Writers on Writing: Mitali Perkins/Anthologies

Anthologies are collections of works from different authors. Mitali Perkins recently worked on the anthology Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, so I thought she’d be good to interview about anthologies. She was perfect!

Why are anthologies important to children’s literature?

Mitali_PerkinsTwo reasons. First, they showcase different voices and introduce us to authors who might be new to us. In this sense, they are like the tastes we get as we wander the Costco aisles that lead to lifelong addictions. Second, they provide an antidote to the “danger of single story.” Many voices telling many stories is exactly what we need when all of us make mistakes. Anthologies and their shared authorship provide a safer communal space for each of us to keep pushing the envelope, write bravely, and take risks, especially in fiction.

If you were on an award committee that was set up to recognize the year’s best anthologies, for what elements would you look?

Great question. My answer to this relates to my answer to the first question you asked. I’d look for anthologies that lead the reader to want more from many of the authors as well as one that addresses one tricky theme or topic from many different perspectives.

What did you most enjoy about creating the anthology, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices?

It helped me to appreciate the brilliance of my editors. Editing is so hard. I am not a natural editor; I’m a writer with a unique voice and vision. It was tough not to override the contributors’ voices with my own. It was hard to ask them to revise. I discovered I didn’t like editing much and was glad when I could go back to being edited. On the other hand, I got to work with a bunch of brilliant authors, and it doesn’t get better than that.

What are some of your favorite anthologies?

I love poetry anthologies. Two of my longstanding favorites are Good Poems for Hard Times, edited by Garrison Keillor and Talking Like the Rain: A Read-to-Me Book of Poems by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy. 

What do you have coming next?

Borderlines, a YA novel about growing up between cultures, comes out in 2017 from Macmillan/FSG and Gifts for Abuela is a picture book about Christmas on the California/Mexico border coming in 2018 from Macmillan/FSG. But this year, Candlewick is releasing Open Mic in Paperback on August 23, and that’s exciting because the voices in the book might reach a whole new audience.

Mitali Perkins has written nine novels for young readers, including Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years) and Bamboo People (an American Library Association’s Top Ten Novels for Young Adults, starred in Publishers Weekly as “a graceful exploration of the redemptive power of love, family, and friendship.”) Her newest novel, Tiger Boy, is a Junior Library Guild selection.

 

Writers on Writing: Malinda Lo/Serials and Series

 

Continuing a story over several books is serializing that story. Books that share a common setting, story arc or characters is a series. A series would books such as Nancy Drew, Border Town and The Babysitters Club while serialized fiction would include The Goddess Wars, Legend and Dorothy Must Die. Despite these technical differences, we tend to call books with characters and settings that extend over multiple books a ‘series’. To really learn about serialized fiction, I recently interviewed Malinda Lo.

Why do you think serialized fiction is so popular with young readers?

I think serialized fiction is popular with readers of all ages because we become attached to certain characters, and we want to follow their journeys through many stories. Reading serialized fiction is like revisiting old friends. There’s a comfort in it because mlo-by-andiepetkus-wordstock1-lowresyou have a good idea of what you’re going to get, and if they’re old friends, you enjoy spending time with them.  

Additionally, if you like epic tales of adventure, they often have to be in series format. It’s hard to fit saving the world into one book! So if you like big, sweeping narratives, that’s another reason to love series. You get to see much more of that fictionalized world.

How is it decided that a particular story should be serialized? How are the contracts usually negotiated? (one book at a time, or for the entire series at one?)

I’ve written two kinds of serialized fiction. My Adaptation series is two novels and a novella, and is the kind of serialized fiction you generally find in bookstores. The sequence of this series and the number of books in it was negotiated during the contract stage, when Little, Brown acquired it. Sometimes if a book is a standalone and it does really well, publishers will ask for a sequel or for more in the series. So it’s not always decided up front. 

