Hello everyone! Welcome to another Jingle Books Author Spotlight! These will be posts where I discuss and showcase, authors and their writing talents and published works. So without further ado let’s get on with the Author Spotlight!
Meet the Author
Tanya is a native of the Dominican Republic in the beautiful Hispaniola. She has been a classroom teacher for over two decades. Tanya enjoys immersing herself in fantastical worlds whether of her own creation or imagined by others.
She is happiest when riding upon dragons, scheming with fairies or concocting potions of mischievous outcomes. Tanya lives in the Boston area with her husband and their two teenagers. She is also the co-founder of Las Margaritas Foundation, a non-profit organization working to educate underserved children in the Dominican Republic.
What and when started your love for writing?
My love of stories started when I was around 8. I wrote a lot of stories, but I wrote them in my head. Sometimes at night I would think of stories and carry them for a few days thinking about the characters and the problem and the solution.
But it never occurred to me that I could just write them down on paper. I never knew that kids could actually be writers and I didn’t have picture books so I never saw myself in books when I was growing up in the Dominican Republic. What I DID grow up with was a lot of oral storytelling. I grew up listening to my grandparents and my own parents tell beautiful stories that they have learned from their parents. My mom is a lover of poetry so I grew up listening to her recite poetry even for our birthdays now she will call us and recite a poem as a birthday gift to us.
When I had my own children I began to write those stories down for them. I wanted them to see themselves represented in stories. Characters that looked like them, that ate pizza but also rice and beans and tostones and aguacate and who had an abuelita who climbed trees with them. And so that’s when I began writing. But I kept that a secret for a long time. I didn’t share that part of me with people outside of my family. I was embarrassed and scared! Then about 6 years ago I said to myself, “I am going to be brave! I am going to keep writing my stories and I am going to share my stories with the readers!” and so I did!
Of all of the book genres, what drew you to write about yours?
I love reading and I consider myself a very adventurous reader. I will read any genre I love reading and I consider myself a very adventurous reader. I will read any genre except for horror. That love of reading and sense of adventure informs and influences my writing a great deal. I write poetry for both adults and children. I write children’s stories and also adult novels. I love science and have been working on some non-fiction picture books and curriculum projects for young children.
Just as I don’t shy away from reading a particular genre, I too am open about diving into any genre and just take fly with the writing and see where it takes me. Sometimes my writing is very intentional. For example, I wanted to write a story about perseverance because that was a character trait that I noticed many of my students were struggling with. But, for the most part, the stories tend to pop in my head and sometimes I am quick enough to grab them.
How has your background and culture shaped what you write and how you write?
I don’t have a favorite author. I like to read books of authors that I have never heard I am the mother of two adult children.I am a teacher. I am also a writer. We can be so many things! It’s like we are all a perfect cake with all those important ingredients that make us who we are.
I come from a large family of seven children and I am right in the middle. Coming from a culture of oral tradition and lively storytelling is a gift that I treasure as much as the stubborn curls on my head and the brown skin wrapping my body. I moved to the USA as a young adult and lived in a rural and predominantly white community in Western Massachusetts.
The experience of being the only brown person in a room and the constant “where are you from?” became a powerful lesson in my journey as a person of color in this country.
I quickly realized that I was no longer “just” Dominican, I was now part of a larger pool of people that looked and sounded like me and I quickly learned to navigate those waters of not just my personal ever changing identity, but the awareness of the various boxes I was categorized into in this country. And so it is all of those ingredients that continue to shape the stories I write.
If you could meet your favorite author, who would it be and why?
This is a hard question. Not because I have a lot of favorites, which I definitely do, but because I can be shy around people I admire. So it will be thrilling and terrifying all at once if I find myself having coffee with Julia Alvarez, Isabel Allende or Ann Patchett, for example. I do have this fantasy of traveling back to the past and going for a stroll with Salomé Ureña or Jane Austen.
What makes your book(s)/writing special?
I always tell my students that we all have stories to tell and that telling our stories is a generous gift we give others- a spark of ourselves. Something that I am very proud of is that I have two countries in my heart.
I have the Dominican Republic and I have the United States. And that bicultural and bilingual lense allows me to experience the world through a very colorful lense. As writers we all bring our personal experiences, struggles and lights into our writing.
So…what are you working on now?
I am always working on different projects. I follow this rhymin that works really well for me. I dive head first into a project and then when it is almost done, I walk away from it. I give it a resting period while moving on to other projects. Then I go back and polish it before sharing it with my readers. Right now I am revising a story I wrote a couple of years ago. It has gone through its resting period. But there is also another children’s poetry book that I just set aside to let it simmer.
Tanya has such a beautiful story, and I am so happy I was able to share it here. And she is the first Jingle Books Author Spotlight for the year! If you want to get in contact or connect with Tanya you can through:
Thank you all for reading and remember:
Live. Love. Laugh.