Belinda Acosta lives and writes in Austin, Texas where she is a columnist for the Austin Chronicle. Her non-fiction has appeared in Poets & Writers, Latino USA, the Radio Journal of News and Culture, AlterNet, the San Antonio Current, and Latino Magazine. She is a member of Macondo, the writers' collective launched by acclaimed writer Sandra Cisneros. She loves knitting, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, chips & salsa, mariachi (good, make your soul leap from your body, mariachi); conjunto music (todo old school), and given the opportunity, will square dance. Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz is her first novel.
Thanks for this interview, Belinda! Why don't you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started writing?
I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. I get my Tejana creds from my mother, who was raised in deep South Texas. My father is Mexicano (San Luis Potosi—ajua! That’s Mexican for “Woo-Hoo!”). I’ve been living in Austin, Texas, since 1985 or so. I began writing like most writers, I suppose—because I loved to read. Also, I’m not good at anything else, except for acting, which I made a living from for about ten years before I returned to get my BA and subsequent MFA in writing from the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Your first novel, Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz, is coming soon from
Hachatte. What was your inspiration for it?
I responded to a call from a book packager—Jacob Packaged Goods. They proposed an idea for a book about quinceañeras, but unlike most of the other books out there this one would focus on mothers, not just daughters. I admit I didn’t have a lot of personal experience with the ceremonies at the time. In fact I didn’t actually attend my first quince until I was researching the book. But I liked the idea, and once I learned a little more about the project, I signed on to write the first two books in the Quinceañera Club series.
Did you have to do research for your book? Do you think quinceañeras
is a celebration soon to be extinct?
I did some online research and read a couple of earlier books on the subject. One was Julia Alvarez’s marvelous nonfiction book, Once Upon a Quinceañera. The other was a collection of short stories, Fifteen Candles, edited by Adriana Lopez. I went to my first quinceañera mass early in the writing process, in addition to attending a quinceañera fair in San Antonio.
Quinceañeras have been celebrated here and throughout Latin America for ages. I think what may wane are the more spectacular expressions of the ceremony in urban settings. The quinceañera, and especially the quinceañera mass is still very important to some Latino Catholics. So, I don’t see the fundamental ritual dying anytime soon.
Tell us a little about your road to publication. Was it easy finding a
I didn’t find the publisher. That was the packager’s job. I wrote the manuscript. Writing is hard work. Writing the manuscript was harder than writing my Master’s Thesis and I thought that was hard.
What are your writing habits? Are you disciplined?
It depends on what I’m writing and what deadlines I’m working under. My day can begin as early as 3am and end when I finish or my brain dries up. Hopefully, those things coincide! Working on multiple deadline gives you no choice but to be disciplined.
I understand you are a columnist for the Austin Chronicle. What is
your column about?
I write weekly about TV and media in a column called TV Eye (www.austinchronicle.com). I also write features and reviews for the music, film, and books sections for the Chronicle as well as other freelance writing, when time permits. Novel writing has brought my freelance writing to a halt for the time being.
What do you have planned for launching your book?
There’s going to be a fabulous book release party in Austin, Texas, on August 18, followed by readings in Austin and San Antonio. A blog tour is also planned.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers may learn more about
you and your work?
You can also find me on Facebook (there’s a link at the bottom of the above site) and on Twitter @BelindaGene.
Are you working on another novel?
I am currently writing the second book in the quinceañera club series, Sisters, Strangers, and Starting Over.
Belinda is preparing a big launch for her novel. Check out her schedule:
Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz
Book Release Party
Cuba Libre - 409 Colorado - Austin, Texas
6pm to 9pm
BookPeople - 6th & Lamar - Austin, Texas
Borders Book Store - 255 E. Basse Rd. - San Antonio, Texas
Viva! Book Store
There's also a Facebook Fan group where folks can RSVP http://www.facebook.com/belinda.g.acosta#/pages/La-quinceanera-club-books-de-Belinda-Acosta/137625675297?ref=ts