The other type of serialized fiction I’ve written is Tremontaine, a serialized ebook series from an ebook publisher called Serial Box. They release serialized ebook novellas weekly, like a TV series releases episodes. It’s actually quite an old kind of publishing. This is how Charles Dickens released his writing in the nineteenth century — by publishing it in newspapers serially. This was different from my novels because I was one writer on a team of writers, and we worked out the plot together. The overarching beats of the plot were created together before we started writing.

Is writing serialized fiction the same as writing a novel, or are there differences?

If your series consists of a series of novels, it’s like writing a series of novels. As many writers enjoy saying, every novel is different. At the same time, if you’re working with a series, it’s a good idea to know the whole plot (at least generally) before you start writing book one. Otherwise the resulting series will have continuity problems and plot holes. So while each novel on its own is simply (simply, ha!) writing a novel, you have the added issue of plotting across a series rather than only one book.

For Tremontaine, it was quite different from writing a novel because each “episode” was only about 14,000 words. That’s much shorter than a novel, so the structure of each episode was different. You had to limit what you could get done in one episode, and you had to work with the other writers by asking them to insert plot points in their episodes to lead up to yours, or to follow through afterward. The entire arc of the season felt more like a novel. 

If someone were to develop an award for outstanding young adult series, what criteria do you think they should consider?

I think that would be a wonderful idea! There are so many series that are fantastic that don’t get recognized because most awards focus only on standalone novels. For example, Holly Black’s Curse Workers series is truly a work of art. She plants many seeds in the first book (White Cat) that don’t fully blossom until the climax of the third (Black Heart). That kind of multi-book planning — and its successful execution — is really hard to do. So I think a series award would need to look at the entire arc of all books in the series, and consider how well the narrative and characters develop over the course of all books.

Additionally, each book in the series should have its own inner cohesion. Because it’s a book within a series, however, there will necessarily be loose ends in all the books except the last one. But even with that caveat, each book should move the characters through a relatively contained story arc, and then also push the greater story forward. It’s a big challenge and I really admire writers who are able to juggle epic plots and multiple character threads.

What can we expect from you in 2016?

This year I’m hunkering down and doing a lot of writing. You won’t see much new from me this year because I’m working on stuff that won’t come out until after 2016. I will have some nonfiction published this year, including an essay in a collection for adults on the business of writing. And you never know, I might turn out some other essays as well. Stay tuned.

After reading Malinda’s description of what would make good, award winner series, I too wish there were an award! But, Malinda is such a good writer that she could convince me of almost anything. Malinda Lo is the critically acclaimed author of several young adult novels, most recently the duology Adaptation, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of 2013, and Inheritance, winner of the 2014 Bisexual Book Award. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA, a project that celebrates diversity in young adult books. She lives in Massachusetts with her partner and their dog. We’ll have to watch for her releases in 2017!

 

Writers on Writing: Jeanne/Fan Fiction

I was first introduced to fan fiction about 12 years ago when a student I had talked about the stories he would write. I didn’t hear too much about it until recently on Twitter where there is a huge presence that often bleeds over to YA discussions. I am completely out of my element when it comes to fan fiction, so I contacted Jeanne,  a new friend I’ve made on Twitter. She’s an expert on the topic.

Jeanne, I have to admit I am so uninformed when it comes to fan fiction. What exactly is it? Do you have any idea how popular it is with American Indian teens and teens of color?

The simplest way to put it is, fan fiction is a form of derivative literature that explicitly borrows elements (characters, settings, plot points, etc.) from a piece of media created by someone else. It comes in a variety of formats, genres, and styles. But at it’s heart fan fiction is a reaction to media. Where fans, or sometimes non-fans, take control of a piece of medijeannea and transform it into something new, something their own. While derivative works are nothing new in media, see James Joyce’s Ulysses or even Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, fan fiction exists outside the boundaries of any industry. It is a subversive form of literature. Anyone can write or read it. There are no real gatekeepers, beside an internet connection and computer skills. But even before the advent of the internet fan fiction lived in fanzines, or in the hearts and notebooks of fans.

