November 9, 2014; 1pm–Guest DJ and interview on “O Lo Siento” (www.radiosombra.org) radio show with host Eddie Rivas.
Here’s a link to the interview, in case you missed it! Enjoy!
February 21, 2015; 5pm–I will be a featured reader at the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona (252 South Main Street, Pomona, CA 91766). A lot of other great talent will be reading throughout the day. Check out this great event. My reading will start at 5pm–sharp! Click the link for more information.
| March 2015: Interview for Spartan Scroll and Montebello Reporter! Read the transcript of the interview I did for two local papers:
I’ve been teaching for almost eighteen years, all of those years at Suva Intermediate. I was also a professor of English Composition at East Los Angeles College for ten years. I stopped working at ELAC to spend more time with my kids.
I teach Language Arts, mostly intervention classes. I currently teach seventh grade, but I have taught 5th through 8th.
I was always fascinated with words. That started with nursery rhymes and song lyrics. In 8th grade, I had decided that I wanted to write text books. Math books, specifically. I loved the complexity of word problems. That’s about as close as I came to thinking of writing as a profession. Coming from a working class family, I had to be practical in career choice. As farfetched and specific as a career as a “writer of word problems” may sound, that was me in the 8th grade being practical.
I love the cleverness of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, the absurdity of Albert Camus, the bleakness of Kurt Vonnegut, the vigor of Charles Bukowski, the minimalism of Raymond Carver, and the sensitivity of Ernest Hemmingway. I strive to be an amalgam of all of them.
Every one of them. While none of my characters are based on any specific person, the qualities of every character are based on qualities that I have found in people that I have encountered in my life. That’s the only way I could have possibly conceived such characters. While some of the characters may seem bizarre, I think most people that read my novel will say, “I know somebody just like that.” It’s the universality that authors inject into their literature.
When I was 12, I rewrote the nursery rhyme The Pied Piper of Hamlin so that it was no longer about a man ridding a town of rats. Instead, somehow, I made it about skateboarding. In high school, I would write poems with hopes that I would be able to give them to girls. In college I wrote a poem (for a girl) that I sent out for publication. That turned out to be my first publication. After that, I was hooked. The motto among my college friends and I was “Publish or Die.” So, by the time I was finished with college, I had dozens of poems published in a bunch of magazines and journals, and four books of poetry published, one of which was published and edited by Gary Soto as part of his Chicano Chapbook Series.
My poetry is intentionally very narrative, which is to say that reading one of my poems feels like you are reading a short story. While my fiction, I’ve been told, is very poetic. So, there’s that.
I fell in love with novels when I was a student at Schurr High School. Mrs. Phillips, my 10th grade English teacher, had me read J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. My 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Macy, had me read Albert Camus’ The Stranger. I was hooked! I love reading novels. And, every once and a while, I read a novel that blows me away to the extent where I feel physically different after reading it, where my peripheral vision feels as though it has extended by several degrees. I wanted to do that, to have that affect on a reader. Writing a novel is more than just telling a long story. It is about making an intimate connection with (hopefully) thousands of people you have never met. The profundity of that concept intrigued me.
First of all, I want readers to see that contemporary literature can be exciting, thought provoking, creative, and appealing. There’s more to literature than what is anthologized in textbooks, and what Walmart and Hollywood deem profitable. Secondly, because literary interpretation is so subjective, what the reader takes from the novel is going to vary based on the individual, what they have experienced in their life, how they feel on the day that they read the novel, what they had for breakfast that day. I don’t have a specific message; I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything; I certainly don’t have a moral at the end of my novel; I’m not trying to tell people how they should behave; rather, I’m telling people how they do behave.
That’s where I grew up. It’s what I know. And, it is very colorful place in every sense of the word. And, very morally balanced. There’s a lot of good here, if that’s what you’re looking for, and there’s a lot of bad, if that’s what you’re looking for. Thematically, the novel could have been set just about anywhere. Could this story have been written and set in the suburbs of Baltimore or a village in Paraguay? Possibly, but it wouldn’t have been written by me.
Steven is everybody. He’s imperfect—physically, emotionally, psychologically. His faults and idiosyncrasies may be more apparent than most others, but there is no denying that everybody has some. People tend to pounce on the person whose peculiarities are most present, if anything to take the attention away from their own peculiarities.
It has to do with finding patterns in the seemingly random. Beyond that, you’ll have to read the novel to find that out. The first chapter is available at marcoavasquez.com.