Welcome to another Author Spotlight! These spotlights showcase authors’ (predominantly women and people of color) writing talents and published works. As you may or may not know, I do theme weeks of prominent holidays/events throughout the year on my site. Every time I do these I always feature other authors (usual ones of color and women). And for Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month, I am trying to feature authors with Latinx and/or Hispanic backgrounds. So without further ado, let’s meet author Brenda Vaca!
About the Author:
Brenda Vaca is a Xicana poet, author, and independent publisher from Sejatnga, Unceded Tonga Territory, known as South Whittier, CA. Riot of Roses is her debut collection of poetry. Riot of Roses Publishing House is the independent press she founded in 2021. She is currently days away from launching a Kickstarter Campaign for her first children’s book, Buttonz Finds His Mojo, under the imprint Oh My Gatos Books. You can find and follow her @iambrendavaca and @ohmygatosbooks on Instagram.
What and when started your love for writing?
I’ve always loved storytelling. I come from a line of great storytellers, musicians, and artisans. Telling stories has always been our way of self-expression, encouraging faith, and surviving the state of the world and our families. Of course, I gravitate toward stories that have a strong female lead. From a very young age, I wanted to be a writer and a storyteller.
Of all of the book genres, what drew you to write about yours?
Poetry has always been my natural path of writing. I started as any young girl might writing in a journal in junior high. But as I got exposed more and more to poetry, it was the genre with which I felt most closely aligned. Maybe it’s because I have musicians in my family and composing songs was something I was always exposed to. Writing in verse – especially free verse – comes natural.
If you could meet your favorite Latinx/Hispanic author, who would it be and why?
To be honest, since I’ve been in community with poets and writers over the last couple of years, I know so many wonderful living writers. I feel truly blessed to share a mic with them and to be a writer among them. Yet, one writer that I always enjoyed reading is Denise Chavez, author of Face of an Angel and Loving Pedro Infante. I remember reading her after I finished my undergrad at Cal and feeling so inspired to keep going and keep writing. Her stories fanned the flames of my own writing dreams. It’s funny, we are now friends on Facebook, but I still hope to meet her in person some day!
How has your Latinx/Hispanic background and culture shaped what you write and how you write?
My Xicana identity is apparent throughout my writing. Both my parents are outstanding oral storytellers, as well as other members of my family, and that way of creativity has nurtured my own voice. My writing is filled with images, metaphors, and language from the Xicana diaspora. I am also committed to uncovering my Mexican indigenous lineage so that I can spend time learning the language of my ancestors that I can more closely incorporate into my writing.
What book do you think everyone should read is based (or inspired by) around Latinx/
There is a new anthology that was recently published on June 28, 2022 by Editorial Raíces entitled Antología ARTIVISMO: EL ARTE COMO ESPACIO DE RESISTENCIA. Or, ARTIVISM: Art as a Space of Resistance. It is currently only available in Spanish, featuring international voices across the Americas, which includes writers that protest and critique their environments and communities through poetry.
I’m privileged to have one poem included in this collection that highlights primarily indigenous voices. These are cutting edge writings that rarely if ever get read by mainstream audiences. The editors are Masiel Corona Santos and Yuritskiri Campos Anguiano, with illustrations by Sergio Sánchez Santamaría. I highly encourage folks to order and read this historic collection.
What makes your book(S)/writing special?
When people read or hear my work they often say it seems that I have lived many lives. And they are right. I have the background of being an ordained reverend for many years and my writing is infused with that experience. This includes the stories I have borne witness to and the
stories I have lived through. It is at once confessional and deeply reflective of the world we live in. My writing and voice are unique to me.
So…what are you working on now?
I’m currently working on several projects. The most pressing is a children’s book about a black cat named Buttonz that struggles with feelings of depression and low self-esteem when his family adopts a community cat family. It’s called Buttonz Finds His Mojo.
I will be launching a Kickstarter Campaign in October to crowdfund for the production of this book, planned to be release in early winter 2023. Stay tuned for that! I’m also leading a team via Riot of Roses Publishing House as we develop an anthology entitled Sacral Bodies: Womxn’s Testimonies of Abortion. Submissions will open in early October with a targeted publication date of February 14, 2023. Of course, I continue to write poetry and hope to drop a new collection in late 2023.
Brenda has a beautiful soul, my goodness! I know you are going to go far Brenda with your poetry! And from one oral storyteller to another, I wish you the best in all your future writing endeavors! You can connect with her through:
Thank you all for reading and remember:
Live. Love. Laugh.