I haven’t found any real comprehensive surveys or studies of fan fiction. But anecdotally, people of color have always been active in fandom. Anecdotally, I can say that people of color have always been a part of fandoms and fan fiction dating back to the fanzine days. Fan spaces, much like any other community in real life, are restricted by economics, language and cultural understanding. Though it’s important to know that western countries, like the US and the UK, are not the only places where fandoms and fan fiction exist. For example: Otaku is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly used for the anime and manga fandoms. It’s been in us since the early 1980s. 

How is fan fiction changing young adult literature?

Well the most immediate example of this impact is how many young adult authors got their start writing fan fiction. Some of the most notable are Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, and Rainbow Rowell. In fact, Rowell’s Carry On is a fan fiction based on a fictional book series she introduced in her book Fangirl. With the availability of the internet to YA authors and readers are able to access fan fiction. But even more interesting is how fandoms, fan culture, has become a huge part of modern youth culture. 

The vlogbrother youtube channel, started by YA author John Green and his brother Hank, gain it’s huge following in part because of a video Hank did singing about his anticipation for that last Harry Potter novel, called Accio Deathly Hallows. The Green brothers, and their fan following known as Nerdfighters maintain strong ties to fandom and fan works. John even encourages fan artist to create works based on his novels, and has even produced posters of that art, allowing his fans to profit from their fan creations. 

Fan culture, and fan fiction by it’s association, is quickly becoming part of mainstream culture. It’s access point being via the publishing industry (Carry On and even Fifty Shades of Grey) and youth culture’s dominance over media and enthusiastic embrace of fandom. 

Are there any maginalized authors who began in fan fiction?

Off the top of my head, the only published author of color I know who wrote fan fiction is Rebekah Weatherspoon.

Where should I go to read fan fiction? Or better yet, what sites are most popular with young adults?

Two of the most well known sites are FanFiction.Net and An Archive of Our Own, also known as AO3. But fan fiction isn’t restricted to these sites. Wattpad has hosted fan fiction since it’s inception. Tumblr is quickly becoming a popular place to post and discuss fan fiction. There are also countless websites for individual fandoms, as well as personal sites fan fiction writers.

Jeanne is a stay-at-home parent, writer, and blogger. She critiques media as @FangirlJeanne, and spends too much time on Twitter and Tumblr when she should be writing.

 

 

Writers on Writing: Cynthia Leitich Smith/Short Stories

Looking for a quick read? Or want to take a chance with a new genre without over committing? How about reading a short story? Cynthia Leitch Smith uses her expertise to guide us through some of the basics of short stories.

From a writer’s perspective, what are the essential differences between a short story and a novel?
Cynthia_Leitich_Smith_Black_SilverAt the risk of stating the obvious, the short story is…shorter. How much shorter is a subject of some debate and arguably a matter of publishing predisposition and/or posturing.

I tend to consider the short story one that takes the protagonist to (or just past) the precipice of change. It’s a narrower, more focused story than the novel, one with texture but not fully developed subplots.

How common is it for a young adult author to write short stories?Things_Ill_Never_Say
Quite common. I’m perhaps on the more prolific end. I’ve published seven YA short stories, mostly in trade hardcover anthologies (one in Cicada Magazine) and two middle
grade shorts, likewise in anthologies. My most recent are “Cupid’s Beaux” which appears in Things I’ll Never Say: Stories of Our Secret Selves, edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015) and “All’s Well” which serves as a chapter from Violent Ends, edited by Shaun David Hutchison (Simon Pulse, 2015).

What young adult short stories or collections would you recommend for educators, librarians or teens?moccasin_thunder_large
My top pick would be Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori M. Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005), with the caveats that I’m among the contributors and that I dearly wish there was a more current collection of shorts
by Native authors.

open_micI’d also like to highlight Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins (Candlewick, 2013).

