Welcome to another Author Spotlight! These spotlights are for showcasing author’s (predominantly women and people of color) writing talents and published works. As you may or may not know, I do themed weeks of prominent holidays/events throughout the year on my site. Every time I do these I always feature other authors (usually ones of color and women). And for Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month I am trying to feature authors who have Latinx and/or Hispanic backgrounds. So without further ado let’s get on with the Author Spotlight!
About the Author:
Ofelia Montelongo is a bilingual writer from Mexico. She received a BA in accounting and finance, an MBA, and a BA in English and Creative Writing. She has a MA in Spanish and Latin American Literature from the University of Maryland. Her work has been published in Latino Book Review, Los Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, and elsewhere. She was the 2019 Writer’s Center Undiscovered Voices Fellow. She currently teaches at the University of Maryland and at The George Washington University and was a PEN/Faulkner writer in residence in Washington, D.C. In 2021, she was named one of the PEN America Emerging Voices Fellows. Macondista 2021. ofeliamontelongo.com
What and when started your love for writing?
I started when I was around eight years old. I grew up in a house full of books, and my dream was to have my book in my home library one day. When I was 13, I wrote the summary of one of my novels (still in progress). I even wrote the plot of a telenovela once ha!. But I professionally really started when I came to the United States around 2008.
Of all of the book genres, what drew you to write about yours?
I’m not sure. When I was younger, I wasn’t an avid reader, not because I didn’t particularly appreciate reading. It was because it was tough to concentrate or understand the books I was reading. I realized later that I didn’t have the correct books to start. I first was a writer and then a reader. Now, I love to read a little bit of everything. And I want to write so everyone can read me!
If you could meet your favorite Latinx/Hispanic author, who would it be and why?
Oh, I met her before. Sandra Cisneros. She is the queen of queens in the Mexican-American/Chicano literary world. But I’d definitely go and have dinner with her. I only met her during a book signing. I took a selfie with her, though. She is the best.
How has your Latinx/Hispanic background and culture shaped what you write and how you write?
I was born and raised in Mexico, so my Mexican culture is all I knew for almost twenty years until I traveled outside the country. I came to the United States when I was 24 years old. Here, I discovered I was Latina and Hispanic, I guess. I write about the border and my experience as a Mexican living in the United States.
What book do you think everyone should read is based (or inspired by) around Latinx/
There are so many to mention one. One book can’t compile all the experiences because the Latinx/Hispanic culture is so diverse and includes many countries. So for sure, all books by Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Elizabeth Acevedo, Julia Alvarez, Reyna Grande, and many more!
What makes your book(s)/writing special?
I guess I like to mix humor with tough topics. I think that life sometimes is not one single thing, and I want to portray that in my writing. I don’t intentionally try to be funny, but when other writers have read my work, they have found it hilarious, so I just went with it. I now intentionally write grotesque things. Other times, I don’t notice when something is funny anymore.
So…what are you working on now?
I’m working on my novel Rosa Mexicanx, about a teenager who lives in a fictional border town. I’m also working on a collection of essays about my experiences living in the United States. I’m working on this project thanks to the PEN America fellowship I received this year! It has been fantastic!
Best of luck on your first book Ofelia! I just know it will be great (and what a scholarly lady we have on our hands)! You can get in contact or connect with her, you can through her:
Live. Love. Laugh.
Thank you all for reading and remember: