When I taught English at César E. Chávez High School on the southeast side of Houston, many of my students were convinced that they hated to read and write. My goal was to help them connect to books that would change their minds. Those conversations were the first reason that I—as a white woman—became passionate about stories that center Latinx lives. Learning with them and many other amazing readers, including my sons Liam Miguel and Ethan Andrés, continues to shape my vision of what it means for Latinx readers find themselves—and their community—represented responsibly in the pages of the books they read.
All readers deserve to encounter stories that speak to their lived experience and to their imagination. I believe in writing that reckons with the uniqueness and diversity of lives lived in any given community, whatever the background of the author. That said, I believe in the importance of making #OwnVoices central in YA and children’s literature. Please check out the blog Latinxs in Kid Lit, where we highlight outstanding work by Latinx authors.
What else? I grew up in East Texas near where my novel Out of Darkness takes place, but I’ve lived outside of Texas for as long as I lived there. I have been a serious student all my life. In 2014, I completed a PhD in comparative literature at Indiana University where I focused on Latin American literatures, and now I am a professor of world literatures at The Ohio State University.
I love being silly with my sons, making collages out of old print materials, taking walks while blowing bubbles, baking (but let’s don’t revive the “Cookie Girl” nickname, please), and playing the occasional game of Scrabble.
If you are a student working on a project, please look for the many interviews I have done, most of them available online or through your library.
P.S. Awesome schools, programs, and places that have shaped my path: Bard College at Simon’s Rock, The University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University Bloomington, ACE (an Americorps program), and the German House Co-op.