Are fan fiction short stories very popular with teens?
Teens and grown-ups, too. You’ll find both among the readers and writers. Setting aside the copyright implications, fan fiction is essentially about imagining “what if” with the work of character and world building already in place. It’s an invitation to play with plot.

feral_Pride_finalWhat can we expect from you in 2016?
I look forward to the paperback release of Feral Pride (Candlewick, 2016), the final novel in the Tantalize-Feral universe. To varying degrees, the heroes of the Tantalize books join those of the Feral novels. It was great fun to write, especially those scenes in which protagonists who’d never previously met (like Quincie P. Morris and Yoshi Kitahara) appeared on page together. By that ninth book, I know what each might say or do under a given set of circumstances. The novel is a love letter of sorts to both the heroes and their most devoted readers.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is an award winning and best selling author who is noted for writing with diversity, humor, lyricism, imaginativeness, compelling action, and mid-to-southwestern settings. A complete list of Cynthia’s short stories can be found here. Her YA short story “Cat Calls” is available at no charge from Barnes and Noble.

Writers on Writing:NonFiction/Tonya Bolden

Nonfiction can feel  like a stepchild of children’s literature. When we look at numbers that relate how few books are written by American Indians and authors of color we’re only considering works of fiction. Sometimes there are no clear lines between these genres. Memoirs can be fiction (Brown Girl Dreaming; Woodson) or nonfiction (Becoming Maria). The list of poetry titles that Nikki Grimes mention yesterday contained works based both in fact and in fiction. Today’s interview is with Tonya Bolden and is about the art of nonfiction writing.

How has writing nonfiction for children changed over the past few years?
It’s been moving farther and farther away from “just the facts.” Increasingly we are tonyagiven more freedom in terms of storytelling, allowed—even expected—to use techniques of fiction and to even break some rules now and then so that the prose can flow. Editors are open to creativity—so long as we writers don’t misrepresent the facts.

 Are there as few American Indian and people of color writing nonfiction as it seems?
If yes: Do you have any idea why? If no: How can we find them?
I believe your perception is correct. As for why, there is no one answer. For example, more than a few black writers of nonfiction who were household names when I entered the field are now deceased. Others are in retirement or semi-retirement. The ranks have not been replenished. Why? In part because of the shorter shelf life: often if a first or first and second book does poorly, a writer doesn’t get another shot. The demands of publishing are now such that editors do not have the time/liberty to develop talent as in the days of yore. But your question reminds me of something Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole once heard a man say, “There will be no more prizes for predicting rain. It’s time to build some arks!” If people want more nonfiction by people of color, they must support the people of color who are writing nonfiction now. As Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, founder of The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants says, “Preserve a Legacy, Buy a Book!”

 How is reading nonfiction different from reading fiction?
That depends on the writing. If the nonfiction is dry and uninspired then I imagine the reader will be merely gathering information. If the nonfiction reads like fiction, the reader will be engaged—caught up in a life or a time—and leave the book with more than information.

 How did you know that you wanted to write nonfiction?
 I didn’t until I wrote And Not Afraid to Dare: The Stories of Ten African American Women (1998). Scholastic editor Ann Reit suggested the idea. I was game—especially as I was just starting out. By the time I finished the book I was absolutely hooked on nonfiction. In part because I love learning. In part because I hungered to give young people the kind of history I never had. History not simple. History with complexities and contradictions. History with some life to it, texture, vigor and vim.

 What can we expect from you in 2016?
Pubbing on February 16: This Kid Can Fly (Balzer + Bray), the memoir of an amazing young man, Aaron Philip, soon to turn fifteen. Aaron has cerebral palsy and has endured countless hardships. But he is such an overcomer! Working with Aaron on his memoir was eye-opening and humbling. In the fall: How to Build a Museum (Viking), the story of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open this fall—the last museum to be built on the National Mall. Talk about right up my alley! What an honor it was to write this book, to be connected to this history in the making.
Tonya Bolden is an award winning author of more than 20 books. She is a gifted writer and educator who truly values the learning process. Connect with her on Twitter at @tonyaboldenbook

Tonya’s books include the following.

