Today I’m interviewing Adiba Jaigirdar, the author of the Young Adult Contemporary novel, The Henna Wars, which debuted in 2020.
Adiba Jaigirdar is a Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher, and she has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko. When not writing, she is probably ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, or expanding her overflowing lipstick collection.
Today, we’re diving deeper into her recent blog post titled Book Two Depression and discussing the unexpected apathy and disconnection authors sometimes feel toward their work, how writer friends can keep us afloat during these dark times, and how to cultivate joy around a particular project when you need it the most.
I found my conversation with Adiba just as moving as when I read her original blog post and it was so refreshing to speak candidly about an experience many writers have, though often in isolation, especially over the past year as many of us have been drafting and debuting in a bubble that feels so far away from the rest of the world. Our conversation allowed me to let go of mainy painful months of trying to fall in love with my sophomore novel, and to finally make room for those feelings to grow in an organic way. I hope you come away from our conversation feeling less burdened too. So without further ado, find a comfy spot away from all the noise, and then enjoy my conversation with Adiba Jaigirdar.
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Today I’m interviewing Nina Moreno, the author of the Young Adult Contemporary novel, Don’t Date Rosa Santos, which debuted in 2019 and the forthcoming companion novel, Our Way Back to Always, out on October 12th of 2021.
Nina Moreno was born and raised in Miami until a hurricane sent her family toward the pines of Georgia where she picked up an accent. She’s a proud University of Florida Gator who once had her dream job of shelving books at the library. Inspired by the folklore and stories passed down to her from her Cuban and Colombian family, she now writes about disaster Latinx teens & tweens chasing their dreams, falling in love, and navigating life in the hyphen. Her first novel, Don’t Date Rosa Santos was a Junior Library Guild Selection, Indie Next Pick for teen readers, and SIBA Okra Pick.
Today, we’re talking about the book two slog, when writing is no longer a refuge, and the importance of grace in the creative process.
There were so many parallels between our creative journeys over the course of the pandemic and being able to speak candidly about the book two experience, writing from personal grief and trauma, and the aches and pains (both physical and emotional) of being a writer with someone I so admire left me feeling less alone and more confident in my abilities to handle whatever writing and publishing throws my way. And I know our conversation will leave you feeling inspired too. So curl up with a nice hot cup of cafecito, maybe a pastelito or two, and then enjoy my conversation with Nina Moreno.
Connect with Nina online:
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Today I'm interviewing Steven Salvatore, the author of the Young Adult Contemporary novel, Can’t Take That Away, which debuted in March of 2021.
Steven grew up in Tarrytown, New York. They studied writing and art history at Ithaca College, and received their MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Writing for Children from The New School. Formerly a full-time Assistant Professor of Composition and Director of the Writing Center at CNR, they oversaw the Freshman Writing Program and taught creative writing. After CNR officially ceased academic operations in August of 2019, they began teaching part time at Pace University and Westchester Community College. They also volunteer at The LOFT (an LGBTQ+ resource center in White Plains, New York) where they facilitate a creative writing workshop. As an educator, Steven is passionate about progressive activism on and off campus and advocating for young people. Steven currently lives in Peekskill, New York, with their amazingly patient husband, whose name is also Steve.
Today, we’re talking about the anti-climactic free fall into nothing that is debuting during a pandemic, coming to terms with an author’s lack of control, and the gift of closure in such uncertain times.
I had such a great time talking with Steven two months post their debut and one month post my own and I felt so validated by our conversation. They reminded me that even though it feels like something has come to an end, we’re actually at the beginning of, hopefully, very long careers, and that it’s important to keep your eyes on the horizon, even in the midst of life’s storms.
So find your favorite spot on the couch, get cozy, and then enjoy my conversation with Steven Salvatore.
Connect with Steven online:
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Today I’m interviewing Sam Taylor, the author of the Young Adult Fantasy novel, We Are the Fire, which debuted in February of 2021.
Sam grew up in Arizona's desert and now lives among Connecticut's trees. She writes fantasy novels for teenagers, and magic is always at the heart of her stories. For her writing, Sam has won the Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children's Literature and twice received the Young Adult Romance Writers of America Rosemary Award. She's worked as a proofreader, copywriter, and instructor of university writing courses before deciding to write her own books.
When she's not writing, Sam spends her time being mom to the world's cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat.
Today, we’re talking about the power of play, how writing in a new age category might be just the escape you need, and when stepping away from the work is the kindest thing you can do for yourself.
Sam was such a joy to talk to and I was so inspired by her optimism during a year when so many of us have struggled to see the silver lining. Her emphasis on family and community and the ways a good writing schedule should serve both, reminded me that no story is worth your sanity and that loving others is what life is truly about. So pull on your favorite oversized sweatshirt, get comfy, and then enjoy my conversation with Sam Taylor.
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Today I’m interviewing Amparo Ortiz, the author of the Young Adult Fantasy novel, Blazewrath Games, which debuted in October of 2020.
