegence and outspokeness. Maybe people who were different just didn’t get the publicity then that they do now, perhaps minorities, in terms of ethnicity, sexual preference or any outside the WASP norm would have a difficult time getting an audience whom they could affect. My own world was as white as it was black and it took a while for me to blossom into the comfort of my own identity.
I’m wondering who the role models are for teens of color today? I could list quite a few for African American teens maybe a couple for Latino/as but that’s about it. Who inspires Asian teens? Latino? Native American? In the world I live in, I would imagine that it’s Sherman Alexie, Neesha Meminger and Lisa Yee. Aren’t authors rock stars??!
One author who can inspire YAs is Alex Sanchez. Alex is an extremely successful author who writes wonderful fiction with gay and Latino characters. Read his interview below to see where he found his inspiration!
How/when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I always liked to read stories, learn about stuff, and write for classes. But I didn’t seriously think I could make a career out of being a writer. I doubted anything I wrote would be good enough to be published. And yet it was something I wanted to do, so I kept at it. To this day, after 7 published books, I’m still amazed anyone reads them.
How do you incorporate culture into your writing?
By thinking and writing about what makes gay people different from straight people. By exploring the interface of sexuality and culture. By including Latino characters in my books.
What are some of the books you remember reading as a child?
My first grade teacher often read to us aloud. One afternoon she read a book that continues to inspire me today, many years later, as a human being and as a gay man. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, describes a Spanish bull who prefers smelling flowers to fighting in a ring. That gentle but strong bull challenging the status quo by being true to himself made a fierce impression on my six-year old imagination and self-image. In the years that followed, when I’d doubt myself and who I was, I often remembered Ferdinand. I find myself repeating simple timeless message over and over in my writing: that it’s okay to be who you are, to be different, to be an individual.
Twitter or Facebook?
I can’t imagine using Twitter to let people know my every move. I’m too private a person. Even with Facebook, it’s hard for me to imagine other people would care what I’m doing.
Meat or vegetables?
I love stir-fried veggies and I haven’t eaten red meat for 35 years.
Rain or snow?
I love to watch rainstorms. Although I think snow is beautiful, I hate being in cold weather.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Dreaming up ideas is the only easy part. Everything else is hard. Forcing myself to sit still. Not getting distracted. Actually writing. Revising. Getting comments from my editor. Reading reviews. Hearing criticism. All of that is hard.
Where is the furthest away from home you’ve ever traveled?
I currently spend part of the year living in Thailand. I love Thai culture, food, and learning about Buddhism.
Alex continues to inspire at AlexSanchez.com.