 Beautiful Moon  (Fiction)
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl
Winner, 2006 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award
Winner, 2006 James Madison Book Award
M.L.K.: The Journey of a King
Winner, 2008 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Orbis Pictus
Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
33 Things Every Girl Should Know: Stories, Songs, poems, and Smart Talk by 33 Extraordinary Women     
Twelve Days of New York
Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America
Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty 
Carter G. Woodson Award Book
FDR’s Alphabet Soup: New Deal America 1932-1939
Finding Family (Fiction)
Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of African American Artists
Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America

Writers on Writing: Poetic Narrative/Nikki Grimes

Poetry. Poetry collections. Novels in verse. Poems in picture books. These are many of the ways that poetic works engage the minds of young readers. Yesterday’s writer, Margarita Engle is as prolific a poet as today’s writer, Nikki Grimes.
Nikki is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, and a Coretta Scott King Award winner. I relied upon her expertise to enlighten us about poetic works in children’s fiction.

1. In what ways are narrative poetry different from narrative prose?
Poetry is, by virtue of the genre, more concise than prose. Whether the poetry is lyrical press72or narrative, it is a form of distillation, which is different from prose. In addition, through its delicate yet powerful use of metaphor and symbol, narrative poetry is often able to explore dark or problematic subject matter that might otherwise be inappropriate for the youngest readers. Marilyn Nelson’s A Wreath for Emmett Till comes to mind.

2. To me, it seems quite challenging to carry out an entire novel in poem form. Yet, you do it quite well. How do you make it work?
The trick to making a novel-in-verse work is to put Story first, to remember that you are creating a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, a tale with a story arc, peopled by three-dimensional characters who grow or change during the course of the novel. If, as a poet, you remember that, and you craft poetry that serves that end, you can write a novel-in-verse. If, however, you try taking an assortment of unrelated poems and attempt to jam them together in hopes of manufacturing some sort of narrative, it doesn’t work. You have to begin with Story, and then craft the poetry to serve that story. At least, that’s my approach.

3. Why do you think narrative poetry has such an appeal to young readers?
Poetry, narrative or otherwise, appeals to readers on several levels. One, for young readers especially, has to do with all that white space on the page. A young reader can pick up a 200-page novel and find the length, alone, intimidating—all those words strung across all those pages. Such books are especially daunting for the reluctant reader. But that same reader can pick up a novel-in-verse of equal length and not be intimated at all, because he sees all that white space and assumes—rightly or wrongly—that book will be an easy read. Of course, as we know, the content of the novel-in-verse and the traditional novel may be equally complex. However, the content of the novel-in-verse can be digested in smaller quantities. That, itself, is appealing to the young reader. Add to that the lyrical quality and the emotional power of poetry, and you have an attractive combination.

4. What are some of the books you would recommend to introduce readers to narrative poetry?
I assume, here, you mean narrative poetry in the narrow sense of a novel-in-verse, yes? Because there are any number of picture-book poetry collections of a narrative nature. Carole Boston Weatherford is a goldmine in this category, and so is Marilyn Singer. However, regarding novels-in-verse specifically, I would recommend a few according to grade-level. By now, everyone knows about The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, but here are a few others.

Elementary:

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes
What is Goodbye? by Nikki Grimes

Middle Grade:

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
World’s Afire by Paul B. Janezcko
Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
Eddie’s War by Carol Fisher Saller
Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engles
Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

Young Adult:

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonja Sones
Hidden by Helen Frost
Keesha’s House by Helen Frost
The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes
A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

A bestselling author and a prolific artist, Nikki has written many award-winning poetry and prose books for children and young adults including the NCTE Award for Poetry, the Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade; the Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s Notebook, Talkin’ About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings; Horn Book Fanfare for Talkin’ About Bessie; ALA Notable books What is Goodbye? and Words with Wings; the popular Dyamonde Daniel chapter book series, and numerous picture books and novels including The New York Times bestseller Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and, most recently Chasing freedom : the life journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, inspired by historical facts and Poems in the Attic.Watch for her upcoming release of One Last Word.

Writers on Writing: Memoirs/Margarita Engle

Today’s post begins a short series from amazing and talent writings that will move us deeper into the realm of fiction and nonfiction books.