Amparo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in Psychology from the UPR’s Río Piedras campus.
Her short story comic, “What Remains in The Dark,” appeared in the Eisner Award-winning anthology PUERTO RICO STRONG , and SAVING CHUPIE, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with HarperCollins in 2022.
When she’s not teaching ESL to her college students, she’s streaming Kpop music videos, vlogging for her eponymous YouTube channel, and writing about Latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical.
Today, we’re talking about scheduling moments of joy, music as an emotional entry point into story, and giving yourself permission to suck.
Amparo is so witty and funny and full of optimism. Her anecdotes and advice left me feeling so much lighter and I hope our conversation leaves you feeling lighter too. So curl up in a cozy spot, maybe even with a snack nearby, and then enjoy my conversation with Amparo Ortiz.
If you’d like to learn more about Amparo or her books, please visit her website at http://www.amparoortiz.com/ or find her on social media @Amparo_Ortiz on Instagram and Twitter. Also be sure to buy her book, Blazewrath Games, published by Page Street Kids, at your local indie bookstore.
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Today I’m interviewing Rocky Callen, the author of the Young Adult novel, A Breath Too Late, which debuted in April of 2020.
Rocky is the daughter of an Ecuadorian immigrant and has long lived a life of service ever since she was a 13-year-old advocating for the undocumented immigrants in her community. She interned at NASA at 12 years old, started lobbying congress at 13, and wrote and produced student radio stories at NPR at 14.
She was a behavioral therapist for over ten years. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband, daughter, and baby boy.
Rocky founded the Bleed Ink Foundation, a creative hub and resource center for writers, and the HoldOn2Hope Project, which unites creatives in suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
Today, we’re talking about creating and maintaining safeguards to protect your mental health, listening to your body when it’s begging you to take a break, and cherishing every season of a creative life.
I experienced such a range of emotions listening to Rocky speak and she said so many things that I personally really needed to hear. I hope that by listening to our conversation, you’ll find the same much needed optimism and clarity. So grab a pen and notebook, because trust me, you’re going to want to write all of this down, and then enjoy my conversation with Rocky Callen.
If you’d like to learn more about Rocky or her book, please visit her website at http://www.rockycallen.com/ or find her on social media @RockyWrites on Instagram and @Rocky_Writes on Twitter. And be sure to buy her book, A Breath Too Late, published by Macmillan, at your local indie bookstore.
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Today I’m interviewing Nikki Barthelmess, the author of The Quiet You Carry, which debuted in March of 2019 and the sequel, Quiet No More, which was released in October of 2020.
Nikki entered foster care in Nevada at twelve and spent the next six years living in six different towns. During this time, Nikki found solace in books, her journal, and the teachers who encouraged her as a writer. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Nikki lives in Santa Barbara with her husband, daughter, and pride-and-joy Corgi pup.
Today, we’re talking about juggling multiple deadlines, balancing writing with a new baby, and the idea of writing as a hopeful act.
Nikki offers so much great advice grounded in both actionable steps, as well as shifts in mindset. If you’re struggling with motivation or how to break down mountainous tasks, she’s got you covered. So without further ado, here is my conversation with Nikki Barthelmess.
If you’d like to learn more about Nikki or her books, please visit her website at NikkiBarthelmess.com or find her on social media @NikkiBarthelmess on Instagram and @ NikkiGrey_ on Twitter. And be sure to buy her novels, The Quiet You Carry and Quiet No More, published by Flux, at your local indie bookstore.
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Today I’m interviewing Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, the author of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, which debuted in August 2020 and was one of my absolute favorite books of the year.
Raquel is a Mexican American poet, novelist and painter. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains.
Today, we’re talking about what it was like debuting during a pandemic after her own bout with COVID, movement as a tool for healing, and maintaining a creative practice 300 words at a time.
Raquel is so full of wisdom and I absolutely loved our conversation. And if you, like me, have found it especially difficult to be creative this year, I know you’ll love it too.
If you’d like to learn more about Raquel or her books, please visit her website at RaquelVasquezGilliland.com or find her on social media @poet_RaquelVGIL. And be sure to buy her debut novel, Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything published by Simon & Schuster, at your local indie bookstore.
Buy her books!
Hey friends! Welcome to episode 0 of Author Pep Talks, a podcast where I interview writers who have faced hardship and written through it.
They'll be sharing advice, encouragement, and mini-episodes AKA "Pep Talks" straight from their hearts to yours to help you push through the fear, fatigue, and occasional writer's block that has been exponentially worse in this, the year of our Dark Lord, 2020.
Subscribe to the Author Pep Talks podcast now and be sure to connect with me on social media for updates, sneak peaks, and exclusives.
Podcast Website: https://www.authorpeptalkspod.com/
Laekan's Website: http://www.laekanzeakemp.com/
Laekan's Link Tree: https://linktr.ee/laekanzeakemp