We begin with the Margarita Engle and memoirs. Memoirs differ from biographies in that Margaritathey focus on a particular event or episode in one’s life, such as Margarita’s Enchanted Air. Two Cultures. Two Wings, a memoir about growing up in Cuba and American during the cold war. As Margarita points out, memoirs are important tools in helping us understand one another.

Memoirs are relatively new to children’s literature. What makes them an important addition to what’s written for young adults?

Two of my favorite older books for young people are Alma Flor Ada’s Under the Royal Palms, and Where the Flame Trees Bloom, so I don’t think of memoirs as new. Verse memoirs aren’t really new either, but there haven’t been many in recent years. When I wrote Enchanted Air, I didn’t know that Jacqueline Woodson and Marilyn Nelson were doing the same thing at the same time! I assumed Enchanted Air would languish alone on library shelves, but it turns out to be in fantastic company. In fact, if Sonia Manzano’s Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx hadn’t come out at the same time as Enchanted Air, I would have missed my chance for a glowing New York Times Review of both books! The timing is amazing. Perhaps there is a whole generation of multicultural authors reaching an age when we feel that if we don’t tell our own life stories, someone younger might romanticize eras that weren’t simple.

I think memoirs can help young readers see that their families aren’t the only weird ones. Life is surrealistic, or in my case magic realistic, a term that sounds much better in its Spanish original: lo real maravilloso, marvelous reality. Life is a blend of wonderful and terrible experiences, some personal, others historical. The historical ones affect the personal ones. Won’t it be amazing if teachers use all these recent memoirs to show students that they can write about their lives too? By reading each other’s stories, we can begin to understand each other, and that leads to empathy, the first step toward peacemaking.

What do you think makes a particular biography or memoir a story worth telling?

All life stories are meaningful and important, but honesty is the one thing that makes a memoir worth telling. Without honest emotions, a memoir is not factual. Memoirists can’t keep secrets or hide weaknesses.

Enchanted Air is such a personal story. What made you decide it was time to tell it?

I had started to believe that U.S.-Cuba relations would never be renewed in my lifetime, so I wanted to leave my story to the next generation of decision-makers, as a plea for peace and reconciliation. Incredibly, during the same week when advanced review copies arrived on my doorstep, President Obama made his December 17, 2014 announcement! I rushed to revise the author’s note at the end, changing it from a plea to a song of gratitude.

For whom do you write?

Any child, any teen. I think there is a misconception that Latino authors write only for Latino readers, but that’s simply not true. I hope all young people are encouraged to read books written by people from a wide variety of backgrounds, about a vast range of subjects.

What can we expect from you in 2016?

Thank you for asking! I have two verse novels:

Lion Island, Cuba’s Warrior of Words (Atheneum, August). This is a young adult biographical novel about Antonio Chuffat, a Chinese-African-Cuban messenger boy who became a translator, and documented the freedom struggle of indentured Chinese laborers in Cuba. Chuffat’s story is interwoven with the arrival of five thousand Chinese-Californians who fled to Cuba, escaping anti-Asian violence in Los Angeles and San Francisco during the late 1860s-early 1870s. Lion Island is the final volume in my loosely linked series of verse novels about forced labor in 19th century Cuba, beginning with The Poet Slave of Cuba, The Surrender Tree, The Firefly Letters, and The Lightning Dreamer.

Morning Star Horse (HBE Publishers, autumn) is an illustrated middle grade historical fantasy inspired by a true situation so strange that I chose to write it in the real maravilloso style that I mentioned earlier. In other words, it’s a magical horse story. Anyone who has read Enchanted Air knows that I was a horse crazy child, so for me, this book is my 9-year-old self’s dream come true. The setting is the Raja Yoga Academy in San Diego, where Spanish-American War orphans from Cuba were imported and taught art, music, theater, gardening, weaving, and yoga. HBE is an innovative new small press that is willing to experiment, so Morning Star Horse/El Caballo Lucero will be available in the all-English or bilingual format, another dream come true!

Margarita, thank you for this interview! In writing Enchanted Wings you gave me new insights on an important event that I lived through and you’ve had me examining my own childhood during that era. Yes, indeed memoirs begin conversations!